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The Prettiest Star

Chapter Text

Doubt thou the stars are fire

William Shakespeare

*** *** ***

The village of Hogsmeade had a curious geographical location, for it was built near the wall that separated the non-magical (and some would even say, the boring) world from the magical realm of Hogwarts. Whether the wall or the village had been built earlier, nobody could really say, but each of the elder Hogsmeade residents were of the opinion that life had quieted down once the village had stopped holding the annual Hogwarts Fair. The Fair had been an occasion where the magical and non-magical folk could intermingle and trade items.

However, some forty years ago, the inhabitants of Hogwarts had warned the villagers that Hogwarts was threatened by an evil sorcerer named Grindelwald, and it was rumored that he’d found the key to immortality. The magical folk would go to war against him, and for the duration of said war, no Hogwarts Fair was to be held. The villagers never heard of any Hogwarts citizen again, and either assumed that the dark lord Grindelwald had won, or that the magical folk no longer wanted anything to do with non-magical people like them.

The middle-aged and elderly still shared stories of their interactions with the magical folk, each tale more fantastic than the last, and most of the younger villagers attributed the content of the tales more to the liberal consumption of butterbeer than to the actual existence of magical people and creatures. The stories about magic were slowly taking on a dusty tinge of legend and myth.

Still, for all their doubt, no villager dared to go near the wall, it was instilled into them since birth that one does not go near the wall. Some bold souls might have been brave enough to approach it, but no one dared to actually cross into the realm of Hogwarts. Strange things would happen to people there, and most likely you’d never come back, it was rumored.

*** *** ***

In the sitting room of the finest house in Hogsmeade, an elderly man was arguing with his son.

“You aren’t really going to enforce this stupid rule, are you, Father?” Percival Graves demanded hotly. He’d been stalking up and down in his father’s study for the better part of ten minutes, while his father tried to explain to him the necessity of Percival being married before his 40th birthday.

“Percival, this is the way of the Graves family and it has been tradition for centuries. You must be married before you turn 40, lest you lose your inheritance,” Yvain Graves insisted. “Shall I remind you of my great-great-uncle Gareth Graves…”

“No,” Percival interrupted him. “But as you so accurately pointed out, he was your great-great-uncle. This was a long time ago. I don’t see any reason why I should be married just to be legitimate as an heir.”

Yvain sighed. “I will not change my mind. Get married before your birthday or lose your inheritance. I mean it, Percival. You still have six months, so I suggest you try and find a nice wife or husband until then. Or do you already have someone in mind…?”

Percival snorted. “Father, you know as well as I do that I’m not romantically attached to anyone…”

“Well,” his father shrugged. “Much can change within half a year.”

Percival pinched the bridge of his nose and could feel the beginnings of a throbbing headache. So, he had to get married and he had to do it within six months. He’d never had any intention of trying to find a spouse, but he was a Graves. It couldn’t be that hard to convince someone to enter into a marriage of convenience, no obligations whatsoever. Right?

*** *** ***

Thus began a very strange and amusing period in the history of Hogsmeade, in which the wealthy land-owner and self-taught astronomer Percival Graves, heir to arguably the most respected and richest family of the village, proposed marriage to a number of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, only to be turned down by each of them.

Seraphina Picquery, the town’s Mayor and his first choice, listened to his proposal and then calmly showed him to the door. “In your dreams, Graves,” she said and slammed the door in his face. Percival furrowed his brow. Maybe he should have brought flowers.

He did buy flowers for Cecily Wilkinson, only to be rejected by her muttering something about “Sam already promised me marriage”.

(Funny enough, the exact same scenario happened when Percival tried to propose to Ruby Fontaine. Percival assumed he could cross Samuel McKinnon’s name off the list without asking him before.)

Maybe flowers were old-fashioned. He’d try chocolates. To procure the latter, Percival went to Jacob Kowalski’s bakery and patisserie, the Honeypot. There, he unfortunately ran into Abernathy and had to keep himself from rolling his eyes.

“Mr. Graves, what a pleasure to meet you!” Abernathy exclaimed with a beaming face.

What a bootlicker.

“Yes, hello, Abernathy,” Percival replied and tried to kept his gaze away from the smaller man.

On the other hand, though, Abernathy was probably enough of a sycophant to agree to marry him instantly. Percival furtively glanced at the shorter man and…No. As much as Percival was convinced he only wanted a marriage of convenience, he wanted to be able to at least tolerate his spouse. Abernathy was the last resort.

“Mr. Graves, I thought you would perhaps be interested in discussing the new article in the Gentleman’s Magazine…”

The very last resort.

“That surely sounds interesting, Abernathy,” Percival started and nodded to Jacob, who’d finally come back from the storage room. “But, as you know, I’m a busy man. Goodbye, Abernathy.”

Abernathy was left standing forlorn by the side, swallowing and straightening his tie. “Of course, Mr. Graves,” he said in the direction of Percival’s back and left the shop, incidentally without having bought anything.

“Mr. Graves, what can I get you today?” Jacob greeted him.

“It’s Percival, Jacob, you know that. I need a few boxes of your finest chocolates, please,” he placed his order and folded his hands behind his back while he waited. It was a well-known fact that Jacob Kowalski made the best pastries and sweets within at least a fifty-mile radius of Hogsmeade. He even had regular orders coming in from London.

“Attempting to woo someone?” Jacob asked as he prepared the boxes. “Or trying to get back in someone’s good graces, if I may be so bold…?”

Percival laughed. “Flowers weren’t appreciated earlier, so I’m trying a different approach, so to speak.”

Jacob handed him the chocolates with a grin. “Well, unfortunately I can’t guarantee you success, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.”

Percival paid him and took his chocolates. He had two remaining candidates, after that, he’d have to resort to desperate measures. Like Abernathy, his mind supplied, and he shivered at the thought.

*** *** ***

The stars led a very lonely and withdrawn life and from time to time it happened that a star lost its ability to shine. Nobody knew for sure why this happened, but once it began, a star only had two options.

They could either fall to the Earth and place their fate in the hands of the humans, that the stars were always watching from afar.

Or they could collapse into an all-consuming black mass, which devoured and destroyed everything in its vicinity.

*** *** ***

Percival stood at the door of the Goldstein sisters’ apartment. He’d already sacrificed one of the boxes of chocolate to bribe Mrs. Esposito, their strict landlady, into letting him even go up the stairs.

“Yes, what is it…?” Tina Goldstein, the older sister answered the door.

“May I come in?” Percival asked without hesitating and after Tina nodded her approval, he entered the flat.

Tina eyed the boxes of chocolate with evident skepticism. “What are you up to?”

Percival cleared his throat. “I am looking for a fiancée and…”

Tina smacked her forehead with the flat of her palm. “Are you trying this with everyone you know?”

“I’m sorry?”

“I talked to Seraphina,” Tina explained. “And I regret to inform you that I’m already in love Newt…”

“Now wait,” Percival interrupted. “I’m not in love with you either, but I need to get married, not fall in love. It’s necessary to secure my inheritance…”

Tina, for lack of a better word, growled. “Well, tough luck, Mr. Graves, I’m not willing to break up with Newt, just to become a trophy wife for you.”

Percival furrowed his brow. “You haven’t seen him in over a year, he’s still on his research trip.”

“We write letters…occasionally,” Tina answered and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Now I suggest you…”

“Tina?” a soft voice came from the living room. “What’s all that noise?”

“Oh,” Tina answered mockingly in the direction of the voice. “It’s just Mr. Graves. He’s looking for a way to ‘secure his inheritance’,” Tina huffed. “I certainly won’t go along with your plan, which, by the way, is stark raving bonkers,” she muttered, just as her sister Queenie entered the room.

“Hello, Mr. Graves,” she said quietly and he nodded at her. If he was quite honest with himself, he felt quite relieved that Tina had turned him down. The younger Goldstein sister was a much more suitable candidate, what with her temper being much less prickly than Tina’s – it would ensure a quiet marriage without too many disturbances.

“Good to see you, Miss Goldstein,” he greeted her. “As you might have already heard…”

“You need to get married, yes,” she completed his sentence for him. After years of knowing Queenie, it didn’t come as a surprise to him anymore. Queenie had always much more insight into people’s minds than regular folk.

“And I wanted to…”

“Oh, I’m flattered, Mr. Graves, I truly am, but…,” she hesitated and tilted her head before she continued. “If I ever get married, I want it to be for love. I want it to be romantic, you know?”

Percival extended his arms, holding the boxes of chocolate. “If you get to know me a bit better, you’ll find I can be very romantic.”

Queenie took the boxes, and when she saw the Honeypot logo, her whole face seemed to light up. Percival made a mental note to thank Jacob for the chocolates, they really seemed to do the trick better than flowers.

“So,” he began. “Would you like to have dinner with me, Miss Goldstein? Tomorrow, eight o’clock? I’ll tell Madam Rosmerta to reserve her best table.”

Queenie stared at him a bit helplessly. “Mr. Graves, I don’t quite know what to say…”

“Please, call me Percival. Eight o’clock, it’s settled then?”

Queenie made a noise that could potentially have been an affirmative answer, and Percival grinned. That went better than expected. “That’s delightful to hear, Miss Goldstein. I will pick you up tomorrow at ten to eight. Until then, goodbye.”

After Percival had left, Queenie turned to look at Tina, arms still laden with the chocolate Percival had brought. “I’ve got a date? With Percival Graves?”

Tina grinned. “Well, I suggest you have dinner with him and then calmly explain to him that your heart already belongs to a certain baker…,” she teased and gestured to the chocolates.

“Teenie,” she hissed. “That’s a secret. Nobody’s supposed to know yet.”

“Do you really think you can hide this from your big sister?”

“Teenie!”

*** *** ***

Credence had been steadily losing his ability to shine. It was either fall or consume, destroy and tear apart.

He chose to fall.

*** *** ***

The next day, Percival shopped at the Honeypot once more to buy another box of chocolates as bribing material for Mrs. Esposito later in the evening.

