Newt truly didn’t know how he managed to get himself into these situations.
Well, that’s not quite true. He knew, technically, how he’d come to be sat in a chair in a grimy warehouse, wrists bound, longing for the comfort of his creatures and a decent cup of tea.
He had been in America not a day and a half when he caught wind of an unfortunately successful smuggling operation involving occamys. He did what he usually found worked best in such situations—he played the role of a wealthy, bumbling, british collector, and quite well he’d like to think. He’d convinced the smugglers that he had found them by stumbling through the proper black market back-channels (not entirely a lie), and arranged for the purchase of one of three occamy eggs, actually intending to steal away all of them when the proper moment arose.
It had been a solid plan, a decent, wholesome one, given that he’d had so little time to really think on it. The occamys had looked ready to hatch in a few days—Newt knew he had only a small window to save them. This had led him to be slightly more hasty in his attempt, not noticing that he’d left one of the smugglers unaccounted for.
Just his luck.
Needless to say, he was now thoroughly irritated with himself, snatching anxious glances at the eggs that he had almost successfully stashed away in his pocket. He had been so close. The occamys would hatch any minute and there was no guarantee these men would leave them alive after collecting the shells. The smuggler who had caught him in the act shifted slightly on his feet and blocked Newt’s view of the eggs, so he was instead greeted by the sight of a grungy black cloak, lank dark hair, and a cruel smirk.
He eyed the man warily, keeping still as possible. There was a coldness in his gaze that worried him. It was at moments like this that Newt wondered why people feared magical creatures so. No creature of his could ever display such calculated malice. The man’s wand raised slightly, leveled mere inches from the bridge of Newt’s nose. He was close enough that Newt could smell his breath, and he fought the urge to turn his head away, to move at all.
He felt that taking his eyes off the man, even for a moment, would be very ill advised.
Discreetly, he pulled at the ropes around his wrists. He had been working them for a few minutes, and he believed them to be loosening. Still, his arms were already aching and the oppressive chill in the air didn’t help. It was likely past midnight by now, Newt considered gloomily. This really wasn’t how he’d wanted to spend the evening.
Once again, he found himself with a limited window of opportunity. Only he and the man in front of him remained in the storeroom, but the other three men he had met with were in the adjacent room. He had thought they all were in the other room, but live and learn, and all that. Hopefully.
As much as he liked his odds against one man instead of four, he thought he knew why the man hadn’t alerted the others to Newt’s attempted theft. The man had been leering at Newt the whole evening, his smirk widening whenever Newt had accidentally caught his eye. As much as Newt could sometimes be oblivious, a definite fault of his lacking attention span, even he couldn't mistake the lewd glances for anything else.
Newt pressed farther back in the chair almost unconsciously, and the man tilted his head, gaze sharp. “You are a pretty little thing, aren’t you?” he murmured, more of his hot breath ghosting over Newt’s face. The man crouched down to eye level and trailed a hand over Newt’s leg, the pressure increasing as his hand traveled farther up.
No, Newt couldn't say this had gone well at all.
Newt fought the urge to shout, clenching his jaw shut tight. As much as he hated it, one man would be easier to deal with than all combined. He still had a slim chance of escape, along with the eggs he came for.
Desperately, he pulled at the rope one last time, silently bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t dealing with manacles instead—Pickett might’ve helped out then, but the bowtruckle was busy cowering in Newt’s pocket, and really, Newt couldn’t blame him. Part of him wished he could do the same. He maintained an agonizing few moments of eye contact, attempting to keep the man’s focus elsewhere while he twisted his wrists violently, and just managed to hold back a shaky sigh of relief as he felt enough give to slip out of the binds.
However, the man’s wand was still aimed at Newt’s face, and his other hand almost painfully clamped on his thigh. He fought a shudder at the contact and tried to keep his mind free of the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. He just needed some kind of distraction, something to draw away the man’s attention for just a moment—
From the other room came the sound of muffled shouting, and the man immediately released his grip and turned his wand on the source of the noise. The man had the presence of mind to mutter, “wuh?” and then a spell hit him square in the chest, sending him flying into a large shipping crate. Newt turned his head away from the explosion of wood and dust, and looking back, eyes wide, thought that of any divine intervention he could’ve received, this had to be the best it got.
Shooting up to his feet, he murmured a quick accio for his wand and leapt over the debris, heading for the occamy eggs. He shoved them into the pocket of his coat once more and thought, finally, when—
One of the eggs rattled tellingly, and Newt froze. It simply wouldn’t do to have them hatch in this place. Merlin forbid one might accidentally imprint on one of these men, who would exploit them and do them harm. No, Newt had to get to his case.
Practically as he finished the thought he heard a cracking sound, and he let out a huff of exasperation. It was, unfortunately, quite dangerous to apparate with creatures like occamys while they were in the process of hatching. One could never know what might get left behind. “Alright, alright,” he murmured, drawing the offending egg from his pocket, “I suppose when you’re ready, you’re ready.”
He had found that speaking helped to draw occamys from their shells, so he continued to whisper encouragements. He glanced around, hyper aware that any moment that the smugglers, or the person who’d bested them, could emerge at any moment. He could still hear muffled curses from the other room, so he hoped he had some time. The tip of a beak tentatively poked through the shell, and Newt grinned, briefly forgetting urgency for the wonder he always felt in these moments. “Hello, little one,” he said, beaming as he received a gentle squawk in answer.
He met the young occamy’s eyes and she doubled her efforts to break through the shell. After a few minutes, she had managed to escape her confines entirely. “Well done, you,” Newt said softly, and as the occamy chirped, winding herself around his wrist, the last chunk of the egg hit the floor.
At the same time that Newt winced at the echoing thunk the silver shell made, a voice, level and calm, commanded, “stop right there, and drop your wand.”
Newt glanced up to see a man with dark, intelligent eyes, slicked back hair, and a handsome face. His expression revealed nothing, but Newt could see his brown eyes were cautious and assessing as he leveled his wand in Newt's direction. Newt stifled a sigh. He was quite tired of wands being pointed at him for the day.
This man must have been the newcomer who’d incapacitated the smuggler, and likely, given by the distinct lack of noise, the other men as well. A powerful wizard, then. Newt spared a second to think huh, because something about him was strangely familiar, though Newt was sure he'd never met him before.
Then, Newt felt another egg rattle warningly, and before the egg could crack he was gone.
He saw the wizard lunge with his wand immediately, trying to pull him back, but Newt didn’t worry. For all that there were many who had more power than him, none had ever matched him for speed. Newt was already gone before the tail end of the spell was completed, though the man's technique had been frighteningly quick.
Newt, however, had attempted apparition long before the rest of his peers at Hogwarts, the fascination born from long, lonely hours spend perusing textbooks. He'd honed speed down to an art over the years. He might've been killed over his travels if he hadn't. Newt had avoided several close calls by apparating—some of the more dangerous, skittish creatures he'd encountered moved faster than could even be tracked properly with the eye.
Newt did wonder, fleetingly, thinking on his unintentional savior, what would have happened if he’d stuck around.
It was mid afternoon the next day by the time Newt had finished helping the occamys through their hatching, and had integrated them with the others. He went about his rounds giving a hearty greeting to each of his creatures in turn, gifting an extra helping of food due to his absence the night before.
Pickett was still steadfastly ignoring him (though Newt could hear him grumbling in his pocket), and he couldn’t really blame him. Last night had almost been disastrous, and if that wizard hadn’t come along... Well. Newt would’ve liked to think he could’ve handled things, but one really shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He paused briefly while cleaning the pond in the nundu enclosure and thought it was honestly a bit disconcerting how often he benefited from happy coincidences.
When he was done, he emerged from his case and into the dingy flat he’d rented out for the week. Newt glanced around at the grimy walls, frowned, and absentmindedly conjured a spell to clean the place up a bit. As exhausted as he was, he had no real desire to stay cooped up there for the entirety of his stay. There was a whole city he had never been to before and had yet to explore, and it was waiting for him beyond the walls.
He only hesitated when he glanced down at his case, wondering if it would be more dangerous to leave it there, or bring it with him. In the end, he decided to leave it, though he cast a disillusionment charm on the door on his way out.
Newt hadn’t really taken the time to look on his first run about the city—he’d been too concerned with the broken latch that’d almost given him away and the need to find a safe place for his case. Now, though, he finally had the time to take it all in. He’d been in cities before, though not very often. One didn’t tend to find many magical creatures in such populated areas.
Newt gazed at the towering buildings and the endless bustle of automobiles and moving bodies with wonder. He had been to marketplaces in Cairo, had ventured cobblestone streets of Europe more times than he could count, but everything in New York was on such a grander scale. It was absolutely breathtaking. There was so much sound and life in this place. It was very different from the plains and jungles he usually found himself—in those places there was life if you observed closely, if you knew where to look. Here, people unabashedly existed in enigmatic chaos. Newt found it quite beautiful.
He bought a newspaper on a whim, curious to see how the muggle world of New York was getting on. Newt had quite a bit of muggle currency to spare, as he often met more muggles than wizards on his travels. He flipped through the pages slowly, initially sparing a glance at the pictures in confusion before remembering, ah yes, they wouldn’t move of their own accord.
Newt stumbled upon a bench near Central Park and read, content in the fact that, for the rest of the day, he had nothing pressing to get done. Who knew when he would next find himself in New York? He might as well make the most of his stop here before he headed to Arizona. He became surprisingly saddened to hear of the passing of Harry Houdini, the article being not quite front page news, but still a key feature. He had heard of the man in passing and thought it a bit melancholic that the magician gave muggles their own taste of a little magic, only to die quite young. Despite this, it was refreshing to read a newspaper that wasn’t littered with troubling news of dark wizards and fanatic followers. In fact, the muggle world seemed to be doing quite well by comparison.
After a time, Newt’s stomach growled loudly, startling some pigeons that had settled nearby. It had been a while since he’d eaten, even by his standards. He wracked his brain, trying to remember if Theseus had ever recommend any places to eat in New York. His brother often found himself here to delegate with MACUSA, so Newt was sure he must have told him something of the like. The only place he could remember, however, was an establishment Theseus had mentioned offhand with “decent whiskey and entertaining people.” It didn’t quite sound like Newt’s cup of tea, but it was all he could think of, and he rather thought asking one of the grouchy looking New Yorkers passing by was beyond him at the moment. He tended to mumble with strangers and he’d found it got on people’s nerves.
He began to make his way with a vague, general knowledge of what he was looking for. With a bit of helpful magic, he was able to find the poster he was Theseus had described in a rather damp looking back alley. It read Beguiling. Enchanting. Alluring.
Newt stared at it for a moment, bit his lip, and when his stomach growled again, he rapped his knuckles on the wall. A pair of eyes revealed themselves almost immediately, and Newt smiled nervously before glancing away. “Hello. Um... might I come in?”
The eyes narrowed with the sound of a scoff. The hidden doorway opened slowly, the sound of music nearly masking a muttered, “no way he’s an auror.”
Newt stepped inside and murmured his thanks to the man behind the door, who growled at him in response. He made his way over to the bar and smiled at the house elf he’d found there. “Hello,” he said cheerfully.
The house elf looked at him suspiciously. “Ain’t I seen you from somewheres?”
“Um... no, I don’t think we’ve met, unfortunately,” Newt said, taking a seat at a barstool.
The elf squinted at him, but seemed to agree, settling on a gruff, “what’ll it be?”
“I-I don’t suppose you have anything to eat?”
Shooting Newt a particularly unimpressed look, the elf snapped his fingers, conjuring peanuts and small pastries. “Thank you...um, I’m terribly sorry I never caught your name,” Newt said apologetically.
The house elf stared at him. “Greg,” he grumbled after a long moment.
“Ah. Well, thank you, Greg. My name’s Newt,” he replied as he offered a few sickles in payment, his words prompting an even more grumpily perplexed look before the elf accepted the coins and turned away to take the orders of other patrons. “You don’t happen to have any tea, do you?” he called after, only a bit hopeful, but judging by the snort in reply it was a pointless request.
Taking in the room, Newt ate his fill, quietly content to listen to the music. The house elf entertaining truly had a wonderful voice. His gaze wandered and he took in the many wanted posters on the walls. He thought it a bit ironic that so many decorated the walls when, clearly, the patrons of the establishment weren’t exactly of a law abiding sort. It was a speakeasy after all.
His eye was caught by one of the few posters that did not have a picture, but rather an auror’s sketch. He couldn’t really see the figure depicted—a large fellow sat in front of it, but he caught sight of the reward money: fifty galleons. Not quite a big fish, yet Newt was still intrigued by it. He leaned over to see more, caught sight of the edge of a blue coat, and thought, huh.
Then, a small scuffle broke out across the room, and Pickett broke his silence to give him a piece of his mind in the form of an irritated grumble and a series of chittering. Newt shoved the rest of the small pastry in his mouth and made his way around the commotion thinking that perhaps the people here were a tad too entertaining for his liking.
There was still some light out, so instead of apparating back to his small flat he decided to stroll there. Now that the rush of the workday had passed, people seemed less harried and more content. There were many people flooding in and out of small theaters he walked by, and he thought it might be interesting to see one of these pictures he’d heard so much about. But he’d left his case for as long as he felt comfortable, and thought, perhaps the next day. He was in no particular rush to get to Arizona (though it would be amazing to see Frank flying with so much open space again).
He had nearly reached the small neighborhood of brick buildings that signaled his flat when he heard shouts coming from the next block over. Newt frowned and picked up the pace, passing his flat but stopping short in shock when he caught sight of a large, black mass like a small hurricane bursting through one of the buildings accompanied by a deafening roar, the cobblestone collapsing on the adjacent street as the mass of it burrowed underneath, a spiral of destruction.
The sight of it, however brief, was enough to send Newt’s heart hammering. The explosion of debris was so violent that Newt had to apparate behind the corner he had rounded, eyes widening as stray bricks and chunks of asphalt shattered against the fire escape above him, raining down chunks that Newt avoided with a quick flick of his wand.
Breathing hard, still slightly disbelieving of what he knew he saw, he approached the wreckage cautiously. There was a thick cloud of dust in the air, making it hard to breathe. Some muggles were gawking from a healthy distance, as he was, but most were running, no doubt fearing further disturbances. There was no sign of what had caused the damage, but Newt recognized what he’d seen. The obscurus had looked much the same as the one in Sudan.
Newt swallowed hard and shook himself. He had no idea where he could even begin to look for the source. Sudan was one thing. New York was another. He supposed MACUSA was the only place he knew of with enough resources for a search. This needed to be addressed immediately—the longer an obscurus poisoned the host, the more violent it became.
Newt knew who he needed to find. Theseus had said if he was ever in America and found himself in trouble, he should contact the director of magical security. Newt had never met him, but if Theseus trusted the man, that was good enough for him. It would have to be.
He wouldn’t let New York become another Sudan.
Wow! Thank you all so much for reading and enjoying this story! I've been dealing with the process of moving, so this chapter was a bit later than expected, but things are less hectic now. ;) Without further ado, here is chapter two.
Stepping into the Woolworth Building left Newt a bit breathless for a moment. It seemed there was so much more movement and height than in the Ministry of Magic. The ceiling was obscured by a charm of a bright cloudy sky, and Newt found himself transfixed. He stared upward with a growing smile before remembering that he was, in fact, on a time crunch and had some very important information to share.
Sobering, he shook his head and began to look for any indication of the director’s office. He realized he didn’t even know what the man looked like. Perhaps he shouldn’t be quite so distracted when Theseus mentions things to him.
As he had discovered of the muggles in this city, most occupants of the building either seemed very determined to get somewhere or very busy with what they were doing. Slightly anxious, he searched for someone with a mildly open expression or, at the very least, someone who wasn’t scowling. Newt’s gaze caught on a young woman with short hair and kind, if distracted, eyes. Clutching at his arm, he approached her desk slowly. “Um... excuse me, um,” he glanced down at the nameplate on the desk, “Miss Goldstein? Could you tell me where I might find the director? I have some vital information for him—it’s really...um...v-very important...” Newt trailed off in confusion as the woman gaped at him, eyes wide.
“It’s you,” she mumbled, hands paused where she’d been writing a report of some kind.
Newt shook his head, glancing between her and the desk, utterly lost. He studied her face, racking his memory, but he couldn't place her. Then again, he wasn't terribly good with faces. “I'm sorry, have we met?”
His words seemed to jolt her into action, her jaw snapping shut, and her face shuttering. Before Newt could react she whipped out her wand and a spell forced Newt’s hands behind his back, with another wrenching his wand from his pocket. He blinked, absolutely dumbfounded.
He was, in retrospect, rather used to things not going as he’d planned, but he was definitely having an off week.
People in desks around them were staring, and Newt couldn’t blame them. He tugged at the binds experimentally, raising his eyebrows when Miss Goldstein seemed to catch the action and scowled at him. “Um...what?” he managed.
Miss Goldstein came around the desk and grabbed him by the arm. “I think you will see the director after all,” she said, still staring at him with something like disbelief in her eyes.
“Oh. Well. That’s...good?” Newt murmured. He frowned, catching other aurors casting them fleeting glances, and ducked his head at the sudden attention. He could feel the stares prickling at the back of his neck. "Are you sure this is standard procedure?”
Miss Goldstein ignored the question, leading him in grim silence down one of the buildings many corridors. Really, they all looked a bit the same to Newt, and in a way, he was thankful that he hadn’t had to find the director on his own. It might’ve taken him years.
The walk still took longer than Newt expected, and he became quite annoyed at being yanked about by his arm for so long. When he finally saw their destination ahead, the imposing, golden title reading Director Percival Graves on the door, he let out an explosive sigh of relief that made Miss Goldstein pause for a moment and glance at him curiously.
Newt was essentially frog-marched into the office, and at this point, felt very put out by the whole affair. He rather thought he had been man-handled enough for the past 24 hours. This was certainly some way to treat a helpful informant.
Then, he saw the man at his desk, and his jaw dropped. It was the man from the warehouse. “You?” Newt blurted incredulously.
The director of magical security looked up, already scowling, and recognition flared in his eyes. “You,” he growled.
Huh. Newt blinked, glanced around, and mindlessly tugged a bit at the magical binds around his wrists. It was quite a nice office, he noticed distantly, very organized. Under any other pretense Newt would have been pleased to be there, had the man he'd intended to find not been glaring daggers into him. While it was disconcerting, he instead channeled the irritation that had been steadily building over the past few minutes and blurted, “I’m s-sorry, but is this how you treat everyone that walks through MACUSA’s doors? It seems a bit extreme and unnecessarily aggressive. I plan to file a complaint.”
The director’s eyes narrowed to slits. The sight of such a glare might’ve made Newt’s knees quake had he been less preoccupied with being annoyed. Newt did have a tendency to run his mouth when he was nervous, but in this case, he thought his irritation well-founded. He attempted to demonstrate this by lifting his chin higher and meeting the director’s eyes for more than a second at a time. Newt thought he was doing an alright job of it.
However, Graves had already rounded his glare on Miss Goldstein. “Where did you find him?”
“Find me?” Newt echoed in the same moment that she said, “that’s the thing, sir—”
The man raised a hand at Newt, his gaze never leaving Miss Goldstein. “He, um,” she continued, glancing at Newt, “he just came up to my desk, sir. Asking for you.”
At that, Graves turned to stare at Newt incredulously. He seemed speechless for a moment, then leaned back in his chair, rubbing a hand over his face. “Are you completely insane?” he finally asked.
Newt let out a surprised laugh, which led the two aurors to look at him even more curiously. “Sorry, it’s just, I do actually get asked that a lot. But, as of the last few minutes, I’ve really been wanting to ask that of you two, actually,” he said, with a nervous smile.
Graves’ mouth opened, closed, then opened again, before he shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh. “You have been wanted for questioning,” he grit out, “in relation to a busted smuggling operation.”
Newt blinked in surprise, ran through his memory, and thought, ah, yes, some things did make a staggering amount of sense in that context. “Oh,” he said sheepishly. “Well, no one told me.”
Graves’ jaw tightened, and Newt found his gaze drawn to the sharp line of it, only glancing away when Miss Goldstein shifted beside him. “You don’t seem to understand the severity of your situation,” Graves told him.
Newt frowned. “I understand that there’s been some confusion and misinformation—”
“You were seen by me fleeing a crime scene,” Graves snapped.
“Only so I could get those poor occamys out of there!” Newt exclaimed.
“So you admit to taking evidence from the scene—”
“Evidence?” Newt interrupted, indignant. Really, this was the problem with MACUSA and the Ministry. They tended to treat magical creatures like objects, and for all Newt’s tried to convince wizards otherwise, he hadn’t really seen a difference made. Even Theseus, he felt, was more indulging than truly understanding. “They are living creatures, not fingerprints.”
“Living creatures attached to a couple grams of very valuable contraband—”
“The shells? Is that what the fuss is about? You can have the fragments back if you want them so badly, I've no need for them.”
Graves looked as if he didn’t quite know how to react to that, after a beat narrowing his eyes again, but this time Newt thought there was something almost considering in his gaze as he leaned back in his chair.
“Those men in the warehouse,” Graves began slowly, “were wanted, not only for black market trading, but also in connection to six murder investigations.”
Newt immediately thought of the man with the cold, pale eyes, and fought to keep his breathing even. He could believe it. “Frankly,” Graves continued, “your involvement with those men brings into question your motives. Forgive me if I remain unconvinced.”
“I never met those men before that day,” Newt urged earnestly. “I posed as a buyer to remove the occamys from their care, to spare the animals further harm.”
“That’s it?” Graves asked, raising his eyebrows.
“That’s it. I swear.” Newt met the man’s eyes, trying to convey his sincerity. They were very nice eyes, Newt thought distantly, now that they weren't quite glaring so much as staring very intently. A warm, lovely shade of brown. Newt quickly banished the thought and tried to keep a blush from creeping onto his cheeks.
Graves looked to Miss Goldstein after a moment. “Tina?”
“Well, sir... he did knowingly walk into a building full of aurors,” she said, actually quirking a small smile when Newt nodded along emphatically.
Graves seemed unmoved. “According to him, he didn’t actually know we were looking for him.”
“If he was really working with those smugglers, why would he take the chance? Personally, I would have stayed as far as possible from any kind of law enforcement until things settled down. Instead, he waltzed in practically the next day. Seems unlikely, sir.”
“I quite agree with that,” Newt couldn’t help but say, though he quickly returned his gaze to the floor when Graves scowled at him.
“And the occamys? Where are they?”
Newt swallowed nervously. “Um... they’re safe.” Before Graves could inquire further, Newt rambled, “if y-you need them in order to go to trial, I’ll happily bring them when the time comes, but please, I’d rather spare them being placed in stasis in an evidence locker. A-at a young age, occamys are incredibly social creatures and it could be devastating to their growth if they’re removed from that kind of familial environment for a prolonged period. I could write the Beast Division at the Ministry for permits as soon as this afternoon, if that’s the concern.”
Newt shifted uncomfortably as both Graves and Tina stared at him. Where Tina merely looked shocked, there was a peculiar expression on Graves’ face, his mouth open slightly and his eyes seemingly a shade darker. The director cleared his throat after a few moments of silence. “What did you say your name was?”
“Newt. Newt Scamander.”
“Scamander?” Graves repeated, incredulous. “As in—”
“Theseus Scamander, yes,” Newt said, as Graves closed his eyes and rubbed at his temple as if staving off a headache, “you see, the reason I came to find you—”
Newt was interrupted by the office door bursting open. “Sir!” the man rushing into the room exclaimed. “I’m sorry, sir, but—”
“O’Brien,” Graves ground out, the sound low in his throat, “tell me the reason you’ve invaded my office is to offer me the strongest coffee we can legally make. I’m too goddamn tired for this right now.”
“I-I’m sorry, sir, but there’s been an incident—a magical disturbance on 49th street,” O’Brien said.
Well, Newt thought wryly, at the very least someone managed to bring it up.
Graves sighed and rose to his feet. “Alright, O’Brien, with me. Goldstein, send word to Abernathy and get Scamander to a holding cell.”
Newt straightened up, eyes wide. A holding cell? He hadn’t even had a chance to tell Graves what he’d seen! “Wait, Mr. Graves, you don’t understand—”
“Sorry, Scamander, we can continue this discussion when I get back,” Graves told him, striding for the door.
“But—” The folds of the director’s coat billowed dramatically as he left the room.
Well. At least the man had looked apologetic. Sort of. Newt huffed, staring at the empty doorway, exasperated.
“I am sorry about this, Mr. Scamander,” Tina said, and the look in her eyes was truly sympathetic.
“So, you believe me, at least?” Newt asked.
Tina smiled, shrugging, “I do. Frankly, you don't seem the criminal type. But I’m afraid I will still have to take you to a holding cell. I could arrange to have some food brought down for you, if you're hungry.”
“Thank you, Miss Goldstein, but that's not necessary.”
“Oh, God, call me Tina.”
Newt grinned, the auror already growing on him despite everything. “Ah. Well, I really do prefer Newt, then. Usually when people say Mr. Scamander they mean to refer to my brother.”
They made their way out the door, Tina leading the way. “I can’t believe Mr. Graves acted like that,” Tina told him after a moment.
“Oh? Did something happen to make him angry?”
“Angry?” she snorted, “that was the most patient I've seen him all week.”
Newt stared at her. “Surely that's a joke.”
Tina shook her head wryly, then nodded in acknowledgment to an elf as they entered an elevator. “Hey, Red.”
“Heya, Goldstein,” Red answered, pulling at a lever which sent the elevator jolting downward.
“Hello,” Newt greeted him with a smile.
Red looked him up and down. “Who’s this guy?”
“The one Director Graves was yelling about yesterday.”
Newt glanced at her in surprise. “The director was absolutely livid after the raid," she told him. "He said he’s never seen someone disapparate so fast. It’s why I was a bit shocked he didn’t...well, prosecute first, ask questions later so to speak.”
Newt considered their interaction in the office. For all that Graves was questioning, he never seemed outright hostile. He seemed very dedicated to his job, had to be a powerful wizard given his position, and, as Newt had noticed in the warehouse, was strikingly handsome. In fact, under any other circumstances Newt would’ve been quite pleased with the man’s attentions on him. As the elevator doors opened, Newt hoped neither of the other occupants noticed the pink that had crept onto his cheeks.
“Alright, this way, Newt,” Tina told him, stepping out onto the floor.
Newt nodded, and followed. “It was nice to meet you,” Newt said to Red, who answered, almost startled, “uh, yeah. Right.”
They made their way down a long corridor, seeing few others, though with the late hour Newt supposed that made sense. As they turned a corner, Newt saw a man heading towards them with a sharp chin and serious face. “Abernathy,” Tina greeted him. “The director wants you—”
“I heard,” Abernathy answered, coming up to them. He spared Newt a glance, his gaze intelligent, assessing. It lasted barely a second, and then his eyes were on Tina once again, but the brief look had made Newt uneasy. “Destruction like that, must have been a beast.”
Newt snapped his gaze up from the floor, a response ready on his tongue. “Actually—”
The man’s eyes found his again, and Newt’s words died in his throat. He quickly looked away. The man’s eyes didn’t seem angry, just...strangely blank, impossible to read. Unnerving.
“What did you book him for?” Abernathy asked Tina, voice flat.
“He hasn’t been processed yet. If you’ll excuse us, sir, I have to get him to a holding cell,” Tina said curtly, taking Newt’s arm and gently urging him to keep moving forward.
Newt chanced a glance back and the man’s eyes immediately found his. He stood incredibly still, watching them walking away.
Newt turned forward again, swallowing. He quickly cast his mind away from the man’s gaze and instead to what he had said. Surely...surely they wouldn’t immediately assume the destruction was the fault of a magical creature. He knew many wizards considered creatures a danger and nothing else, that many were wary of them, but—but they had no proof!
They came to a room with a guard, who stepped aside when Tina showed him her badge. “I'm sure this will be cleared up quickly, Newt,” she told him as she led him into one of the rooms.
He merely looked at her glumly. He stared at the door for a few moments after she'd left, and yawned. He shifted. His chest grumbled at him.
He blinked. His eyes widened.
“Pickett!” he exclaimed and a small green head rose slowly from his coat pocket.
Pickett blew a raspberry at him, and crossed his arms.
Newt tugged at the magical cuffs around his wrists, and glanced at Pickett, then at the door.
Well. He couldn't just stay there.
Percival glared at the rubble of what was once a grubby row of apartments down off of 49th street. As if he didn't have enough paperwork on his hands. If he glared at it hard enough, maybe it would just go away.
O’Brien was down the street taking witness reports under the guise of a New York sergeant. Percival sighed when he heard a man describe a black wind with eyes. It was protocol to interview any witness, but he doubted any of the nomajes would give useful testimony. At least there were no injuries or deaths—a stroke of luck really. The building was condemned, actually set to be demolished in a few weeks. The irony wasn't lost on him.
“Sir,” he heard, and he turned.
The man’s eyes scanned the wreckage behind Percival, then met his. “Sir, this destruction was obviously caused by a beast of some kind.”
Percival raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. For all that the new laws concerning beasts had them working extra hours in the Smuggling and Contraband Department, Percival found it hard to believe that something this destructive, if it was a beast, had remained dormant in the city for so long, despite the Department's constant sweeps. “What brings you to that conclusion? Could've been a nomaj bomb for all we know.”
Abernathy remained unwavering. “All the witnesses seem to think it was something magical,” he reasoned.
“They think it was wind,” Percival corrected wryly.
“What kind of wind has white eyes? Respectfully, sir, it's a creature, not just a rogue wizard or bomb.”
There was that peculiar point about the white eyes—white eyes they all seemed to say, significant agreement on that front at least. Though Percival was still disinclined to believe it was a beast. The white could have been residue from some kind of spell, if anything. Percival made to reply, but a voice behind him cut him off.
“Um, no, actually that's not right at all. It isn't a creature that's done this and that's a rather prejudiced assumption to make, really.”
Abernathy had his wand raised immediately, but as soon as the voice registered Percival froze, his eyes closing. He forced himself to take a deep breath. Percival turned slowly, trying to school the disbelief from his features, because he knew that voice. Newt Scamander stood before them, head tilted slightly, wringing his hands in front of him. He had a kind of sheepish, yet half-scolding look on his face when he looked at Abernathy, though when his eyes darted to Percival he lowered them guiltily. Percival heard O’Brien’s distant voice filter through and it snapped him into action, a thunderous expression taking over his features. Scamander's eyes went slightly panicked at the sight.
Percival marched forward, grabbed the back of Scamander’s coat as he yelped in surprise, and pulled the wizard into an alley between the two adjacent buildings. “Are you kidding me?” Percival growled, glaring at Scamander, who had the gall to look irritated again. As if Percival wasn't already considering the headache Theseus was going to rain down on him when he found out MACUSA had to incarcerate his little brother. He shook his head incredulously. “What is wrong with you? Do you know what the charge is for apparating in front of nomajes? On top of the charges you already have hanging over your head?”
Scamander actually pouted, his bottom lip jutting out. “It’s almost midnight. It’s not as if they saw anything.”
“Jesus Christ,” he groaned, running a hand through his hair, and closing his eyes. “One of you Scamanders is going to do me in.”
Percival opened his eyes when Scamander said nothing in reply. The wizard had been looking at him intently, but he quickly glanced away when Percival met his eyes, a flush of pink on his cheeks. Percival blinked, realized he was close enough to the other man to see individual freckles, and hurriedly took a step back, clearing his throat.
“If it’s any consolation, I hope that’s not the case,” Scamander supplied after a moment, gaze somewhere around Percival’s chest.
Percival sighed. “You seem to have a bad habit of escaping custody and then walking right back into it again,” he said wryly.
Scamander met his eyes, for the first time unwavering. “That man is wrong. This wasn’t the work of a creature. The reason that I came to MACUSA was to find you—my brother told me I could trust you.”
Percival thought of Theseus, of how different the two brothers seemed, and yet, how they seemed to have the same attraction to danger. Newt was practically Theseus’ polar opposite in every other way. He was slim where Theseus was bulk, reserved where Theseus was boisterous.
And Percival had never had the problem of encountering Theseus at a live crime scene (yet, anyway).
“I should take you back to the Woolworth,” Percival told him, and yet it felt more like he was trying to convince himself.
Scamander exhaled through his nose and clenched his jaw. “Fine. Whatever you like. But this was not caused by a creature. This was an obscurus.” Percival looked at him sharply, the certainty of the statement throwing him for a moment, but the other man continued techily, “I came to your office to inform you of the fact, though I was unfortunately derailed by the accusations of smuggling.”
“Mercy Lewis, you were seen in the goddamn warehouse—” He stopped and took a deep breath. “An obscurus. One of the rarest magical entities ever documented,” he said, disbelief clear in his voice, "barely documented at all," he added, low irritation making his voice rougher.
“I saw it," Newt repeated firmly, and Christ he was certainly as stubborn as Theseus if not more so. "It was difficult to miss. I headed to the Woolworth immediately afterward to kindly inform the local aurors and you know the rest,” he huffed, crossing his arms, and pouting again. Percival was close to snapping at him to stop that, it was distracting.
“Say I believe you,” Percival offered after a moment though he still wasn't sure if he did, ignoring the way Scamander sighed explosively, “did you see what the obscurial looked like? Who it might’ve been?”
“I only saw the obscurus,” Scamander said regretfully. “Please, the more time spent debating and delaying now will mean more suffering in the future. Whatever child is producing this obscurus needs help.”
Percival stared at him, at his earnest, green eyes. There was something that had been nagging at him all night. “One of the occamys hatched that night, didn’t they.”
Scamander blinked owlishly at the sudden change of topic. “Um, y-yes.”
“An occamy shell could be worth as much as fifty thousand if you pawned it right," he said, carefully noting the way Newt frowned at the number. "You had enough time to leave with the shell. But you didn’t. You took the occamy and left the silver.”
Scamander shrugged, as if that was nothing, still looking like he was waiting for the punchline. “Of course. I couldn’t just leave her.”
Footsteps sounded behind them. “Sir. I can take him back to his cell,” Abernathy said, and when Percival glanced at him the man was eyeing Scamander darkly.
Percival turned back and studied Newt with his wide, honest, green eyes.
He sighed. “That won’t be necessary,” Percival said, as Scamander perked up hopefully. “Newt Scamander is now under my purview.”
“Excellent!” Scamander exclaimed in the silence after Percival’s statement. “Now, I’m sure one of the muggles must have seen something, perhaps even the identity of the obscurial—”
“I’m sorry, are you serious, sir?” Abernathy asked, staring at Percival. “We’ve already been interviewing the nomajes,” he said darkly, with a glance at Scamander, “and not one of them has given us anything. If we put out an alert for a beast now, we can cut down the time—”
Percival grit his teeth, irritation spiking once more. The other wizard had been constantly jumping on cases left and right, dropping some immediately and taking a bizarre interest in others. In particular, Abernathy always seemed to want to be assigned to run ins with the Second Salemers. Two days ago, Percival had placed him in the Records Room instead of his normal post when he wasn’t on duty, as a warning. If he kept this up, Percival might have him demoted altogether.
“You can continue to hold onto your beast theory, if you like,” Percival interrupted him coolly, “but I’m more concerned with our other, more dangerous potential threat, with the ability to shatter the statute of secrecy to pieces.” Abernathy looked ready to argue, but Percival wasn’t nearly finished. “I don’t know why it hasn’t seemed to occur to you, but we are all on the trail of the same damn thing, no matter what we speculate that it is. Now, I want you to finish conducting these interviews with O’Brien, get Goldstein up to speed, and then move forward with the evidence presented. In essence, I want you to do your goddamned job. Is that clear?”
Abernathy’s face could have been made of stone. “Yes, sir.”
Percival watched him turn back to O’Brien pensively. Abernathy had always been ambitious, but Percival didn’t understand what seemed to be directing his motivations now. He was more single-minded than ever, but not in any way that made sense.
“You can be quite frightening when you put your mind to it,” Scamander said, wide eyed with something like awe when Percival glanced at him.
He snorted when he processed the words, unintentionally quirking a small smile. “It was in the job description.”
“What?” Newt murmured almost distractedly, staring at Percival's mouth. Newt met his eyes, then hastily looked away, pink on his cheeks. “Oh, um, sorry, I was just, um—” The man’s stomach growled suddenly, and they both looked down at it.
“Hungry?” Percival asked wryly.
Newt huffed a small laugh and looked down, his unruly hair falling into his eyes. He glanced at Percival through his hair, biting his lip, and it took Percival a moment to remember what he'd been about to say. Of all the ways Theseus had described his brother, he'd never used the word distracting, though Percival now thought it apt. This Scamander was all shy smiles and freckles and bright, intelligent eyes, and Percival couldn't help but stare for longer than what would probably be deemed appropriate.
“When was the last time you ate?” Percival asked. The long silence it took for Newt to consider this spoke for itself. Percival sighed. “Do you have food wherever you’re staying?” he amended.
Scamander glanced up at him, eyes wide. “Um...a bit?”
“Good. We’re going there and you’re going to show me where you’re keeping the occamys.”
“What?” Scamander blurted, looking panicked. “Wait, I...you see they aren’t alone, the occamys, they’re, um, I have other, um, c-creatures...”
Percival eyed him warily. Of course he’d have more creatures stashed away. “As long as there isn’t anything...obviously illegal...”
“Oh, I-I have permits for them!” Newt exclaimed. He then mumbled something that sounded like “mostly.”
Percival closed his eyes tiredly. “What was that?”
“Listen,” Percival told him, rubbing a hand over his eyes, “I just need to see the occamys as a formality, to corroborate your story. At this point, I doubt any charges will stick.” When Newt still looked jumpy, he added, “I’ve known your brother a long time. He always described you as a kind person, an altruist. If,” Percival mentioned wryly, “cursed by a knack of finding trouble wherever he went.”
Newt’s cheeks flushed a pretty shade of pink, his eyes downcast. Percival swallowed roughly. Mercy Lewis, Theseus was going to kill him.
“My brother often exaggerates,” Newt mumbled.
Percival glanced at him. “He’s been right so far,” he said simply.
Newt looked at him, blinking, eyes wide, and then turned his face away again. Percival almost missed the way his mouth curled into a small, incredibly endearing smile.
“I placed a disillusionment charm on the door,” Newt began slowly, “so it might be difficult to apparate there. Would you...do you mind walking? It’s not very far.”
Percival shrugged. “I don’t mind.” In truth, he'd always preferred walking to apparating, though the job required the latter. It was rare he had a chance to slow down.
They walked in a comfortable silence for a few minutes, and when Percival glanced over, he could still see the faintest trace of that small smile.
“It’s strange,” Newt said suddenly, flushing slightly when Percival gave him his full attention, “it seems you know a lot about me, and yet I know very little of you.”
“Oh? Theseus never mentioned me? That bastard.”
Newt snorted a laugh that took them both by surprise, Percival's gaze drawn to the flash of teeth and the way Newt's eyes lit up. “Well,” Newt began, “yes and no, really. Theseus has never trusted easily, but he always told me he trusted you. He said, if I ever found myself in trouble in America—something he considered more than likely given my travels—that I should find the director of MACUSA, Percival Graves. He never liked mentioning the war, I suppose that’s why I know so little of the man behind the position.”
Percival eyed him with a raised eyebrow. Newt had a look on his face like he was patiently waiting for an answer to some implied question. “What is it you’d like to know?” Percival asked.
Newt tilted his head slightly, considering, with the tiniest crease between his brow. “How did you come to be the director of magical security?”
It was an innocent enough question, could've just been the topic of small talk with anyone, but it struck Percival how Newt looked completely engaged and ready for an answer, genuinely curious. His head was tilted slightly towards Percival, auburn hair brushing his eyelashes. Percival swallowed and searched for answer. “Well,” he said, “I always knew I wanted to be an auror. We're practically bred to see magic as infallible, but I've seen how easily it can turn destructive, terrifying. I wanted to ensure...balance. I started young after graduating from Ilvermony, and worked my way up from junior auror over the next five years. When I was eventually offered the position, I thought it would be the place I could do the most good.”
Newt was silent for a moment, then said, “you seem like a man who values rules.”
Percival gave him a wry, stern look. “They are there for a reason.”
Newt merely shrugged, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his coat. The air was chilling, though Newt didn't seem overly bothered. “I’m more of the opinion that some rules are, at best, guidelines, and at worst, meant to be ignored.”
“Oh, I’m well aware,” Percival sighed. Christ, he was like Theseus completely in that respect. The elder brother had always had a loose interpretation of the law, though he was backed by a strong moral code.
“And yet,” Newt continued, looking sideways at him with bright eyes, “you must be, at least in part, of the same opinion, given that I’m not currently in a MACUSA holding cell.”
“No, but you were supposed to be,” Percival scolded halfheartedly.
“And yet,” Newt said again, the words sounding like a smile.
Percival stuck his hands in the pockets of his coat and breathed out slowly, watching the wisp of it as is disappeared in the cold, midnight air. There was no one else on the street, no sounds other than the scuffing of their shoes on the uneven pavement. Newt seemed more relaxed than Percival had ever seen him. He supposed it was the lack of people. The other man had always appeared the slightest bit tense, both in his office and on the street corner with Abernathy. Now, his shoulders were loose instead of in danger of hiking up towards his ears, and he met Percival’s gaze more often, his eyes kind and curious.
“I’ll admit,” Percival said, eyes trained on a building in the distance, “as soon as you got away from me in that warehouse, I was determined to find you and bring you in.” In the back of his mind, Percival acknowledged it had only partly been a sense of duty. He had mostly been driven by a nagging curiosity. Also, there was the slight blow to his ego that Newt had managed to get away in the first place.
“Do I really look like a smuggler?” Newt wondered aloud.
Percival fought a smile when Newt actually looked down at himself. “No, not particularly.” No, not with his bowtie, vest, and bright blue coat. Really, there was nothing inconspicuous about Newt. Not that Percival was complaining—the coat only emphasized the color of his eyes. “But there was the fact,” Percival continued, “that I clearly saw you with something that looked suspiciously like an occamy egg cupped between your hands.”
“Ah, yes,” Newt said. “That would do it, wouldn’t it?”
“Mm,” Percival agreed.
“And then, of course, I bested you.”
“You didn’t best me, you ran away.”
Newt smiled, and Percival caught another flash of white teeth, bright eyes, and freckles. “Quite successfully, though,” Newt added cheekily.
Percival shook his head in mixed exasperation and a strange, sudden burst of fondness that he couldn’t shake. It seemed both Scamanders also had a knack of quickly inserting themselves into his life, finding a niche and settling there, belonging there.
“I still don’t quite understand why you decided not to bring me back to MACUSA,” Newt said after a moment.
Percival thought about it. He honestly didn’t quite know what had spurred his decision either. A trust in Theseus that extended to his kid brother he barely knew? The way Newt always seemed so earnest and honest? Whatever it was, he had blatantly ignored protocol for it. “I trust my instincts,” he settled on. “As soon as I saw you, I knew you weren’t malicious like those other men in the warehouse. When I spoke to you in my office, I was certain of it. What I still don't really understand are your motives.”
Newt shook his head, confusion plain on his face. “What, saving an animal for the sake of saving an animal? Is that so hard to believe?”
“Most people wouldn't do so much for so little,” Percival pointed out somberly.
Newt sighed. “When I made to intervene, I was under the impression that if I didn’t do something those occamys’ eggs would be taken and sold, and the occamys themselves would be killed. It would have killed me to stand by and knowingly let that happen. I’ve seen too many creatures abused and mistreated, kept alive only because they were able to provide something wizards deemed valuable. I became a magizoologist to protect creatures that are unable help themselves and to try to show the wizards of this world their innate value.”
Newt’s voice became fierce as he said, “I’ve known far too many people who justify the protection of a species because of what they can provide—silver shells, or healing tears. Why should any creature have to justify its existence? Imagine if someone went up to you and said, ‘well, it looks as if you’re doing a great job as director, but if you start slipping up, don’t be surprised if the words avada kedavra fly your way, because what use will you be then?’ Oh, this is it, by the way.”
Percival hadn’t even noticed they’d stopped walking, he was so stunned by the suddenly passionate and animated wizard in front of him. He glanced up at the building, then at Newt. The other man was flushed and breathing hard, brow furrowed and jaw clenched. “Sorry,” Newt said, blinking, cheeks pink again when he took in Percival’s stunned silence. “I tend to...um...ramble, I’m told, when I get going...”
Percival couldn’t have held back his smile even if he tried. He saw Newt glance down at his mouth, blink, and then turn an even darker shade of pink, if that were possible. It struck Percival that he’d smiled more that night than he had all week. "Don't be. I think you're right,” he told Newt, who, after a brief pause of disbelief, grinned back.
“Of course,” Percival said, as they made their way into the building. “And the ban on magical creatures is only straining things, increasing the amount of smuggling and ignoring the real issue.”
Newt nodded along almost frantically as they walked. “Yes, yes, exactly. Instead of attempting to restrict the amount of magical creatures in the states, MACUSA’s aim should be to create more protective reserves. That way creatures wouldn’t often stumble on large pockets of civilization and we could further avoid the ecological damage of extinction.”
Impressed, Percival observed, “you’ve given this a lot of thought.”
“If I don’t, who will?” Newt said softly. “Frankly, there aren’t a lot of wizards who care anymore. The continuous indifference is something that never fails to amaze me, in the worst way.”
They came to an apartment door which Percival couldn’t quite look at directly. “Strong spellwork,” he commented, and it truly was. The magic on the door forced his eyes away insistently, each time making him confused, briefly, as to why he’d wanted to enter. He’d already seen Newt’s skill apparating, and it seemed his charms were powerful as well.
Newt pulled out his wand, but paused, fiddling with it between his fingers. He hesitated, then said, “Mr. Graves—”
“Percival.” His last name was all well and good for underlings in the office, but hearing how stiltedly it came from Newt’s mouth felt wrong, somehow.
“Percival,” Newt amended softly, looking slightly more at ease. “I...I do not, in any way, want to impede on your duties as director, but I would like you to understand that...what I am about to show you is my life’s work. I am very fond of all of the creatures under my care.”
Percival saw a weight in Newt’s gaze that spoke volumes. The other wizard maintained eye contact, until Percival said, “I promise, I will do everything in my power to make sure things stay just as they are.”
Newt nodded, with the barest hint of a relieved smile. He opened the door, and led Percival into the small apartment, and further to the bedroom. Percival glanced around when Newt stopped there, eyes finally training on the weathered case on the bed that Newt seemed to hover over. The other wizard placed it onto the ground and slowly opened both latches and glanced back at him. “Do come inside, Percival,” Newt grinned over his shoulder.
Percival gaped, speechless. The air was suddenly fresher than it had been in the musty apartment, the horizon bending farther than he could even see. He could sense the presence of magic, a lot of it, woven together, fitted expertly like a perfectly tailored suit. There were entire worlds encased in tarp rooms, an endless suitcase filled with tiny suitcases. Percival had seen cases similar in the hands of smugglers, but those had been shoddy and crude compared to this. This...this felt real, and even with Percival’s knowledge of magic he could feel his senses being fooled. He felt the rain from the thunderbird (Mercy Lewis, a thunderbird—if Newt didn’t have paperwork this’d be a headache for the ages), and he felt the dust it swooped up sting his cheeks as it beat its enormous wings.
“Hello, Frank,” Newt said softly, hands stroking the giant creature’s beak.
Percival let out a shaky laugh. “Frank?” he asked, voice slightly strangled.
Newt turned back and grinned at him. “Isn’t he beautiful?”
Percival took in Newt’s relaxed happiness, the way the rain plastering hair to his forehead made his eyes even brighter, the brilliance of his smile, and his self-assured confidence in this place. “He is,” Percival agreed dazedly.
Newt was leading him through the various habitats, when Percival caught sight of creatures he’d only ever seen in his school textbooks. He stopped dead in amazement, while Newt carried on oblivious. “Are those graphorns?”
Newt turned back, glanced out where Percival was staring, and murmured, “oh, yes. Look, there’s Cindy now.”
Almost immediately, the ground began to shake and Percival’s eyes widened when one of the creatures came bounding along the plain towards them. Newt came up in front of him, greeting the graphorn with a gentle, “hello.” Newt turned and reached out his hand. “Would you like to meet her?”
Percival huffed an incredulous laugh, looking from Newt to the graphorn. “Cindy’s very friendly,” Newt assured him.
Hesitantly, Percival took Newt’s hand, and Newt guided him right before the great thing’s nose. Cindy took a moment to feel at his hand, then allowed him to run his hand over her head. Another graphorn appeared over a ridge, with two other small ones following close behind. “They’re the last breeding pair that exists,” Newt told him sadly. “I managed to save them, at the very least.”
Percival stared at him. “Jesus, Newt. This...what you're doing here...” Well, he didn’t quite know how to put it into words. Nothing seemed to capture the magnificence of it all. This had to have required years of work. “This is incredible,” he settled for, breathlessly, and the word was not nearly enough.
Newt’s smile was once again blinding. “Would you like to see the occamys now?”
When they arrived at the habitat, Percival couldn’t tell which of them had been from that warehouse and which Newt had already—they all looked like they belonged there. Newt had him hold one of them, and Percival dazedly brushed its feathers as it playfully nipped at his fingers. The only fully grown occamy was an imposing figure, but after a long moment of prolonged eye contact that left Percival sweating the creature huffed and curled up again, content with his presence. Newt had beamed at him, a soft look in his eyes. “Occamys are very loyal creatures,” he said quietly, as he smoothed down one of the young occamy’s feathers. “They can sense it in others as well,” he told him, and when Percival met his eyes there was a warm openness there that made him look almost ethereal.
Oh, Theseus was definitely going to kill him.
Newt gave him a tour and had him help to feed the animals, all of them very eager to see Newt. Along the way, Percival was finally introduced to a small bowtruckle that had been hiding away in Newt’s pocket. It had cautiously emerged when they passed by its home tree and chittered at Percival curiously—though Newt was quick to assure Percival that Pickett really did seem to be taking a liking to him by even showing himself at all—but he refused to leave Newt’s pocket, stubbornly crossing his arms.
Some habitats, Newt told him, held creatures that were very wary of strangers and so they skirted around them. Percival still managed to get a peek at some of them (“Jesus Christ, Newt, that’s a nundu—” “Her name is Annie, and she’s very sweet, Percival.”).
There was one corner they didn’t visit at all. Newt didn’t mention it outright, but Percival noticed he would try to subtly divert his attention away whenever they came near. He remembered, vaguely, a glimpse of snow, a cold gust that managed to reach them as far as they were, but it left Percival’s mind as soon as he glanced away. Any curiosity vanished as soon as they entered the next enclosure and as the tarp disappeared from the corner of his eye, the entire memory dissipated like smoke.
The mooncalves were among the most endearing of the animals in Newt's care, and he told Newt as much as they made their way back around. “They’re very sweet, yet shy creatures,” Newt agreed. “They did seem to really take a liking to you,” he told him, smiling softly, and Percival couldn’t help but smile back. He made to ask where Newt had found them when he felt something tugging at his pant leg and glanced down, and a creature that looked somewhat like a platypus glared up at him.
“Ah, that’s the niffler,” Newt informed him. “I’ve been trying to come up with a name for a while. He’s a sweet, but pesky thing. Has a habit of getting out.”
Percival glanced at him, a touch concerned by Newt’s flippancy. “Newt, you can’t let these creatures loose in the middle of New York.”
“I’m well aware,” Newt pouted. “The last thing I want is to put them at risk. That’s why I got the latch fixed.”
The niffler was attempting to climb Percival’s leg now, it eyes trained on Percival’s watch. “Hey! No, that’s not yours,” Newt scolded, scooping the struggling creature up. The niffler looked at Percival’s watch wistfully. “I’ve been trying to teach him that stealing is bad. He has an affinity for shiny objects.”
Percival smiled at the image of the niffler struggling in Newt’s arms and making a mess of his hair and waistcoat, but sobered quickly. There was something he needed to address, but he had been prolonging it all evening. “Newt, could we...talk? Back in the apartment?”
Newt blinked at him, then his expression became more serious, and a tad nervous. “Of course,” he said, setting the niffler down.
They emerged from the case and, to Percival, the room seemed duller in comparison. Newt’s magic was an incredible thing to behold. As Newt closed the case, Percival sighed. “You realize,” Percival said slowly, “that I will need to describe this in an official report.”
There was silence behind him, but he heard Newt’s jaw click shut. “I see,” Newt finally said woodenly.
“MACUSA cannot remain unaware of the existence of these magical creatures in the state.”
“I see,” Newt said again.
Percival sighed and turned around. “Newt this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re a British citizen and that case is technically your property—the ban on magical creatures wouldn’t apply. This could put you on MACUSA’s radar as a potential consultant for cases involving these kinds of things. You could help spread awareness, like you said.”
Newt held himself taut, right hand clenched. “What I’ve learned,” he began after a moment, “is that people tend to immediately scorn and fear what they don’t understand. Several, if not all, of the creatures under my care won’t be looked on favorably.”
“I promise you I will not let MACUSA take this case away from you,” Percival assured him, and he absolutely meant it. He knew how difficult the creation of the case must have been, knew how much of Newt’s magic was painstakingly poured into it and how much the creatures meant to him. He’d be damned if he let anyone take that from him. “I’ll edit parts of the report. God knows you don’t have a permit for that nundu.” Newt looked as if he were about to object, then thought better of it. “But MACUSA couldn’t do a thing about most of those creatures with the proper paperwork. MACUSA needs to know about you Newt, needs to know about this. Otherwise, how will anything change?”
Newt looked at him sharply. “Theseus said I can trust you,” he said eventually.
“You can. I hope you know that.”
Newt was silent for a long time. Percival watched his features hopefully. “Perhaps nothing about Frank either,” Newt murmured pensively, and Percival let out a long exhale.
Percival returned to MACUSA with the report in hand, after a long few hours, at the end of which he told Newt to “eat something already, Christ,” and practically forced him to get some sleep. The halls of the Woolworth were eerily quiet, the late shift like a skeleton crew. Only a few essential personnel were left. Percival rubbed at his eyes with the palm of his hand and yearned for, if not a bed, then some very strong coffee. He entered the musty cellar of the Records Room, dodging the files flying into shelves, and greeted Abernathy at the main desk. “Sir,” the auror said in turn, clipped.
Percival sighed. He set the folder on the desk. “Put this in the Scamander file.”
“Does he even have a file, sir?” Abernathy asked, blandly mocking.
“He does now,” Percival replied techily. He turned to go, then, sighing, turned back. “Abernathy, I think you’re wasted down here. I really do. But there’s a reason you see so little field work these days. You can’t pick and choose your cases like you’ve been doing, and you can’t blatantly ignore good insight when it’s staring you in the face.”
Abernathy merely looked at him, then smirked. “Scamander does have an easy face to stare at, doesn’t he?”
Percival inhaled sharply. A kind of shocked rage was his first reaction, but a small voice in his mind berated him—was he really so transparent? He felt hot anger well in his throat, and he narrowed his eyes, furious. “I’m done. I’m done with your constant insubordination, and I’m done making excuses for you. This is now your permanent assignment. You should be lucky if you’re still even considered an auror. Is that clear?”
Abernathy’s eyes had been cast down on the folder, but when he glanced up Percival was infuriated to find not even a hint of remorse. “Yes, sir.”
Percival stormed out, fuming, before the last syllable was even out of his mouth.
Wow, thank you all for enjoying! So many of y'all are real curious as to what's going on with Abernathy (for good reason) and I wanted to give you the answer this chapter....buuuuuut it got really, really long lol. So what I've decided to do is post the next chapter really soon, im talking like at most two days from now, so you'll have answers soon, I promise! For now, enjoy this more lighthearted chapter!
Percival returned to Newt’s apartment the next day, after a sleepless night. The whole business with Abernathy left him uneasy and he decided, when he got back to the Woolworth, he’d put in a request for a psych evaluation. Percival had known Abernathy since he was a junior auror at nineteen, and his recent behavior was worrying to say the least. As of now, however, he wanted to throw himself into the investigation. He needed some time to cool off before seeing Abernathy again, and his stewing on the matter wasn’t helping anyone.
He knocked on the door—a difficult feat considering the charm—and frowned in alarm when a moment later there was the sound of a muffled thump from inside, and a frazzled voice calling, “um, busy! Please come back at another time, thank you!”
“Newt?” he asked through the door, slightly concerned. “What’s going on?”
There was a brief silence. “Percival?” Newt asked, followed by a louder crash, “Ah! Oh, bugger—um, nothing to worry about, I just—this isn’t a great time!”
Percival knocked again more insistently. Honestly, if Newt was trying to be convincing, he wasn’t trying very hard. “Newt, open the door.”
“Um, it’s a bit of a mess at the moment—”
“Newt,” Percival growled, and after a beat, the door swung open with a distracted pull of magic from a backwards flip of Newt’s wand, hitting the wall loudly.
Percival watched, dumbfounded, as Newt placed his wand between his teeth and he scribbled furiously on a notepad, all while intermittently climbing onto the counter and yanking open kitchen cabinets and drawers, peering inside. Percival glanced at the rest of the room and found it in a similar state of disarray. Dressers had been dragged away from walls, bedsheets strewn across the floor, and the bed itself was levitating three feet in the air. Percival stared, briefly wondering if someone had spiked his coffee. “Um... Newt?”
“Hmm?” Newt answered distractedly, having paused in the center of the room, writing feverishly with a furrowed brow.
“Mercy Lewis, Newt what is going on?”
Newt looked up at him, blinked, and then glanced around the apartment as if seeing it for the first time. He looked back at Percival, sheepish, and took his wand from his mouth. “It’s the niffler,” he said, in motion once more, peering into cabinets. “I can’t find him.”
“He got out?” Percival asked incredulously. “I thought you said you got the latch fixed—”
“I did!” Newt exclaimed, a kind of giddiness in his voice, and he whirled around to face Percival again. “Don’t you see? That’s what’s so fascinating! Nifflers have a certain knack for squeezing themselves through very tight spaces—the biology behind it is really quite astounding—but the fact that he’s managed to leave the case while it’s locked suggests a level of that ability I wasn’t even aware existed—”
“Christ, Newt,” Percival groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “How do you know he’s even still here?”
“Things have been steadily disappearing for the past half hour,” Newt told him. “This,” he said, waving the pen he had been writing with, looking slightly manic with the way his hair stuck up at odd ends and his face was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, “is my spare. He took the first one while I wasn’t paying attention. It had a bit of silver on the end, you see.”
Percival thought he really should have been angry, but eventually he merely huffed out an incredulous laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the picture in front of him. Newt was, in this moment, the embodiment of chaos. Percival had always led a very ordered life, everything had its place and things moved along schedule. Meeting Newt had upended things, but Percival had never felt such a sense of absurd, inexplicable elation than he did in that moment, wondering how he could locate a niffler for the impossible, radiant, whirlwind of a wizard in front of him.
Newt tilted his head curiously at him, but Percival shook his head dismissively and suggested, “he’s drawn by things that shine, right? Things of value? Well, we collect as much of that as we can find and draw him out.”
“Excellent idea,” Newt nodded, pointing his pen at him. “The only problem is I haven’t much of that left. Oh, your watch! The niffler seemed quite taken with it yesterday.”
“Right.” Percival brought his hand to his wrist, paused, then pushed his sleeve up and stared, disbelieving.
“Oh, dear,” Newt murmured.
Percival looked up at him, then narrowed his eyes, glancing around the room. “He’s very skilled,” Percival conceded after a moment.
Newt looked as if he very much wanted to laugh, but was trying valiantly to keep his face a mask of seriousness. The effect was ruined somewhat by a slight creaking noise that brought a trickle of dust from the ceiling, which landed on Newt’s nose and made him go cross-eyed. They glanced at each other, then slowly looked up. A small bill peaked out from the top of the ceiling fan, and a corner of Percival’s watch was pulled out of view. “Don’t look so smug!” Newt called up, arms crossed.
Newt’s look of disapproval as he levitated the niffler down was almost comical. The niffler hurriedly tried to stuff Percival’s watch into its pouch, but Newt was quick to scold, “no, that is not yours. Give it back to the nice man.”
The niffler, after a moment of pouting, begrudgingly held the watch out for Percival to take. “Now, what about the rest of it?” Newt asked him. The niffler tried a look of innocent confusion, but Newt merely flipped him over and things began to clatter onto the floor, namely a multitude of coins, a few rings, and, at last, a ballpoint pen.
Percival raised his eyebrows. “Does he always get so lucky?”
Newt had the look of a long suffering parent. “You have no idea.”
Suddenly, a faint sound of whistling from the adjacent street drifted in through the window, and the niffler stiffened in Newt’s arms and slowly turned his head towards the sound. The whistling grew fainter and, as if a flip were switched, the niffler struggled and writhed so abruptly that Newt lost his grip and the creature skidded along the floor, took a leap, and crashed through the glass of the window.
Newt and Percival shared a look of panic and, with a flick of a wand that sent Newt’s suitcase to his hand, they bolted through the door, taking stairs two at a time, and rushed onto the street. Percival caught sight of the niffler turning an alley corner, and he sprinted after, Newt’s footfalls close behind. There weren’t many people on the streets yet, but there were enough to make Percival nervous. Luckily no one was quite cognizant enough to look too closely at the rodent-like figure darting between legs. “Newt, I swear—” he called back, panting. “I ask for one thing—”
“Less talking, more running, please!” Newt answered breathlessly.