Additionally, he asked Jacob for advice on wooing people, as Percival himself had never really bothered with it. In hindsight, he could have used a little practice, but everyone knew what people said about hindsight. Still, Jacob was helpful. He suggested thoughtful presents, compliments and in general showing that you cared about the other person.

True to his word, Percival showed up at exactly ten minutes to eight o’clock at the Goldstein sisters’ apartment. He was dressed smartly in a three-piece-suit and coat, and he had slicked his hair back. When Queenie came out and joined him, she was wearing a pink coat and a hat of the same color. Her posture and facial expression may have indicated that she felt uncomfortable, but Percival attributed this to nerves on her side.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Of course,” she answered and took his offered arm.

In terms of romance and mood, the dinner was tense and awkward, or at least Queenie thought so. Jacob and she had never actually shared a dinner together until now, but she was convinced it wouldn’t feel like one single meal dragged on endlessly.

Perhaps it would have been easier had she not known Percival Graves for all her life. Except for a very embarrassing crush on him when Queenie had been about fourteen, she’d never had any feelings for the man that went beyond a casual friendship.

Percival was always there, sure, but he’d never managed to capture her interest, not like Jacob had done. Jacob and she both liked to cook and they could talk forever about recipe ideas. Additionally, Jacob was so exciting and a foreigner and, all in all, the sweetest man she’d ever met. In short, Queenie had absolutely no intention of becoming Mrs. Percival Graves.

They struggled to find common ground during their discussion over dinner – Percival would speak at length about his love for the stars and his passion to discover the rules which governed the universe, while Queenie wanted to analyze their meals and speculate on how the recipes might be changed or even improved.

Somehow, after more tense conversation than Queenie had ever had to endure in her life, the date had passed and Percival was offering her his arm once more to bring her home. Well, at least he was a gentleman, Queenie mused.

Now, about the letting him down easy part…

“Percival, I hope you don’t mind me saying this…but I don’t think your plan worked. I don’t feel anything more for you than I did before and…I don’t think you’re in love with me either, are you?”

“Miss Goldstein,” he chuckled. “I was talking about marriage, not love. These are two very different things.”

She frowned. “When I get married, I want it to be to a man who at least cares about me.”

“Do you want me to prove how much your hand in marriage would mean to me?” Percival turned to face her and Queenie had to bite back a frustrated groan. She’d meant to politely reject him, not encourage him even more, so she used the first thing she saw as a distraction.

“Oh, look! A falling star, how beautiful!” she exclaimed and Percival looked at the sky in time to catch a glimpse of the largest shooting star he’d ever seen.

“Not as beautiful as you,” Percival said, because he thought maybe Queenie would find that romantic. He remembered Jacob’s advice about giving presents, and what better present than a fallen star? He took hold of her hands and asked with fervor: “Miss Goldstein, if I brought you the star as a symbol of the seriousness of my intent, would you reconsider?”

“The fallen star?” she breathed. “I…I don’t know what to…do you even think you’d find it?”

“Of course I will find it,” he said with the conviction of a man who’d rarely had to accept no as an answer. They resumed walking in the direction of Queenie’s home. “That would be a truly unique engagement present, don’t you think? A fallen star.”

“Yes,” Queenie mumbled, clearly in over her head. “Truly unique.”

Once they had arrived at her door, Percival thanked her for going to dinner with him.

“Oh, no problem, Percival,” Queenie replied.

“Goodnight. The next time we meet, I will return with the star, Miss Goldstein,” he waved her off and left.

Queenie entered the apartment with a confused look on her face. Tina was waiting up for her and had curled up in front of the fireplace with a cup of cocoa.

“So, did you tell him to scram?”

Queenie shrugged helplessly. “I tried?”

“And what did he say?”

“He promised to bring me a fallen star in exchange for my hand in marriage.”

“Queenie, I told him to break up with him, not encourage him!” Tina hissed.

“I tried, I told him I wanted to get married for love and I thought that he wasn’t in love either, but somehow, he seemed to get this crazy idea that if he brought me a fallen star it would somehow change my mind,” Queenie protested.

“He’s not really going to go chase after a fallen star, is he?”

“When has a pesky little thing like common sense ever stopped a Graves?”

*** *** ***

In his castle of Nurmengard, Gellert Grindelwald had been watching the sky when he’d seen the star fall. His lips curved into a lazy smile, and he waved his hand in the direction of cages in which he kept animals for various magical rituals.

A struggling young alligator was lifted from its cage and laid on a table, kept there by the force of Gellert’s magic. Now that he had the prospect of a new fallen star, he could use his remaining powers less sparingly than before.

He approached the alligator with a knife carved from obsidian. Gellert cut the animal up and moved his gnarled fingers through its innards, looking for answers and possible clues on where to find the star.

Yes, he thought as he closed his hands over the animal’s kidneys and ripped them out, things were looking up.

After he had consulted the animal’s entrails and had washed his hands, he mapped out a rough itinerary to get to the star – a Babylonian candle would have certainly made things much less complicated, but they were notoriously rare these days.

With another wave of his hand, he undid the locks on the small chest that held his most treasured possession. The remains of the last fallen star’s heart. Gellert took it in his hand, devoured it and moaned with pleasure as he felt it taking effect. His back was no longer bent with age, he could move without pain once more and his skin felt smooth, without a single wrinkle.

With a quick snap of his wrist, he unveiled a mirror that had been covered with a cloth for years and as Gellert looked into the mirror, he saw a rakish young man grinning back at him, blonde locks framing a beautiful face.

With a few more spells, he made quick work of his travel preparations and it wouldn’t be long until he was able to set out in his carriage.

*** *** ***

Yvain Graves was awoken by his son hectically rummaging through the house in the middle of the night. The old man donned his dressing gown and moved through the hallways of the manor with a certainty gained by spending his whole life in these rooms and halls. They left his mark on him, just as he left his marks on them. The floor plan carved into the subconscious of his mind, he could probably navigate the house blind and deaf, and still find his way without any problems.

He found his son bent over a travel bag, muttering quietly to himself the names of items he might need on his impending trip. Percival worked by candlelight, and it illuminated the scene with an almost otherworldly glow.

“What do you think you’re doing, son?” he asked, voice rough with sleep and old age.

I,” Percival started and picked up his travel bag. “Am going to find a fallen star.”

“Son, you need to find a spouse, not go off on another one of your crazy adventures,” Yvain protested.

Percival narrowed his eyes at him. “They are not crazy adventures, but research trips.” Before his father could object, Percival held up a hand to silence him. “Furthermore, Queenie Goldstein said she’ll marry me if I bring her a fallen star.”

 “Did she now?” his father questioned. Percival seemed to waver for a moment, but he squared his shoulders and nodded.

“And, pray tell, how do you plan to find the star?”

“I…,” Percival hesitated. “I just know I will find it. I can almost feel it calling out to me.”

Calling him? Sure… Still, if Percival was convinced that it would help his chances with the younger Miss Goldstein, he would provide his son with the necessary means to accomplish his mission.

“Percival, wait. Before you set out, I need to look for something,” he said and took the lit candelabra from the table where Percival had set it.

Yvain moved through his ancient house, older than himself and just as temperamental sometimes, until he found the box in a forgotten, crammed cupboard. A smile appeared on his face, and the candlelight accentuated the myriad of wrinkles and lines on it. It was a face Percival had known all his life, but in this unusual light, it seemed to him as if he was seeing his father for the first time.

“Now,” Yvain said as he lifted the lid of the box. “I think you will find this very helpful on your journey.”

Percival, travel bag slung over his shoulder, regarded the content of the box and raised an eyebrow. “Two candles.”

“Not just any candles, son.”

“Black candles, then. What’s so special about them?”

His father smiled and lifted one of the candles out of the box. “These are Babylonian Candles, Percival. Highly advanced magic. They’re rumored to transport you to wherever you want to go in the blink of an eye.”

“Highly advanced magic,” Percival echoed. “How come you have them?”

“Until I was 25, the Hogwarts Fair was held each year. I have a curious collection of trinkets in there, but the Babylonian Candles were given to me by a witch and seer called Cassandra Trelawney. She told me to keep them safe until the Graves family was in need of them, and I believe this time has now come,” his father explained with a solemn voice.

Percival gingerly took the candle from his father. “How do I use them?”

“If I remember it correctly, you focus very hard on where you want to go and then light the candle.”

“Alright,” Percival answered. “Like this?” He held the wick of the black candle to one of the white candles on the candelabra and was gone before his father could even answer “I think so.”

Yvain stared dejectedly at the second candle still in the box. How would his boy make it safely back to him, if he only had one candle with him? Non-magical folk usually didn’t fare well in Hogwarts without someone to guide them through the strange realm of magic.

As he looked closely at the box, he saw that a piece of parchment was tucked into the box, under the second Babylonian Candle. Yvain cleaned his glasses and held the parchment near the candelabra. It was a note from Cassandra. It read:

CT to YTG

“He who seeks the grail will sail the skies and rest forever amongst the stars.”

“Rest forever amongst the stars,” Yvain read aloud with a broken voice. What had he sent his son into?

Chapter Text

The carriage ride was longer and more exhausting than Gellert had expected – he’d rarely left Nurmengard in these last few years, and even though he’d gotten his youthful body back, traveling was taking its toll on him. Additionally, Gellert was still only human after all, and he had grown hungry after the long carriage ride.

Gellert Grindelwald was only subject to a few rules, but, sadly, Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration was among them. Not even Gellert could conjure food out of thin air, not even at the height of his powers.

However, what he did have was a keen eye and he found a fellow witch (so beneath him in every way, of course, but still a witch) who had set up camp beside the road. She was preparing a hare for a meal.

He stopped his horseless carriage with a clap of his hands and climbed out. The witch gave him a suspicious look and crossed her arms in front of her. Gellert straightened his coat and tried to appear trustworthy – his charm usually never failed him, but he was out of practice.

“By the rules and customs of the community to which we both belong, I swear I mean you no harm, I only ask you to share your meal with me,” he said, holding up both his hands in a gesture of surrender.

The witch squinted for a moment longer, and then her expression morphed into a sour smile. “Heads or tails?” she gestured to the skinny hare that was roasting on the fire.