The niffler made another hairpin turn and Percival heard the faint whistling cut off suddenly with a strangled shout of surprise. Percival and Newt quickly turned the corner and saw the niffler eagerly rummaging through the suitcase of a man who was seemingly knocked over, looking dazed and vaguely terrified. “Oh, great,” Percival panted, gesturing at the scene to Newt. “Just what we needed.”
“At least he’s stopped,” Newt reasoned, ever the optimist, in between large breaths.
Percival cast a quick disillusionment charm to mask both entrances to the alley. Crude, he conceded, but effective for the time being. Newt had made his way over to the niffler and again shook all of his stolen goods back into the suitcase. It appeared the majority of it was old fashioned jewelry: bracelets, rings, and brooches.
The man finally seemed to focus on the creature in Newt’s arms and let out a sound of alarm, scooting back against the wall. “Jesus. What the hell is that thing?”
“Nothing,” Percival said, in the same moment that Newt said, “he’s a niffler.”
Percival pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.
“We do apologize,” Newt continued, glancing at the man sheepishly. “He probably wouldn’t have followed you so ardently if you didn’t have so many, um—” He tilted his head to glance into the case, then finished, slowly, “...items.”
The man, looking wide-eyed and utterly lost, asked dumbfoundedly, “he, uh, likes jewelry?”
“Primarily, yes. Technically things that have a shiny quality,” Newt clarified, now trying to coax the niffler into his own case. “Is there any particular reason you’re carrying so much?”
“I, uh, need collateral for the bank,” the man answered dazedly. “Thought my grandma’s old jewelry might work.” He paused, then murmured, brow furrowed, “can’t seem to make the trip without something weird happening.”
Newt perked up at that, having successfully gotten the niffler back into the case, but Percival pulled out his wand and stepped between them. “Alright, that’s enough,” he said, aiming the wand at the man, who eyed it with trepidation. Percival couldn’t help but feel a little bad. It wasn’t the man’s fault he’d been caught up in all of this, and Percival never liked obliviation. Taking memories away seemed so invasive—it was why he tried to avoid putting himself in situations that forced his hand. “Apologies,” he told the man, and the spell was just forming at the tip of his wand when Newt shoved his arm towards the ground.
“Wait a moment,” he said with a frown at Percival, and turning towards the man, he asked, “what do you mean, ‘something weird’?”
“Newt,” Percival sighed.
“Percival,” he said, glancing at him excitedly, “what do we know of that has happened recently that could be categorized as ‘weird’?”
Percival glanced, incredulous, between Newt and the man, who was slowly inching away with a concerned expression. “Absolutely not.”
“It only happened two blocks away.”
Percival stared at Newt. “You do know this isn’t how real investigations work, right?” he asked, only half joking. Newt merely looked at him, expression hopeful. “Alright,” he sighed and glanced at the man. “What did you see?”
The man blinked at him, uncomprehendingly. “Uh...what did I...?”
“You said every time you make the trip,” Newt encouraged gently. “Did you happen to make that trip yesterday around seven?”
“Uh, yeah,” the man nodded, “yeah I did. It was uh, on my way back. That’s when I saw it.”
“This thing,” Percival asked wryly, crossing his arms, “did it happen to look like a black wind with white eyes?”
“Yeah! Jesus, yeah, that’s what the guy turned into. How’d you know?”
“The guy?” Percival froze and locked eyes with Newt, who looked quite pleased with himself. There was no way. “You saw the obscurial?”
“The child who became the black force you saw,” Newt clarified.
“Uh, I did, yeah. But, uh, he wasn’t really a child. More like nineteen or twenty, least. Hey, what’s an obscurial?”
“That’s impossible,” Percival argued. “No obscurial has ever survived to adulthood,” he said, looking at Newt for confirmation, but instead Newt looked almost stricken, his eyes never leaving Jacob.
"Are you sure?" Newt asked, voice thin.
Jacob nodded. "Yeah. He, uh, he definitely wasn't a kid."
“Did you see anything else?” Newt asked slowly.
“There was this other guy there, too. Talking to the obscurial guy. This second guy seemed to be making him kind of nervous, and when he left obscurial guy just lost it and turned into that thing—” Newt’s case twitched on the ground and the man jumped away from it, eyeing it with suspicion. “Uh, fellas, can I go now?”
“One moment, Mister...?”
“Uh, Kowalski, Jacob Kowalski.”
“Newt Scamander. Pleasure. Mr. Kowalski, do you think you could describe the two men’s appearances?”
“Uh, I don’t know, it was pretty hard to see... they were both male, had dark hair? The one who left early was dressed pretty nice...? Sorry, fellas, I don’t have much more than that,” Kowalski said apologetically.
Newt turned to Percival with a frown. “What do you usually do when your witness can’t provide detailed information?”
Percival shrugged. “Veritaserum sometimes works.”
“We are not drugging him,” Newt objected immediately, looking scandalized.
“Well, you asked,” Percival pointed out, exasperated. “We don't even know if he's giving reliable information at all. An obscurial past the age of maturity? It's unheard of.”
There was a strange expression on Newt's face, wide eyed and almost calculating. “Not in any documented case, no,” Newt murmured, "but the last documented case was two hundred years ago. Our information is slightly outdated."
“Fine," Percival conceded, studying Newt's expression curiously. "Say he saw what he says he did. Veritaserum we can use anywhere, but we can’t bring him into the Woolworth for further interrogation. Piquery would have my head if a nomaj was exposed to MACUSA headquarters, obliviation or not.”
“Then what do you propose?”
Percival sighed. He was considering another approach, but that also involved exposing Kowalski to more magic than he would have liked. “Tina’s sister, Queenie,” he said reluctantly. “She might be able to give us a clearer picture. She's a Legilimens,” he added at Newt’s questioning look.
“Ah,” Newt said, considering. “That might work.” He turned to Kowalski. “Mr. Kowalski, could we perhaps treat you to lunch?”
Queenie swung open the door with her usual bright smile, and when her eyes found Percival they grew wide. Percival nearly groaned out loud. His mental shields were usually impeccable, but it seemed Queenie was having an exceptionally good day. She glanced between him and a thankfully oblivious Newt, and looked positively elated. “Oh, honey,” she murmured, smile growing wider.
Percival shook his head at her slightly. Absolutely not.
She pouted, but the smile returned almost immediately, directed at Newt. “Hi, Sugar! Percival’s told me all about you.”
Percival rolled his eyes. Queenie was one of the few people at the Woolworth who addressed him by his first name, and it wasn’t so much that he allowed it but that he begrudgingly accepted it. Queenie had a way of getting what she wanted. She wasn’t the airhead that some people made her out to be. It was a great tactic, Percival had to admit. There was no better weapon than cultivated underestimation—a skill she and Newt seemed to share.
Newt’s cheeks turned pink and he blinked rapidly, glancing at Percival. “Oh, um, h-he has?”
“Well, not directly— you know how he is,” she told him, winking at Percival and waving a hand through the air. “Come in, no need to stand out on the stoop all night.”
As they were ushered in, Queenie finally caught sight of Kowalski. “Oh!” She glanced at Percival in surprise.
“A necessary evil,” Percival told her.
Newt huffed and frowned at him. “That’s rude.”
“No offense,” he told Kowalski, who looked slightly dazed again as he stared at Queenie.
“Uh, no problem,” Kowalski answered distractedly.
Queenie leant on the doorframe and bit her lip. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry about your bakery. I hope it works out. You bake?” Kowalski made to answer, a starstruck look on his face, but Queenie continued, “Oh, me too, sugar. I love to cook. You hungry? Whatever you like, I can whip it up for you.”
Percival glanced between the two of them. This wouldn’t end well.
“Oh!” Queenie blushed, and beamed at Kowalski. “Thanks, honey. You aren’t the first to think so,” she added with a wink.
“Alright,” Percival interrupted them, grabbing Kowalski’s lapel and pulling him inside. “That’s enough of that. Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
“Get on with... what, exactly?” Tina asked, coming in from the dining room. “Can you tell us again why the nomaj is here? And Scamander, for that matter,” she added, giving Newt a look. “I’d heard you released him, but didn’t quite get the full explanation.”
“His name’s Jacob, Teen,” Queenie murmured distractedly, running a hand through Kowalski’s hair. “Is it ok if I call you Jacob?” she asked him, and he nodded dazedly.
Percival took in Tina’s crossed arms, Newt’s sheepish expression, and Queenie and Kowalski, who were busy mooning at each other. He sighed. “Maybe we should sit down,” he conceded.
“Oh, that poor kid,” Queenie murmured sympathetically, after Percival and Newt had told them what they’d discovered.
“That’s just the thing,” Newt said, leaning forward, “Mr. Kowalski claims the boy was at least nineteen. Not quite a child.”
“Which we’re still not sure is even possible,” Percival had to point out again.
Newt sat back and drummed his fingers on the dining table pensively. His brow furrowed and his eyes went distant, as if he were remembering something. Again, Percival took note, but didn’t pry.
“More strudel, honey?” Queenie asked Jacob, who smiled at her.
“Sure, thanks, sweetheart,” he answered.
She pulled one from the oven with a flick of her wand, Jacob once again staring in awe as it landed in front of him. Percival was at least glad he’d passed the stage of shouting and shying away from things, but this would make it all the more difficult for them later. He eyed Tina across the table, and knew she was thinking the same. Jacob would have to be obliviated eventually, there was no way Percival could ignore that, but he dreaded how Queenie would take it. An angry Queenie could set the world on fire and come out looking casually innocent. A heartbroken Queenie could make the whole department feel unspeakably low, and not just as a result of her Legilimency.
That is, if the nomaj didn’t break her heart before all that. Percival eyed Kowalski suspiciously.
“Oh, he would never,” Queenie assured him, “He's the kindest, most handsome nomaj I've ever met.”
“He's the only nomaj you've ever met.”
“Really, honey,” she said turning from Percival to face Kowalski, twirling a strand of hair. “I've never met anyone like you.”
Kowalski actually winked at her. “There's no one like me.”
“Christ,” Percival groaned, putting his head in his hands.
“So, what do you think, Queen?” Tina asked, bringing them back to the matter at hand. “Do you think you could draw out a clear image?”
Queenie nodded. “Oh, I’m almost positive. It’s pretty fresh, right? Just yesterday you said?” she asked Jacob, tilting her head and resting it on her hand.
“Yeah, just yesterday,” he affirmed. “I couldn’t really make out the faces, though.”
“That’s alright, you just try to remember, real hard, and I’ll see what I can do. You’re ok with this, right hun?”
Jacob nodded, and Queenie leaned in. “Well, alright, then. Try to picture it—yeah, like that...” She had her eyes closed, but after a moment her brow furrowed. She didn’t look concentrated, but concerned.
“What is it?” Percival asked worriedly, leaning forward in his chair. “Did you recognize one of them?”
The sounds of scrubbing and boiling from the kitchen came to an abrupt stop as Queenie’s magic stuttered, and the china that had been levitating crashed to the floor. Percival shot to his feet, Jacob to the left of him doing the same. Queenie’s eyes shot open and she looked visibly upset, eyes watery. She locked eyes with Percival, and his heart sank like a rock and seemed to settle in his stomach.
“Oh, Percival,” she whispered. “Abernathy was there.”
All of the eyes in the room settled on him.
Heyyyyy what'd I tell you guys! Next chapter up already daaaamn
Now we finally answer the question: what's up with Abernathy
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Percival strode through the halls of the Woolworth, Tina and Queenie behind him. People took one look at his thunderous expression and dove out of the way, crowds parting with glances of unease. Percival felt torn in half between anger and betrayal, both feelings simmering in his gut. Christ, how long had Abernathy been withholding information, working to derail investigations? Percival couldn’t make sense of it, and as they searched through the Woolworth, he tried to neatly categorize things in his mind.
Abernathy had been taking strange cases lately, constantly teetering on the brink of disobeying orders, and now the evidence suggested he was working against MACUSA itself. Queenie had been adamant that Kowalski had seen something real, and Percival trusted her.
But it didn’t make sense. Abernathy had always been diligent about upholding magical law, believing in the need for justice and order as much as Percival.
He supposed the only way to understand would be to ask Abernathy himself.
They strode into the Records Room, wands at the ready, where a young junior auror, Julie, Percival recalled distantly, sat at the front desk. She glanced up, took one look at them, and her face went white.
“Where is Abernathy?” Percival asked rigidly.
“He—um, he’s in the b-back, sir,” Julie answered breathlessly. “Should I go and—?”
Percival strode past her, wand raised as he glanced through the endless isles. He finally found Abernathy practically lounging against a shelf, reading over some manuscript. The sight of him was absolutely infuriating. Percival ripped the journal away from his hands with a flick of his wand, and shoved him against a shelf with a hand fisted in his coat. Abernathy quirked an eyebrow, nonplussed. “Yes, sir?”
Percival raised his wand between them. “I am placing you under arrest,” he growled, “for knowingly hindering an investigation, withholding vital information from your superiors, and conspiring against MACUSA.”
Abernathy opened his mouth as if to object, then closed it, eyes scanning Percival’s, looking almost amused. “Cat’s out of the bag, I suppose,” he murmured. Percival was prepared if he chose to reach for a wand—Abernathy had never mastered wandless magic—but all the auror did was snap his fingers, and suddenly the world exploded into sound and bright light.
Percival was thrown backwards, crashing against the wall, ears ringing. He staggered to his feet as soon as he was able, squinting as the room came in and out of focus. There was a blackened ring around the spot where Abernathy had been standing, and the shelves that had surrounded them were practically demolished, some of them singed and smoking. Percival scowled and patted down his own slightly smoldering coat as he walked, coming up to the entrance again. Queenie was helping a dazed Tina from the floor, and Julie had been knocked into the desk, dust and ash in her hair.
“He knew he’d be found out eventually,” Percival grit out, shoving his wand into his coat pocket, “so he prepared a goddamn escape route.” He pointed at Tina and said, “I want every goddamn auror in this building looking for him.”
Tina nodded. “Of course, sir.”
Percival glanced at the destruction of the room and cursed under his breath. “I want that bastard found as soon as possible.”
By the time he returned to his office, he was so angry his hands shook and his jaw ached from how rigidly he’d been holding himself. He sank into his chair and stared a the paperwork on his desk, racking his memory. How long had Abernathy been doing this? Scheming, plotting behind their backs? It felt so wrong to even consider—he’d trained Abernathy, he’d known him for years, worked beside him for years.
He didn’t know how long he sat there when there was a knock at the door. He sighed. “Come in.”
Newt tentatively poked his head in, looking at him sympathetically. “Tina told me what happened,” he murmured.
Percival rubbed two fingers against his temple to stave off a looming headache. “Of course she did.”
Percival heard rather than saw Newt close the door behind him. “I didn’t get much of a chance to tell you,” Newt began, “but I’m sorry. I know he was someone you placed a lot of trust in, so...it must have been a shock.”
Percival laughed humorlessly and shook his head wryly. “Honestly,” he told Newt, glancing up, “the way he’s been acting, I should’ve seen it coming.”
Newt looked at him, expression still sympathetic, and Percival had no idea how he kept it so closed off from pity but he was grateful for it. “Were you two close?” Newt asked him carefully.
Percival breathed in deeply. Close? He didn’t know if he’d categorize it that way. He wasn’t really close with anyone, except maybe Theseus when they were very, very drunk. Percival was the very opposite of an open book, purposefully, so no, close wouldn't be the word he would choose. But he’d cared about Abernathy, cared about his progress. Abernathy had always taken his advice to heart, and Percival had been proud when he’d become a senior auror a year ago after a well won case.
After all, Percival had been the one to recruit him in the first place.
Gritting his teeth, Percival found the appropriate papers for that official report of the incident that he’d been dreading. “I must be blind,” he muttered darkly, uncapping a pen.
He didn’t really expect Newt to respond—Christ, he knew he wasn’t a great conversation partner at the moment—but after a brief silence, Newt said quietly, “it can be difficult to acknowledge the bad in people we’re close to. It’s easy to make excuses for them until it’s too late.”
It was the careful absence of emotion in Newt’s voice that had Percival immediately glancing up at him. Newt stared at the ground, mouth thin and pale. He didn’t look at all like elaborating, so Percival just nodded, swallowing dryly. “I guess so,” he agreed somberly.
“If you ever...want to talk. About any of it,” Newt said, all earnest green eyes, “I would be glad to listen. Anything to help.”
Percival nodded again tiredly. “You know what would help? If you got some sleep.”
Newt actually looked offended at the suggestion, and it almost, almost made Percival quirk a smile. “No, don’t argue with me. I know you didn’t get much with your niffler getting loose.”
Newt ran a hand through his hair, expression sheepish. “I got some,” he grumbled halfheartedly.
“Sleep,” Percival told him, pointing at the door. “We’ll convene with Kowalski again once I’ve reported Abernathy’s charges.”
Newt looked considering, biting his lip. “Are...are you sure you don’t need anything?” he asked softly.
Percival looked at him, with his steady gaze and soft expression, and a sudden wave of want rammed into him like a truck. He closed his eyes. “Yeah,” he rasped. “I’m sure.”
The clock dragged on after Newt left, and the words Percival had been writing practically blurred in front of his eyes. He had been recording Abernathy’s past cases for hours, painstakingly pouring through the details. He had finally reached those of the past month, but his pen stuttered to a stop as he began to record the current case. His encounters with Abernathy over the past few days flew through his mind, and he shot up to his feet, a feeling of growing dread overwhelming him.
Before the disturbance on 49th street, just before the obsucrial, Abernathy had taken over Records.
Percival stood up, raced into the hall, and apparated down to the lower levels, heart hammering, and he blew past the aurors who were scanning the destruction of the Records Room. He rifled through the broken shelves, each minute growing more frustrated, before he found the location he was looking for. The files were scattered, and the feeling of dread grew when Percival realized the one he needed wasn’t there. The Scamander file, with its detailed descriptions of Newt’s case, was gone.
Percival hadn’t recorded an address, but the file being missing was enough. Abernathy’s vague animosity towards Newt was more than enough. He wasted no time and apparated to the cramped hallway of Newt’s apartment building.
If Percival had thought Newt’s apartment looked ransacked before, it was nothing compared to now. The door was blown off its hinges, mostly splinters, the disillusionment charm all but obliterated.
He pulled out his wand, heart in his throat. He wanted nothing more than to make sure Newt was alright, to call his name, but he didn’t know whether Abernathy was still inside. A part of him still balked at the thought, but the evidence was right there in front of him. It was almost impossible to reconcile the wizard he thought he knew with this destruction and mayhem.
He entered the apartment silently, wand at the ready. Scanning the room revealed no one, but the living quarters were practically demolished. Furniture had been upturned, books and journals littered the floor, but there was a sense of frustration and anger about it all. Abernathy hadn’t found what he’d been looking for.
The silence was almost oppressive.
Suddenly, the back of Percival’s neck prickled, and he whirled around, eyes widening as he saw the distinct red of the cruciatus curse flying towards him. A flick of his wand brought the dining table flying up to meet the curse first, and the wood exploded into pieces. Percival ducked behind the kitchen counter for cover as jagged pieces of wood embedded themselves in the walls. “Excellent reflexes, Percy,” Abernathy’s voice called mockingly. “It’s too bad, I would have loved to see you writhe.”
Percival breathed in slowly, absolutely certain. That wasn’t Abernathy.
Percival had just been promoted to senior auror when he was asked to oversee the newly recruited wizards being trained. Overall, results were well above average, but there was one candidate who consistently caught Percival’s attention. He threw himself into the simulations and tests with a fervor Percival saw only rarely, and his scores were the highest among all of them. There was something, Percival noted curiously, that seemed to be driving him. He approached his tasks like someone who had nothing to lose, made risky close calls and practically consumed critiques, making sure this or that spell was impeccable in the next session.
A week after he first noticed him, Percival sat across from the trainee conducting one of the preliminary interviews. The first question he was supposed to ask glared on the page. “So,” he began, straightening the paper in front of him mechanically, “why did you choose to become an auror?”
The kid, Abernathy his file said, shifted forward minutely. A bead of sweat was forming at his brow despite his calm demeanor, and he took a breath before speaking. Percival bit down on a smile. “I want to help people. I want to provide a feeling of safety in the wizarding—”
“Stop,” Percival interrupted him, leaning back in his chair. “Don’t give me that memorized bullshit. Why are you really here?”
Abernathy looked startled for a moment, like a deer caught in the headlights. His expression flattened out almost immediately. “Like I said, sir.”
“We need to work on your poker face,” Percival told him.
The kid’s scowl deepened.
“You look angry, are you angry?” Percival asked, purposefully keeping his voice level and flat.
“I’m sorry, is this an interview or an interrogation?” Abernathy grit out.
“Why are you here?” Percival asked again. “If you don’t answer,” he continued, after a long silence, “I can answer the question for you.”
Abernathy narrowed his eyes at him, working his jaw. “You got some kind of file on me?” he asked, mouth tight.
Percival reached down under the desk, and placed a hefty folder onto the table. “I do,” he confirmed. “I haven’t looked at it yet,” he said, before Abernathy could come up with some retort, “but I will if you keep feeding me a fabricated answer.”
Abernathy breathed in deeply, and merely looked at him.
“I’ll ask one more time. Why are you here?”
Abernathy’s gaze dropped to the table and stayed there, his jaw clenched. When no answer was forthcoming, Percival reached for the file between them. “That file’s gonna give you the wrong answer,” Abernathy said quietly.
“Oh, yeah? What is it going to tell me?”
Abernathy looked at him. “That I’m here for revenge.”
“And you’re not?” Percival asked levelly.
Abernathy took another breath, and was silent for a while. Percival waited it out. Abernathy’s eyes were cast down when he finally said, “you know, I loved my mom. She was a squib, but she never minded it. She said...” he paused and swallowed. “She said seeing a little magic in me was more than enough for her. She worked in a nomaj copying house, long hours, but she always came back home smiling. One day, after work, she was coming home, walking through an alley and this wizard, this deranged, drunk lunatic sees her, and decides to cast the cruciatus curse.” Abernathy stopped, and met Percival’s eyes. “They said he cast that spell over fifty times.”
“Jesus,” Percival muttered.
“Yeah,” Abernathy snorted, sporting a deprecating smile. “Though I don’t think he had much to do with anything. She’s still alive, at least. That’s what people told me, trying to be consoling. At least. I visit her every week, but she’s not there anymore. Not really. She doesn’t speak, doesn’t look at me. Only stares out the window, and shakes.”
Percival watched him closely. “What happened to the wizard?”
“They had him pegged for Askaban,” Abernathy told him, voice even. “He did two years before he was released to an asylum on grounds of insanity. Apparently,” Abernathy smiled humorlessly, “he claimed that he saw her silhouette come out of the fog, and thought she was a boggart. He managed to slit his wrists a couple months later.”
Percival studied him silently. Abernathy seemed calm, at least outwardly. Percival knew the admission couldn’t have been without an old pain, and he almost regretted having to bring it up, but all aurors in training needed to be vetted thoroughly. There was no time at MACUSA for vendettas. “All this, and yet you claim that your motivations aren’t out of vengeance,” he had to point out, “even some proactive kind?”
Abernathy shook his head. His expression was completely open, removed of any tells, when he said, “no. Maybe I wanted that once. But there wasn’t anyone left to blame after he died, and even before that...” He trailed off, and stared at the wall. “It was a loss for nothing and no one’s sake, Mr. Graves.”
Percival leaned back in his chair, considering. “So. You know what I’m going to ask.”
Abernathy looked at him and Percival saw steely truth in his gaze. “I’m here because I don’t just want to see justice done. I don’t want aurors to deal with an aftermath, to deal with tragedy and pick up the pieces. I want to stop wizards who torture mothers in the streets—accidentally or not—before they even get a chance to do so. I want to spare the next kid his or her parent’s death at the hands of some fanatic. I want to make the wizarding world safer without the irony of consulting the decreasing causality statistics telling us what a bang up job we’re doing.”
Percival tamped down a smile of approval. There was a fire in Abernathy that reminded Percival of the drive he’d felt when he first started, an idealism and determination. They needed more of that in these goddamn offices. Still, he said, “kid, you’re preaching prevention. Of course it's nice not to have to start with a body and work backwards, but as nice as those cases are, they’re few and far between.”
Abernathy shrugged, and almost smiled. “With respect, sir, I’d like to work to boost those numbers.”
Percival stared, then gave a low chuckle. He crumpled up the sheet in front of him, and stood up. “Abernathy,” he said, “I expect to see you in tomorrow.”
“Of course, sir,” the young man answered easily.
Percival exited the room, and turned to the Legilimens who had been watching and listening behind the glass. The man nodded at him, but Percival had already known what the man would determine. As Percival passed by he said, “I want that kid instated as a junior auror right now.”
“Who are you?” Percival asked the imposter calmly.
There was a silence, then a chuckle. “Finally catching on, I see,” the voice said, mimicking Abernathy’s intonation, his cadence.
Whoever it was, Percival had to admit, they had paid a sickening close attention to detail.
“Tell me,” the man continued, “what was it that gave me away?”
“Cruciatus curse,” Percival stalled distractedly as he inched closer to edge of the counter.
“Oh, please. Don’t tell me it’s because no auror would stoop so low. I think you and I can agree, Percy, that that is far from true.”
Percival grit his teeth in a silent flare of anger. “No,” he continued, voice level, and chanced a glance around at the middle of the room. “He just had a particular dislike for it.”
An understatement. Percival knew Abernathy would die before casting it. A horrible thought struck him, and he amended the statement in his head with despair. Abernathy would have died before casting it. He had no way of knowing if Abernathy was still alive, and he felt the loss like a stab in the gut. It was worse than a betrayal. At least under those pretenses he’d been alive. At least.
Percival heard the abrupt creak of a floorboard and blindly fired a spell at the source of the noise. He chanced a step beyond his cover and saw the imposter deflect the blow, and he quickly fired a volley of spells in succession, hoping to catch the man off guard. The man was pressed back, but managed to counter all of the spells with a few of his own, his face a calm mask, while Percival was already sweating in concentration.
Whoever it was, they were also very, very skilled.
Percival lost track of time. The only thing he was aware of was the constant cycle: deflect, counter, attack. Misdirected spells shook the walls and blew holes through the thin plaster. Eventually, the man began to breathe hard as well, but it only seemed to spur him on, giving him more energy while Percival tired.
“It’s a shame about poor Newt,” the other man said suddenly, and Percival stiffened, barely managing to deflect a particularly nasty curse. Percival had just assumed Newt had chosen to wander off somewhere else instead of returning to the apartment. It wouldn’t have been unlike him. But really, he had no idea where Newt had gone after he left his office.
And the other man had been here first.
The imposter smirked. “The things a man could do with a mouth like that.”
Percival immediately felt rage well up in his throat, and his spells became more quick and vicious as they left his wand. “I swear, if you laid a finger on him,” he growled, feeling a keen satisfaction when the other man’s eyes widened briefly. Clearly, he had been hoping to catch Percival off guard, but he had only motivated him further. He kept the movements of his wand controlled and sharp, leaving no room for the other man to successfully land an attack.
It finally appeared as though the other man was fumbling through defensive spells, casting few of his own. The man practically snarled, his face contorting in such an ugly way that he barely resembled Abernathy at all. Percival smirked triumphantly, but it fell from his face and panic flooded his veins as he heard Newt’s voice from the doorway croak his name, as if he were in pain. He saw red auburn hair flash at the corner of his vision, and he glanced at it automatically. With one look he could tell Newt’s presence was manufactured, quickly and shoddily conjured and disappearing into smoke as soon as he looked at it. It had taken up a fraction of a second, but it was a moment too long.
Percival looked back to see a lightening fast motion of the other man’s wand, cracking like a whip through the air. An immense force sent Percival crashing backwards and he lost his footing, a sudden, intense pain in his midsection making the world blurry and muted. He fell, reeling as his head smashed against the doorframe. The world went black for a few moments as he gasped for air, and all he heard was soft, mocking laughter.
He brought his hand to the burning in his stomach, and inhaled sharply when it felt slick and wet, bringing a sharp lance of agony. Blinking, he could just make out the form of his wand in the corner and he reached for it with shaking tendrils of magic desperately. The other man carelessly waved his wand and suddenly Percival’s wand traveled through the air sluggishly, at a snail’s pace, and Percival watched, enraged, as the man plucked it from the air with a twisted grin. The other wizard considered it for a moment, turning it around in his hands. “Perhaps I could kill you with this?” the man murmured to himself. “That would be suitably ironic. It really is a perfect fit, isn't it? It seems so impeccable,” he continued, raking a finger up the length of it. “So uniform, without fault. But there's always weakness, hidden just under the surface...” he held the wand up, and suddenly red fissures glowed just beneath the wood, and the wand began to fall apart, as if eroding, chunks clattering on the floor. “Yours was easy enough to find,” the man murmured, looking down at his handiwork with a curving smile.
To Percival it felt like he had broken bone instead, something painful and close to his soul. That wand had been with him since he’d started at Ilvermorny. He stared at the shattered remnants on the floor, not really processing what he was seeing.
The imposter crouched down, coming to eye level, and he was still wearing Abernathy’s face. Percival snapped.
He hurled a confringo curse with all the strength he had left, bringing part of the ceiling raining down and sending pieces of splintered wood flying, and apparated into the bedroom. His injury made it incredibly hard to focus and he didn’t dare chance a greater distance. He cast a protection charm on the doorway, sinking on shaking legs to rest against the wall adjacent. Almost immediately the thin shield was set upon by a barrage of curses, and Percival heard that maniacal voice sing-song, “oh, what a naughty boy you are, Percy.”
Grimacing, Percival turned his attention to the gash on his midsection, bleeding sluggishly, his clothes all but soaked through. With a trembling hand, he pulled back the flap of his coat to see it more clearly. Percival saw it was deep and jagged before he had to turn his gaze away, swallowing shakily. Just looking at it made him feel dizzy. He knew he was losing too much blood too fast—he needed to heal, and quickly, if he wanted to have any chance. The doorframe was already splintering under the force of the spells, and as Percival took a breath to center himself a chunk of wood was blasted away, inches from his face.
Alright. Emotions aside. He didn’t need a wand—he could work without it. He brought both hands to the wound and began to murmur the Vulnera Sanentur, the strongest healing spell he knew. The sounds from outside the room silenced abruptly, which made Percival pause—why had he stopped?—but another bolt of pain shot up his spine as one of his hands slipped and he continued breathlessly. The last syllable had only just left his mouth when the wound tore further, and Percival choked on a scream. His ears rang and he wrenched his eyes shut against the waves of agony.
“You like that?” the man asked him quietly, suddenly by his side, breath hot in his ear. Percival twitched at the sound, but barely processed the words, his heart thumping in his ears, vision spotty. “Something special, just for you. Consider that the signature topping my resignation.”
Percival slowly turned to look at him, shifting against the doorframe painfully. He eyed the once familiar features and grit his teeth. “Revelio,” he rasped, glaring daggers into the man’s eyes, and he must have known, must have seen Percival’s intent, but he did nothing to stop the spell.
In fact, his smile grew as his hair turned white, and his eyes turned pale and cold, like chips of ice. Percival swallowed down a sudden jolt of fear, turning his face away in revulsion. This monster, this murderer, had been playacting as one of his best aurors, and Percival hadn’t even noticed. “How long?” he asked hollowly.
Even though he wasn't looking, he could hear the smile, the sickening curve of pale lips. “I'll let you think on that, Percy,” Grindelwald said, and he stood up, running a finger along the stripped bed frame. “You know, you gave me so much wonderful reading material, down there in Records. I was fascinated by this case of little Newt’s. Where exactly is he hiding it?”
Percival glared up at him, and kept his mouth shut. Grindelwald tilted his head, looking disappointed. “Oh, come now, Percy,” he said, drawing his wand.
“It must have been hard for you,” Percival mocked, his voice hoarse, “to choke out all of those ‘yes, sirs.’ For a man with such big plans, you're known to have a pretty fragile—”
A burst of red light left Percival screaming, head swimming.
“I could have taken you, instead,” Grindelwald hissed, inches from his face. “I was impatient, and little Abernathy crossed my path first, but you were anything but untouchable, remember that,” the man said, reaching out and running his fingers through Percival’s hair, as if he were petting him.
Percival jerked away, disgusted, but the fingers tightened to a fist and dragged his head back, exposing his throat.
“I wonder, if I became Percival Graves, instead,” Grindelwald mused, tracing the line of Percival’s throat with his wand, and Percival couldn’t help but feel a pang of fear at the wizard’s casual threat—the rational part of him reasoned that surely someone would notice. But then again, he hadn't with Abernathy. “I would love to see Newt again, and with your face, that could be very interesting. I’d like to have a little chat with him." Percival fought down a sigh of relief. As revolting as that thought was, it meant that Newt hadn't been here when Grindelwald had arrived. "You’re a bit of a bore, Percival,” the wizard lamented, jerking Percival’s head back farther. Percival racked his mind for a spell, anything, but his thoughts were growing fuzzy and scattered with the blood loss. “I’m sure Newt would be more fun—we both seem to have a keen interest in obscuri, wouldn’t you say? And I think little Newt knows a bit more than he’s letting on, hm?”
Grindelwald came a fraction closer, and Percival took advantage of the fact and spit in his face. The only sign of anger was the slightest twitch, and then Grindelwald pressed the tip of his wand to Percival’s temple, a steady, ominous pressure. “They say the cruciatus curse straight to the head causes instant madness,” the wizard said calmly, pressing harder. “Perhaps that would loosen your tongue.”
Percival met his gaze evenly. This wasn't how he pictured the end, but beggars couldn't be choosers. “Aren't you going to ask for my last words?" he rasped. "I thought you were supposed to be a gentleman revolutionary.”
Grindelwald grinned like a cat. “And what would the great Percival Graves say?”
Percival smirked, and braced himself. “Fuck y—”
There was a sudden commotion somewhere behind him, then Grindelwald pulled away and swore, and suddenly the room lit up with spells flying left and right. Percival saw the ominous green of the killing spell leave Grindelwald’s wand almost manically, and Percival was disgusted to think that anyone could cast something so vile so gleefully.
Still, he was unspeakably grateful for the distraction. While the chaos ensued, he tried to apply more pressure to the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but his hands were going numb and he couldn't seem to get them to cooperate. It became harder and harder to keep his eyes open, and he supposed, eventually, he must have just given in, the world going dark, gradually, like the droning turn of a dial on a radio.
When he came back to himself the first thing he saw was Newt’s face. He thought, for a moment, he was dreaming, but Newt looked pained and worried, more than Percival had ever seen him. “Hello, darling,” Newt murmured in a voice that fought not to shake. “You’re going to be right as rain in a moment, I promise.” One of Newt’s hands gently cradled the side of Percival’s face, and the other gently moved Percival’s own from the wound. Newt inhaled sharply, wincing. “Alright, just one moment love, and you’ll be alright...”
Percival realized too late what Newt intended. Newt had his wand drawn over the gash, a look of concentration on his face. “No...w-wait—” Percival rasped, but the damage was done.
The healing spell fizzled into nothingness as the wound ripped open further and a strangled scream tore through Percival’s throat, the world disappearing into blackness and muffled by a ringing in his ears. Sounds barely filtered through like wisps of smoke.
“—sus, what was that—”
“...hexed it...Percival, stay wi...”
“...et a medic—”
“Ok, ok—can’t use magic...something else...”
Percival saw Newt scramble out of his line of sight fuzzily, and he was gone for a while. Percival’s eyes must have slipped closed again, but he forced them open when he heard his voice return.
“Ok, stay with me, oh God, Percival, don't close your eyes,” Newt rambled breathlessly as he rubbed something between his hands.
Newt brought his hands to the wound and Percival instinctively braced himself for pain, but instead there was an intense feeling of cold, and then an instant numbness. Percival let out a shaky sigh. The pain dulled to a pulsing ache, and the lack of it made the exhaustion more intense, now that he wasn't fighting against something.
“Percival?” Newt urged again, cupping Percival’s face, thumbs brushing over his cheekbones, “don't close your eyes, that's it, let's wait for the medic, love. Tina’s just gone, but she'll be back soon.”
Newt’s face was incredibly pale, the freckles a stark contrast. Percival openly stared at him, too tired to care about politeness. In that moment, his bright, green eyes focused on Percival, he was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. “Your brother’s going to kill me,” he laughed breathlessly, voice practically a whisper. Wasn't that ironic.
Newt looked endearingly confused, probably for good reason, Percival didn't really know what he was saying. He felt another, if distant, wave of pain, and he instinctively shut his eyes against it. He heard Newt objecting, but he couldn't, for the life of him, open his eyes again.
The last thing he was conscious of was Newt’s voice, frantic and distraught.
I always thought Grindelwald would find some way to be more creative than just the cruciatus curse. Poor Percival.
Newt sat at Percival’s bedside, holding the unconscious auror’s hand and willing him, for the thousandth time, to wake up.
Of course, there was no movement in answer—the only indication of life was the steady rise and fall of his chest. Newt’s thumb brushed the back of Percival’s hand absently as he studied Percival’s features. The man looked calm in sleep, but pale, so much so that it made Newt’s skin crawl. He hated to see Percival so expressionless, so blank. Newt yearned to see his mouth fighting a smile again, with his eyes crinkling charmingly at the corners.
Pickett chirped mournfully from Newt's pocket, sinking down lower in the fabric, and Newt tried and failed to muster a smile for him.
It was already the third day, quickly turning to the fourth as the sun sank through the windows behind them, and Newt felt like a weight was constricting around his chest every moment Percival didn’t open his eyes.
It was almost worse than when Newt had found him in the apartment. At least then Percival could look at him.
It was Queenie who’d known. Newt had accepted Tina’s invitation for dinner and gone to the sisters’ flat. It had been surprisingly...nice, at first. It had been a while since he'd had a home cooked meal, and even longer still one with people he felt comfortable calling friends. But, unexpectedly, Queenie had turned pale, with more fright in her eyes than Newt had ever seen. He remembered how his stomach dropped when she told them, frantic, how he felt like the air in the room had thinned and his lungs felt sparse.
Taking on Grindelwald had been truly terrifying. There was a gleam in that man’s eye that spoke of a love of cruelty—Newt had seen its likeness many times before. Tina made all the difference, fighting furiously beside him, looking all the world like the righteous, powerful auror she was. Though, Newt suspected the reason Grindelwald had fled wasn’t much due to a lack of skill so much as his being caught by surprise. The sheer power behind the few spells he deigned to cast was unlike anything Newt had seen before.
When Newt had found Percival, all he felt was a horrible, gut-wrenching fear. His face had been so pale it was practically grey, twisted in pain, and there had been so much blood, a thick puddle of it growing steadily under Percival’s prone form and seeping thickly between his fingers. Newt had managed to stop the bleeding with a poultice containing a fractional amount of diluted phoenix tears. It had cost him a fortune in Egypt, and he had only had the one. He had been loathe to buy it at the time—he had discovered that the phoenix that had been used to cultivate it was long dead due to mistreatment, and the thought of in any way profiting from that set his teeth on edge. But it have would have been useful, as much as he had hated to admit it. Now, he thought it was worth every penny.
Without it, the nurses had told him somberly, Percival would be dead.
It was a nasty wound, cursed, responding dangerously to almost all forms of magic. There was no longer bleeding, but there was the beginnings of a scar, shot through with an angry black as if it were infused with ink, and a mass of painful looking bruises. It was a wound caused by dark magic. The medics had done what they could. Immediate danger had passed, but Percival still didn’t wake.
“Cruciatus curse,” they had said. “Mental and physical trauma.”
“When will he...?”
“There’s no way of knowing if he will.”
If. Not when.
Tina had shouted them out of the room then, the air darkening tellingly around her, yelling what good they were if they couldn’t save him, why don’t you just help him—
But all Newt had felt was a muted disbelief, a numbness. Percival had to come back. He had to, because Newt had never told him how much he meant to him.
Newt didn’t know what love felt like. He loved his creatures and his brother, but Percival wasn’t the same as all that, it wasn't familial like Queenie grinning and pulling him into the kitchen, or Jacob with his easy smiles.
He didn’t know what love was supposed to feel like. All he knew was that the thought of a world without Percival—absent of his hard won, but beautiful smile, and his soft, wondrous glances when he thought Newt wasn't looking—was like a world without air, or sunlight, or magic itself.
He didn’t leave Percival’s side, no matter the murmured sympathy of the nurses or the urging of the Goldsteins. He wanted to be there when Percival opened his eyes.
When the medics had determined that nothing else could be done without the use of magic that might worsen things, Newt felt a kind of anger he’d never known, but it was directed at the man who had contrived such a malicious curse. Cruelty for cruelty’s sake—it was something Newt had seen time and time again and something he could never comprehend or think to forgive. The thought of Percival in pain like that made Newt feel sick to his stomach, restless and utterly useless because for once his skill in healing magic could do absolutely nothing at all.
The light of the sun turned a gentle orange as it set, but it cast long shadows throughout the room and over Percival’s face, making him look like a ghost. Newt swallowed down a sob and brought the back of Percival’s hand to his mouth, closing his eyes. “Please,” he whispered, voice shaking. “Please, just...please, open your eyes, love.”
But there was nothing, not even a twitch.
Newt glanced away, fighting tears. “Oh, God,” he croaked, “I should have listened to you, I should have gone back, then I would have been there and maybe this wouldn’t have h-happened. I’m sorry, please, please just wake up, p-please...” His throat closed up and he couldn’t choke out anything more. He rested his forehead on Percival’s thigh and grit his teeth so hard it hurt, and he couldn’t stop silent tears from sliding down his cheeks.
He could feel the hope he’d been holding on to begin to slip away like the sunlight.
The wave of sudden despair was so all-consuming, he almost didn’t feel the twitch of the hand clasped in his own. Almost.
Newt whipped his head up so quickly it hurt, eyes wide, searching Percival’s face for any sign of movement. For a few horrible moments there was nothing, and that despair began to creep back, but then Newt saw it, the barest flutter of eyelashes. Newt leaned in closer, heart in his throat. “Percival? Percival, can you hear me?”
Percival’s brow furrowed, and sluggishly his eyes opened, unfocused at first, then settling on Newt. Percival’s expression, before pained and confused, went suddenly soft, and Newt felt elation and relief ballooning in his chest. He smiled and swallowed around the lump in his throat, so very relieved he could hardly breathe, blinking away residual tears. “Hello, darling,” he laughed, voice thick.
Percival furrowed his brow and brought a hand up—the one that Newt didn’t have clutched in a death grip—and brushed Newt’s cheek. “You’re crying,” he murmured. Then, Percival’s eyes went wide and he jolted up, hissing when it aggravated his wound and sinking back down. “Newt,” Percival began breathlessly, voice thin and hoarse, “are you alright? He hasn’t found you, has he?”
Newt shook his head, dumbfounded at the sudden anxiousness in Percival's face. “I...found me? I don’t—”
Percival looked even paler if that were possible. “Jesus, Newt, your case—he was looking for it, and I—Christ,” Percival grit his teeth, and looked away. “I practically handed it to him, that goddamn file, if I had just paid more attention...”
Newt couldn’t believe it. Percival had just woken after sustaining a near fatal injury, and he was worried about him? “Newt, I practically led him to you,” Percival continued, voice strained, and he looked shaken, pale, mouth twisted and brows furrowed, and Newt’s heart ached with the need to smooth it all away. “If you’d been there...God, I said I’d protect your case, and you, you—you’re a civilian and I put you in danger—”
Newt couldn’t stand it, listening to it, as if he might blame Percival, for anything.
Newt moved on impulse, on a whim. He surged forward and pressed his lips against Percival’s, effectively swallowing the flow of words in exchange for something much sweeter. Percival froze, and for a moment Newt felt an awful uncertainty, but in the next instant Percival relaxed into it, mouth moving languidly against Newt’s, a low groan escaping his throat that made Newt blush. Percival’s hand entwined itself in Newt’s hair, pulling him closer. Despite everything, Percival still smelled like the air before a storm, like impending rain, and it was dizzying.
Percival pulled back slightly, breathing heavily, pupils blown wide. “Oh,” he murmured, a small, dazed smile pulling at his lips, and he looked at Newt like he was something incredible.
The sight of it was almost too much to bear, and Newt closed his eyes. Just a few moments ago he'd been wondering if he would ever see Percival’s smile or his warm gaze again. “You almost bled out,” he breathed shakily, “on that apartment floor.”
Percival sighed, and reached up a hand to gently brush hair out of Newt’s face. “Hazards of the job,” he said ruefully.
“Please don’t ever do that to me again,” Newt whispered.
Percival leaned in closer, pressing their foreheads together. “I’ll try,” he said softly, “I promise.”
Newt breathed out a shaky sigh. He supposed that was as good as he was going to get. “I can’t believe you’re worried about me,” Newt laughed unsteadily, smiling crookedly.
Percival’s gaze softened again, and he said, “well,” that smile growing even larger, “you have an unfortunate knack for finding trouble.” He tilted his head and chased away Newt’s reply with a gentle kiss, slow and lingering, his arms pulling Newt so close he practically slid into the cot. A warm contentment blossomed in Newt’s chest. Everything felt perfect.
Until Percival pulled back with a grimace and a shaky exhale, his face twisted. “Ahh, what...?” he panted, and he reached down to lift up the thin hospital shirt, brow furrowed.
Newt watched his expression carefully as it flitted between confusion, anger, and resignation. It was the last that felt most like a punch to the gut. Experimentally, Percival shifted to sit up farther, succeeding in doing so, but not without a hiss of pain. Percival closed his eyes. “That bastard,” he laughed humorlessly.
Newt bit his lip. “The medics said you’d have a successful recovery i—as soon as you woke up.”
With the way Percival tensed, Newt could tell he'd caught the slip. Percival didn’t look at him, his face was turned away so Newt couldn’t see his expression, but he saw the tightness in his jaw, the sharp line of it as he grit his teeth. “What happened to him?” Percival finally growled, and his voice was low, angry, like a live wire.
“He...he escaped,” Newt told him reluctantly.
Percival breathed in slowly. “Did he say anything to you?”
Newt frowned. In the heat of the moment, he hadn’t really been paying attention. But he remembered Grindelwald’s parting words, in the instant before he disapparated. “He said, ‘you’re an eager one,’” he recounted, noting the way Percival’s hand fisted in the sheets, shaking slightly. “And then...”
“What?” Percival pressed.
Newt swallowed, recalling the sickening smile on the wizard’s face. “Then, he said, ‘it isn’t time for you yet.’”
“Christ,” Percival grit out angrily, “fucker has a flair for dramatics, doesn’t he.”
“So it would seem,” Newt agreed weakly.
He saw Percival’s throat work, his expression dark. He finally looked at Newt, gaze carefully blank, expression strangely stiff. “He was looking for you, and your case,” Percival said slowly, plainly, as if running it through his mind himself, “because he believes you have more information on obscuri than he does.” Percival didn't say it out loud, but it was clear he thought the same, watching Newt quietly. Percival’s eyes were calculating—not cold, but considering, and he was worryingly silent after he'd spoken his peace.
Newt glanced away, nerves gnawing away at his stomach. He hadn't shown the obscurus in his case to anyone, ever. Obscurials were widely treated as evil, when they were just tormented children. The Ministry or MACUSA were not much better.
He would have been content to leave the failure behind him, but he had kept the obscurus to study it because he knew, given the right knowledge, given enough time, he could have saved her. That was the worst of it. He could have accepted failure if he was doomed to it, but there was a sliver of a chance for success, and he had let it slip through his fingers.
He could still hear the pounding of frightened villagers at the walls, once her neighbors, now desperate to be rid of her, to lock her away. Aamira had been gentle, but so very afraid, and so very angry. She'd been ripped away from her home, her parents killed in the chaos, and in answer the obscurus ripped her apart from the inside. Newt couldn't separate it in time.
He kept the obscurus hidden away partly because he feared MACUSA’s stance on them, but more so because it was a reminder of that little girl’s blood on his hands. Sometimes, in the quiet morning hours he spent in his case tending to his creatures, the guilt almost ate him alive.
But Newt trusted Percival, more than he did almost anyone else, and so he took a deep breath and murmured, “I have to show you something.”
Heyyy sorry that this chapter's a little short, I have a lot of shit to do unfortunately but I wanted to get an update out for you guys
Don't worry, Percival isn't too badly off--but he isn't quite up to full strength anymore, thanks to Grindelwald (dun dun duuun)
And of course it takes a near death experience for either of these two to make a move lol--more sickening fluff to come! ;D
There was only a brief respite after Percival had woken before there was a whirlwind of activity. Nurses and medics buzzed around him, asking him to stretch this way and that, perform this or that spell—just precautions, they assured him, just to make sure. His spells weren't as strong wandless but they were enough to satisfy. Still, he couldn’t help but recall the remnants of his wand scattered across that apartment floor with a bitter resignation.
There would be no lasting damage, so the nurses said. Most of them he knew by name, with the amount of times he'd been in the hospital wing, either for a colleague or for himself. They knew what a difficult patient he could be and didn't blink when he grumbled at them, merely tutting and continuing on. Even the slightest twist of his torso left a dull ache, but it was so much better than the memory of blood seeping through his fingers, useless spells on the tip of his tongue, the sickening creep of death around the corner.
He remembered how Newt had looked so very pale that night, his usually steady hands shaking against Percival’s skin.
Newt still looked tired as he leaned against one of the windows, waning sunlight in his hair. His eyes were bright, though, and a smile pulled at his lips whenever Percival caught his gaze. He would quickly glance away, cheeks tinged pink, and Percival thought it incredibly endearing. He was out of the way of the nurses but adamant about staying, thank you very much. He’d looked stubborn enough that no one had questioned him. Really, Percival thought, the nurses were more indulging than anything else, but seeing Newt with his arms crossed, feet planted as if he thought they might try to force him out the door was unexpectedly adorable.
Newt was very much quiet, though. Had been since he'd murmured softly, thinly, “I need to show you something.”
Percival considered Newt as the nurses finished up around him. Percival had known for a while now that there was something constantly on Newt’s mind concerning the obscurus. Something Newt hadn’t told him. While he wondered what exactly that was, strangely, he wasn’t overly concerned. He solely chalked it up to the fact that Newt planned to inform him, but there was a warm contentment that settled in his chest whenever Newt glanced over, whenever Percival entertained the thought of pulling him close and kissing him again, because they hadn’t had nearly enough time before.
He didn’t spend time reading into it.
As the swarm of nurses thinned and Percival was finally allowed to set his feet on the floor, Queenie and Tina were admitted in and Queenie made a beeline for where he stood, wrapping her arms around him with so much momentum he almost tumbled over. “Oh, God, Percival! We’re so glad you’re awake!” She squeezed tighter and Percival groaned. “Oh!” She pulled back, wincing. “Sorry, honey.”
Percival gave her a tight smile. “It’s fine.”
Queenie bit her lip and glanced down. “It still hurts?”
Percival caught Newt’s concerned gaze and sighed. Honestly, could everyone stop worrying over him? He’d had worse in the line of duty before, especially as a junior auror. “Not much,” he told her.
Still, Queenie’s eyes looked watery and she worried her bottom lip between her teeth. “I should have seen it,” she murmured, voice mournful, “Abernathy was always sweet on me...I should have noticed when things changed. His mind was always pretty closed off but...sometimes things slipped through. Lately, it’s been silent from him and I just,” she swallowed, “I just didn’t notice. Maybe if I had...”
Percival sighed. “Let’s not burden ourselves with maybes. There’s a chance Abernathy’s still alive. Grindelwald had to have been using polyjuice.” Percival didn’t say that now that they knew he’d been masquerading as Abernathy, Grindelwald would have no need to keep the auror around any longer. Percival may have cemented Abernathy’s death sentence the moment he saw Grindelwald’s face.
He could tell Tina and Queenie were considering the same, Queenie’s face crestfallen and Tina’s jaw set rigidly. “Still, sir,” Tina said, “we’re glad you’re alright. Everyone in the office is.” She stopped and wrung her hands together, then said, “we found the fragments of your wand.”
“Let me guess,” Percival said wryly, “unsalvageable.” Wands were notoriously finicky after even the most successful repair jobs, and Percival couldn’t have an unstable wand, as much as he’d been attached to it.
Tina pressed her lips together. “Unfortunately, yes, but we...we thought we could pool together and, well...” Queenie nudged her with an arm and a smile, and a sleek box materialized in Tina’s hands.
“We thought we could do the next best thing,” Queenie grinned, and Tina handed the box over to him.
He took it bemusedly, glancing between them with a raised brow, then opened it to reveal a pristine wand not unlike the one he’d had. He looked up at them in surprise. “An authentic Quintana, like the one you lost,” Tina said, a small smile pulling at her lips. “He was a bitch to track down.”
Percival held the wand up, turning it in the low light, and huffed incredulously. “I had no idea he was still in business.”
“Technically, he isn’t. Only does private orders, but we told him if he did us this favor, a recent apparition violation of his would go away,” Tina said, looking smug.
Percival narrowed his eyes halfheartedly. “And you’re telling me this with such confidence because you think I won’t reprimand you for that?”
“Of course, sir,” Tina grinned.
Tina did always have good instincts—it was part of what made her such a skilled auror.
“Do you think it’ll fit with you?” Queenie asked, tilting her head. “Does it feel right, do you think? We asked Quintana to make it as close to the original as possible, but they’re always real choosy, you know?”
Percival took a step back and held the wand out. It slotted comfortably in his palm, and experimentally he cast a patronus charm. White light immediately shone from the tip of it, and his patronus materialized smoothly, the wand giving no resistance. Queenie clapped, elated, and Tina was grinning ear to ear. Percival shot them a small smile.
His patronus, meanwhile, trotted over to Newt without hesitation, who caught sight of it with wide eyes and a blinding smile. “Hello, darling! Oh, you are gorgeous aren’t you,” Newt murmured to it, before glancing up at him, cheeks still stretched in a happy grin. “Your patronus is a hippogriff?”
Percival felt his cheeks heat and heard Queenie giggle. He cleared his throat. “Uh, yes.”
“The caster of the spell is nearly as handsome as you are, darling,” Newt told it, glancing up at Percival with bright, laughing eyes.
The patronus disappeared as Percival lost all concentration reserved for it. Newt looked mischievous, and nearly as smug as Tina.
Percival huffed. Well, two could play and all that. He smirked and apparated forward, coming so close his nose nearly touched Newt’s own. He could apparate without one, but with a wand he was so much more precise. “Well,” he murmured, eyes dropping to Newt’s lips, smirk widening when Newt followed suit, his cheeks going pink, “I think this wand will work just fine.”
“That’s good,” Tina said, voice dry as a desert. “You’ll need it.”
Percival frowned, and considered just ignoring the ominous statement in favor of kissing Newt again, who didn’t even look like he’d heard. Percival thought he deserved that much. “Why?” he asked halfheartedly, already leaning in.
“Piquery wants to see you.”
“Who?” Newt asked, tilting his head and blinking in confusion. He pouted and looked at Percival’s mouth. “Can it wait?”
Someone clearly wanted Percival to suffer before he really went out.
Piquery was furious. Percival had seen her truly angry only a few times before. Her anger was quiet, smoldering until something tipped the scales, like a low burning flame over a gas leak. It was all in the way she set her jaw, the way she towered unmoving over her desk, hands spread across it, somehow rigid and graceful at the same time. “Can you tell me,” she asked quietly, dangerously, “why a supposed obscurus is wreaking havoc on my city and why aurors are whispering that Grindelwald walked these halls as easily as he would have walked the streets? How about,” she added stiffly when Percival opened his mouth to answer, “why I was informed as an afterthought?”
“We haven’t confirmed the obscurus’ existence,” Percival explained warily, “nor have we found any obscurial, but we have several witnesses with reliable testimony. It’s a lead we’ve been pursuing, and one that we were only aware of a few days ago. As for Grindelwald...” he swallowed, remembering the way Abernathy’s face had melted away like hot wax to reveal cruel, cold eyes. “He assumed Abernathy’s identity. That’s how he gained access.”
“And now he’s gone. Did he give any indication of what he was doing here?” she asked, instantly pragmatic, strategic.
“I have reason to believe he might be involved with the obscurus case,” Percival told her.
She glanced at him, eyes sharp. “And what reason might that be?”
Percival fought the urge to shudder. He could still feel that sickly sweet breath on his face, the wand digging into his throat. “He told me he had a ‘keen interest in obscuri.’ And he seemed... eager, ” he decided on, the word tasting foul on his tongue, “to speak to one of my witnesses.”
Piquery was silent, her face unreadable. For a moment her eyes glanced down as if she could see the fresh bandages underneath his shirt (she was always eerily cognizant, Percival wouldn’t be surprised if she really could ) and her frown deepened. “Which witness would draw his attention like that?” she asked slowly.
“Newt Scamander,” Percival told her, plowing on even as he saw recognition in her eyes, “he’s a magizoologist and identified the disturbance as an obscurus—”
“Newt Scamander,” she repeated, raising an eyebrow. “Theseus Scamander’s brother? The one from the smuggling bust that you let walk?”
Percival rolled his eyes. “He was clearly uninvolved and had rather the opposite of criminal intent.”
Piquery raised an eyebrow. “So he narrowly avoids being indicted by your good graces—I wasn't even aware you had good graces—and when he cries obscurus we’re expected to believe him?”
“I’ve interrogated hundreds of people as an auror, Seraphina. I know a lie when I hear one, I don’t even need a registered Legilimens behind the glass anymore, as you very well know.” Percival stepped forward and put his hands on the desk. “Nothing that has come out of Newt Scamander’s mouth has been a lie.”
She stared at him, then raised her wand to her neck, and amplified her voice through the halls, never breaking eye contact. “Someone bring me Newt Scamander.” Her tone brooked no argument. Percival immediately heard panicked scuffling outside of the door, no doubt some junior auror rushing to make an impression.
It was almost comical how quickly Newt was ushered into the room, wide eyed, making an aborted dive for the closing door. “Mister Scamander,” Piquery said, her tone hard. Newt swallowed and his eyes fluttered around the room, rarely making eye contact. “Percival seems to have developed a bleeding heart where you’re concerned. Tell me, why should we believe your testimony when you’ve stolen impounded MACUSA property?” At Newt’s seemingly terrified silence, Piquery snapped, “the occamy eggs, Mister Scamander, where are they?”
Newt’s throat worked and he stuttered nervously, “they—um, w-well—”
Alright, that was enough. They’d been through this before, after all. “They’re gone,” Percival ground out. “It’s done, they’re on British soil, we can’t touch them.”
Piquery narrowed her eyes. “I wasn’t aware evidence was eligible for extradition.”
Percival saw Newt stiffen out of the corner of his eye, and warning bells went off in his head. Newt finally looked at Piquery, and he could see something fierce there. “How many occamys have you kept in your evidence lockers, Madam President?” Newt asked, unwavering.
Piquery glanced at him, mouth a flat line. “I can assure you Mister Scamander, we’ve had experience—”
“So you’d know, therefore, that an occamy of the age of those in the warehouse forced into stasis would lose the shine of their scales, that they’d become a dull grey? Or that they’ve been known to lose their ability to change size?”
“Newt,” Percival warned. Where Grindelwald’s magic had felt volatile and unpredictable, like lightning, Seraphina’s was steady, low and thrumming, coiled around the room like a viper posed to strike. Newt’s felt calm in comparison, but just as infinite, like a still lake. Watching them argue was suddenly like watching two freight trains bear down on each other, two immovable forces on a collision course.
“We treat animals in evidence humanely—”
“Do you?” Newt objected, huffing. “Even if you were to release them afterward, a slim chance I’m sure, the loss of their abilities along with the emotional strain of captivity would be an effective death sentence in their natural habitats.”
“Would you suggest that we release these animals on the streets of New York?” Piquery scoffed, glancing at Percival incredulously.
Percival opened his mouth to defend him, but clearly Newt was on a roll because he continued, without even blinking, “I suggest an effort be made to immediately return them to an environment befitting their needs.”
Piquery tilted her head slightly and looked considering. “An environment like this case of yours?”
Percival shot her a look. So Piquery had gotten around to reading his report after all. Newt opened and closed his mouth, suddenly stiff as a board. “Actually,” he murmured, mouth tight, “my case is meant to be a temporary environment, until the animals are capable of surviving in the wild where they belong.”
Piquery eyed him, and while her expression was unreadable, she seemed less irate. "How do you know so much about our stasis lockers, Mister Scamander?" she asked after a moment.
Newt shoved his hands in the pockets of his coat and his eyes drifted away. "Procedure for containment of magical creatures is much the same in most law enforcement circles."
Percival supposed he was referring to the Ministry and wondered if he hadn’t had similar arguments with Theseus. It certainly wouldn’t have surprised him, now that he knew how headstrong the both of them were, in their own way.
Piquery glanced between them and sat at her desk. She smiled wryly, a small, brief thing. "I see why Percival likes you," she said dryly. "He always values unrestrained honesty."