Gellert chose head, and was promptly served his meal, in addition to a glass of wine.

“You are too kind, ma’am,” he thanked her and rewarded her with a wicked grin.

The witch almost giggled. “You may call me Madame Mary Lou,” she said and blushed.

Gellert was pleased he still could have such an effect on other people. He tasted the wine and, contrary to what he’d expected, it was rather delicious.

“What has you traveling the land, young man?” Mary Lou asked.

“Oh,” Gellert replied offhandedly. “I’m looking for a fallen star.” He took another sip of his wine before he continued: “I plan to seduce the star in order to make their heart glow and then I’m going to cut their heart out of their chest and eat it, because it will grant me eternal youth.”

Mary Lou’s thin lips curved into a cruel smile. “A fallen star?” she repeated. “Well, I could do with a little rejuvenating myself…”

Gellert looked down at his wine glass and narrowed his eyes. “You dare...you have the gall to slip me Veritaserum?”

Mary Lou stood up and tsked. “Now, don’t get upset, pretty boy. A fallen star’s out of your league.”

Gellert laughed. Oh, she was in for a surprise. He straightened up and stared into Mary Lou’s watery eyes.

“Foolish woman, you have absolutely no idea who you’re talking to! You are not fit to lick the dirt off my boots,” he spat.

He could feel his youthful mask slip for a moment and reveal the hateful demon he’d become over the decades. Mary Lou cowered in fear, and hid her face in her hands.

“I meant you no harm,” he continued in a thunderous voice. “Still, you tried to trick me, and so, when the star is near you, you will not be able to see them, hear them, smell them, touch them nor perceive them in any way. You will forget this encounter and not remember me, you will forget my face, my voice, my curse but you will not forget the dread you feel now, it will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Gellert finished his curse, climbed back into his carriage and sped off.

Mary Lou woke up feeling disoriented and uncomfortable. What had happened? Why were there two plates set out for a meal? How did she end up on the floor? Disturbed and confused, she gathered her things and continued her journey through the land.

*** *** ***

Credence tried to stand up, but a sharp pain shot from his left foot all the way through his leg, and he concluded that he must have hurt himself when he fell down to the Earth.

A bitter laugh escaped him, this was just his tough luck. He lost his ability to shine like a normal star should and when he chose to try his luck on Earth instead, the first thing that happened to him was that he got hurt.

He tried to hobble along as best as he could by putting as little weight as possible on his injured leg and he looked around to get a glimpse of his surroundings. The night sky was above him, and he could see all the brothers and sisters he’d left behind. It seemed he had created a crater when he fell, and that he had landed in a region that was surrounded by forest, no other person in sight.

Credence was just turning his head to look up at the starry sky again, the home he’d never be able to return to, when something heavy crashed into him and sent him sprawling on the floor again. He groaned and tried to disentangle himself from his attacker.

“Fuck,” a voice said above him. “Where am I? And who are you?”

“Uhm,” Credence replied perplexed. He wanted to stand up, but the fall had only done more damage to his already injured foot and he couldn’t put any weight at all on his foot now. “My name is Credence, Sir. I don’t know where we are, sorry about that. How did you…you startled me…”

The man who’d crashed into him straightened up and dusted off his coat. He was exceptionally well-dressed, Credence noted, and from what he could see in the moonlight, the man was very handsome, even though he was no longer young.

“Oh, sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Percival Graves,” the man said and offered Credence his hand.

Credence shook it, but he quickly realized that the man meant to help him up. “My leg is injured from when I fell. I can’t stand up,” he awkwardly explained.

“Well, we need to do something about that, get your leg fixed,” Mr. Graves decided and dropped Credence’s hand. “I’m actually looking for a fallen star, though. The crater is obviously here, we’re standing in it, this means the star has to be here as well…”

Credence goggled at him, but stayed silent.

“You see, I promised Queenie a fallen star as a gift, so I need to find it…”

“What does your queen want with a fallen star?” Credence asked cautiously.

“No, not my queen,” Mr. Graves corrected him. “Queenie Goldstein, the woman who’s going to marry me, if I bring her a fallen star as a gift.”

Credence twisted his hands in his lap. “I’m afraid I won’t make a good gift,” he said dejectedly.

“Excuse me?” Mr. Graves queried.

Credence met Mr. Graves’ eyes, but only for a second. “You must be disappointed. I know I’m not much to look at.”

“Wait,” the man mused. “Are you trying to tell me…you’re the star?”

Credence crossed his arms in front of his chest and pouted. “Well, what did you expect? A piece of shiny rock?”

*** *** ***

Percival had to smother a hysterical laugh. The young man on the ground before him claimed to be the fallen star. He stared down at the Babylonian Candle in his hand. Had the magical item not only transported him to the fallen star, but also into the magical world? Maybe he was no longer in Britain, and he had accidentally entered into the realm of Hogwarts. Maybe in Hogwarts, stars were indeed pretty young men.

Percival shook his head to chase that last thought away, but it stayed firmly lodged in his mind.

He cleared his throat. “To be honest, yes, I did expect a shiny rock,” he admitted.

Credence blinked. “You’re not…you’re not from around here, are you? You’re from the non-magical world,” he stated with an awed voice.

“Yes,” Percival answered. “I didn’t even know…the Babylonian Candle I used to get to you is the first time I ever interacted with anything magical,” he added sheepishly.

“You’ve got a Babylonian Candle? I didn’t know there were any left!” the star exclaimed.

Percival shrugged. “My father had some, said he bought them some fifty years ago,” he explained and looked at the candle stump that was left. “I’m not sure if…I don’t think I can use it to get us home, considering I used most of it just to get me to you…”

“Still, a Babylonian Candle! There haven’t been any since Grindelwald’s reign,” the star whispered.

Babylonian Candles, Grindelwald, trying to navigate a vaguely romantic dinner with Queenie earlier this evening (had it really only been this evening?) – Percival’s mind was starting to reel.

“I don’t know what a Grindelwald is, but you need to see a doctor for your leg, unless you can fix it with magic?”

The star clasped a hand in front of his mouth to hide a laugh. “You really don’t know much about magic, do you, Mr. Graves?”

Percival grinned and shook his head. “I suppose not. Care to enlighten me? Oh, and call me Percival.”

Credence nodded. “You help me find someone to heal my leg, I teach you what I know about the magical world.”

“Great,” Percival said and clapped his hand. “Well, first of all, we need to get out this crater. You can’t walk, you said?”

“My foot hurts too much,” Credence replied. “Maybe if I could lean on you…?”

Percival hummed. “I think I can do better than that,” he declared and before Credence could protest, Percival was already carrying him bridal-style out of the crater.

“You don’t have to…I’m sure I could…,” Credence stuttered, equal parts mortified and excited at the position he found himself in.

“It’s my pleasure,” Percival replied easily, and thought to himself that the young man – the star – weighed even less than he’d expected.

“Oh…,” Credence said in a strangled voice and didn’t offer further objections.

When they had made their way out of the crater, Percival took a look around and his heart sank. “Looks like we’re completely surrounded by forest.”

“You can set me down, if you need to,” the star said, breath warm against Percival’s neck.

“Okay,” Percival nodded, and carefully set Credence down, so he sat on the floor once more. “By the way, do you have any idea on how we’re going to get out of the forest and into an area that’s inhabited by other humans…well, inhabited at least? I suppose we could use the last stump of the Babylonian Candle, but I’m not sure if I want to do that…”

Credence smiled at him. “I think I can help. Being a star is not terribly exciting, but there are some benefits.”

“What are you…,” Percival started, but Credence just cocked his head in the direction of the forest.

A snow-white horse made its way out of the forest and towards them. When the horse turned its head to the side, Percival stared at it for a few moments, dumbstruck.

“A unicorn,” he whispered at last. “They exist. They really exist.”

“Well, of course they exist,” Credence huffed. “Unicorns are just as real as stars.”

Percival blinked owlishly. “Of course,” he answered with a laugh. “This is all very much new to me, you understand.”

In the time this conversation had taken place, the unicorn made its way over to the pair of them and nuzzled the side of Credence’s head with its velveteen nostrils. The fallen star smiled and closed his eyes for a moment.

“Say hello to Mr. Graves as well, will you?” he asked the creature, and to Percival’s amazement, it obeyed the soft-spoken command and approached him.

He ran a hand over the animal’s flank. “Hey there,” he said to the unicorn, and then turned to Credence once more. “I suppose I’ll have to help you up? So, you’ll sit in the front and I’ll sit behind you? Do you think it can handle both of us?”

The unicorn huffed and threw its head back, as if to say it was offended Percival even asked such a question.

“You bet it can carry the two of us,” Credence replied. “First thing you’ll learn about the magical world: Unicorns are extraordinarily strong,” he smiled, but Percival noticed that he was shivering.

He could slap himself for his inattentiveness to Credence’s wellbeing. The star was dressed only in a flimsy dark blue silk shirt and pants with similar slippers. Credence must have been freezing all along.

“Right,” Percival murmured, took off his long black coat and handed it to Credence. “Put this on, you’re shivering. Why didn’t you say anything before?”

Credence looked down at his hands and shrugged. “I didn’t want to presume, Mr. Graves.”

“Bullshit,” Percival cut him off and felt instantly bad when he saw Credence flinch. “Sorry. What I mean to say is that I want you to tell me if something is wrong in the future, alright?”

“Okay,” Credence answered quietly.

“Promise?” Percival asked.

“Promise,” Credence said and Percival lifted him up onto the unicorn’s back before he himself swung onto it behind Credence.

“Can you take Mr. Graves and me to the nearest inn, please?” the fallen star asked the animal and the unicorn began to carry them into the forest, in a direction that Percival could only hope would really lead them to the next inn.

“It’s…it’s different than I have expected,” Credence said and clearly felt uncomfortable. “The horse riding, I mean.”

“You’ve never ridden a horse before?” Percival asked incredulously.

“Okay, Mr. Graves, what am I?”

“A fallen star, of course,” Percival groaned. “So, as a star, what do you do all the time? How is it up there? And call me Percival, please.”

Credence shrugged. “Cold. Lonely,” he replied and Percival placed his hands at Credence’s waist to keep him steady on the unicorn’s back and to keep him from slipping, or so he told himself. “We mostly shine and watch what happens on Earth. The last hour was the most excitement I’ve had in my entire life so far,” Credence added.

They continued their journey through the forest and traded tales of their respective lives back and forth. Percival was pleasantly surprised to find that his conversation with Credence was one of the best he’d ever had in his life.

*** *** ***

Gellert consulted the runes once, twice, then a third time. The star was moving away from the place where it had originally fallen, and it did so at a pace that suggested a quicker form of transport than two legs.

He frowned and urged his carriage to go faster – if he was correct, then the star was moving through the Forbidden Forest, which had been one of Gellert’s strongholds during the height of his power. All the magical creatures and beasts which had lent him their support had gathered there and, during the nights, the Forbidden Forest had been alive with bloodshed and mayhem.

The beasts were all long gone; Gellert’s power and support had crumbled away with the reserves of the last fallen star’s heart, and the Forbidden Forest was mostly empty these days. Dangerous creatures no longer had any reason to dwell there, ordinary animals were still too frightened to go near it. It was only natural that the star wanted to get out of this supposed danger-zone.

Fine, he should just try. Gellert would cut off the star’s path and set a trap, for outright force and violence might have been within Gellert’s capabilities, but not his usual style. No, he’d be a charming gentleman right until the moment when he’d thrust a knife into the star’s chest. Maybe more than a charming gentleman, maybe he’d also keep himself entertained with what the star could do for him. Maybe he’d become their lover for a few days, before claiming his prize, after all, he’d done so with the last star…

He examined the runes again and adjusted his course. It wasn’t too far now.

What he knew about fallen stars and stars in general, he’d mostly gained by coaxing as many details out of Albus as he could until he’d lost patience with him.

Oh, sweet, gullible Albus. A brilliant mind, of course, but Gellert had never intended to share his throne with anyone, and, sadly, to become Master of Death required that one be in possession of the heart of a star, the sources were very clear on that. Love didn’t factor into the equation at all, and so Gellert had gone ahead and quite literally ripped Albus’ heart out. Eternal life and never-ending youth were too good a prospect to turn down.

(And if his own heart had hurt when the perpetual twinkle in Albus’ eyes had been snuffed out forever, Gellert fought hard to keep the memory of this moment out of his consciousness.)

By then Gellert had arrived at a crossroads. He consulted to runes one last time, just to make sure. He was convinced the star was going to pass through here within the next hour. He got out of his carriage and took a deep breath before he transfigured the carriage into a cozy, inviting inn and turned his own clothes into something more befitting of an innkeeper.

Gellert waited.

*** *** ***

“Are there any other mythological creatures that exist beside unicorns?” Percival asked Credence, who by now had accustomed himself nicely to the movements of the animal under him.

Even though Percival couldn’t see his face, he was sure that Credence was smiling, something in his voice told him so.

“Yes, of course,” he answered. “Common magical animals include Thunderbirds, Nifflers, Bowtruckles, Flobberworms, but those are boring…uh, Acromantulas…”

“Hold on, what are all of these…what’s an Acromantula?”

“Do you like spiders?”

“Not particularly, no.”

“Then you don’t even want to know, trust me.”

“Alright…,” Percival trailed off and instead tightened his grip on the star’s waist. Credence flinched, and Percival mumbled a quick apology.

“No,” Credence was quick to hush him. “This had nothing to do with you. I think I saw lights up ahead – it might be an inn!”

Percival leaned over Credence’s shoulder and peered off into the distance. There were indeed a few lights flickering in front of them. “You’re probably right, from what I can see, it looks like an inn. And in good time, too, I could do with a rest.”

Credence leaned forward and patted the unicorn’s neck. “I knew you’d bring us to a place where we can get help,” he praised it and the unicorn, in turn, whinnied and seemed pleased with itself.

As they got closer to the lights, they could make out the exterior of the inn. It was not large, but it would do.

“It looks alright,” Credence said.

“It does,” Percival agreed. “Still, it’s in the middle of nowhere. I can’t imagine this place gets a lot of business.”

Credence shrugged. “If they don’t, at least that means they’ll have a free room for us.”

When they were directly before the inn, Percival dismounted first and then looked up at Credence.

“How’s your leg, can you stand?” he inquired.

Credence shook his head. “I think it got worse,” he replied downtrodden. “My foot is all swollen.”

Percival grinned. “That’s not a problem, I’ll just have to carry you like I did before,” he teased, and he swore that Credence was surrounded by an ethereal glow for just a split second before he regained self-control once more.

Percival blinked and the illusion was gone again – he knocked on the inn’s door and then lifted Credence, who was still wrapped in Percival’s coat, from the unicorn’s back. The unicorn trotted off to the side.

Once Percival had gathered the young man into his arms, the door opened and a man in his early twenties welcomed them with a smile.

“What a time to be traveling!” he exclaimed when he saw the two of them. “Honeymoon?” he added and gestured at the way Percival was carrying Credence.

Credence coughed, and Percival cleared his throat. “No, my friend hurt his foot and can’t walk. We were wondering if you might know where we could find a doctor around here?”

The young man from the inn beckoned them to enter. “You mean a healer?”

Percival shrugged and entered the inn. “Yes, a healer, I suppose.”

In the light of the inn, he could see that the young man was very pretty, androgynous features and blond locks framing his face. “You’ll want a healer,” the blond said. “You’re not from around here, are you, Messrs?”

“No, we’re not,” Percival acknowledged and shook his head, but didn’t offer any additional information.

Credence, for his part, stared at the inn’s interior with obvious fascination on his face. That was only natural, Percival reminded himself. This was probably the first time the star saw what the inside of a house looked like.

“Oh, sorry, terribly rude of me not to introduce myself. My name is Gellert, and what are your names, Messrs?”

They stated their names and Gellert led them over to a bench in front of the fireplace.

“If Mr. Graves can set you down, I could have a look at your foot, Credence. I’m not a professional healer, but I can do a bit of magic. Let’s see if I can’t fix you up.”

Percival gently lowered Credence down. “I’ll take care of the uni…of the horse, if that’s alright?”

Credence smiled at him and Gellert busied himself with stoking the fire. “Of course, Mr. Graves,” he said. “The stable is just to the left of the inn, you can’t miss it.”

As Percival was about to leave, Credence called “Wait!” He turned around to see the fallen star shrugging off his coat. “It’s warm in here,” he explained. “You can have it back.”

Percival accepted it with a grin and he didn’t almost jump out of his skin when their fingers made contact for a brief moment. Absolutely not.

Chapter Text

Gellert locked the door with a quick flick of his wrist as soon as the star’s troublesome travel companion had stepped outside. He turned towards the star with a cheerful expression, for which he used all of his acting skills. From what he’d learned during his time with Albus, the stars might be constantly observing the Earth and its inhabitants, but that didn’t adequately prepare them for the intricacies of social interaction, a weakness Gellert was ready to exploit.

The star in question was currently curled up on a bench in front of the fireplace, basking in the heat, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. After the long journey on horse-back, Gellert expected him to be tired, cold and worn out, not to mention the scare he must have had when he’d fallen towards the earth. Good. It was probably going to be easier to get him to glow if the star’s mind was already exhausted.

Gellert took a moment to examine the fallen star and compare him to Albus. They were dressed in a very similar fashion, but that was where the parallels between the two of them ended. While Albus had been bubbly, light-hearted and so intelligent that it was sometimes scary, this particular star, Credence, seemed to be shy, sweet and kind.

“How long have you two been traveling together?” he asked.

The star jumped and his cheeks flushed red. “I’m sorry?”

Gellert resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Oh, I was just wondering if Mr. Graves and you have been traveling together for a long time,” he repeated. “You seemed to get along very well, if you catch my drift,” he added and winked.

Credence ducked his head and refused to look Gellert in the eyes. “No, in fact we’ve just met. He helped me because I injured my leg and…well, here we are,” he replied timidly.

Gellert made his way over to Credence and knelt down in front of him. “Let’s have a look at that leg of yours, alright?”

Credence nodded his permission and Gellert gingerly cradled the injured foot in his hands. He frowned. “I’ll have to take off your shoe, if that’s alright with you?”

After the star had allowed him to do so, Gellert carefully undid the shoelaces and slid the shoe off Credence’s foot. He repeated his plan to himself – make the star feel safe, comfortable and well cared for, only then he’d shine and his heart would be of use.

“You were right, this doesn’t look good,” he mumbled as he regarded the swollen foot. “I think you broke your ankle. Does it hurt a lot?”

“Yes,” came the star’s quiet reply.

“Okay, full disclosure, I’m not sure if I can fix it,” Gellert said, even though healing a broken ankle was among the easiest bits of magic he could imagine. “But I know a healing spell that could work. May I try it?”

The star laughed half-heartedly. “It’s already broken, I don’t think it can get any worse.”

“Alright,” Gellert began and took a deep breath, as if he had to concentrate hard to get a simple Episkey spell right. He made a great show of swooping hand gestures and muttering pseudo-Latin, when the actual healing was accomplished by a little tilt his left hand towards the end of his impromptu charade.

“Did it work? Do you feel any different?” Gellert asked anxiously.

Credence rolled his foot around, testing the range of motion and slowly started to grin. “It’s as good as new, thank you!” he exclaimed and Gellert was pleased when he saw that an otherworldly glow surrounded Credence. He was gorgeous like that – flushed cheeks and shining eyes. Gellert had by now determined that Credence was not as clever as Albus had been, but he was twice as pretty. If his travel companion weren’t still a potential threat to consider, Gellert would make good on his plan of seducing the star.

Gellert clapped his hands together and acted as if he’d just managed to create a Philosopher’s Stone, not healed a broken bone with one of the simplest healing spells he knew. “I did magic!” he cried happily, and then slapped his hand over his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I’m not a very powerful wizard and I get excited when I get a spell right,” he lied effortlessly.

Credence, for his part, shook his head. “Don’t be sorry,” he said. “I can’t do any magic at all, you should be proud of yourself.”