Newt blinked in blatant surprise, looking at Percival with wide eyes. Percival huffed at the comment, crossing his arms. “So you believe his testimony, then?” Percival asked. “That he’s telling the truth?”
Piquery sighed. "I may not be a naturally skilled Legilimens, but even I can tell that much. But,” Piquery continued, expression hard again, “that doesn't change the fact that an obscurus in America seems particularly implausible. Graves, if this lead proves false we will have wasted precious resources and time.”
“With all due respect, Madam President,” Percival said, “considering Grindelwald’s appearance and interest in the subject, I’d say it’s become anything but implausible.”
After a moment, Piquery nodded. “I trust your judgement, Graves. You have aurors assigned to the investigation, I assume?”
“Of course,” Percival replied.
“Good.” Piquery’s eyes locked on Newt’s. “Mister Scamander, I’d still like to see that case of yours.”
Newt’s eyes widened, and he shot a glance at Percival, looking panicked. It only took a moment for Percival to guess why. Whatever had been on Newt’s mind and whatever he wanted to show him must have been in the case. “Newt doesn’t have it here,” Percival told her calmly. “I can bring him back tomorrow with the case. It’s been a long night.”
Again, Piquery’s eyes glanced at his midsection as if she could see what lay beneath the fabric, and her mouth tightened. “You’re right. Get some rest, Graves,” she said, and while that wasn’t really what Percival had meant, he’d take it all the same, because Newt still looked on edge, like he wanted to be anywhere else.
Still, as they left her office, Percival couldn’t stop his grumbled, “I’ve been resting for three days.”
Piquery’s voice, piqued, came from behind them almost immediately, “you have been unconscious for three days. Go home, Graves,” and the door shut, clearly signaling the end of the discussion.
Percival raised an eyebrow and glanced at Newt, who was looking at him with wide eyes. “That went well.”
Newt merely stared at him, clearly thinking otherwise.
“What was it you wanted to show me?” Percival asked, figuring it would be best to get it out of the way.
Newt breathed in deeply and closed his eyes. “I... I need to get my case from Tina’s apartment and then...” He blinked and looked at Percival, mouth twisted. “I suppose we can’t go back to my flat, can we?”
“No,” Percival agreed, thinking on the ruin it must have been in. No doubt it would be crawling with nomaj detectives and aurors alike. “But we’re not entirely out of options.”
Newt’s case lay on Percival’s living room floor as Newt guided him toward the habitat he’d hidden away from the world.
They’d been greeted at Percival’s heavily warded door by a old, grey, hulking Bullmastiff, though she was an absolute sweetheart. “Usually she’s less friendly with strangers,” Percival had said, slightly perplexed.
Newt had grinned up at him from where he knelt giving the dog a generous belly rub. “Really?”
“Admittedly her bark is worse than her bite,” Percival had said, the corners of his eyes crinkling, “but people don’t usually get close enough to find out. Her name’s Mora.”
“Mora,” Newt had repeated, chuckling when the name sent the dog’s tail wagging lazily, her tongue lolling. “It's very pretty. Does it mean anything?” he had asked, glancing up, catching a hint of Percival’s warm, soft smile.
“It’s a nickname really, for Alohomora ,” Percival answered. “She’s always had a knack for getting into everything,” he added wryly, giving Mora a quick scritch behind the ears.
Newt had wanted to draw the moment out, perhaps catch a glimpse of that smile again. It had been strangely... domestic in a way he’d rarely experienced, but he knew he needed to address the obscurus as soon as possible. Still, the idea of merely brushing it off and ensuring that Percival’s soft looks would stay had been incredibly tempting.
Because he knew what it would look like, to an auror, to see the very object of investigation hidden away in Newt’s possession. But if Percival found out, without Newt telling him himself, it would be infinitely worse.
They had entered the living room, Mora trailing behind, and Newt had opened the case.
He knew Percival caught sight of the habitat when the auror stiffened behind him. Newt winced, though he’d been expecting an averse reaction.
“This was here before,” Percival murmured, and when Newt glanced back his eyes were unreadable.
“Yes,” Newt agreed, fighting the anxiousness in the pit of his stomach. “I put the concealment and memory charms up as soon as I built it. I...I didn’t want the wrong person to stumble upon it, and really I just...” He cast a glance at the tarp. "I just don't like to think on it," he finished faintly, "when I don't have to."
Percival sent him a sharp look. “Newt, I think you should show me what’s in there right now.”
Newt nodded shakily, brushed away the enchantments with his wand, and pushed back the flap to let Percival through.
When Newt had built the habitat, he’d gone through several different climates. The obscurus had shrunk away from any source of heat, shaking and whirring as if threatening to burst out of the barrier Newt had crafted, to dissipate into nothingness. It only ever calmed when the temperature dipped below freezing, drifting lazily as if it were only a breeze, as if it had never hurt a fly.
Perhaps that was why it had been so violent in the Sudanese heat.
“Newt, what is this?” Percival asked, rigid, emotionless, his face blank as he turned from the obscurus to look at Newt, and this was precisely what Newt was afraid of.
The obscurus hung steadily in the air in front of them. Newt always thought the space around it felt colder than anything else.
“When I was in Africa three months ago, on the trail of an injured Erumpent, I met an obscurial,” Newt told him, the memory vivid in his mind. He swallowed, staring at the blinding snow so he wouldn’t see Percival’s face. He couldn’t stand to see it so suddenly impassive. “Her name was Aamira,” he said, the name sticking in his throat for a moment, “and she was eight years old.”
There was nothing but silence from Percival, so he continued, “she’d lost her parents and the obscurus...the obscurus twisted her grief into rage. She lost control. I-I tried to help her,” he said, the words sounding thin, flimsy to his own ears because he really hadn’t made any difference in the end, had he? “I...I thought I could bring her back, you see, I thought...” Newt took a shaking breath. “I managed to separate the obscurus, but it was...traumatic for her. She’d been through so much and it just...”
He closed his eyes. “I wasn’t quick enough,” he mumbled, her face fresh in his mind as if it were yesterday. “She was already...she was gone by the time I managed it.” He could feel tears stinging behind his eyes, but didn’t let any of them fall. He felt as wrung out as he had that day, kneeling disbelieving in the dirt as the separated obscurus floated mockingly above her unmoving body. Without movement, she’d seemed so incredibly small.
Percival’s shoes appeared, blurry, in his line of sight, and suddenly Percival’s arms were around him, clutching him tightly. Newt let out a surprised sob, his arms wrapping automatically around Percival’s chest. “It can’t hurt anyone, I promise,” he mumbled thickly, and Percival’s grip tightened.
“I know, Newt, I know,” Percival murmured against his hair.
He didn't know how long they remained like that, intertwined, Percival’s hand running gently through his hair. Percival was steady, solid, real, like an anchor, and the rise and fall of his chest against Newt’s was calming, helping to steady his own breaths.
Percival pulled back and Newt’s heart stuttered for a moment before Percival kissed him firmly, hands warm on Newt’s cheeks, chasing away the cold.
Percival pulled away slowly, and his eyes met Newt’s. “You could have told me, before,” he said, brushing Newt’s cheeks, his brown eyes soft. “I wouldn't have been angry.”
“I'm sorry,” Newt whispered.
“Don't be,” Percival answered without hesitation, leaning in and kissing him again, the press of his lips feather light. “Don't ever be.”
They left the habitat behind—Percival’s arm steady around his waist, a blossoming contentement in his chest—in favor of the easy comfort of Percival’s home. He found himself cozily entangled in the sheets of Percival’s bed, the warmth of Percival’s chest snug at his back. Despite the fact that true exhaustion was finally hitting him, (when had he really slept last, and slept well?) he felt almost jittery all the same, butterflies in his stomach.
He realized hadn't felt this unabashedly happy and content in a long time.
Newt smiled against the pillow, hand brushing Percival’s where he’d slung his arm around Newt’s waist sleepily, and finally drifted off to the steady cadence of Percival’s breathing.
Looooool when I said expect fluff guess I meant angst and then fluff
Also I just really wanted Graves to have a dog?? Like a really big, old Mastiff lol sorry if that was jarring for anyone
Thanks for reading! More to come soon ;)
Newt sat in an ice cold room, hands wrenched behind him by frigid metal, and it took several moments for him to focus on anything in particular other than the chill he felt in his bones, as if someone had laced his body through with freezing iron. There was a table in front of him pulled so close it dug into his chest, and with every shallow breath he could feel it digging between his ribs. He caught a glimpse of himself, fuzzily, in a mirror beyond the table, a vague silhouette, but making out anything else was like catching glimpses underwater, like his surroundings were overexposed.
The room felt similar to the MACUSA holding cell he’d stayed in briefly—the same grey, lifeless coloring—but somehow distorted, the angles of the walls not quite lining up.
“Newt,” he heard, and the voice was so familiar he could have cried, but even so it felt like it took ages for him to drag his head up through the fogginess.
Any happiness he might have felt at seeing a familiar face automatically disappeared as soon as he looked up, because something was very wrong. Percival sat across from him, but wasn’t even looking at him, a strange expression on his face and his eyes—not quite right, not like Newt knew them—fixed on the obscurus in its confines, floating just above the table. “Newt, what is this?” Percival asked, his voice low, accusing.
Newt’s stomach dropped, panic and guilt like a vice around his throat, even as the words themselves rang distantly in his memory. Percival’s gaze flicked to meet Newt’s eyes and there was that sense of wrongness again in Newt’s gut, like a sudden, unpleasant feeling of falling. And yet, despite the panic, the words Percival had used still niggled at the back of his mind.
He’d heard them before.
“You didn’t say it like that,” Newt murmured slowly, realizing as he spoke the words aloud. Around him, the walls seemed to shift, shaking at the foundation.
He...he remembered he told Percival about Aamira, about Sudan. And Percival had never been accusing. If anything, he had been carefully unaccusing . “That...” Newt frowned and stared at Percival. “I told you—”
“You brought this dangerous creature into New York,” Percival continued, and Newt balked at the way he looked, distant and almost...flippant. Percival shook his head and tilted it, as if mystified, “what purpose were you hoping to achieve other than mass disruption—”
“—or the exposure of the magical world?”
“I didn't—It c-can’t hurt anyone, it can’t survive outside of there, you know that—”
Newt saw something in Percival’s eyes flicker that made his voice cut out, something sharp and calculating, before Percival’s gaze turned abruptly to the obscurus. “So it’s useless without the host,” he murmured, and the sentence felt like a slap. Newt gaped at him, outright.
“Useless?” The word felt vile in his mouth. The way Percival had said it so carelessly, so matter-of-factly made his skin crawl. “That... is a parasitical magical force...” Newt swallowed, throat closing up, “that killed a child, what on earth could you use it for?” He stared at Percival incredulously, appalled.
All the breath left Newt’s lungs when he realized that Percival hadn’t even bothered to look at him again, his eyes still fixed to the obscurus as if possessed. At the silence, Percival’s eyes met his slowly, drawing away from the obscurus almost reluctantly, and Newt pressed back in his chair when he saw not even a semblance of warmth in them.
The room shook, rattling, dust raining from the ceiling, and their surroundings distorted further.
Percival leaned forward, his hands suddenly coming to grip the sides of the table, white knuckled. The obscurus between them whirred violently within its confines like a sudden hurricane, making Newt flinch. “What on earth, indeed?” Percival murmured, mock pensive, a kind of thinly concealed amusement in his voice, in the barest twist of lips.
The room practically jolted around them, the walls creaking and groaning, and Percival glanced up as more dust rained down, a brief, irritated expression crossing his face, before he schooled his features. “We’re almost out of time,” Newt heard him murmur. “How unfortunately astute you are.” Percival looked at him again and with a blink the brown of his eyes gave way to cold blue like shutters on a window, and Newt’s heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. “So eager for answers, Newt,” the man wearing Percival’s face tsked, and as he leaned closer the movement gave Newt a look at the mirror beyond.
He caught the barest glimpse of white hair.
Newt met those cold eyes again, terror rising in his throat, his breaths coming short. The false Percival reached out a hand and gently brushed a tendril of hair from Newt’s face, fingers ghosting over his skin. Newt tried to jerk back but that invasive cold, strong as iron, suddenly seized his muscles, his bones, the brief touch cementing him in place. Even his breath was caught in his throat, as if the molecules themselves were crystallizing.
The man wearing Percival’s face grinned ever wider. “Didn’t I tell you?” he murmured almost conspiratorial, his freezing breath sickly sweet. His eyes raked over Newt’s face. “I knew you'd be useful.”
The obscurus exploded suddenly from its confines, black tendrils like a swarm of locusts, stinging, and everything—light, sound, air, and that smile—was swallowed up in it.
Newt woke up with his breath caught in his throat, his heart hammering in his ears, sheets clenched in his fists. He gazed at an unfamiliar ceiling, carefully still as his heartbeat steadily calmed. The remnants of his dream were already fading, chased away by the waking world, and Newt didn't chase after, content to let the afterimages drift away like smoke.
But even though he wrenched his own shut against the memory, he could still see those cold eyes, intrusive and wrong, in a familiar face, and that feeling of wrongness settled around him like a cloud.
He sat up, the sheets no longer warm but confining, and glanced to his right, an irrational fear making his chest feel tight. He breathed easier when he saw that Percival looked the same, undisturbed, still asleep. Really, he didn't know what else he expected. Newt immediately felt a little foolish, lingering unease giving way to a sudden contentment when he saw Percival shift and shove his face further into the pillow. It was somehow heartening to see that for all his usual outward perfection, Percival was still susceptible to bed head.
The bed was large, more comfortable than what Newt was used to, though despite the spaciousness of it they had both nestled cozily in the middle for most of the night. Until now, however. Newt checked the time, unsurprised to find it was already the early hours of morning, when the sky outside was still dark. Despite the lingering tiredness behind his eyes, Newt was wide awake with nervous, itching energy.
He tried to slip out of the bed quietly, disturbing the sheets as little as possible, but when he glanced back Percival’s eyes (brown, Newt was quite happy to note) were open, squinting at him.
“You alright?” Percival mumbled drowsily.
“Fine,” Newt answered quickly, with a small smile at the sight of Percival yawning, rumpledness making the man all the more attractive. “Just woke up, thought I'd use the time to tend the case.”
Percival closed his eyes and disappeared further under the covers. “Do you always wake up before the sun?” he grumbled. “Even I'm not that bad.”
“Only sometimes, I promise,” Newt grinned. “Go back to sleep, love.”
Percival murmured something incoherent, which Newt took as agreement.
He was at the door when Percival said distantly, almost to himself, “I think there's... tea, somewhere in some... cabinet somewhere.”
“Isn't that a bit of a stereotype?”
“I don't hear you denying it,” Percival replied, muffled slightly.
Newt huffed a laugh and left feeling lighter.
Newt found he liked Percival’s home very much. He expected it was passed down—it had an old elegance to it that Newt quite liked, but it wasn’t overly opulent or large. While he was sure Percival came from some money, it didn’t show outright. The house was functional, understated, and beautiful, and Newt thought it fit its occupant well.
He did end up helping himself to tea, deciding as he passed the kitchen on his way to the case. It felt like ages since he'd had any. The kind Percival remembered was only slightly difficult to find—it took a few minutes of sifting through unsurprisingly organized cabinets. It was bagged, inexpensive but blessedly caffeinated. Mora plodded up to him as he set up the kettle, and he patted her absently.
Newt was used to manually making his tea so, unfortunately, the familiar movements served as no distraction, even in an unfamiliar kitchen. He couldn’t cast the dream from his mind—something was nagging at him, some detail.
How unfortunately astute you are.
Newt made a face after he sipped the tea. It was bitter as anything. He’d left it steeping for too long.
I knew you'd be useful.
He shivered, unable to cast away the thought of Grindelwald in Percival’s place. Those eyes could only have belonged to the fanatic, glinting, dangerous and impassive. Newt drained the rest of the tea and watched it disappear, swirling. There was no way he could drink it, not with his stomach swimming like this.
He stepped down into his case and paused for a moment in his storeroom, trying to shake off the feeling of dread that refused to recede. Newt jumped at a sudden rattling of his desk. Narrowing his eyes at the offending thing, he stepped closer, cautious. The desk stilled at his approach, but one of the drawers shivered tellingly. Newt yanked it open, and inside, the niffler blinked at him, quickly attempting to stuff yet another of Newt’s silver pens into his pouch. Newt huffed and reached inside, picking the squirming creature up. “You pesky thing,” Newt murmured, “what am I going to do with you?” he asked, smiling wryly.
An idea struck him as he regarded the niffler’s attempt at an innocent expression. Well. That would certainly be a distraction.
Containment charms were notoriously difficult to conjure and finicky with maintenance, but immensely powerful, so Newt had only bothered with basic ones for the boundaries of his case. Now that he knew the extent of the niffler’s absconding abilities, he decided it was time for an upgrade.
Newt hadn’t kept track of how long he’d been crafting spells, weaving them together like yarn. The extent of magical security he was attempting took up all his concentration. One misstep and he might doom the whole endeavor. Once he was finished, in theory, no magical creature could wiggle through with the case closed, and there would go Newt’s worry of one of his creatures left in peril on the streets of New York.
It was lucky, then, that he only caught sight of Percival once the last remnant of the spell left his wand, because he jumped practically a foot in the air in surprise. Newt was glad that Percival didn’t seem to notice. The auror’s eyes were on the newly shimmering web of magic encapsulating the air, his face open and unguarded. This also allowed Newt to stare outright, because he hadn’t had much of a chance to observe Percival the night before. They had both been too exhausted for anything, but now Newt caught a clear look, without bedsheets obscuring things. He had thought Percival handsome in his suit and coat, his image pristine and perfect. Now his hair was a ruffled mess, his white button down untucked and mostly undone, devoid of coat, or scarf, or anything that might distract from the column of skin that ran down past the line of his throat.
“No wonder it was so quiet.” Percival’s voice, all quiet humor and fondness, filtered through slowly, and Newt felt red creep onto his cheeks as Percival’s eyes settled on him for a moment, his gaze soft. Percival glanced up again, and Newt couldn’t help but continue to stare. Percival was almost even more stunning half dressed, and the brief thought that crossed his mind—that he wouldn’t mind seeing what little Percival had on removed —made him blush all the more. “It’s gorgeous spellwork,” Percival murmured appreciatively. The niffler chose that moment to make a pass for Percival’s watch again, springing for it from where he'd been scuffling about at Newt’s feet, but Percival merely lifted his arm out of the way, an amused turn to his mouth. “Should be useful to keep this one where he belongs, hm?” Percival said, glancing at Newt as he finished, but Newt couldn’t hide his slight grimace at the word useful , and he knew Percival had caught it, however small the movement had been. Percival had always been observant.
Percival frowned, all his attention on Newt. “Are you alright?” he asked, the same question he’d posed when Newt had startled awake, heart threatening to pound out of his chest.
Newt thought about dismissing it, thought about distracting himself with Percival, thought about carding his fingers through Percival’s hair and trailing his mouth down Percival’s chest. But much as he wanted to, it wouldn’t cure the feeling at the pit of his stomach, the unease he’d been trying to chase away.
“I’m...” Newt swallowed, and Percival must have seen something in his expression because he came closer, brows drawn together. “I don’t know,” Newt murmured honestly. “I’ve been trying to put it out of my mind but...” Percival frowned, obvious concern in his eyes, and Newt paused, feeling that familiar foolishness crop up again. Perhaps he was just blowing things out of proportion.
And yet he could still feel that icy stare, cold fingers on his face. Newt swallowed. “I dreamt about him.”
Percival didn’t ask who. He knew, Newt could see it in the way the line of his jaw tightened, the way his features stiffened. “Tell me,” Percival said, voice calmer than Newt felt, and Newt did, the memory of the dream not having gone far as he’d thought, as he’d hoped.
As Newt spoke the line of Percival’s jaw grew harsher, sharper. Newt had expected that. What worried him was the way Percival went pale. “Do you think it was legilimency?” Percival asked, eyes searching.
“I—” Newt began to answer, a negative ready on his tongue, but something in Percival’s expression made him reconsider. He thought he was familiar enough with legilimency, and not just from Queenie’s occasional slips into his mind. Leta had been loud with her thoughts back at Hogwarts, particularly when they returned from vacations, her emotions projecting. She was one of the few, like Queenie, who’d been born with a natural inclination for it. But then again, he’d never had cause to consider himself a victim of Legilimency before. None of what he knew had been paired with malintent.
And he had felt, in the dream, that something was very wrong.
It had been Theseus who had tried to teach him the basics of Occlumency after he’d learned of it at Hogwarts, though Newt had been silently opposed to the idea. Newt wasn’t the one who planned to be an auror after all. He remembered the afternoon clearly only because he’d been itching to return to an intriguing nest of kneazles he’d found. He’d been taking notes on their familial dynamics when Theseus had approached him, and so Newt hadn’t paid much attention to the well-meaning lecture. But something Theseus had said came filtering back through Newt’s mind. “Dreams are your best and worst ally in Occlumency. On the one, few wizards have the skill to invade dreams, fewer still are able to manipulate them, and the things are unstable as hell. As soon as you’ve even started to suspect something, the dream will begin to fall apart around you. On the other, you’re vulnerable. Asleep, you can’t actively protect yourself.”
“Newt?” Percival said, drawing Newt from his thoughts. There was a note of urgency in his voice that gave Newt pause, that sent a prickle of warning down his spine.
“You think it is. Why?” Newt asked slowly, hesitantly.
“Because he told me he wanted to have a chat with you,” Percival said, expression twisted as if the words sickened him, “wearing my face.”
Suddenly the dread was well founded, his unease warranted, and Newt thought, perhaps, he should be panicked. Instead, he found himself with his head clear, thoughts racing. If it had been Grindelwald... his skin prickled, but he shoved the feeling away. It was as if something slotted into place in Newt’s mind, a missing piece.
So it’s useless without the host.
“Maybe that's not entirely a bad thing,” Newt mumbled distractedly.
“What?” Newt only half registered Percival’s perplexed look as he ran through his dream in his mind.
So it's useless without the host.
“He needs him,” Newt murmured, realization and opportunity coming to him in a rush as he met Percival’s confused gaze. “But we already knew that, we know he was talking with the obscurial, that he’s interested in obscuri for his own purposes, right?”
“For his war,” Percival agreed grimly, that slight bewilderment at Newt’s reaction still in his eyes, “I’m sure he’s looking to exploit the obscurus. A method of exposing the magical world and a tool for the subsequent fallout all in one.”
“Exactly,” Newt said, breathless. “But he’s known the obscurial’s identity for far longer than us. Yet, there’s only been one count of destruction. The longer he’s in New York the longer he risks being caught, and he doesn’t strike me as the kind to waste time.”
Percival nodded, a considering look in his eyes. “So he hasn’t been able to convince the obscurial to do what he wants.”
“And now, if it really was him in the dream, he knows he can’t get what he wants without the obscurial. He can’t kill the obscurial in a fit of frustration or separate the obscurus and retain the kind of power he wants. Grindelwald needs him,” Newt repeated fervently, “fully intact, and now he knows it. It’s in his best interest to keep the obscurial alive—”
“Which gives us the best chance of finding him,” Percival concluded, nodding. He stared at Newt for a beat, incredulous, and shook his head. “Newt, only you could consider this a good thing.”
Newt huffed, feeling a manic kind of energy running through him. He realized he’d gradually been losing hope, especially after Percival’s injury. It would have been easy for the obscurial to burn out or to be killed before Newt even knew his name, but now he felt as though there was a chance. The obscurial had already lasted so long, if Jacob was right, and that meant he was strong, perhaps strong enough to survive a separation of the obscurus. Newt might be able to help him like he couldn’t with Aamira. Ironic, that that could come from an invasion of his mind. Bile rose up in his throat at the thought and he fought to keep it down, closing his eyes briefly. “I’m good at finding silver linings, I suppose,” Newt answered, forcing a smile.
Newt could still see a worried look in Percival’s eyes though. “Newt—”
“I’m fine, Percival,” Newt tried to assure, and he managed to keep the words from sticking in his throat, managed to keep them even. “Right now, I just want to find that obscurial.”
Percival looked at him as if he didn’t know whether to be worried, exasperated, or fond, his expression settling before Newt could determine which won out. Judging by the fact that Percival bit off what sounded like another question, he thought it may have been the first. Percival sighed, his eyes studying Newt’s face. “Alright,” Percival conceded eventually, slowly, a determined set to his jaw. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
They headed back towards Newt’s storeroom and Newt pretended not to see Percival’s scrutinizing glances.
A thought struck him, and Newt began, “I thought—didn't the president want to—”
Percival shook his head without breaking stride. “Piquery can wait. Grindelwald has always been a step ahead,” he said, a muscle ticking in his jaw. “It’s time we caught up.”
“There must be more you can see.” Percival’s voice held thinly contained frustration, and Newt could see the sentiment echoed in the furrow on Queenie’s brow, the way she breathed out sharply when she opened her eyes.
“It’s still blurry,” she said, hands wringing in her lap, “Jacob only caught a glimpse.”
The man in question looked apologetic, sitting at the dining table next to Queenie, his hand covering hers gently and stilling the nervous movement. Percival huffed and pushed away from where he’d been leaning on the table, an abrupt motion. “What did he look like? What was he wearing, what were his surroundings like?” Percival asked, restlessly pacing.
Newt briefly met Tina’s eyes from the other side of the room. Her arms were crossed as she leaned against the wall and her eyes tracked Percival’s movements across the floor like one might watch a feral animal.
“Percival,” Newt interjected softly, “we bought time, remember?”
Percival let out an explosive sigh and shook his head distractedly. “We don’t know that for sure. It's been too quiet, too long since an incident. Three days I was lying in that infirmary, and nothing since?” he pointed out, incredulous, glancing between Newt and Tina. He pressed a palm against his forehead. “Something's coming, and if we don't get ahead of it...” Percival stopped his pacing abruptly. “Would a pensieve help?” he asked Queenie.
Queenie blinked, and nodded. “It...it might. I think we have one in the other room.”
Newt followed Percival when he went to search for it, eyes on the tense line of Percival’s shoulders. The room they entered must have been magical, there was no way it could have fit in the flat otherwise. It was cluttered, filled with boxes that were draped with fabrics, a single bulb floating mid air casting ominous shadows. Percival took one look at the mess and held out his hand. A stack of boxes in the corner shook and exploded outwards, the pensieve, practically a blur, coming flying through the air towards them. Percival caught it and turned it around in his hands before heading back toward the door. Newt remained where he was, leaning against the door frame. “You made quite a mess,” he said.
“I’ll clean it up,” Percival snapped, making to pass, but Newt shifted, blocking the doorway.
“You’re acting boorish,” Newt admonished, uncowed by Percival’s glowering look, “and unreasonable.”
“I’m trying to make headway in this investigation,” Percival grit out.
“Well, you clearly don't have to try too hard to be an ass,” Newt snapped back.
Percival scoffed and turned around, coat swishing. He thumped the pensieve against his leg, once, twice. The flat was stiflingly quiet. Newt was sure the rest of its occupants had heard his outburst. “I’m trying to find him,” Percival murmured lowly.
Newt knew immediately he wasn’t talking about the obscurial, and the fact made him huff with irritation. “Oh, will you—are you so desperate to prove—”
Percival whirled around, the look on his face incredulous. The rest of Newt’s tirade died in his throat when he realized what Percival was going to say. It had been...a while since someone bothered to worry for him other than Theseus. He’d forgotten what it looked like, what it felt like. He remembered Percival waking up in the infirmary, remembered him asking immediately if Newt was alright, and thought, oh.
Percival rubbed a hand over his mouth and swallowed. “I need to find him,” he said slowly, meeting Newt’s eyes deliberately, “because this time he’s set his sights on you.”
“I’m fine.” Newt felt like he’d been repeating himself over and over again that day. He’d said as much to Percival earlier but this time his voice shook slightly and he cursed himself for it. He hadn’t had time to prepare the answer.
The truth was he hadn’t really allowed himself to think on what had happened. He’d taken what little good news he could find and had blocked everything else away. He hadn’t truly considered the fact that that man with his cold eyes had been crawling around in his mind, however briefly, warping Newt’s memories and smiling as he did so.
“I’m fine,” Newt repeated thinly, wrapping an arm around himself. He couldn’t even convince himself this time.
He heard Percival place the pensieve on the floor and come closer, but Newt couldn't quite find the courage to meet his eyes. Percival gently reached out a hand and brushed his cheek, and Newt thought, briefly apprehensive, that he might flash back to the dream and those cold fingers on his face, but the moment never came. It was another thing Grindelwald had gotten wrong, it seemed. There was only Percival, his palm warm against Newt’s cheek, the scent of him like impending rain, and the soft brown of his eyes when Newt looked up. “We’ll find them,” Percival said, “both of them, I promise.”
Newt nodded, his chest tight but with something other than dread, something lighter. Percival’s gaze was warm, fond, even though Newt could see that worry pulling at the corners. Before Percival could pull away Newt leaned in and kissed him, a gentle brush of lips. “I’m sorry I snapped at you,” he murmured, so close he could feel Percival’s huff of laughter and slight smile.
“Don’t be,” Percival said, eyes crinkling as his smile widened. “I deserved it.”
“You were being a bit of an ass,” Newt agreed, patting Percival twice on the lapel before spinning on his heel, making to return to the dining table. He didn’t quite grin outright at Percival’s slight huff of laughter behind him, but it was a near thing.
Newt saw Queenie was trying to hold back a smile of her own when Percival returned with the pensieve, her pursed lips and gleaming eyes giving the game away slightly. Percival gave her a stern, ineffective glance that only made the grin appear full force. With the pensive in front of her, Queenie turned to Jacob, pulling his wand out. “This won’t hurt, honey, but I’m going to need you to keep still and picture exactly what you remember, okay?”
Jacob was slightly wide eyed, but merely said, “uh, yeah, sure.”
They all watched, rapt, hoping for something as Queenie pulled the memory from his mind, coiling it inside the pensieve. They drew closer to see the images as they appeared. It was as Jacob had told them: Abernathy—or the man who had looked like Abernathy—spoke to a young man (but he was at least nineteen, Newt saw, which meant he was years older than any recorded case of obscurials). The two of them were close, Abernathy leaning in often, his hands on the young man’s shoulders. The young man was hunched in on himself, arms wrapping around his body like it was instinctive, but his features were hard to make out. Newt could see dark hair, perhaps dark eyes, but anything else—
“Wait,” Percival said, extending a hand over the pensieve so the image froze while the young man was turned slightly towards them. “He’s holding something in his arms.” Percival’s hand turned and the image grew larger, centered around the young man. It looked like some kind of pamphlet, with lettering and a picture in black ink. Newt could barely make out the word ‘witches’ before the rest was obscured by the young man’s hand.