The claim that stars couldn’t do magic wasn’t strictly true, they had their own kind of innate magic, but it was so strange and different from what Gellert was used to, that he hadn’t had the energy to experiment with Albus. He’d originally wanted his heart, after all, and Gellert was a man who stuck to his plans.

“Can you put weight on it?” Gellert inquired further. “Why don’t you walk around the room to see if your leg is totally fixed again?” he suggested.

The star followed this proposition, making idle chit-chat while Gellert busied himself behind the inn’s counter and took out the obsidian knife he’d stashed away in a drawer.

*** *** ***

Percival went out of the inn and found the unicorn was already waiting for him. “Don’t worry, Credence is fine,” he said and led it over to the stable.

He went through the motions of caring for a horse quite mechanically, having gone through the process for so many times in his life that his muscles remembered the movements without a conscious effort of his brain. Percival let his mind wander around and replayed the previous hours in front of his inner eye.

He'd found the star for Queenie, but instead of a shiny piece of rock, as he’d expected, he’d found Credence. Percival only became aware of the fact that he was smiling once his cheeks started to hurt and the unicorn huffed at him.

“Alright,” he said and patted its neck. “No more loitering, I promise. I’ll look for hay and oats.”

As he searched the stable, he found it a bit strange that the unicorn was the only animal there. Either Credence and he were really the only guests, or all the other guests had arrived on foot.

Percival was in the process of opening a few boxes he’d found in the corner of the stable, when he thought he could hear voices. He shook his head a few times, and muttered something to himself about how he must be going crazy.

The voices didn’t disappear, and so he listened.

“Percival? Please protect our brother, Percival. Credence is in great danger.”

Percival blinked. What did the voices say about…?

“No star is safe in the realm of Hogwarts,” the voices continued. “The last to fall, over 40 years ago, was captured by the same sorcerer who’s with Credence now. He tricked the star, took care of him, and when his heart was once more aglow, he cut it from his chest and ate it. Help our brother, Percival Graves.”

Percival closed his eyes to think – a sorcerer was hunting Credence? Surely, they’d have realized when a powerful wizard crossed their path? He took a deep breath to calm himself down, and as he opened his eyes again, all the puzzle pieces fell into place. The strange inn that looked so out of place in the middle of nowhere, yet so convenient for their travels, the fact that Credence and he seemed to be the only guests in the inn at all, the friendly young man who claimed he could do “a bit of magic”.

“Credence!” Percival yelled out in panic and sprinted back towards the inn.

*** *** ***

Credence was walking around the inn with awe written all over his face. His foot was fine again, the swelling gone, no residual numbness or any impediments that might indicate a botched up healing spell.

“Where are you headed to next?” he heard Gellert question him from behind the counter.

Credence shrugged. “Well, I promised to teach Percival about the magical world in exchange for him helping me to find a healer,” he replied. “Although, I don’t think we’ll have a lot of time for traveling. Percival is engaged to be married, you see,” he added in a small voice.

He could hear Gellert muffling a curse, before he returned to the conversation with his usual charm.

“So you do like him, don’t you?” Gellert suggested.

“Percival is engaged to be married,” Credence repeated, like a mantra.

Gellert laughed. “That wasn’t an answer to my question, Credence.”

“I…,” the star trailed off. “Yes. I like him,” he conceded and felt his face heat up. “I like him a lot.”

“Then I’d say seduce him before he meets his fiancée again, don’t you agree?” Gellert said with a grin and emerged from behind the counter, one hand behind his back. “I can’t imagine anyone would say no to such a pretty star,” he trailed off.

“I’m not…wait, how did you know…?” Credence exclaimed, but in the same moment, the door of the inn was battered down by the unicorn, which began to attack Gellert.

Percival instantly rushed to Credence’s side.

“Stay away from him,” he yelled in the direction of Gellert, grabbed Credence’s arm and spun him around to face him. “Are you alright? What has he done to you?”

Credence was confused. “I don’t understand…Gellert was perfectly nice, he only healed my leg!”

Percival began to drag a perplexed Credence in the direction of the door. “We need to leave right now, come on,” he urged.

Credence wanted to reply, but in this moment, the unicorn was hauled out of the inn by an invisible force and Gellert straightened his clothes. He looked older than before, less handsome. With a crook of his fingers, a ring of fire surrounded Credence and Percival.

“You didn’t think I would just let my star leave, did you?” he mocked them. “Now, Credence, if you agree to come with me, I will let Percival live. If you decide to put up a fight, and I have to drag you back to Nurmengard using magic, that’s fine with me, but know that Percival will definitely die.”

Credence stared in horror at Gellert’s twisted features, turned to look at Percival and took in the fear in the older man’s expression. He held his chin up high and squared his shoulders.

“Alright, I’ll go with you, Gellert or whatever your name is,” he said defiantly.

Percival squeezed his hand and held him back. “Credence, no! You must not go with him! Do you have any idea what…?”

Gellert giggled at the display. “Oh, I think he likes you, too, Credence! See, my instincts are always right!”

Credence shook his head and ignored the madman’s comment. “Percival, I can’t let him kill you,” he replied. “I’m sure your Queenie will marry you, even if you don’t bring her a fallen star.”

“Shit, Credence, this is not about Queenie or…I think there’s some purpose to it all, why my father had the…of course!”

Percival reached into the right hand pocket of his coat, with his other hand he pulled Credence close to him. “Credence, think of home! Now!”

“What?” he said perplexed.

“Now!” Percival repeated and thrust his right hand into the flames.

Gellert’s eyes widened when he realized what Percival was about to do. “No!” he roared and dove at them, obsidian knife extended in front of him, aiming at Credence’s chest. Just before he reached the pair, however, the last stump of the Babylonian Candle ignited, and the fallen star and his companion were transported away to safety.

*** *** ***

Percival squeezed his eyes shut due to the immense pain in his hand. The one thing he focused on to keep him grounded was that Credence was safely by his side at all times.

He didn’t know if the Candle would even transport them as far as home, but at least it would get them as far away from the malicious wizard Gellert as possible.

When Percival blinked his eyes open, Credence and he were on a cloud. Up in the skies. In the middle of a thunderstorm.

“What is this!?” he yelled in an attempt to drown out the storm raging around them. “I thought I said to think of home! Where are we?!”

Credence looked at him with wide eyes, panic on his face. “You thought about your home, I thought about my home, and now we’re stuck somewhere in between!”

“Fuck!” Graves cursed. They were no longer in any immediate danger from the blond maniac, but they were now trapped a few miles above the Earth, somewhere between the comfortable warmth of Graves Manor and Credence’s home amongst the stars.

“Any ideas how we’re going to get out of this? The candle is all gone! Any convenient powers that come from being a star?” he asked Credence, still screaming at the top of his voice over the thunder, the wind and the rain.

“I…I think there might be a way out of this,” Credence yelled and extended his hand. Percival followed his gaze and stared at a ship up ahead. The ship looked as if it had wings.

They both started yelling and waving their arms, hoping against hope to catch the ship’s attention. When it seemed that the ship was passing them by without noticing him, suddenly, they were caught in a net and hauled on board, like one would do with a school of fish.

They hit the deck with a thud and were surrounded by men and women in raincoats who were shouting over the noises of the storm.

“Captain?” one of the raincoat-clad figures yelled and gestured in the direction of Percival and Credence.

“Put them below deck,” another figure, the Captain, bellowed. “We’ll deal with them after the storm is over.”

Percival gulped as he was approached by another by a tall figure in a raincoat, hood so far over his or her face that he couldn’t make out any features. As he glanced to the side, he saw that Credence reluctantly stood up. Percival did the same, their eyes met and Percival was convinced he saw his own desperation mirrored back at him.

They were being led below deck and told to stay in a sparsely furnished cabin lit by a single lantern. The figure pulled its hood back, because they were now no longer out in the rain and Percival did a double-take.

“Scamander?” he asked incredulously. “Newt Scamander?”

The willowy, freckled redhead reacted with similar surprise. “Percival Graves?” he wondered. “How…?” he started, but his question was interrupted by a loud roar of thunder in the sky. “Never mind, we can discuss this tomorrow. I’ll get you and your companion some blankets and a first-aid kit for your hand, then I have to go on deck again,” he said quickly and disappeared.

Credence sent Percival a pleading look, and Percival explained how Newt and he were from the same village and how Newt had gone off on a research trip across the world some one and a half years ago.

In this moment, Newt returned with a bundle of blankets, a first-aid kit and some food. He suggested they take off their wet clothes, lest they catch a cold. After that, Newt excused himself and went above deck again, muttering something about not wanting to anger the captain.

Percival and Credence peeled off their soaked clothes and undressed to their underwear before they each huddled into a blanket and tried to get warm. After that, Credence tried his best to take care of the burns on Percival’s hand and patched him up as best as he could.

“How does your hand feel?” Credence asked once he’d finished applying ointments and bandages.

Percival shrugged. “It’ll heal with time. Hurts like hell, though.”

Credence frowned. “Gellert healed my ankle in under a minute. I wish I could do magic so I could heal you…”

“Never mind,” Percival said, fatigue creeping up at him and starting to cloud his mind. It didn’t exactly come as a surprise, considering the adrenaline rush of earlier hours, to find that his body craved recovery and rest.

“Newt seemed nice enough,” Credence replied and gestured to the door. “I don’t think they’re going to hurt us.”

“Well,” Percival threw in. “We didn’t think Gellert was going to be a psycho either.”

Credence shuddered at the second mention of the sorcerer. “That must have been Grindelwald then,” he concluded. “Looking for a fallen star to…to…,” his voice broke and Percival put his arm around him.

“Credence, what I…I think I heard someone calling me at the inn. I heard voices, and they told me that you were in danger. What they said about…they said Gellert wanted to cut your heart out and eat it,” Percival confessed and Credence turned his head into Percival’s shoulder. He mumbled something Percival couldn’t make out.

“What was that?” he asked.

Credence lifted his head off of Percival’s shoulder again and skidded about a foot away from Percival. He made eye-contact with him, and Percival was astonished to find that he’d never seen Credence so distressed.

“The heart of a star grants you eternal youth and immortality, that’s why Grindelwald wanted me to come with him. At first I assumed that’s why you promised your fiancée to bring her a fallen star. What better wedding present than eternal life?” Credence whispered and Percival’s face fell.

“But you didn’t seem to be familiar with magic at all, and you were so nice and offered to help me when I was hurt…what choice did I have? So I went with you and even asked the unicorn to help us…”

“Christ,” Percival breathed and before he even consciously realized what he was doing, he’d enveloped Credence in a hug and ran his uninjured hand over the trembling man’s back. “I’d never do that to you, alright? Never.”

“I…I know you wouldn’t. Or I know now, at least,” Credence answered and calmed down a bit.

“I don’t even want eternal life, Credence, and I can’t imagine Queenie wants it, either,” Percival said.

The young man in his arms shrugged. “You’d get to spend eternity with the woman you love,” he insisted.

Percival, for some reason, felt upset. Was Credence purposely trying to rile him up? “I don’t love Queenie, and I don’t want to cut your heart out, okay?”

Credence blinked. “You don’t love Queenie? Then why do you want to marry her?”

Percival released Credence from the hug and squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. He was too tired for conversations like this.

“I…you see, I need to be married before my 40th birthday, otherwise I’ll lose my inheritance. Queenie Goldstein, she’s…she’s suitable,” Percival explained and felt like an idiot.

“Suitable?” Credence repeated incredulously. “Do I even want to know what you mean by that?”

“She’s a nice young woman who would make a perfectly respectable wife. I’m looking for a marriage of convenience,” Percival defended himself. “We’ve grown up in the same village, have known each other for years and we’d each have our own life. The marriage is only to ensure that I get my inheritance, I’d never force her to do anything against her will!”

“Still…why would you get married to someone you’re not in love with?” Credence asked. “Just imagine if you marry Queenie and then you meet the love of your life after that.”

Percival huffed indignantly. “Because my birthday is in less than half a year. Hardly enough time to fall in love with someone,” he said in a bitter voice. “Not enough time to plan a wedding, to settle everything, to…”

“Alright, Percival Graves, calm down,” Credence began and moved to sit opposite Percival, facing the other man. He continued: “I promised to teach you about the magical world, didn’t I? So, be a good pupil and listen to me. I’ve never been in love before…uh…so far, and stars generally lead a lonely life. However, we watch over the Earth and I’ve seen centuries and centuries of humans falling in love with each other and, more often than not, behaving like idiots in the process, because love makes them do crazy things.”

At this, Percival laughed out loud. “Yes, I guess we act like fools.”

Credence joined in his laughter. “Oh, you have no idea,” he giggled. “So, as I said, I’ve seen countless humans fall in love with each other and I believe you shouldn’t give up and marry Queenie because it’s ‘convenient’. And as you said you don’t have enough time to fall in love before your birthday – that can happen faster than you might realize. That’s why they call it falling in love, you know? It can happen pretty quickly, before you know it, even.”

“You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?” Percival grinned. “What’s it like, living as a star?”

Credence seemed to shrink in on himself a little bit. “Like I said, it’s cold and lonely. I wouldn’t want to go back if I had to be alone again,” he began. “We mostly watch what happens on Earth, and…well, we shine. Or most of us do, anyway. I…I couldn’t shine anymore, that’s why I fell.”

“What happened?” Percival asked and cupped one of Credence’s cheeks. The star leaned into the touch and continued speaking with closed eyes.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, my shine was getting weaker and weaker, and if that happens, as a star you can only choose between two options, neither one is particularly appealing. You…you can either collapse into yourself and devour anything that comes into your vicinity or you can fall to Earth and….and hope you don’t get caught by maniacs like Grindelwald who are after your heart.”

“But I think I’ve seen you shine once or twice now? Sometimes, I swear it looks as if you’re glowing, Credence. It looks rather beautiful,” Percival couldn’t keep from remarking.

Credence blinked his eyes open and looked at Percival in astonishment. “That means I’ve still got a little spark left!” he exclaimed happily and started to glow brighter than Percival had ever seen him before. “It’s just a tiny bit but maybe it’ll grow stronger with time,” he added in a sober tone.

“I quite like it,” Percival mumbled and just barely refrained from running his thumb over the gorgeous star’s bottom lip. He yawned. “I should really get some sleep.”

Yes, he supposed, that had to be it. Sleep deprivation.

 

Chapter Text

Gellert had missed the star only by a second. Nobody could have predicted that the star’s non-magical companion had a real, genuine Babylonian Candle with him.

With a wave of his hand, Gellert doused the flames and transfigured the inn back into his carriage. He blinked, touched his face and conjured a mirror out of thin air.

Gellert, to his horror, had to acknowledge that the youthful looks the last rest of Albus’ heart had awarded him, had faded now after he’d tapped into his magic so much. He looked older than before, broader too, and with a scowl he banished the mirror back into the nothingness it had come from.

The upside of this was that the star probably wouldn’t recognize him when they met the next time. Sighing, he got into the carriage and cast his runes. The results were utter gibberish, Gellert would need a more precise method of telling him the position of the star.

A clap of his hands sent his carriage traveling at the highest possible speed into the direction of Nurmengard.

*** *** ***

At some point during the storm, both Credence and Percival had fallen asleep. For Credence, this was a sign of his exhaustion – as a star, he preferred to sleep during the day, not at night. Consequently, Credence’s sleep had been fitful, filled with Gellert’s handsome face suddenly twisting into an ugly, angry grimace and the monster going after him with pitch black knives carved out of obsidian.

Whenever Credence woke from another nightmare, the sound of Percival breathing next to him would calm him down and he’d be able to fall asleep once more.

At some point before noon, the redheaded man from last night (Newt, Credence remembered) returned to their room in the company of an intimidating woman with close-cropped hair.

“Our guests, Captain,” Newt said and pointed at them. “The older one is Percival Graves, we’ve lived in the same village. The younger one is…”

“My name is Credence,” Credence introduced himself. “And uh, well…,” he trailed off and wrapped his blanket a little bit tighter around himself.

“Right,” Percival cleared his throat. “If you would leave us for a few minutes to get dressed?” he suggested.

While Newt stumbled his way through a hasty apology, the Captain just raised her eyebrows.

“I’m sure neither of you has anything I haven’t seen before, but if it makes you feel better,” she dryly remarked and stepped outside of their room alongside Newt.

In the meantime, Credence sorted through their clothes and handed Percival the items of clothing that belonged to him, which was rather more than Credence had. The star was still dressed in the same sort of thin blue fabric he’d worn when he’d first fallen to Earth.

Before they could ruminate any longer on this, Newt returned with the Captain. This time, Credence wasn’t feeling embarrassed and could concentrate on taking in their appearances.

Newt was tall, certainly taller than Percival and probably also taller than Credence. He was dressed in a bright blue coat with a waistcoat the color of mustard.

The Captain was dressed in a dark overcoat with similarly dark pants and a white shirt. She wore a large scabbard with a sword at her hip and Credence swore he saw a knife tucked into her boot.

“Alright,” the Captain began and pointed at the two of them. “Percival and Credence, right? I am Leta Lestrange, captain of the marvelous vessel Heart of Gold on which you are guests right now. Given that we rescued you, you should be aware of the fact that I only provide board and lodgings in exchange for help during a storm. The more people that assist in catching lightning, the easier of a task it is.”

Percival gaped at her for a moment, before he remembered his manners and shut his mouth. “You catch lightning?” he asked with an awed expression.

“He’s from the non-magical world,” Newt threw in as an explanation in the direction of Leta. “You will get used to it,” he added, addressing Percival this time.

Percival nodded, dumbstruck. From every source he’d read about lightning, it was clear that it was a powerful force, so powerful in fact, that humans could never hope to control it. That the ship they were one specialized in catching lightning was a concept he’d need a few days to wrap his mind around, he could already tell.

“We need to get to the non-magical world,” Credence piped up and looked at Leta with interest. “Can your ship take us there?”

Leta tilted her head and seemed to consider this question carefully. “I’d have to check with my itinerary,” she began. “If I recall it correctly, though, we’re scheduled to dock some thirty miles away from the wall in about a week’s time. We won’t get any closer to the non-magical world than that – is this acceptable for you?”

Credence met Percival’s gaze and Percival nodded. “We’re happy to accept this offer, Captain,” he agreed and shook Leta’s outstretched hand.

For a quick moment, Leta narrowed her eyes at Credence, who gulped reflexively. The Captain was a frighteningly intense woman.

“Newt, you have several sets of spare clothes, don’t you? Can you give a set to Credence here, he seems to need it,” she ordered.

Newt nodded and left the room, presumably to search through his clothes.

Credence blushed and stammered something about how he couldn’t possibly, this really wasn’t necessary and the like.

Leta hushed him, and gestured to his flimsy clothes. “Boy, you look like you’re wearing pajamas.”

Newt returned with a full set of clothes for Credence, and assured him that it was fine. Credence reluctantly took the clothes from him and thanked Newt more times than he could count.

Percival and Credence told Newt and Captain Lestrange an edited version of their travels before they’d ended up on the Heart of Gold. Newt was over the moon when they mentioned they’d encountered a unicorn.

Leta had left the three men at some point, and only reminded them to be punctual for lunch.

“The food is actually good since Phoebe joined us and brought her personal house elf with her. Be grateful you never saw the grub we ate before that,” she’d said as she left.

“So, Scamander, spill,” Percival demanded. “How did you end up on this ship? How did you end up in the magical world, for that matter? Does your family know about this, does Tina know about this?”

Newt looked decidedly uncomfortable at these questions, and cleared his throat before he began to answer them. “First of all, I’m on the Heart of Gold because traveling on a lightning catcher gives me the opportunity to study thunderbirds in their natural habitat. I…Graves, you remember all these stories about how the magical world was dangerous and that nobody should climb over the wall? I wanted to know whether this was true, and it wasn’t. The magical world is fascinating and, as a zoologist, the fauna…it’s like a whole new world, and it was all less than a mile away, for all my life! I originally wanted to stay in the magical world for only a day or two, but it’s been over a year now and there are still so many creatures I want to know more about. By the way, you need to tell me where you spotted that unicorn…”

By now, Newt was making grand gestures with his arms, every bit of awkwardness that had clung to him before had evaporated now that he was speaking about his beloved animals. It was like watching a completely different person, Credence thought.