Tina inhaled sharply. “It’s...that’s one of the Second Salemers’ flyers, that’s—” She squinted, and with a wave of her hand the pensieve focused what was visible of the young man’s face. Tina breathed out, eyes widening. “That’s Credence Barebone. I met him once, the poor thing, he was trying to hand me a flyer, almost flinched away like I would hit him. He could barely stutter out his name when I asked. That was before Abernathy...” she trailed off, glancing at Percival.
“Before Abernathy took over the Second Salemer cases,” Percival finished, the line of his arm tense where it leaned on the table.
“You couldn’t have known, sir,” Tina murmured.
Percival shook his head slightly, his expression troubled. “I should have known,” Percival said, eyes on the pensieve and yet distant, “but we’re past ‘should haves’ now.” He glanced at Newt, then Tina. “We have a name, and a possible location.”
“Percival,” Newt said, garnering his attention again, “you saw for yourself how old he was. The fact that he’s survived this long means that if we can get to him, I can separate the obscurus, I know it. I can help him.”
Percival’s gaze was considering, level, and Newt could see his mind working. Percival glanced at Tina and Queenie, and told them, “meet us at MACUSA.” To Newt, he said, “come on, we need your case.”
Newt blinked. “My case?”
Percival nodded, coming up beside him. “If you’re going to save Credence Barebone,” he said, and there was a kind of confidence in his voice, as if he truly believed Newt would, “I need to convince Piquery to let you.”
Newt, his case in hand as they entered the Woolworth Building, knew something was wrong. The first immediate sign was the lack of people. Before the building had been filled with aurors and wizards bustling about, but the few people he saw now from the entryway practically ran with purpose. The second, most obvious, was the grand clock hanging in the foyer, with its hands directed at the emergency section, the red color flashing ominously. Percival cursed under his breath at the sight.
A young auror began to blow past them, but Percival reached out and grabbed the man’s arm, stopping him in his tracks. “You,” Percival growled, “report.”
The auror let out a squeak of surprise, his face quickly morphing into terror when he saw Percival’s expression, hard, authoritative. “T-there’s been an attack,” the auror told him breathlessly, as Newt’s stomach sank, “a magical attack, sir. The nomaj senator, Henry Shaw, is dead.”
Oh my goooooood this ch was so hard to write jfdjfsflkjflsjflsjlfj idk why lol
also, Tina knows Credence but only in passing, not like in the film when she intervened while he was being beaten, in case that wasn't clear
just a disclaimer: some of the dialogue in Newt's dream was pulled directly from Fantastic Beasts
Thanks for reading! <3
“T-there’s been an attack, a magical attack, sir. The nomaj senator, Henry Shaw, is dead.”
The words felt like a wall, a sudden obstruction in their path slamming down in tandem with the feeling of disbelief in Newt’s stomach. Briefly, he entertained the thought that this might be something else, not an obscurial, perhaps just a rogue wizard, or Grindelwald himself. Even that would have been preferable. But it would be foolish to wish away what was obvious. An obscurus was naturally destructive. This had only been a matter of time, and time was now slipping through their fingers.
Newt saw Percival go incredibly still out of the corner of his eye and briefly felt a flicker of unease. What if Percival now felt differently about helping Credence? Percival’s carefully measured gaze studied that of the terrified young auror, giving away nothing. “When?” he asked, voice low, but level in a way Newt envied.
“The warning went out j-just a few minutes ago,” the auror told them, anxious eyes shifting between them.
Percival’s questions came quickly, blunt. “Where? Who were the witnesses to it?”
“I—well, I only just got the news—”
“Spit it out then,” Percival snapped, his stillness devolving into a whipcord like tension.
The auror went pale and Newt distantly felt a little sorry for him, but he was mostly concerned with what the auror had to say about Credence, his gaze flicking between them anxiously. “S-senator Shaw was k-killed during a campaign speech, s-sir, these strange markings left o-on his face. Evidently h-he was suspended in the air and slammed into the p-podium by...an invisible force. Several crowd members were i-injured as well, sir.” Percival’s expression went grim for a moment but the look of it was gone in an instant. Newt saw it neatly packed away, Percival’s eyes assessing throughout.
“How many nomajes were there?” Percival asked levelly.
“At l-least fifty, sir.”
Percival stared at him for a moment more, but his eyes were distant, his thoughts clearly far from the young auror. He released the auror’s arm, waving him distractedly on his way. Relief was plain on the auror’s face as Newt watched him scurry off.
“Newt,” Percival said, and when Newt turned to face him there was a troubled look in his eyes, a slight frown at his mouth. He seemed to be wrestling with what he wanted to say, mouth opening, then closing. With a sigh, Percival’s eyes turned decisive, unwavering. “Newt, can you really separate the obscurus? I mean,” Percival clarified before Newt could respond, “do you think there’s a real chance of this succeeding? That the obscurus will be impotent afterward, like the one in your case?”
It’s useless without the host.
The words came almost automatically to his tongue, at the forefront of his mind, but Newt bit down on them immediately, disgusted at the compulsion to say them aloud. He shook his head slightly as if he could will the thought away, wrenching his eyes shut. This was not the time. “The obscurus is harmless once it’s been separated,” Newt said, fighting the urge to press his hands against the sudden pounding in his head. “And yes, I... I did it once before, after all, I was just... I was j-just too late for her. But you’ve seen the obscurus yourself,” Newt continued, plowing on despite the flicker of concern on Percival’s face. “You know I can.”
Percival took in his expression for a moment, then nodded once. “Okay,” he said, sparing another, unreadable glance at the great clock hanging above them, then looking back at Newt. “Follow me.”
They walked through the halls of the Woolworth, the expanse of corridors still like a maze, ever entangling and winding. Just as Newt thought they must be close to breaching the other side of the building, there was just more. It took Newt a few moments, but he realized he didn’t recognize anything from his last visit. To reach Piquery’s office, he had taken an elevator, and yet they remained on the first floor. He glanced at Percival nervously. “Are we not going to see the President?” he asked.
Percival shook his head, not breaking stride. “No. Things have changed.”
Newt waited a beat, but Percival didn’t seem to be forthcoming, his expression distracted, distant. “I don’t understand,” he said, and Percival finally looked over, blinking as if shaking out of a fog. “Don’t we need Piquery’s support?”
“I doubt we’ll get it now,” Percival muttered, “and she won’t be in her office, she’s more likely already presiding over the council. And we can’t persuade all of them.”
“The council?” Newt didn’t like the sound of it, and he didn’t like Percival’s answer.
“A massive break of the Statute like this,” Percival murmured grimly, “constitutes international emergency. Whatever decision is made regarding both the issue of the obscurus and Grindelwald will be a result of a majority vote.”
Newt stopped walking. Percival glanced back and came to a halt as well, sighing. “Newt, we have to—”
“It isn’t his fault,” Newt said, the protest in Credence’s defense coming out shaky, thin. He grit his teeth in frustration. It was just...the thought of a council coldly debating Credence’s fate left him feeling sick, with dread crawling in his stomach. He thought he knew how it would go. The wizarding world had been particularly on edge as of late. With the threat of Grindelwald and his desire to expose them, who knew what the council might deem necessary.
After all, there were plenty in Sudan who had thought Aamira better off dead.
“It isn’t his fault,” he said again, his voice almost rigid with how much he needed Percival to understand.
Percival stared at him, brows drawn together. He raked a hand through his hair, glancing away for a moment, as if parsing out his words. “Newt,” Percival began gently, “I know that may seem obvious to you—”
“Credence wasn’t in control,” Newt said, drawing closer as if he could physically bring Percival to see his point.
Percival’s expression only grew more grim. “Newt, a senator died. A nomaj senator. In front of countless witnesses.”
“Percival, I’m telling you he isn’t responsible. And I’m not saying this out of wishful thinking or sympathy,” Newt asserted, and seeing Percival’s still dubious expression—ever the lawman—he switched tactics. “Imagine there’s a bomb, strapped to your chest,” Newt tried, at the very least capturing Percival’s curiosity, evident in the quirk of a brow. “You can’t take it off and no one else can see it. Imagine it’s rigged to go off at any negative emotion. Rage, or sorrow, or fear. Even guilt. Any one of them could set it off, and if it does the blast is funneled toward whatever or whoever caused the emotion in the first place. How long do you think you could last?”
Percival studied Newt’s face, brow furrowed. Finally, after what felt like hours where Newt held his breath, Percival sighed. “Comparing Credence to a ticking bomb will do wonders to assuage concerns, Newt,” Percival commented wryly.
Newt smacked him lightly on the chest in pseudo-annoyance, but was unable to hold back his hopeful smile. “So you agree?”
“It’s a defense,” Percival murmured, his eyes for a moment incredibly fond when he looked at Newt. “I can work with it.”
Newt blinked in surprise, the words processing. “You...you’ll be his defense?” Admittedly Newt hadn’t thought beyond separating the obscurus, ensuring Credence’s safety. He hadn’t considered any legal proceedings afterward—though Percival clearly had.
Percival sent him a slightly perplexed look. “Of course I will,” he said, as if it were obvious, and in Newt’s mind realization suddenly struck.
He had thought he had been trying to convince Percival that Credence still deserved to be saved. But to Percival that had never been in question. He had merely been concerned for the success of a trial afterward. A trial to clear Credence’s name.
Which meant that Percival still intended to help him separate the obscurus. “We’re going behind the council’s back,” Newt breathed, staring at Percival wide-eyed. “That’s why we’re in a hurry, why we’re not going to Piquery.”
Percival’s mouth quirked upward, a wry twist of lips. “Easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, so they say.”
Newt gaped at him and, rather embarrassingly, felt hot pinpricks of tears at the back of his eyes. He was so used to being met with doubt, wizards questioning him at every turn. They never seemed to believe him when he argued for his creatures and Percival had initially doubted him. Even Theseus gave Newt funny looks occasionally, as if he was being particularly hard headed and obstinate. But it struck Newt that Percival believed in Credence’s innocence and was now willing to risk his position to aid in separating the obscurus, based on Newt’s word alone.
Newt felt a surge of emotion at the back of his throat, something huge and powerful like a wave. Percival saw the tears in Newt’s eyes and his expression turned to one of concern, but before he could utter anything Newt lunged forward and caught his mouth in a kiss, Percival’s cheeks warm and slightly stubbled under his palms. Percival huffed in surprise but tilted his head into it, his hands settling on Newt’s waist, a comfortable, grounding weight.
Newt felt almost dizzy with the surge of affection he felt for the man in front of him. He pulled back slightly, reluctantly, if only for the need to breathe, and could not hold back a smile when he saw Percival's soft and vaguely stunned expression. “Thank you,” he murmured, eyes steady on Percival’s own.
Percival’s gaze softened further. “Just tell me you at least have some semblance of a plan,” Percival asked, half-serious, though his expression was still fond.
“We’re going to save Credence,” Newt said, “and stop Grindelwald.”
Percival closed his eyes briefly, exhaling. “That’s really more of a to do list, Newt.”
Newt tilted his head slightly, conceding that. “Perhaps,” he admitted sheepishly. “But you clearly had a destination in mind.”
Percival nodded. “We need to find O’Brien. He’s not high enough in rank to be present in the meeting, and he only answers to me.”
“We need eyes on the Second Salemer house. If anyone apparates within a hundred feet, we’ll know.”
Newt recognized O’Brien as the man he’d seen in Percival’s office during his brief interrogation. The man was friendly enough to Newt though, which was surprising, but Newt couldn’t say he minded. Newt noticed that when Percival asked for O’Brien’s discretion, the man didn’t even blink an eye. He chalked it up to the kind of loyalty Percival inspired and, glancing sideways at the easy confidence with which Percival gave the order, Newt really couldn’t doubt it.
He’d noticed junior aurors seemed simultaneously terrified and in awe of Percival, and Newt understood why. He remembered his first impression of Percival: someone powerful, authoritative, hard to read. It was no wonder people who had only caught glimpses thought him imposing. But then there was Tina and Queenie and O’Brien, who seemed loyal to a fault. And Newt, who was now, he was certain, completely besotted. Percival eyed him curiously as Newt fought down a grin.
Funny, how things worked out.
They returned to Percival’s office and found Tina and Queenie waiting inside. “Sir!” Tina exclaimed, jolting to her feet from where she’d been waiting, eyes wide. “Shouldn’t you—we heard about Shaw, aren’t you expected at—”
“Tina,” Percival interrupted, raising a hand. “Breathe.”
Queenie glanced between Percival and Newt, and her eyes widened.
“That’s right,” Percival said to her, and to both of them he said, “we’re about to do something very stupid and possibly illegal, depending on what the council decides. Now, clearly I don’t expect you two to—”
“This is about Credence?” Tina asked, but Newt saw her expression already shift into something determined and fierce. Queenie was grinning from ear to ear.
Tina shoved her hands in the pockets of her coat and quirked an eyebrow, any trace of nervous movement from before having vanished. “When do we start, sir?”
They planned to find both Credence and Grindelwald at the Second Salemer house, but they needed to separate the two. That much was certain. They couldn't get to Grindelwald without Credence—a reality Newt hated because it made him feel as if they were using the boy as bait, but there would be no other way. They needed to get Credence somewhere he could feel safe as soon as possible, somewhere he wouldn't lose control. Somewhere out of Grindelwald’s reach.
They had relocated to Percival’s home to strategize, the house warded tightly enough they wouldn't be disturbed. Queenie brought Jacob along as well, and though Percival sent her a reprimanding look, he said nothing on the subject. After all, it was only through Queenie and Jacob that they had any insight on Credence whatsoever.
“And if he does turn into an obscurus?” Percival asked. “How do you contain a force that can't be contained? This has to be handled delicately. Another disturbance and aurors on the council’s orders will swarm. There's no room for error.”
The question was mostly directed at him, Newt knew. He was the only one with experience regarding obscuri. And yet, he didn’t even know if it was possible to contain an obscurus. Newt had done so, but it was already dormant when he preserved it.
“We could apparate him somewhere else,” Tina suggested.
“Distance isn’t the problem,” Percival frowned, “if he loses control, there’s no doubt nomajes will see and it will lead to mass panic.”
The din of the others theorizing faded into the background as Newt wracked his brain, desperately trying to remember something from his research that might help. Certainly, he thought, there was no natural structure that could hold an obscurus at full force. An obscurus could destroy a man made structure as if it were made of sand. It would have to be something magical—
The solution hit him like a truck.
“The case!” Newt blurted out, the heads in the room swiveling towards him. He locked eyes with Percival. “The new charms I added, they’re strong, stronger than anything I’ve ever had.”
“You think they could hold an obscurus?” Percival asked, expression dubious. “What about your creatures?”
Newt paused for a moment, registering that Percival’s concern was immediately for his creatures, many of which were widely thought dangerous and a nuisance, and briefly felt another surge of affection that made his cheeks tinge pink. “I could manipulate the wards,” he said, clearing his throat slightly, “center them around an empty habitat.”
Percival glanced at Tina. “Of all of us, you’re the one who knows him. Do you think you could get him into the case?”
Newt frowned, considering as Tina pondered her answer. They could leave the case here perhaps—they couldn’t bring it with them, it would be too easy for Grindelwald to take—but that meant Tina would need to apparate with Credence. There was no precedent for apparating with an obscurial, but Newt shuddered to think what might happen if Credence lost control mid-travel. A splinching would be the best case and the worst Newt couldn’t imagine.
Tina looked considering of the same, biting her lip, slightly pale. “I don’t know,” she said, but with a glance at Queenie she asked, “unless...you can focus on specific feelings, Queen, do you think you could help him feel calm?”
Percival looked ready to object at that, but Queenie answered with immediate confidence. “I can.”
“You don’t have field experience,” Percival argued. If Newt didn’t know Percival better, he would have thought his expression impassive, but he saw the concern underneath, the slightly clenched jaw and the almost imperceptible line between his brows.
“So we get him out quick,” Queenie said simply, raising her chin higher.
“Someone needs to stay with the case,” Newt pointed out, and while he would have suggested it be him, in the back of his mind the only persistent thought was that if Tina and Queenie left with Credence, and Newt remained with the case, Percival would be left to face Grindelwald alone. Therefore, there was only one other option. “I say it be Jacob.” Newt saw the man startle slightly out of the corner of his eye, and amended gently, “it would keep you out of harm’s way.”
To Newt’s surprise, Jacob nodded, only the briefest hesitation seeming to stop him. “Alright. I want to help, however I can,” he said, smiling slightly when Queenie beamed at him.
Percival, however, looked far less than pleased, his gaze on Newt. “I’ll remind you, you don’t have field experience either.”
Newt crossed his arms, huffing in exasperation. Honestly, how had he become so enamored with a man so stubborn and thick-headed? “I’ll remind you,” Newt countered, “that you are still injured—”
“There’s clearly,” Tina broke in, voice dry as a desert and looking decidedly unimpressed between the two of them, “a bigger problem. Any attempt to bring down Grindelwald has to be done quietly as well. We can’t have a firefight with him in the middle of upstate New York. We need empty space, an absence of witnesses.”
There was a silence. There was no place in New York that was absent of people, at least to Newt’s knowledge. Everywhere he’d seen bodies bustling, thousands of eyes.
“Well, you could always—” Jacob began, but seeing all their gazes turn to him, he swallowed and chuckled nervously, “I mean, I don’t know how, uh, concerned wizards are with general, um, health and safety laws but...you know, the subway tunnels might work. You’d have to worry about trains, but not people.”
Tina’s mouth twisted. “I doubt he’ll let himself be corralled into the subway—”
“I can apparate him down there,” Newt said, blurting the words as soon as he thought them. The aurors in the room stared at him incredulously, but he continued, mind racing, “if...if I can get close enough to him, close enough to grab—”
“You are not apparating an unwilling and dangerous criminal blind,” Percival said, expression wooden.
Something about the inherent finality of the statement sent a muscle ticking in Newt’s jaw and he felt frustration bubble up inside him. He knew, in the rational part of his mind that Percival was worried about him, but all that he could focus on in that moment was the need to prove to Percival that Newt could help. That Newt wouldn’t let him fight alone.
So, in answer, he single-mindedly marched forward, grabbed Percival’s arm, and apparated them both to the roof of the building in an instant. It was one of his fastest travels yet, less than a second, and automatically a grin of exhilaration pulled at his mouth as the evening wind rustled his hair.
He glanced over at Percival, but the proud grin fell as soon as he did so, turning to a guilty panic. “Oh! Oh, god, Percival, I’m so sorry!”
Percival glanced up at him, hands braced on his thighs as he gasped for breath, his eyes wide. Newt stepped closer, hands fluttering anxiously. “I’m sorry, I-I wasn’t thinking, oh, darling—just breathe, that’s it,” he rambled, worrying when Percival began to make a strange strangled noise in between large inhales. He blinked, freezing in confusion and concern when he realized Percival was laughing.
It was the kind of nearly inaudible laughter when one couldn’t catch their breath. Newt caught a glimpse of Percival’s mouth in a wide, open grin as he heaved great breaths, strands of hair falling in his face as he ducked his head down. Newt opened and closed his mouth soundlessly, a sudden desire to capture Percival’s smiling mouth in a kiss overwhelming him for a moment. It felt much like their time in the case before they’d gone to MACUSA, when he had first had the realization that he never thought Percival more beautiful than when he was unguarded or disheveled. It was an incredibly distracting feeling, Newt thought distantly. Particularly now, he chastised himself, feeling guilty all over again. Theseus always ardently refused to apparate with him for this very reason.
“Jesus,” Percival wheezed, glancing up at him again, and Newt had never seen him grin so openly, “you...apparate like that...all the time?”
“I’m sorry,” Newt grimaced, “I forget how people take it the first time and, well, no one’s ever taken me up on a second side-along trip.”
Percival straightened, still breathing hard, and raised an eyebrow, smoothing his hair back again. “This might actually work.”
Newt blinked in surprise, but broke into a smile. “You see? I can help.”
Percival sighed and glanced out toward the horizon. The sun was sinking down over the skyline, highlighting one side of his face, his expression troubled. “If you go down there blind with him I won’t be able to find you right away,” Percival murmured. He glanced at Newt, brows drawn together. “Do you realize that? Those tunnels sprawl for miles.”
Newt swallowed. He hadn’t really considered that. “Wherever we end up will be near the Second Salemer house,” he rationalized. “I...I’ll try to be as precise as I can.”
Percival looked as if he wanted to argue further, but in seeing Newt’s determined expression, he merely sighed. “Just...” Newt saw his throat work. “Just be careful,” he said, “and don’t confront him once you’re there. Wait until I find you. Promise me, Newt.”
When Newt thought back to his dream, in a cold room alone with those sharp eyes laughing at him, it wasn’t difficult to assure Percival. “I promise,” he murmured, and while that seemed to release some of the tension in Percival’s jaw, it did nothing for the troubled look in his eyes. Newt was sure he could get Grindelwald down there. It was just a matter of what would happen after that was beginning to worry him. He carefully kept the feeling from showing on his face. After all, if you worry, you suffer twice.
So he told himself.
Newt went into his case to make the necessary preparations. The charms were resistant at first, after all they were meant to be kept in place, but a few minutes of concentrated spell work had the charms shifting, draping over the empty space Newt had conjured. He had crafted a hasty environment, green grass over a bright blue sky, a gentle, calm, sunny day. If just crafting it could bring a smile to Newt's face, he hoped the environment could do the same for Credence.
Newt held his breath, trying to disturb the magic as little as possible. He’d arranged the space as far from his other creatures’ enclosures as he could—it wouldn’t do to have Credence panic if Annie or Dougal came near to satisfy their curiosity. As a precaution, he also added a light disillusionment charm which would be enough to discourage his creatures from investigating.
When he was done, he eyed his handiwork. It looked as if it had gone flawlessly, but looks could be deceiving. To test the barriers, Newt stepped inside, the rush of magic tingling on his skin as he passed, sunlight suddenly warm on his face. A slight gleam of the charms was visible if he looked closely, but a sideways glance revealed the rest of his case, as if the barrier wasn’t even there. That was just as well. He wouldn’t want Credence to feel trapped and, hopefully, Credence wouldn’t even have a cause to find out there was a barrier.
Experimentally, Newt fired off a jinx from his wand and quickly ducked back beyond the containment charms. The spell ricocheted wildly off of the edges of the charmed space, almost faster than Newt could track with his eyes, but the spell never managed to escape. Newt breathed a sigh of relief and hoped the same principle would work with an obscurus. There wasn’t a precedent for it—there wasn’t a precedent for any of this, really—but Newt thought it was sound in theory.
Newt studied the slight shine of the charms, lost in thought, and had only just registered a rustling sound behind him when he felt the tip of a wand dig into his back.
He froze, heart beating wildly, but the wand was pulled away immediately, accompanied by a disappointed sigh. Newt whipped around, confusion overriding fear, and saw Percival with his arms crossed. “You’re dead, Newt,” Percival said, deadpan.
“I...” Newt frowned, feeling as though he’d missed something. “I beg your pardon?”
“If I had been Grindelwald,” Percival said, “you’d be dead. It hardly inspires confidence.”
Newt bristled. “I—that’s not fair, I’d hardly be attacked in here! If I had known we were playing this game, you wouldn’t have had such an easy time of it.”
Percival shook his head. “I should be the one to apparate with him, I’m more precise—”
“But you’re slower,” Newt asserted. “He’ll have more time to resist, and he’s powerful enough that that would be very, very dangerous.”
Percival grit his teeth in frustration, but Newt knew he realized the fact. “As soon as you’ve touched ground, he’ll attack you. That much is guaranteed.”
“I don’t have to counter him head on, I can avoid his attacks until you find us,” Newt assured him.
“Show me,” Percival said abruptly, catching Newt off guard. “Last five minutes against me.”
“Are you...” Newt tilted his head, absurdly feeling amused, “are you challenging me to a duel?”
Percival conjured up a pocket watch and sent it levitating in the air above their heads. “Five minutes,” Percival said again. “I need to see that you can handle yourself.”
“Oh, you need to,” Newt repeated dryly, but strangely enough, an acceptance was right on the tip of his tongue. He rarely duelled, it was a tedious, often violent sport, but Newt was not lacking in skill. Theseus had ensured that much with his constant challenges, where Newt had learned of his advantages and mastered them.
It would certainly be worth it to see that intense, hungry look in Percival’s eyes when Newt did something particularly unexpected. “Alright.”
They both bowed and as soon as the clock above them clicked, Percival fired off a spell, the action so fluid and quick Newt almost didn’t react in time. He blocked the spell, and seeing another coming speeding after, he jumped to the side and apparated mid air, barely catching the way Percival’s eyes widened in surprise, and used the momentum to propel himself farther. He landed in a practiced crouch behind Percival and had enough time to send a jinx of his own before Percival’s wand was again sending a flurry of spells. Percival was very good, maybe even more so than Theseus, so it was certainly a challenge. Percival wasted no movement, his spells quick and precise, his defensive spells effortless.
Newt decided there was no way he could beat Percival if he remained in one place for too long, so he made sure to continuously apparate, sending jinxes and hexes from random directions. He materialized for only instants at a time before he was gone again.
A grin was slowly forming on Percival’s face as the clock ticked away, his hair again falling out of place. “Don’t smile,” Newt panted as he met some of Percival’s spells head on, trying to get one or two of his own in.
Percival made a complicated move with his hands—even as he barked out a surprised laugh at Newt’s comment—that sent Newt’s own spell speeding back at him. Newt’s eyes widened and he just managed to disapparate in a desperate launch off the ground, the spell coming so close that Newt thought he’d felt the breeze of it as it flew by.
“Why?” Percival asked breathlessly, attempting to track him through the air.
“Because!” Newt complained as soon as he touched ground, sending a half-hearted, half-blind jinx that Percival merely had to twist around to avoid. “It’s distracting!”
Percival laughed again, blatantly ignoring Newt’s complaint, making Newt huff in amusement and lose concentration, his attempt at apparition dropping short. He landed shakily to Percival’s right and far, far closer than he’d meant to. Percival’s arm had begun an arcing motion (he was already starting to anticipate where Newt might land, despite Newt’s attempts at randomness), but Newt had touched ground close and sudden enough that he blocked the movement with his own arm, and, thinking quickly, conjured a burst of sand that exploded between them.
Percival’s hand came up lightning fast to swipe the particles away before they flew into his eyes—admittedly Newt would have felt quite bad if Percival hadn’t been able to counter it—the action giving Newt the time he needed to apparate away. A glance at the clock showed he only needed thirty more seconds.
He picked out Percival’s form through the fog of apparition and landed behind him, shooting off a spell as soon as he materialized, but the figure he had thought was Percival disappeared into dust, and an arm snuck around his waist from behind, a wand point at his neck. “Not bad,” Percival murmured from behind him.
The clock above them stopped with twenty-five seconds left.
Newt pouted, breathing hard. “That was a dirty trick.”
“Agreed,” Percival said, withdrawing his wand and turning Newt around with a gentle pressure on his hip. Percival’s eyes were serious when he added, “but it’s one he’s pulled on me.”
Newt studied his face and asked, tentatively, “what did he show you?”
“You,” Percival answered simply.
Newt felt a surge of anger that Grindelwald had somehow tried to use him against Percival. “That snake,” Newt blurted, surprising even himself with the animosity in his voice. “No, he’s even worse. That would be an insult to snakes,” he amended, huffing.
A hint of a smile pulled at Percival’s mouth, his eyes fond. “You’re actually very good,” he murmured.
Newt smiled at the praise. He came closer and tucked back one of the strands of Percival’s hair that had fallen out of place, tracing the line of Percival’s cheekbone as he went. “I did say,” he pointed out cheekily.
Percival huffed, eyes haven fallen shut at the touch, but when he opened them again there was still that troubled pinch at the corners. “You can hold him off physically. But that’s not all that worries me.”
Newt realized what he was getting at and paled. Percival saw, close as he was, and his hands came up to gently cup Newt’s face, thumbs brushing soothingly. “You don’t have to—” Percival began, brow furrowed, but Newt interrupted, voice shaking but words firm, “no. I can. It will work best if it’s me.”
Percival’s eyes studied his, searching for any sign of refusal, but finding none, he exhaled sharply. “If you feel him in your mind, anything, the slightest whisper, don’t panic. That’s what he wants. You need to clear your mind so he can’t get a read, so he can’t find you if you’re hiding from him,” Percival instructed. “Do you understand?”
Newt nodded uneasily, the dream stark in his mind. “Yes,” he managed, voice thin.
Percival sighed and touched his forehead to Newt’s. “You’re quick and you’re clever,” Percival said softly, “use that until I find you.”
As much as Newt felt nervous and apprehensive, he hated the worried downturn of Percival’s mouth. He tilted his head slightly, lips brushing Percival’s until he felt that frown give way, his fingers idly tangling in Percival’s hair. One of Percival’s hands dropped to rest on the small of his back and pull him closer. A sense of contentment rushed through him and he wished they could remain in that moment forever without a looming dread on the horizon.
Instead, there was a sound of hurried footsteps from his storeroom. They broke apart as Tina came into view, her expression serious. “Word from O’Brien, sir,” she said. “Someone’s just apparated into the Second Salemer house.”
Hehehehe another cliffhanger I'm such a tease
Things are happening
Stakes are high
Hope you enjoyed :D
Sooooo things don't quite go as planned for the gang in this ch hehehe
Also this ch is a monster, like 6k, so take water breaks, pace yourselves ;D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The street was quieter than Newt expected, the house they approached tucked away in a small, forgotten corner, eerily dark. It was a tiny, slanting thing, with the look of a chapel, though, as Newt glanced up at it, he could think of no reason why anyone would want to attend a service there. It was dilapidated, rusted, cold. From what Newt had gathered of the Second Salemers, they preached the eradication of magic, that witches and wizards were unnatural. His heart ached thinking of Credence hiding his magic for so long in such a place.
So as to make no noise, Tina eased open the door with her wand, magic insulating the sound of the hinges swinging. Newt thought the silence somehow more unnerving. Percival went in first and Newt saw him stiffen slightly, his wand raising slightly higher. Newt’s heart fluttered in panic. Percival glanced back, expression grim, and gestured for them to enter.
Large portions of the house inside were completely demolished, pieces of wood and rubble coating the floor. What had once been a small staircase to the left of the room leading to an upper level had crumbled to the floor, and when Newt glanced at the base of it, he stifled a gasp. There was the body of a woman, crumpled, her face turned towards the door, sightless eyes open wide. Newt knew she was dead even as Percival crouched to check the pulse. The markings on her face were as telling as anything.