“Hold on,” Percival interrupted Newt. “Does Tina know?” he repeated his question from earlier.

Newt shook his head. “I want to tell her in person. At the moment, she thinks I’m in Equatorial Guinea.”

Percival snorted. “That’s a fine mess you got there, Scamander.”

*** *** ***

Queenie Goldstein was enjoying a Sunday afternoon walk with Jacob Kowalski when the two of them stumbled upon Yvain Graves. Percival’s father looked like he had aged ten years in the three days since his son’s departure.

“Mr. Graves?” Jacob asked, concern eminent in his voice. “Are you doing alright?”

The old man shook his head and lifted his gaze to look at the couple. A sad smile spread over his face.

“I believe my son has not told me the whole truth,” Yvain commented and gave a pointed look to Queenie’s and Jacob’s intertwined hands.

Queenie flushed red, but did not drop Jacob’s hand. “Mr. Graves, believe me, I tried to tell him, but Percival just…”

Yvain chuckled, a sad and choked sound. “I don’t blame you. I know my own son, Miss Goldstein. When he told me he’d set out to bring you a fallen star, I should have felt suspicious. I should have known…”

“Now, come on, Mr. Graves,” Jacob said. “We’ll go to my place. I have a few leftover pastries and I’ll put the kettle on, make you some of that tea you folks like so much,” he suggested.

Yvain agreed and followed the two young lovers. Ah, Percival was blind to these things, Yvain thought to himself. To woo a woman whose heart completely belonged to another was a foolish endeavor and bound to fail.

Before he knew it, he found himself in Jacob Kowalski’s apartment above his shop, a pastry in front of him and a steaming cup of tea beside him. Yvain mechanically added milk and sugar, stirred his tea and took a sip.

“What happened to Percival that has you so upset, Mr. Graves?” Queenie asked him, before daintily taking a sip from her own cup. Truth be told, he would have been delighted to call her his daughter-in-law, but when he saw the way Jacob looked at her, like she was the most sublime being on Earth, he could not feel angry.

“I believe I have made a mistake when I assisted Percival in his travel preparations,” he confessed. “I unwittingly sent him into the magical world, I fear.”

Queenie gasped, but Jacob only looked confused. “The magical world?” he asked puzzled.

Queenie explained the difference between the non-magical word and the realm of Hogwarts, while Yvain dusted off his memories and told a few anecdotes about the Hogwarts Fairs of his youth.

“…and when they say they’ve got every flavor, they mean it. I once tasted a bean that I thought was chocolate…suffice it to say, it was not,” Yvain laughed, but he quickly remembered his son’s absence, and with a sigh he returned to the story at hand.

“When Laudine and I were newly married, I took her to the Fair. She discovered a booth, you see, I remember it clear as daylight. ‘A fortune-teller,’ Laudine said, but the witch operating the booth corrected her. ‘A seer,’ she explained, introduced herself as Cassandra Trelawney, and she told us our future, or parts of it, I suppose,” Yvain stated. “She predicted that we’d only have one son, and him only in ten years’ time, but that he’d lead an unusual life. We should give him a strong name, worthy of an adventurer, worthy of a knight. She saw a bright future for him and she gifted us a box with two Babylonian Candles. We should keep them safe for when our son needed them…and I sent him away, with one of those blasted candles, into a world he knows next to nothing about!”

“Mr. Graves, you’re too hard on yourself,” Jacob comforted him. “Percival’s tough, he’ll find his way home.”

Queenie reached across the table and squeezed Yvain’s gnarled old hand. “I’m sure he’ll come back soon.”

“That’s not everything,” Yvain added. “I found a message in the box with the candles.”

The old man reached into the pocket of his waistcoat, pulled out a folded piece of parchment and handed it to Queenie.

Jacob and she read it simultaneously. While Queenie let out a little cough, Jacob put on a strained smile.

“Mr. Graves, this is really open to interpretation.”

Yvain shrugged helplessly. “’He who seeks the grail’ refers to Percival, obviously. If I had known about this message earlier, I might have interpreted it as a nod to his little hobby, astronomy. But now I’m not so sure anymore. I sent my son away with a blasted magic candle, to find a fallen star, in order to fulfill a family tradition that seems so ridiculous now. I…what kind of father am I?”

While Queenie looked visibly pained, possibly because of her involvement in the whole matter, Jacob cleared his throat.

“I can’t think of something to say that’ll make you feel better, Mr. Graves, but I could give you another pastry, if you think that might help?”

Yvain offered him a small smile and gladly took the offered pastry.

*** *** ***

Their time on the Heart of Gold passed quickly. Percival and Credence only had to assist the crew twice with catching lightning.

It was a heady feeling – on the ship, up in the clouds, one could feel the storm building up before it broke loose, the electricity in the air so dense one could almost taste it on the tip of one’s tongue. The storms itself, in addition to casting the nets and forcing the slippery, white-hot lightning into the special holding cylinders were so exhilarating experiences that Percival could get used to them.

After a storm, everyone’s hair would still stand on end from the residual electric voltage on the ship – this explained why most of the crew wore their hair short, except for Phoebe Black who took the time to pin up her waist-length mass of black curls into a bun before each storm.

The ship’s crew was much more pleasant than he’d at first assumed – from what Newt had told them, Captain Lestrange was rumored to be ruthless, but when Percival saw her interact with her crew, she came across as a mixture of a mother figure and a best friend. Perhaps the name Heart of Gold also referred to the personality of the ship’s captain, at least a little bit.

Much to Percival’s surprise, on their last evening on the ship, when he was sharing a bottle of Firewhisky with Credence, Newt and the Captain, Leta had shared a bit of her life story with them. She revealed that she was, much to her dismay, descended from “Pureblood Elite”. At Percival’s inquiry, she explained that this was a term the upper crust of Hogwarts used to distinguish itself from “Halfbloods” or “Mudbloods”. Essentially, it designated the amount of non-magical ancestors a person had.

“If the Lestranges say they’re Purebloods, they want to make everyone believe that they’re exclusively descended from magical folk. I say that’s a heap of crap, because in the earlier days, the separation between the magical and non-magical world was far laxer than it is today and there was plenty of trade and cultural exchange happening,” she explained. “The term Mudblood stems from the fact that most Purebloods are by now so inbred, that the majority of them are hemophiliacs, which means their blood won’t clot, like it does for most non-magical folk or for people of mixed descent. It’s a huge health risk, and those idiots are actually proud of it.”

Credence seemed to be intrigued by her explanations. “So, your family is proud of its magical heritage, but can any of you actually do magic? Spells and the like?”

“It’s rare,” Leta conceded. “My mother sometimes made objects float, but she was never allowed proper magical training. Rionach can speak to snakes, Newt was overjoyed when he found out – I think he was a bit disappointed when she told him that snakes are rather dull conversationalists.”

“If you’re descended from this rich and old family, as you say, why are you captaining this ship?” Credence asked.

“My parents wanted to marry me off against my will when I was seventeen. I ran away from home, signed up for a few years on the Perdita, under Captain Shakespeare. Brilliant commander, brilliant man. He taught me everything I needed to know about operating a lightning catcher and a few years ago, I set up my own business, so to speak. A lot of my crew come from a situation similar to mine, and I offer them board, lodgings and a nautical education. Catching lightning pays well, and we all look out for each other,” she finished and took a large gulp of Firewhisky.

While Credence seemed to be fond of the magical liquor as well, Percival couldn’t quite keep from thinking that he definitely preferred the non-magical whisky of his home country.

“So, we’ve established that Percival is from just across the border between Hogwarts and Scotland. Where are you from, Credence? Magical or non-magical world?” Leta asked, changing the topic.

“I’m from far away,” Credence answered cryptically, but Leta seemed to accept the answer, even if she didn’t quite seem to believe in it.

She was prevented from further probing them with questions when one of the crew members (Nott, Percival thought, but he wasn’t quite sure) brought out a record player and started a record of popular waltzes, both of the magical and the non-magical variety.

With the help of Firewhisky and a bit of encouraging from both Newt and Credence, it wasn’t long before Percival and Leta were gliding around the deck, making a quite elegant couple to the surprise of many.

Newt laughed out loud as he saw the Graves heir dancing with the supposedly so dangerous Leta Lestrange. Credence, for his part, was sneaking glances at the two of them and imagined how it might feel if Percival danced across the deck with him.

When the waltz was over, Percival released Leta, who laughed at the top of her voice.

“Now, that’s what I call dancing,” she exclaimed and clapped her hands together. “None of that proper pureblood nonsense,” she added and poured herself another finger of Firewhisky.

Percival as well slowly made his way over to Newt, Credence and Leta again, but his eyes were fixed on Credence. The truth was that the star looked dashing in the clothes Newt had gifted him – especially the dark green overcoat suited him extremely well.

Percival tried to chase these thoughts out of his head and attributed them to the Firewhisky he’d drunken earlier, but when Credence stood up and quietly asked Percival whether he’d consider teaching him to dance, he tried to swallow and found his mouth had gone completely dry.

“Of course I’ll teach you how to waltz,” Percival mumbled, voice rough and low.

He guided Credence through the steps, and even though the star had never danced before and was infinitely clumsier than Leta had been, Percival enjoyed dancing with Credence a lot more than twirling around the deck with the ship’s captain.

Credence seemed to have a great time as well, as he seemed to be constantly smiling and glowing very bright. After God knew how many waltzes they stopped and took a breather.

“Watch how much you’re glowing, Credence,” Percival murmured. “I think the others might notice if you don’t control it.”

Credence shook his head and chuckled. A streak of his dark hair had fallen into his face and he pushed it back. “I’m a star, Percy. It’s only natural for me to shine.”

“We just have to be careful,” Percival acknowledged and held out his hand. “Care for another round of dancing?”

The fallen star enthusiastically agreed and by the end of the evening, they were dancing quite gracefully. Credence’s smile lit up the deck both literally and figuratively.