Newt stared at her, sorrow in his chest, but glanced away when his gaze caught something scuttling in the corner of the room, close to the ground and black in color. It lasted only a fraction of a second, gone in the next instant, disappearing into the shadows. A rat? He hadn’t known rats to be so large but in this downtrodden, cold place, he could believe it.
There was a door ahead, cracked open just slightly, and faint sounds filtered through. There were thin, panicked breaths and harsh, fevered whispers, the sounds stark against the silence of the room. Queenie tapped his shoulder, startling him, and when he met her eyes he heard her voice in his head. Percival says we can’t be firing off spells until Credence is safe.
Newt nodded, meeting Percival’s eyes briefly. As much as it sounded simple, it all depended on what Grindelwald would do. Surely he wouldn’t risk spells either, with Credence so close in proximity. Still, Newt hated the uncertainty.
They opened the door to the next room as quietly as the first, Newt’s breath caught in his throat. The low murmuring and whimpering grew louder, and Newt caught sight of two figures, one sprawled out and the other crouching over him, cradling his face.
Newt could finally make sense of the words, faint as they were.
“...sister, Credence, the little one, where did she go?”
“Please h-help me...” Credence’s voice was shaking, desperate, and Newt would have immediately run to him if not for the delicacy of the situation. Tina’s expression was pained, but she restrained herself as well, the line of her body stiff.
Until Grindelwald, under the guise of Abernathy, struck Credence in the face, silencing him.
“Credence,” Tina gasped, coming forward, and Grindelwald’s wand was immediately levelled at them, his eyes quickly scanning the room, locking on Percival who had drawn his wand in kind.
“Credence, you don’t have to rely on this man any longer,” Tina murmured soothingly, coming closer despite the raised wand, crouching down to meet Credence’s perplexed, teary gaze.
Credence’s eyes shifted, taking them in, and his breaths came shorter, more panicked. “I—I don’t—who—”
“Do you remember me, Credence?” Tina asked softly, her voice calm.
Credence’s eyes settled on her and slowly focused, the panic in them fading. “You...you said your n-name was Tina...” he answered tentatively.
Tina smiled and nodded, though there was a brief anger that flashed in her eyes as Grindelwald tightened a fist in the back of Credence’s coat. The man’s eyes had been glancing between Tina and Credence for some time, but Newt was surprised that he had made no move to separate them. Something didn’t quite fit. The nagging thought made Newt uneasy, jittery. Newt studied the man’s gaze—they were Abernathy’s dark eyes, not the ones he feared—and saw something like confusion in them turn to realization like the flick of a switch as the wizard’s eyes fell on Credence.
The pieces slotted into place and Newt’s heart dropped. Grindelwald had been asking after a sister when they’d first entered, had sounded desperate to find her. That was why his plans had taken so long, why New York hadn’t seen more destruction. He hadn’t known Credence was the obscurial. And they’d just showed their hand.
“Credence,” Grindelwald crooned, crouching down slowly, though his wand remained levelled at Percival, “don’t listen to her. These people aren’t to be trusted. I can help you, teach you to control your abilities.”
As he’d spoken, Queenie had been inching closer to Tina, her eyes locked on Credence and no doubt projecting a feeling of calm though the boy still looked increasingly confused, eyes darting between the two vying for his attention. Grindelwald caught sight of Queenie’s subtle movement, his eyes flashing and head tilting sharply, and Queenie suddenly stiffened unnaturally, eyes wide.
Percival’s wand point lit up, the beginnings of a spell swirling as he made an abortive move closer, though he didn’t let it loose, his teeth grit and eyes furious. The line of his arm was practically shaking with the effort of restraining it. Grindelwald’s attention was now solely on Percival, his eyes glittering dangerously like a caged animal’s. Queenie slumped slightly, released from whatever silent spell had been cast.
“He’s lying,” Tina implored, reaching out a hand to Credence, who was staring back, wide eyed, shrunk in on himself. “I promise you, Credence, I will protect you.”
Grindelwald’s gaze was shifting, calculating, his wand raising as his grip tightened on Credence’s coat, and Newt knew they needed something now that would somehow distract Grindelwald for an instant and get Credence away from him so he could be apparated away.
An idea came to Newt’s mind, but it was risky, and might set Credence off into a panic. Though, if Queenie and Tina were fast enough—
Grindelwald’s wand twitched and Newt could see he was losing patience, even with Credence next to him, could see his eyes settle on Tina with the glint and promise of a threat, and made his decision.
There was a particularly nasty spell Newt had seen cast, though he had never needed nor wanted to cast it himself. There was a breeder of Ukranian Ironbellies Newt had known in the war who’d discovered a man masquerading as one of his workers in an attempt to abscond with a dragon egg. The breeder had cast an altered revelio that revealed the thief’s true identity by burning away the face he wore, as if by dragon fire. It hadn't altered the man’s true features, but the pain Newt had seen, expressed in panicked shrieks, had been very much real.
He would have never cast it, for fear of never forgiving himself. But he remembered Percival bleeding out on the floor, screaming as a healing spell did more harm than good, and Credence’s voice, cracked and breaking and pleading for help, only to be met with a fist. His misgivings quieted. After all, it wouldn’t cause permanent damage.
Newt took advantage of the fact that Grindelwald hadn't even glanced in his direction again—people underestimated him often, and he rarely had reason to show them that was a mistake.
Newt cast the spell, his wand whipping fast through the air and the words spewing out quick and sharp, and Grindelwald howled, his grip on Credence gone as he brought the hand up to his face.
Things happened very quickly after that.
Credence jolted away from Grindelwald at the sound, terror on his face. Newt only had a moment to worry before Tina darted out and grabbed Credence’s arm, Queenie latching onto Tina, and they were gone, disapparated. Percival fired off a spell immediately after Newt’s, but Grindelwald still managed to counter it, even with one hand clutching at the face that was burning away, red fissures pulsing under his fingers as he screamed through his teeth. The pain only seemed to serve to make him angrier, his magic coiling around the room, making Newt’s hair stand on end.
Spells flew from Percival’s wand at a frightening pace and Newt cast one disarming spell after another, but they were all redirected, shooting through the walls and roof before they could make contact, the building around them shaking at the foundation. Newt eyed the damage warily, remembering that while the street had been quiet there hadn't been an absence of people. They were already drawing too much attention to the house.
Where Percival’s movements were close and controlled, Grindelwald launched spells with his whole body, twisting into them. Percival’s feet skidded backward when he blocked them and Newt had to avoid them altogether. The sheer force of them made sharp sounds as they cracked through the air. Grindelwald’s eyes, one his pale blue and the other still Abernathy’s as the spell slowly burned away at the mask, were wrathful, terrifying, and they were staring at Newt despite Percival’s attempts to distract him. The smoldering mask receding from his face cast a fiery, ominous light, the man’s teeth bared in a snarl underneath.
But as soon as the man’s eyes darted to Percival to counter a powerful spell, Newt swallowed down the fear and leapt into apparition. He partially materialized as quickly as he could, took hold of Grindelwald’s arm, and yanked down. The revelio spell, he thought hopefully, frantically, would be enough to distract the other wizard from resisting overmuch.
He felt an immense pressure and a sense of drag, like he was fighting to move an anchor through molasses. Newt focused, pulling with all his strength, the earth funneling and twisting around them in a blur. Newt was quick enough that they were inches from touching ground in the subway in a matter of moments, but suddenly there was a sickening lurch as they stopped abruptly, and then they were barrelling left, spiraling and twisting through one of the tunnels. Newt’s thoughts devolved into panic for a moment, the sudden increase in speed and change in direction wringing out his lungs so he couldn’t breathe. He’d never heard of a passenger of side-along apparition taking control, not to this extent. It shouldn’t have been possible and Newt scrabbled desperately against it, trying to regain the focus he'd lost.
There was no plan to it, not that Newt could tell, all he could sense was a feeling of immense, hot rage as they spiraled on, accelerating endlessly. Newt fought like a madman, tugging downwards with increasing desperation, his magic straining with the effort. The ground rushed at them, train tracks speeding in Newt’s blurred vision like spokes on an endless wheel. They were going very, very fast and common sense was screaming in the back of his mind that they couldn’t land like this. But they were now miles from the Second Salemer house. Miles, already, from Percival.
With a final heave, Newt jerked downward trying to break out, the pressure on all sides so intense it felt like needles in his skin, the air in his lungs sweeping out of him. Newt felt something give, but with it came an intense pain winding up his leg, so agonizing he screamed soundlessly, everything going white.
The tracks were unforgiving. They crashed, tumbling with the momentum, the impact jarring like he was being trampled from all sides. He skidded to a stop, distantly conscious of another body beside him, but could only stare sightlessly out at the expanse of tracks in their wake. The sound of his shallow breaths rattling filtered slowly through the ringing in his ears. There was a bitter taste coating the back of his mouth. The world was out of focus, drifting in and out. Newt could only lay there and try to get enough air into his lungs.
There was a pain he was half conscious of, sharper than the dull ache in his ribs and his head, shooting up from his thigh. He couldn’t bring himself to move in order to look at it.
Through the blurry haze of the dark tunnel, he registered a distant light. He stared uncomprehendingly as it came steadily closer, growing in size. A roaring sound accompanied it, bearing down on them, the noise quickly becoming deafening. The ground shook beneath him and Newt’s gaze dropped tiredly to the pebbles that jumped between the slots of wood in front of his face. He frowned, then felt a sharp, sudden panic of comprehension as he snapped his eyes up to the rapidly oncoming train.
He threw his arm back, grasping weakly onto the fabric of the other man’s coat, and apparated to the side, his landing rough and uncoordinated on the small platform beyond the tracks. The train barrelled past, wind ghosting over Newt’s skin.
Newt breathed rapidly, wrenching his eyes shut at the protest of his ribs. He merely stared up at the arching tunnel ceiling for a few moments.
He slowly registered his breathing was echoed in the silence.
Newt hesitantly turned his head and recoiled painfully when he saw Grindelwald beside him, though when he realized the other wizard was unconscious his frantic heartbeat calmed. Still, Newt made to move back as far as possible, drawing his legs up, but the motion brought a wave of pain, bringing tears to Newt’s eyes. He gasped, glancing down, and saw red soaking his trousers, a spiraling slash down his thigh. The wound was angry, inflamed, winding around his leg in a distinct pattern.
He'd been splinched.
Newt stared, the wound coming in and out of focus as he blinked. He’d never been splinched before. He could feel a sharp panic climb up his throat that threatened to overwhelm him, but he grit his teeth and pushed it away. Not the time. Closing his eyes briefly helped him to focus and he shook the dizziness away.
Slowly, he scooted backwards, coming to rest against the wall of the tunnel, letting his head fall back against it. His hands fumbled blindly for the pockets of his coat. He was already losing dexterity, he noted distantly. The wound wasn't deep, but had been bleeding for a while. His hand closed around the pouch he was looking for. On the way out his case, he had quickly snatched up his last supply of essence of dittany, thinking it would be best to be prepared after what had happened to Percival. Now, he thanked Merlin he had.
He uncapped the pouched with his teeth, his hand shaking, and held back a whimper as he dropped the liquid over the wound, the skin smoking and cauterizing on contact. After a few moments, the pain faded slightly, and Newt slumped against the wall. His entire body hurt, he was bruised and scraped up everywhere, but he didn't think anything was broken, which was remarkable given the landing he'd had. At worst, he thought, wincing as he shifted to sit further up, there were one or two cracked ribs. He murmured a light healing incantation and the pain dulled to a manageable ache. He breathed easier for the first time since he'd been down there.
Out of the corner of his eye he registered a sluggish movement. He glanced at it and froze. There was blood pooling out slowly from Grindelwald’s prone form, seeping through the cracks of the worn platform.
Unthinkingly, Newt moved closer, automatically searching his body for the source. It wasn't difficult to find. The man’s arm was in bad shape, the deepest gash at the joint of his shoulder, a bloody spiral. Newt glanced at the man’s face, paler than it ever was, stricken. There was still a clear rise and fall of his chest, but the breaths were shallow, and when Newt tentatively felt his pulse it raced dangerously under his fingers.
Newt felt sick, pressing a hand over his mouth. He’d never made anyone bleed before. Not like this. He stared, horrible realization dawning. For all that Newt had no love for the man, if he continued to lose blood at the rate he was, he would die.
No doubt many would say he deserved it, deserved pain and a fitting death.
But Newt could never stomach needless suffering. He couldn't just stand by and watch.
Taking a centering breath, Newt came closer, ripping away the tattered fabric of the coat sleeve. The gash coiled down to the man’s wrist, deep and dark. Newt inhaled shakily, gritting his teeth. The injury was worse than he’d initially thought. It would require all the essence of dittany that Newt had left to stop the bleeding. Newt paused for a moment, then in the next instant shook his head sharply, disgusted with himself. He couldn’t let a man die in front of him, no matter who it was.
Newt took what was left in the pouch and used it as sparingly as possible, dropping small portions along the length of his arm. The skin fizzled angrily and Newt cast uneasy glances at the man’s face, but the other wizard remained as still as death. There was still that large, stubborn area on the man’s shoulder that refused to close properly, the skin knitting ineffectively. Newt huffed, ripped a bit of cloth from his shirt, and began to wrap it around the man’s shoulder as a crude tourniquet. He tightened the knot, his exhausted muscles straining even with the minimal effort.
When he slumped back with a sigh, there were two pale eyes staring at him.
Newt scrambled to his feet, heart pounding in terror. He fumbled to draw his wand but with a lightning quick motion of the other man’s hand Newt was rendered immobile as Queenie had been. The only sign a spell had been cast had been a quick flash of light in the air, gone in an instant. Newt could barely breathe against the panic that flooded his veins, his arm having been stopped with his wand pointing uselessly at the space next to Grindelwald’s head. Those eyes studied him quietly.
Slowly, like a serpent uncoiling, Grindelwald got to his feet, the only sign that he’d been injured being a slight sway, as if he was unbalanced. He cast a glance at Newt’s work of his arm and the blood on the floor. His eyes when they met Newt’s again were unreadable. He came closer, tilting his head, eyes sharp like pieces of flint. “You think,” he whispered, a monstrous approximation of sympathy on his face, “this will save you?”
Newt fought against the spell as Grindelwald began to circle him almost carelessly, tracking him by the swish of his coat, the sound of his breath. If he concentrated Newt thought he could break free—it had been an unspoken spell and didn’t have as much strength as it could have otherwise. But the focus he needed continually eluded him as his thoughts spiraled into panic despite his efforts. “You have been a thorn in my side,” Grindelwald murmured, voice deceptively soft. Newt wrenched his eyes shut when the man came to face him again. “And you will no doubt continue to be a thorn in my side,” the man said, sighing, “unless I kill you.”
Newt opened his eyes and glared at him, clenching his jaw. The man grinned at him. “I do like you, little Newt,” he said, pressing his lips together in pseudo regret, though his eyes were amused. “You’re so adorably sentimental. And yet, you're idealistic, like me. It’s a shame we don’t see eye to eye.” The smile fell from his face as if it had never been there, the look in his eyes suddenly frigid. “That was an unpleasant spell you cast, little Newt,” his tone low and dangerous. “Who knew you had such...” he paused, glancing down at Newt’s mouth before meeting his eyes again, “savagery in you.”
Every nerve in Newt’s body was screaming to get away, his body practically shaking with the effort, but the spell still wouldn’t budge, he was too distracted by cold, hard eyes and the hand that came up to brush at his hair, the touch sickeningly light. He wanted to scream but couldn’t even conjure the sound.
Through the fog of loud, frantic thoughts, he heard a distant rumbling. Grindelwald didn’t seem to care and a desperate idea began to form in Newt’s mind.
The train screamed towards them, the tracks rattling behind Newt’s back. Newt closed his eyes, breathed, and focused, forgetting even the threatening pressure of fingers drifting down the line of his throat, a ghosting promise.
The timing for this had to be perfect. As the sound reached a crescendo he wrenched himself away with every pent up ounce of strength he had, launching backwards into apparition and slicing diagonally with his wand in the same moment. He had a glimpse of his successful spell as Grindelwald shouted, the tourniquet on his arm having transformed into an angry, venomous snake, before the train flew by, masking Newt’s view as he tumbled onto the opposite platform.
Newt took cover behind one of the arching pillars, gasping for breath, eyes wide. Quickly, he cast a spell he’d devised after studying the camouflaging abilities of several of his creatures, designed to hide the castor from sight. As much as the spell was powerful, Newt didn’t dare move an inch or make a sound. Even the sound of his heart thumping wildly in his ears seemed to loud.
“Oh, Newt,” Grindelwald’s voice sighed, echoing throughout the tunnel so Newt couldn’t place where it had come from, “I had really thought, for a moment, we could get along.”
Newt’s thoughts raced. He couldn’t face the wizard on his own, but he doubted he could remain hidden forever. The plan had been to wait for Percival, however they ended up wildly off course. Newt didn’t know exactly how far they were from the Second Salemer house, but it was far enough that any dim hope Newt held onto faded as the minutes ticked away. It had already been so long. At least it was unlikely Grindelwald would escape in the meantime, Newt thought slightly hysterically. He seemed hellbent on finding Newt now.
“I’ll tell you what,” his voice came again, accompanied by the sound of slow, casual footsteps that bounced off the walls. “If you tell me where the Goldsteins took darling little Credence, I’ll let you go. It’s rare I feel so magnanimous, especially given your little stunts.”
Newt grit his teeth, glaring angrily at the wall opposite, and thought viciously that he wouldn’t have been in this mess if he’d let nature run its course. He felt guilty as soon as he’d thought it, which was suitably exasperating. Why had he been cursed with a conscience?
Newt froze as he registered clearer, closer footsteps from his left, the sound drawing nearer. “Or,” Grindelwald’s voice curled around the word, and Newt could picture the twisted smile that accompanied it, “you can continue to be silent and stubborn. Though, if I were in your place, Newt, I wouldn’t choose the latter. Would you like to know why?”
Polished shoes appeared around the corner of the pillar, Grindelwald’s good arm wrapping around it as he glanced out, the line of his arm less than a foot from Newt’s face. He didn’t even dare breathe, the other man so close Newt was genuinely afraid he would hear. The spell held, Grindelwald didn’t see him, but his eyes were slowly roaming, sharp and observant. “If you don’t come out now,” the other wizard continued, “I will find you eventually, but I won’t kill you. I’ll make it hurt, make you beg for it, but I won’t kill you. Not at first. First, I’ll find your case and I’ll set it on fire,” he said calmly, as if he were rattling things off a grocery list, “with all those little creatures inside. I’ll kill Goldstein and her bitch Legilimens sister. I’ll make sure to kill Percy slowly, and I will make you watch every last, excruciating minute of it. Then, I’ll let you die, Newt.”
The calculating, searching expression didn’t even flicker as he spoke the horrible words. Initially, the dark promise in his voice brought that mindless panic back, but Newt centered his thoughts around how capable the others were, how Tina could occasionally be a force of nature, how Queenie’s smile could turn sharp and frighteningly intelligent on a dime. How Percival could shoot off a spell quick as light, how Newt could practically see him stand against death himself, still cool and composed. As much as Grindelwald spoke matter-of-factly, they wouldn’t make anything easy.
Newt scowled at him, though he knew the other wizard couldn’t see it, and fought the sudden urge to clock him in the face.
Where are you hiding, little Newt? Then, coldly, did you have sweet dreams?
The words echoed, not around them, but in his head. They coiled and slithered like snakes. Newt stiffened, his hand coming up quickly to clamp over his mouth and nose to stifle any noise he might’ve made. He tried to clear his thoughts, remembering what Percival told him, banishing the panic. As Grindelwald’s eyes scanned, he happened to meet Newt’s gaze for the briefest moment, and Newt couldn’t tamp down a sudden, primal jolt of terror that ran down his spine. When the wizard’s gaze snapped back, Newt blurted, “shit,” and clocked Grindelwald in the face.
The other man reeled back with a snarl, clutching at his bleeding nose, and Newt disapparated, his heart beating like a jackrabbit. He traveled without thought for destination, just focusing on speed, racing down the tunnel. He heard rather than saw spells flying after him, the other wizard no doubt aiming blindly with how fast Newt was going, but one of them, an arcing bolt of lightning, crackled through the apparition trail and shocked him. The lucky shot sent him spiraling into the ground and his head connected hard with the metal rail of the tracks. His vision blurred, pain lacing through his skull. Something wet and sticky dripped in his eyes.
He tried to get to his feet, but he stumbled, the world tilting in his vision, making him nauseated. He managed to pull himself up onto the platform again, but it took more time than he knew he had.
He needed to hide, needed to get away. He had traveled fast but hadn’t gotten far enough. Newt tried to recall the words for the spell he’d used earlier, but his thoughts wouldn’t cooperate, fragments of memory scattering and dissolving like smoke when he tried to latch onto them. He brought a shaking hand to the side of his head and winced, his fingers coming away bloody.
Desperately, he searched his surroundings, and his eyes caught on a small opening along the wall, partially hidden from view. He made for it, squeezing himself into the small space and sinking down to lean against the wall as the world seemed to upend itself again. There was a grimy, locked door at his back, fuse boxes and wires adorning the walls around him. He’d never thought a tiny maintenance tunnel could be his salvation.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, fighting the threat of unconsciousness, when he again heard the sound of footsteps. Newt’s eyes shut slowly, heart plummeting to his stomach. He was so very tired of this game of cat and mouse.
The footsteps sounded closer, but they were slow, cautious. Newt frowned and distantly thought that significant, though he couldn’t quite grasp the reason as to why, his mind working sluggishly. He opened his eyes, his eyelashes sticking slightly where the blood had partially dried, and watched the sliver of the opening. He had his wand clutched in a death grip. The odds were stacked very much against him, as he struggled to even keep his vision clear, but Newt refused to go down easy. A black cloaked figure appeared, wand raised before him, and Newt tensed before slumping back, whimpering in relief.
Percival swiveled toward the noise, wand point illuminated, but he lowered it instantly, recognition and relief plain on his face. Newt launched himself into Percival’s arms, clutching him tightly, his heart still racing with the burst of adrenaline. He couldn’t quite believe it. He breathed deeply and let the familiarity of Percival’s presence calm him. Percival leaned back, cupping Newt’s face, his eyes pained when he saw the blood. “Here,” Percival murmured softly, hands incredibly gentle. Newt’s eyes drifted shut as he mumbled a spell under his breath, and the pain suddenly vanished, Newt’s thoughts finally clearing.
Newt sighed in relief. “Thank you,” he breathed. He let out a shaky, thin laugh. “You don’t know how glad I am to see you.”
Percival smiled, but it was more like a grimace, his gaze darkening when he looked Newt up and down. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get here sooner.”
Newt shook his head, eyes wide. “I’m glad you found me at all,” Newt admitted weakly.
Percival exhaled roughly, his throat working as he stared at Newt, some intense emotion in his eyes.
He pulled Newt closer, pressing a kiss to his forehead. Newt burrowed into the embrace and finally felt some of the residual shaky panic recede. “I will always find you,” Percival promised, voice rough. Newt felt it reverberate through his chest. Percival pulled back to look Newt in the eyes. “Alright?”
Newt nodded, swallowing down words that felt too small, too simple. There was nothing simple about the adoring feeling ballooning in his chest.
Percival’s gaze was soft, but suddenly shuttered without warning, his body tensing. Newt was only allowed a moment of confusion before Percival’s wand arm flew out and met an arc of lightning with his own defensive spell, the line of magic running back to the end of Grindelwald’s wand. Sparks flew from the warring spells, illuminating the gloomy tunnel and casting shadows on the walls. “I see you failed to die the first time,” Grindelwald called, eyes glimmering from the light of the spell. “Come to let me finish the job?” His mouth was twisted in a bloody grin, but Newt felt a burst of satisfaction when he saw his handiwork, the skin around Grindelwald’s nose already bruising.
Percival’s eyes hardened, calculating, his expression stony, and he said nothing, merely pressing more power into the spell, the magic from his wand beginning to overtake Grindelwald’s. The smile fell into a snarl and Grindelwald threw his arm forward, sending a surge of power that broke the connection, light and electricity crackling through the air.
Sounds like muted gunfire filled the tunnel as spells flew and cracked against shielding magic. Initially, Percival had kept an arm over the small opening, blatantly protective, but Newt placed a gentle hand on it and began to shoot off his own spells. Percival lowered his arm wordlessly, his eyes never leaving Grindelwald, but a brief smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
Grindelwald fought endlessly but Newt saw the spells he cast became increasingly more desperate and erratic, his eyes wild and angry. The power he conjured, however, refused to let up, the other wizard’s unpredictability making it harder to block and redirect his spells. A flurry of three quick spells in succession flew at them, one of them managing to clip Percival’s side. Newt immediately picked up the slack as Percival stumbled, noting worriedly that Percival’s arm wound around the spot of his old injury, his expression briefly one of pain. His face became impassive in the next instant, his spells still quick with a razor edge, but Grindelwald smirked, and Newt felt anger boiling in his blood. “Still sore, Percy?” Grindelwald mocked, gaining some ground, “perhaps—”
Newt apparated to Grindelwald’s left and shot off a spell in mid air, catching the wizard in the shoulder. He stumbled, but didn’t fall, twisting with the force of the blow and shooting a spell in Newt’s direction. Newt barely avoided it, landing shakily, his leg buckling with a jolt. He leaned partially against the wall, waving off Percival’s worried glance and gritting his teeth, and continued to cast disarming spells.
Out of the corner of his eye, something skittered closer, like he’d seen in the Second Salemer house. It raced across the tracks, a black blur. Newt eyed it, glad Percival was countering the brunt of Grindelwald’s spells because Newt’s attention was split. He squinted, disbelieving as the blur darted closer to Grindelwald. Was that...? The blur stopped at Grindelwald’s feet, glancing up, and Newt’s jaw dropped in disbelief. “Do not!" Newt tried to dissuade frantically. “No!”
The niffler hardly glanced at him, eyes on Grindelwald’s coat pocket as he avoided the wizard’s shifting stance. Grindelwald, however, sent Newt a look that was less parts menacing and more perplexed, before Percival drew his attention again. When the niffler began crawling up his leg, the wizard jolted back, finally seeing the creature and attempting to shake him off. Percival took advantage of the distraction and pressed forward, each spell closer to landing than the last. Newt stood frozen, afraid he might accidentally hit the niffler.
The niffler got as far as the lapel of Grindelwald’s coat, something glinting in his paw, before the wizard, snarling, sent him flying with a vicious swipe of his hand. “Filthy pest,” Grindelwald hissed, and Newt saw red.
He did what he usually did when he got angry. He initiated something stupid and risky and largely unplanned. Theseus, he thought briefly, would no doubt keel over clutching at his heart if he saw. Newt launched into an arc of apparition between Percival and Grindelwald, weaving through the flying curses, faster he’d ever traveled, spewing spell after spell from his own wand. One of which, Newt saw victoriously as he skidded sideways in landing, connected and sent Grindelwald stumbling backward.
Percival shot off a final, powerful bolt from his wand that caught the other wizard in the chest with enough force to propel him into the wall. Percival marched forward, swiping the man’s wand up from where it had fallen. With a flick of Percival’s hand, Grindelwald’s arms were yanked behind his back. Percival hauled the man up with a fist in his coat and slammed him against the wall. “You are under arrest,” Percival told him calmly, “for planning to break the Statute of Secrecy, for your crimes against multiple aurors, and for your numerous past felonies.”
Grindelwald smirked. “Oh, how I love when you talk like that, Percy,” he crooned, eyes amused.
A muscle in Percival’s jaw ticked, the only outward sign of displeasure. “I don’t usually like abusing my position, but I have enough political leeway for certain things to remain off record,” he murmured casually, his expression politely informative, before he reeled back and twisted into a vicious right hook, sending Grindelwald to the ground.
Newt came up beside him. “I did that as well,” Newt murmured thoughtfully, as Percival shook his hand out.
Percival grinned, sending Newt an impressed, fond look. “It was very cathartic,” he admitted. He huffed a small laugh at Newt’s agreeing nod, but it broke off quickly. Newt glanced at him, his eyes laser focusing on the arm Percival wrapped slowly around his midsection.
“Let me see,” Newt asserted, coming closer.
“It’s fine—” Percival tried, but he amended the statement after Newt’s stern, unmoved look, his expression sheepish. “There...may be some ripped stitches.”
Newt frowned worriedly and opened his mouth to respond, but the niffler suddenly came up between them, sniffing and tilting his head curiously. Newt felt a surge of relief that he seemed unharmed. His pouch was already bulging with items and Newt sighed, thinking of the mess it would be to sort through it all later.
“He’s a hardy creature, isn’t he?” Percival observed, his tone amused, and his expression more so when he saw Newt’s exasperated, scolding look.
Newt picked the niffler up, huffing. “I move those wards for one minute, ” Newt sighed, “and you’re already pilfering the streets of New York.”
Percival smiled, but it dropped as he cast a glance at other wizard’s unconscious form. “I have to get him to MACUSA.”
“And you’ll stop at the infirmary,” Newt told him, tone brooking no argument.
“So should you,” Percival shot back. “Those were only partial fixes.”
Newt shook his head. “Not yet,” he said. “Not before Credence.” It had already been so long, and he had no way of knowing if things had gone smoothly on Tina’s part until he saw for himself.
“Okay,” Percival murmured, taking hold of Newt’s hand and squeezing comfortingly. He could no doubt see Newt’s worry written across his face. “I’ll meet you there.”
Newt nodded, pressing his lips together, mind racing with the troubling realities he might find, and disapparated, the lingering feeling of Percival’s hand in his still a present, if fading, comfort.
Wow things are slowly wrapping up ;) I expect probably two more chapters of this bad boy
thanks so much for reading, hope you've been enjoying!
This chapter features little jumps in time near the end, not too many but just so you guys know ;)
Also like this is SO fluffy, so much fluff my god, prepare yourselves lol
Also also note the rating change (not for too much, just a small bit in the middle) ;D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Newt apparated back to the Graves estate and knocked on the door, feeling jittery and anxious. He fought the sudden urge to begin pacing on the stoop. Percival’s home was heavily warded, so he couldn’t just apparate inside—in fact, if it hadn’t have been for Percival’s alterations to let Newt’s magical signature through, he wouldn’t have made it past the gate. Still, the time spent waiting for the door to be opened felt like hours, during which increasingly frantic possibilities ran through his mind. What if Credence had lost control? What if he’d accidentally hurt Queenie, or Tina, or Jacob?
It didn’t help that the niffler continued to squirm incessantly in his arms. “Oh, will you,” Newt huffed, adjusting once more as the niffler resorted to attempting to remove one of the buttons from Newt’s coat. “Those are copper buttons, you’re getting truly desperate.”
Just as Newt was about to give into the urge to try to force the door open, it swung inward, Queenie greeting him with a bright grin and a sudden embrace. Newt blinked in surprise, awkwardly holding the niffler off to the side, though Queenie, seemingly unbothered by the lack of reciprocation, clutched him even tighter. “I'm so glad you’re alright,” she murmured, pulling back and cupping his face, eyes searching. She swallowed, eyes wide. “Oh, Newt, your head—things didn’t go smoothly on your end?” she observed, brows furrowing, but before Newt could answer, her expression turned to one of relief. “But it all worked out, oh, honey, I’m so glad. You’re still all banged up, though,” she frowned, giving him a quick once over, “we can—”
“Queenie,” Newt interrupted, gently lowering her hands and stepping inside, anxiously glancing to the room beyond as if it might tell him something, “as much as I appreciate the concern, I need to see Credence.”
“Oh, of course,” Queenie murmured from behind him. “But Newt?” Newt glanced back at her and she gestured towards her face. “You might want to, ah...”
Newt frowned, looking at her blankly. She sighed and came closer, wand in hand. She raised it up so the tip almost touched his nose. “Oh, stop, I’m not gonna hex you,” she scolded, reading the fleeting thought, but before Newt could ask what on earth she was doing there was a quick flash, and Newt could feel the layer of grime and blood he’d forgotten about disappear. “Wouldn't want you to scare anyone, sweetie.”
He blinked and rubbed at his face, shooting Queenie a sheepish, thankful glance. Queenie grinned back and, glancing down the hall past the foyer and back, murmured, “your case is in the dining hall, hun.”
Newt made his way through to the room, Queenie in tow, and found Jacob seated at the dining table, with his case lying closed on the surface. Jacob pushed back the chair and got to his feet when Newt entered, a smile on his face. “Hey, you’re back! And that pesky fella too, I remember him.”
Newt glanced from Jacob to the case, thousands of questions bubbling up. “Did they get into the case alright? How is he? Has he lost control, is that why you’re both out here and not inside? Where’s Tina?”
Queenie came up next to him, with an almost bemused expression. “They’re both in there, honey. And, well, Jacob said you never really gave him express permission to go in and he didn’t want to assume, so I’m keeping him company,” she explained, with a fond glance at Jacob.
Newt furrowed his brow at the latter half of the statement. “Of course you can—don’t be ridi—” he began, before shaking his head. More important matters. “So, things went smoothly here?” he asked Queenie explicitly, searching her face.
Queenie’s smile was soft, eyes gleaming with gentle amusement. “Go in the case, Newt.”
Despite everyone’s seeming nonchalance—they did have an obscurial on their hands, why could no one grasp this?—Newt took the steps two at a time, nearly tripping and rattling his desk when he hit it with his hip as he turned the corner. He winced and felt that dull ache in his ribs start up again. He really did need to get that checked formally. The niffler took the opportunity to finally wriggle free and Newt huffed at his retreat.
Newt made his way to the contained environment, heart in his throat, but stopped short at what he saw. His chest suddenly felt tight. He’d expected the worst, prepared for it, but he in no way could have prepared for this.
There was no chaos, no swirling mass of rage and despair in Credence’s stead. Nothing threatening to rip the habitat apart at its seams. Instead, there was a picturesque sunny afternoon, a calm sky, and two relaxed figures.
Tina and Credence sat, sprawled out on the grass, making daisy chains and weaving the flowers into each other's hair. Credence was smiling, a small, contented thing, the light from the sun Newt had manifested as an afterthought warming his features. He no longer looked pale and afraid. He looked happy.
Newt was struck with how he had never conceived this as a possibility. That things might actually be...
Because Aamira had been so young, so much more so than Credence, and yet there had been no sign of happiness in her. Her eyes had been wide and tired and dull, and it had been like a physical blow when he’d failed to coax even the smallest expression of hope. He didn't think she had it in her to smile if she'd wanted to. But here was Credence, who'd endured suffering for so long, endured pain and loneliness and abuse. Here he was grinning in the sunlight, laughing at something Tina said, flowers in his hair.
Newt had come to a stop as if he’d rammed into a wall, a lump of emotion forming in his throat that made it hard to swallow.
Suddenly he was loathe to interrupt them, to risk this possibly tentative contentment the two had found. But then again, there might be no better time to address their lingering problem.
Newt came closer and saw the moment Credence caught sight of him, saw the boy stiffen and the smile drop. Tina, however, glanced over and shot to her feet. “Newt,” she breathed, and as Newt passed the magical boundary and entered the habitat, she gave him a quick hug. Pulling back, she glanced at Credence, who remained staring at Newt, his eyes wary. “Credence,” Tina said softly, “this is Newt Scamander. He’s a friend of mine.”
Newt smiled, trying for disarming—it wasn’t hard, Theseus always said he hadn’t a threatening bone in his body. He sat in the grass in front of Credence, noting the boy’s eyes tracked the movement, though he looked less tense at Tina’s assurance. “Hello, Credence. It’s nice to meet you, officially,” Newt told him.
When Tina sat back down next to him, Credence seemed to visibly relax. “I remember you...from the house,” Credence said tentatively. There always seemed to be a hesitance before he spoke, his eyes darting down nervously, as if he was worried he might be punished for it.
Newt pushed down the rush of anger at the thought. “We’re sorry we had to whisk you away so abruptly like that,” Newt murmured ruefully, “I hope it wasn’t too jarring for you.”
Credence blinked, then dropped his gaze to his hands, where he fiddled with the blades of grass. “I like it here,” he whispered after a moment, as if he was guilty for it, glancing up at Newt, then back to the ground. “I d-don’t...” Credence visibly swallowed and finally met Newt’s eyes, curiosity burning in them. “What i-is this place? Are we still in New York? W-What do you want from me?”
“Well—” Newt began, only to close his mouth with a frown. “The former is...a bit hard to explain.” Tina gave him an unimpressed look, so he hurriedly added, “we want to help you. We don’t want anything from you. Credence...” Newt cut himself off and frowned, wondering how to begin. “Are there moments where you’ve lost time? When you’ve found yourself in strange places after you get angry or scared?”
Wide-eyed Credence nodded. Tina shifted closer, wrapping an arm around Credence’s shoulders, and he seemed to lean into the touch unconsciously. “H-How did you know?”
Newt met Tina’s eyes and she nodded, biting her lip. Newt returned his gaze to Credence. “Credence, you have been battling with what’s known as an obscurus,” he explained slowly, carefully studying the boy’s expression. So far he merely looked confused, furrowing his brow. “It’s an exploitative manifestation of magic that occurs when it’s been repressed for a long time.”
Credence looked uneasy. “I-I don’t understand. I—does that mean that I...?”
“It means,” Newt began tentatively, gauging Credence’s expression—confused, but not yet panicked, “that we believe you have very powerful magical potential.”
Credence’s wide eyes darted between them, his hands visibly shaking. “I don’t want it,” he whispered, voice as light and trembling as the wind.
Tina sighed and gently placed her hands over his, stilling their nervous movements. “I know that you’ve grown up believing magic is something to be feared,” Tina said, her voice soft but unwavering. Credence met her eyes, his face pale. “But you can do such wonderful things with it. Newt saves magical creatures, gives them a temporary home, heals them. Queenie and I help keep the magical world safe. And you,” she said, expression fond, a small smile pulling at her lips, “with your heart, you could do such amazing, incredible things.”
But Credence’s expression crumpled and he shook his head violently. “No,” he murmured, “no, you don’t—I-I hurt people...” His voice broke off and he wrenched his eyes shut, breaths suddenly coming harsh and fast. “When I lose c-control, I...I c-can’t—”
There were wisps of his skin, on his face and hands, beginning to blur and shift, and though Credence had his eyes closed they were no doubt slowly turning an ominous white. Tina glanced at Newt, the beginnings of panic on her face. Newt remained still, trying to radiate calm, even as his heart thumped wildly in his chest. “No one blames you, Credence, those were accidents,” Newt assured, voice level and even. “I can help you, help make sure that you don’t lose control again.”
There was a horrible moment where nothing changed and Newt was an instant away from warning Tina to get back, when Credence’s breathing began to even out. When Credence’s eyes slowly raised to meet Newt’s, the brown gradually returned to them. His gaze was almost suspicious, his voice more so when he asked, “you can?”
“I can,” Newt answered cautiously, “I promise.”
“He promised he could help me,” Credence murmured. There was a weight to his gaze, a wariness that made him seem far older than he was. “He lied.”
Newt again fought down a sudden, righteous anger, thinking on Grindelwald’s empty promises. “I don't want anything from you, Credence,” Newt told him earnestly. “I just want to lift this weight from your shoulders.”
Credence’s fingers wove through the grass as he bit his lip, brows furrowed. His gaze was intent on the ground. Newt waited with baited breath. In the silence, Tina plucked another daisy from the grass and added it to the chain woven through Credence’s hair. The smallest smile ghosted over Credence’s face. “Okay,” Credence murmured, glancing up, eyes still wide, cautious, but hopeful as well.
Newt smiled, meeting Tina’s eyes for a moment. “Okay,” he agreed softly.
It was a long process. A chore of unwinding, untangling. Dark magic was difficult in that it usually fought back, but Credence wasn’t fighting it and it made all the difference. Tina kept him distracted just in case, asking him questions and telling stories, but it was almost unnecessary. The way Newt saw it, so long as Credence was willing to let go of that rage and sadness, there was no resistance from the obscurus as he coaxed it out. Still, Tina kept a smile on Credence’s face, and when Newt had to pause his work because Credence shook with laughter at one of Tina’s stories, he was far from complaining.
He had thought seeing the obscurus slowly materialize beside them would be painful, bringing memories of Sudan, but he found himself easily grinning along with the two of them. It was almost a surprise when he finished.
They grew silent as they considered the obscurus, shivering and roiling slightly in the air. “It’s done?” Credence asked after a moment, the beginnings of palpable relief in his voice. There was no tremble in the question, no more fear.
Newt nodded, feeling as if a weight were also removed from his shoulders, feeling light and dazed. “It’s done,” he breathed, with a wave of his wand sending the obscurus drifting gently to the habitat he’d created for the other.
Tina’s smile was a soft thing, more evident in her eyes than anything else, but Credence’s was sudden and blinding. “How would you like a tour of the apartment, Credence?” Tina asked, holding out a hand.
Credence seemed to hesitate. “I would,” he assured quickly, “but...” He bit his lip, a sheepish, hopeful look on his face as he glanced between them. “Could we...could we come back here? After?”
“You're welcome here anytime,” Newt assured. The quick flash of happiness on Credence’s face was infectious.
Credence took Tina’s hand, a small, shy smile on his face, and the two of them got to their feet. As Tina passed, she tucked a daisy behind Newt’s ear, hand brushing his cheek. Thank you, she mouthed, eyes bright.
Newt nodded dazedly again, watching them go with a sort of detached disbelief. Slowly, a grin pulled at his mouth and he laid back, cushioning his head with his arm. He watched the lazy crawl of clouds as the slight breeze rustled his hair, and his eyes drifted shut.
He heard approaching footsteps after a while, the sound pausing a few feet away. “Credence looks well,” Percival’s warm voice murmured.
“Mm. Good. I’m glad,” Newt answered, cracking open an eye.
Percival was silhouetted by the sunlight, but Newt could just make out the crinkling at the corners of his eyes, the fondness in his gaze. He sat beside him and Newt readjusted, leaning back on his hands and studying Percival’s profile. “How did things go?” Newt asked.
“There was the expected furious indignation mingled with begrudging praise,” Percival shrugged, a wry smile at the corner of his mouth as he glanced sideways at Newt.
“So you’re not in any trouble?” It had been a nagging worry in Newt’s mind, that Percival might face repercussions for indirectly shirking his superiors. To Newt’s relief, Percival’s smile widened and he quirked a brow.
“Newt, we just hand delivered Europe’s public enemy number one. If anything, they’ll give me a pay raise.”
“Oh.” Newt smiled, genuinely happy with the news. “Good.”
Percival’s expression softened and he leaned in closer, resting his weight on one hand and winding an arm around Newt, his palm warm at the small of his back. Newt grinned and wrapped his arms around Percival’s neck, fingers brushing at the short hair, trying to contain the burst of sudden elation in his chest when he saw Percival’s gaze turn gentle and adoring. “God,” he murmured, pulling Newt closer and pressing a kiss to his cheek, voice low and rumbling in his chest, “you’re so beautiful when you smile.”
Newt felt his cheeks heat, squirming away when Percival traced the blush with kisses. “Oh, you’re trying to get me flustered,” Newt scolded half-heartedly, gasping when Percival lightly scraped at his pulse point with teeth.
Newt could feel Percival’s smile widen, felt the barest huff of laughter against his skin. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Narrowing his eyes, Newt pushed with his legs and got Percival onto his back, settling with one leg between Percival’s. Percival didn’t even look fazed by the new positioning, his hands drifting down to settle at Newt’s waist, though his eyes went dark and hungry, making Newt shiver. Newt leaned down slowly, pausing inches from Percival’s mouth. Common sense at the back of Newt’s mind warned that Tina and Credence might be back any minute, but he was utterly distracted by Percival, and the sight of him under Newt was heady. His hair was coming out of place, mouth parted slightly, dark eyes watching Newt expectantly. The few Newt had ever spent a night with always murmured something about how he’d look on his knees or his back, how he’d look spread out underneath them. Percival’s willingness and anticipatory patience was entirely new and despite the steady weight of his hands on Newt’s hips, he seemed content to let Newt do what he wanted.
Experimentally, Newt shifted his weight and pressed his leg down against the hardening length in Percival’s trousers. Percival groaned and Newt chased the sound with his mouth, leaning down closer so he was flush with Percival’s body, so he could feel every stuttered breath and shaky exhale. Newt caught a quick movement of Percival’s hand out of the corner of his eye and a bright flash of magic, and he hoped Percival had cast a stronger disillusionment charm because Newt wasn’t quite willing to pause long enough to check. Newt’s hands cupped Percival’s face and he deepened the kiss, licking into Percival’s mouth and grinding down with his thigh in the same moment. Percival moaned, the sound muffled by the kiss, sending a surge of arousal down Newt’s spine.
Newt kissed his way down Percival’s jaw, trailing his lips down the line of Percival’s throat until he reached that pesky tie, and had just begun to unknot it when Percival’s voice, hoarse and gravelly, pierced through the fog. “Newt, wait.”
Newt looked up at him, blinking. Then, he flushed and attempted to scramble back. “I—sorry, it was, was it too much? It—I haven’t had much—”
Percival sat up slightly and caught his arm, preventing his retreat. “No,” he said, gently cupping Newt’s cheek and bringing their foreheads together. “No, you're perfect.”
Newt flushed again, his heart fluttering. “I'm really not,” he mumbled.
“You are,” Percival murmured, angling his head to kiss Newt softly, “you are,” he breathed, lips brushing Newt’s lightly, “which is why I don’t want this, any of this, to be rushed.” Percival pulled back slightly and met Newt’s eyes, as if he wanted to make sure Newt understood.
The words were weighted and Newt couldn’t help but to read into them, for a brief moment stunned that Percival might want this, might want him, for the long term. Because people just didn’t... stay with Newt, he was too chaotic, too impulsive, too much and too little all at once.
Newt swallowed, eyes wide. “Oh.”
“Is that alright?” Percival asked, voice soft.
Newt nodded, feeling that almost absurd contentedness rush through at Percival’s small answering smile. Percival leaned in for another kiss, light and lingering. Newt’s hands tangled in Percival’s hair and he hummed happily. Their movements were languid, unhurried.
They wound up lying side by side, Newt’s head on Percival’s shoulder and his arm draped over Percival’s chest. “You know,” Newt murmured after a long, comfortable silence, quirking an eyebrow, “I’m honestly surprised you even deigned to sit down wearing this suit.”
That startled a laugh out of Percival, a genuine, melodic thing Newt hadn’t heard very often. “Do I seem so very materialistic?” Percival quipped, “Surely you wouldn’t be caught dead with someone who couldn’t stand a bit of dirt on their clothes.”
“Surely I’m not so very demanding,” Newt objected, smacking Percival lightly on the chest.
Percival huffed a laugh and pressed a kiss to Newt’s forehead. Newt shifted closer, hiding a smile in the fabric of Percival’s coat. After a beat, Percival admitted, “it was dirty from the subway anyway.”
“Ha!” Newt exclaimed, lifting his head slightly with a triumphant grin. “I knew it.”
Percival’s gaze was soft when he glanced down at him, his eyes crinkling at the corners. Newt was about to lean in for another kiss, feeling nearly high on the warm happiness he felt, but Percival’s attention was drawn away by something to his side. Newt felt his shoulders shake in a silent chuckle and eyed him curiously when he turned to face him again. “What?” Newt asked.
Wordlessly, Percival raised his arm, revealing the niffler dangling from the band of his watch. “Oh, you!” Newt groaned, sitting up, managing to catch the niffler as the strap of the watch came undone. “How many times have I told you, that is not yours.”
“Ah, let him keep it,” Percival said. Newt shot him an incredulous look. Percival shrugged, shifting up and leaning on his hands. “The little guy deserves it.”
“You’re encouraging bad habits,” Newt huffed halfheartedly. “Not to mention the fact that I’ll have to weaken the wards to let him out again.” Percival looked like he was fighting the urge to smile. “Ugh, fine. Fine,” he said to the niffler, who had just managed to stuff the watch in his pouch. “But you’re not keeping all those things you picked up during your little jaunt through New York,” Newt scolded, pointing a finger. He flipped the niffler over and items rained down, from bracelets and cufflinks to what looked like the handle of an ivory cane. “Merlin’s beard,” Newt murmured.
“From a purely objective standpoint, it really is quite impressive what he manages to find,” Percival commented lightly, unmoved by Newt’s long suffering glance.
Newt was about to reply, but his gaze was caught by the glint of a silver cigarette case that tumbled out onto the grass. He slowly set the niffler down, barely noticing him scurry away with whatever loot he could quickly snatch up. Newt stared at the case, remembering when he’d last seen it in the subway, for a brief moment, pulled from Grindelwald’s coat pocket. Newt couldn’t recall ever having seen Grindelwald smoke.
Newt reached for it and picked it up, turning the inconspicuous thing over in his hands. “This was his,” he murmured, making to open it, but as soon as his fingers touched the clasp, it burned like fire.
He gasped and dropped the case, clutching his hand. Percival gently took hold of his wrist, brows furrowed when he saw the reddened fingertips, and gently passed his other hand over, healing them. He then turned his gaze to the cigarette case, a hand extending over it, mouth pressed in a thin line. “It’s heavily warded,” he murmured.
Percival drew his wand, pointed it at the case, and murmured spells, fast and effortless, under his breath. After a few minutes, there was a click, and the case sprang open, immediately unleashing a hoarse, loud voice. “—ME OUT, YOU MANIACAL, SADISTIC FUCK!”
Newt’s jaw dropped and Percival let out a breathless, disbelieving sound as he dove forward to grab the case, holding it between his hands gingerly. There was a deep, cavernous room inside, with a lone figure at the bottom. Percival let out a shaky exhale, briefly glancing in the direction the niffler ran off in. “Oh, he absolutely deserves it,” he breathed.
Newt was pacing outside the door of Credence’s hearing, wringing his hands. Things had felt like a whirlwind the past few days. Abernathy was still recovering, worse for wear but miraculously alive. Jacob had had to be obliviated as well, which was harder than Newt ever thought it would be. Queenie had done it herself, teary eyed, but chin held high. He didn’t know if it had been worse or better that Jacob didn’t even seem angry, merely accepting. The rest of them had given the two privacy as they said their goodbyes, but despite the fact that Queenie still managed small smiles, Newt’s heart ached for her. He couldn’t imagine parting from Percival like that.
Newt cast another anxious glance at the great doors of the MACUSA courtroom. The trial had been a lengthy process and Newt had only been allowed inside during his brief moment of testimony, where he’d made sure to affirm that was no basis for a case against Credence. He was sure he’d been convincing and Percival’s directing questions had been masterful, precise things, but it still made him nervous to be unaware of the proceedings. “Mr. Scamander, you’re going to wear a hole into the floor,” a voice admonished, and Newt turned to find President Picquery eyeing him curiously. “I wouldn’t be overly concerned. Director Graves has never lost a case,” she said.
Newt flushed, embarrassed, suddenly hyper aware that he didn’t know what to do with his hands. “Madam President, I-I wasn’t—”
If Newt didn’t know any better, he could have sworn he almost saw a smile. “Walk with me, Mr. Scamander,” she said, already turning, and with a final glance at the doors Newt followed suit.
He floundered when Piquery didn’t immediately say anything else, palms sweating nervously. “I...I hope things haven’t been too...chaotic around here, with...with everything that’s happened,” he rambled, cursing himself for how idiotic it sounded even as he said it.
“It could have been much worse,” Piquery murmured, gaze distant. She glanced over at him and though her expression was as unreadable as always, Newt thought her eyes looked less sharp, kinder. “I believe I owe you an apology, as well as the gratitude of MACUSA.”
Newt blinked in surprise, mouth opening slightly. “Oh—that’s really not...necessary, I assure you,” he said.
“It’s because of you that Grindelwald is safely in custody. He could have wrought a lot more damage than he did,” she answered simply. “And you’ve brought new light onto the treatment of obscurials and obscuri, where it was long thought a curse until death. I've also been told it was one of your creatures that facilitated Auror Abernathy’s rescue. What you’ve done, no one can repay, Mr. Scamander.”
Newt glanced down, shrugging off the praise. He never really knew what to do with compliments. “I just did what anyone would have,” he murmured, “if they’d had the same information.”
At that, Piquery did smile, a small, fleeting thing. “It takes a good man to so readily and honestly believe in the good of others as you do.”
Newt didn’t quite know what to say in reply, but was saved from it when she abruptly changed the subject. “Is it true you keep graphorns in that case of yours?” she asked, quirking a brow.
“I...um, yes, I do,” he answered tentatively, followed by a rushed, “I have permits.”
“I’m sure you do,” she said, tone more indulging than anything else. “A word of advice, Mr. Scamander? Never let me see that nundu.”
Newt stared at her, eyes wide. Percival had said he’d kept the nundu out of the report! “How did you—”
“I didn’t,” she answered simply.
Newt stopped in his tracks as she continued on, waving a hand for him to follow, and felt as though he’d bitten off more than he could chew.
Percival found Queenie crying on the way back to his office, sitting on a bench in one of the forgotten alcoves to the back of the building. He almost didn’t notice at first, tired as he was with the long hours spent arguing. The case was over with, finally, the verdict in their favor. Innocent of all charges. Credence was now free to pursue whatever he chose, whether it be a magical or nonmagical path. As Percival understood it, Credence was staying with the Goldsteins for the moment, so he made sure to pull Tina aside and tell her he would pitch in funds for a tutor if Credence ever decided to pursue magic. The boy had been hindered enough.
The slightly muffled sound of soft sobs, however, removed any thoughts of the trial from his mind. Queenie didn’t seem to hear his approach, startling when he stopped next to her. “Oh,” she gasped, quickly wiping at her eyes and putting on a wobbly smile, “how did it go?”
“It went well,” Percival answered. “Credence won’t have to worry about a thing.”
Queenie swallowed, smile widening genuinely for a moment. “Good. Good, he’s a sweetheart.”
Percival hummed distractedly in agreement. He sat down beside her, noting the way her hands wrung anxiously in her lap. “Queenie,” he began, “I think you’re very competent and intelligent, as well as an incredibly skilled legilimens.”
Queenie blinked at him, wide eyed. “But I also think I understand why you’ve continuously turned down my attempts to promote you to the auror track,” he continued.
Queenie bit her lip, glancing down at her lap, and shrugged. “That was...that was always Teen’s dream, really. I do appreciate the thought, that you think I’d be well-suited to it,” she told him with a small smile.
“Well, considering recent events, President Picquery and I have been mulling over the creation of a new department, one born from the invaluable nomaj testimony of this case. A Nomaj Studies and Relations department. If you’re amenable to the idea, I’d like you to head it.” Queenie’s eyes went wide, but before she could answer Percival was quick to add, “of course, this would give you the unquestioned authority to spend time among nomajes, all for the benefit of the department, you understand.” He made sure to think clearly and loudly of a certain nomaj currently attempting to open up a bakery.
Queenie clapped her hands over her mouth, eyes watery. She threw her arms around him, squeezing him in a tight hug. “Oh, Percival, yes, yes, thank you,” she whispered, giving him a another squeeze.
He huffed, his brief smile disappearing when he noticed (just his luck) a senior auror, Jacobson, who had just come around the hallway and stopped to stare, jaw hanging open, as Queenie pulled away. Percival sighed internally. It wouldn’t due to have the rest of his staff thinking he’d gone soft, though any effort to change the minds of Queenie or Tina would certainly be a moot point. “Jacobson,” he grit out, satisfied when the man stiffened and went white, “if you have time to stand there and gawk, you no doubt have time for two more case files. If you aren’t hard at work the next time I see you, I’ll demote you for incompetence, understood?”
Jacobson nodded frantically and backtracked behind the corner of the hallway he’d rounded. Queenie giggled and Percival focused on her, narrowing his eyes in realization. “You heard him coming, didn’t you,” he asked her flatly. She pressed her lips together, dimples betraying the smile. “I’m being sabotaged by my employees,” he grumbled.
It was a relief when Percival finally entered his office. While Newt was fairly sure the President wasn’t going to impound his case, it was still nerve wracking to tentatively answer her questions, even if they were well-meaning and genuine. She’d told him they were waiting for Percival for a business proposition of sorts, which did nothing to assuage Newt’s nerves, if anything making him more anxious.
Percival glanced between the two of them with a raised brow, closing the door behind him. “I hadn’t realized you were so eager to enstate these changes, Sera,” he said to Picquery, who shrugged.
“It seemed fitting to pose the question while he’s already here.”
“What question?” Newt blurted. “What happened with Credence?”
“He’s been found innocent. Free to do whatever he chooses,” Percival assured him.
Newt sighed in relief. “Good. So, what about...?”
“Our proposition for you?” Picquery finished, and at Newt’s nod, she said, “we would like to enstate you as MACUSA’s official consultant for cases involving magical creatures.”
Newt blinked in surprise. Percival was watching him curiously and Picquery, expectantly, but Newt’s heart sank. This had been what he’d been dreading to tell Percival. As much as he adored him, Newt wasn’t one remain in one place for long. He got antsy, jittery. Too much of the same was always unbearable. “I...I would like to, really I would but...I can’t...” He glanced at Percival, biting his lip. “I can’t stay.”
“We’re aware you tend to move around a lot,” Percival said, his expression warm and understanding, though a flash of something somber briefly passed over his face. It was gone in an instant, but it made Newt’s heart ache. He caught the unspoken words, the ones meant for him, that Percival wouldn't say in front of anyone else. I know you can’t stay. It's alright. “We’d only ask that you at least be contactable by owl. Your physical presence in an office would be...optional,” he added wryly.
“Oh,” Newt breathed, glancing between the two of them. He...he could work with that. He could help to make sure other aurors were informed, he could have some influence in the treatment of creatures at MACUSA. It could be almost more impactful than he hoped his book would be. He grinned. “I would be glad to.”
After the brief meeting where they discussed logistics, Percival walked him to the entrance of the Woolworth building, pausing in the foyer with a small, fleeting smile tinged with something melancholic. “I expect you’ll be off soon,” he said, his hand brushing Newt’s.
Newt nodded. “To Arizona,” he murmured. “But—” he swallowed as Percival’s eyes snapped up to meet his, intense and dark, and felt the words he’d been dying to voice bubble up in his throat. “I want to come back. To see you. I—I’ll always want to come back. To you. That is if—if you want me t—”
Percival surged forward and kissed him in answer, right there in the middle of the MACUSA entryway. People were likely staring, but Newt couldn’t find it in himself to care, again winding his arms around Percival’s neck and pressing closer. He was aware of nothing but the heat of Percival’s mouth, the insistence of his tongue, the way Percival kissed like a drowning man gasping for air.
“May I remind you two lovebirds that this is a place of business?” a familiar voice chimed in from above.
Newt spared a curious glance to the exposed second level of the building above them and saw Abernathy, his arm in a sling and healing bruises on the side of his face, though his eyes were amused. “Go back to the infirmary,” Percival muttered, loud enough for Abernathy to hear, drawing Newt into another kiss that he happily reciprocated.
“Hm, you see, I’d love to,” his voice came again, definitely amused now, “but legally it’s my duty to inform you that displays of affection in the Woolworth are limited to—”
Percival drew back with a scowl, shooting a glare up at Abernathy. Everyone else around them wisely pretended to be very busy with something. “Any leniency I may have granted you due to your abduction ends now,” Percival growled.
Abernathy shrugged and grinned like a cat. “That’s fair.”
Percival huffed and tilted Newt’s chin for another kiss as he blindly fired off a wandless spell in Abernathy’s direction. Newt heard Abernathy curse, followed by a sudden clanging. Then, more distant, “alright, lovebirds to be left in peace, got it.”
A low sound of irritation sounded in Percival’s throat but Newt’s hands coming up to cup his face brought his eyes back to Newt’s, the look in them turning soft and adoring. That look still made Newt’s head spin. “Please don’t kill him, I like him,” Newt murmured jokingly, grinning when Percival huffed again.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Percival rumbled, his nose brushing Newt’s, “you’re both mouthy and opinionated.”
“You like my mouth,” Newt pointed out cheekily.
Percival smiled, tilting his head as he kissed Newt again, the gentle press light and sweet. “I do,” Percival murmured, breath ghosting over Newt’s lips.
Newt grinned, drawing back slightly so he could see Percival’s warm, fond look, and clasped his hand in Percival’s, intertwining their fingers. “See me off?” Newt asked.
“Of course,” Percival said, pressing a kiss to the back of Newt’s hand that sent his heart fluttering. “Let me know when you’re back?”
“The very moment,” Newt answered breathlessly.
Later that day, Percival took him to the train station. Newt kissed him fiercely before he stepped into the car, prolonging the moment as long as possible.
"You know I could've just apparated you there," Percival had murmured amusedly, eyes crinkling.
Newt had wrinkled up his nose in reply. "Where's the fun in that?"
He stayed to the back of the train to keep Percival in sight as long as possible. He kept his eyes on Percival's fond look and the nearly imperceptible smile on his lips as the man leaned against a pillar, watching the train as it left. Newt stared, biting his lip to control a wide grin that threatened to split, until he couldn't distinguish Percival's features.
As eager as he was to see Frank flying again, it was at that moment that Newt started counting the minutes until he could return.
ahhh one more chapter to go you guys, more of a cute little epilogue
Thanks so much for reading!