*** *** ***

Gellert had arrived back at Nurmengard and immediately entered the chamber where he kept his animals. The animals could sense his presence and were collectively panicking – Gellert remembered a time when humans had cowered automatically in his presence and he took a moment to relish in the memories of the good old days.

However, when he picked up a slaughter knife, he scowled. It was about time he captured the star before he got too attached to his travel companion

Gellert killed a wolf cub and dismembered it, but the signs and clues were too unspecific and he flung the creature’s head across the room in frustration.

Eventually, it took six more animals of various kinds to determine that his star was currently residing in the air and Gellert had no way of getting to him before he didn’t travel on the ground once more.

He’d have to wait until the star left the ship, if that ever happened. Angry and upset, Gellert eviscerated several more animals, not to look for clues this time, but to let off steam and to keep his skills honed for the moment in which he’d have the pretty star chained to the slaughter block.

*** *** ***

After a spectacularly daring manoeuver by Captain Lestrange which left some crew members soaking wet, the Heart of Gold was safely docked in a small harbor. Leta and her crew would trade the lightning they caught in the little market town near the harbor, but the stop also marked the end of Percival’s and Credence’s journey on the Heart of Gold.

Newt shuffled around the two of them and finally found the courage to pull Percival aside. He handed the Graves heir an envelope.

“Can you give this to Tina Goldstein when you get back to Hogsmeade? There’s not exactly an international postal service between Hogwarts and the non-magical world. I suppose I could use owls, but Tina wouldn’t know what to do with them,” he laughed helplessly. “Tell her that I love her, please, but that I’m not sure when I come back from my trip.”

Percival agreed and was on the point of storing the envelope in the inside pocket of his waistcoat, when he hesitated.

“Scamander?” he asked. “Is there a ring in the envelope?”

Newt bit his lip and nodded. “I hope I got her ring size right. Don’t tell anyone else, please.”

Percival nodded as well and assured him that he would deliver the envelope to Tina, secrecy guaranteed.

Leta actually embraced them when they said their goodbyes, but made them promise to never tell this story to anyone outside her crew – she had the reputation of the fierce Captain Lestrange to uphold, after all.

When she told Percival goodbye, she gave him a lightning cylinder. “It’s the first lightning we caught when Credence and you helped us. It’s yours. You can either trade it in or keep it as a souvenir, whatever you choose,” she explained. After that she hugged him and whispered: “Get your head out of your arse and open your eyes. You’ll find your true love is standing right in front of you.”

“What?” Percival asked and looked at Leta with an incredulous expression. “You mean…?”

“Not me!” she hissed and swatted at his chest, in the exact same moment that Credence started making his way down the gangplank and called for “Percy” to join him. “I think you know what I mean,” Leta added and sent them off with a final wave.

Percival followed after Credence, and once he’d caught up with him, the star asked him what Leta and he had been whispering about.

“Oh, she insisted I kept stepping on her toes when we danced, although I know I didn’t,” Percival said, the lie slipping out before he even realized it.

“I think it was rather me who stepped on your toes,” Credence giggled and Percival had to restrain himself from reaching out and pulling the fallen star close. If he did, Percival was afraid he might never want to let go again.

Chapter Text

During the last few days, Gellert had taken to reflexively casting his runes every few minutes. After all, he couldn’t even afford to waste an hour once his star touched solid ground again.

When the runes started making sense again, Gellert almost couldn’t believe his eyes at first. The star had left the ship and he could locate him once more!

Once Gellert had determined exactly where the star was and in which direction he was moving, he cursed relentlessly.

His precious star was slowly, but surely making his way towards the wall separating the magical and non-magical world. No doubt his idiot of a travel companion planned on taking the star home with him. Gellert let out an inhuman scream and stormed towards his carriage.

He’d have to hurry, lest his star crossed into the non-magical world and be lost to him forever.

*** *** ***

The closer Credence and Percival got to the non-magical world, the more excited the older man seemed to get.

“You’ll love Hogsmeade, Credence. You know what, I’ll take you to the Honeypot. The food on Leta’s ship was tasty, but nobody in the whole world makes better pastries than Jacob Kowalski, believe me,” he rambled on and on and Credence let him.

In turn, Credence listed all the sights in the magical world he’d only ever seen from afar and now wanted to visit with Percival. “I’ve always wanted to see a game of Quidditch up close,” he remarked. At Percival’s question what Quidditch was, Credence laughed out loud. “That’ll be a surprise.”

After a few hours of traveling on foot, they spotted a middle-aged woman stewing a cauldron over a fire. She was sitting next to her caravan. Credence pulled on Percival’s sleeve and tilted his head in the direction of the woman.

“We could ask her in whether she travels in the direction of the non-magical world. Maybe she can give us a lift?” Credence suggested.

Percival agreed and they swiftly approached the woman.

“Ma’am? We were wondering whether you’re traveling towards Hogsmeade? Or the non-magical world in general?” Credence called, but the woman didn’t seem to notice him. “Ma’am, could you give us a lift?” Credence tried again, louder this time.

She still didn’t react.

“Ma’am, can you hear me?” Percival shouted and the woman instantly looked up and made her way over to him.

“Of course I can hear you, there’s no need to yell,” she answered with a sour expression. “What do you want?”

“Are you traveling towards Hogsmeade? And if yes, could you give us a lift?” Percival inquired.

The woman laughed and looked Percival up and down.

“It’s not every day that a handsome gentleman asks to travel with me,” she answered and Percival and Credence exchanged pained looks. “Still, my caravan is not very spacious, you see. There is only one bed. We’ll have to resort to desperate measures in order to have enough space for the two of us.”

“Excuse me?!” Credence huffed.

Percival grimaced.

The woman noticed.

“Ah, you think you’re special? Well, you’ll come with me whether you want to or not, until you learned your lesson – don’t ever insult a lady,” she said with a clipped voice.

“What…?” Percival began, but the woman tapped him lightly on the forehead with her index finger and Percival was transformed into a black and grey dormouse in front of Credence’s eyes.

“Are you mad?” Credence screamed. “What did you do to my Percy?”

The woman paid him no mind, instead scooped the frightened dormouse up into her arms. She carried it into her caravan, where she locked it in a cage.

“I’ll let you out once we’re near Hogsmeade. Maybe, if I feel like it, I’ll even transform you back into a man. You shouldn’t have been rude,” she muttered to the dormouse and then climbed out of her caravan once more.

Credence followed her into the caravan and tried to smack her, but was prevented to do so by an invisible barrier.

“Hey, witch!” he called. “Am I right in presuming you can neither hear, see nor touch me? Well, then you won’t mind if I tell you that your haircut is atrocious, you caravan smells like something died in there and as long as you won’t transform Percy back, I’ll be your personal Poltergeist!”

The woman didn’t hear him and even as she passed him by, she didn’t see him. She climbed onto the coachman’s seat and Credence only managed to make his way back into the caravan in the nick of time before she cracked her whip and the horse took off.

Credence sat down in front of the cage that held Percival – or rather, what was once Percival.

“Percy, if you can understand me, look at me!” Credence implored and felt incredibly foolish.

The dormouse indeed looked at him, but only for a moment. After that, its eyes were fixed on a loaf of cheese that was lying on a plate in the corner of the caravan.

“You’re hungry?” Credence asked and cut off a small piece of cheese. He handed it to Percival through the bars of the cage and watched him eat it. Actually, the dormouse looked rather cute, but it was still Percival trapped in the body of a rodent.

“She has to transform you back, she said so, didn’t she?” Credence began to talk to Percival, who was still absentmindedly munching on his cheese. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. It’s…you know, during our time on Leta’s ship, when you said I had to control how much I’m glowing…I didn’t even notice I was doing it, I was just so happy, you know? And I was happy because you were there and because we danced together. My heart feels so…it feels like it doesn’t even belong to me anymore, because it belongs to you now. After we escaped from Gellert, I told you that I’ve seen centuries and centuries of people doing crazy things because they were in love. I…Percy, I think I finally understand them. I’d do anything for you. I think I’m in love with you,” Credence finished and almost choked on his words.

Percival had by now finished his piece of cheese and was looking at the cheese loaf again.

Credence huffed. “You’re incorrigible.”

*** *** ***

The star’s traveling speed had increased and Gellert used almost his full powers to propel his carriage forward, at a breakneck speed, faster than any horse could ever hope to run.

He had to reach the star before he crossed into non-magical territory – should that happen, his star would just be a large piece of rock, without a heart he could devour.

Stifling a curse, Gellert increased the speed of the carriage again.

*** *** ***

After an uncomfortable ride in the caravan, they arrived in a small market town which was only about a mile away from the border. Originally, Credence had hoped they could spend the night at the Graves Estate, but the witch only released Percival, she didn’t transform him back.

Credence picked the dormouse up and it tried to snuggle up his sleeve. He giggled for a moment.

“Stop that, Percy, I’m ticklish!” he chided.

Credence walked around the market stalls asking for help with Percival’s predicament and earned many confused looks. Finally, someone directed him to the house of the so-called Aunt Cassie, who seemed to be the local witch.

Credence knocked on her door and a petite old woman opened it and beckoned him to enter. He did, and was immediately overwhelmed by the interior of her house. There seemed to be herbs in virtually every corner of the room, each giving off a different scent. Credence soon felt a bit light-headed, but he did his best to ignore the queasy feeling in his stomach.

“What’s your name, dear boy?” she asked.

“My name is Credence,” he introduced himself and wondered whether he should introduce Percival as well, but the dormouse hid himself up Credence’s sleeve, and so he let it slide.

“What brings you here?” the old woman demanded and scrutinized him with her pale blue eyes. “Wait…you’re in love, but you’re not sure if the one you desire reciprocates your feelings.”

Credence coughed. “How did you…did you read my mind?” he asked frantically.

Aunt Cassie shook her head. “I don’t need to read your mind to see that. It’s written all over your face, my dear boy.”

“Oh,” Credence said and blinked. Was he really that obvious? “That’s not why I’m here, though. You see, my friend was transfigured into a dormouse and I need to find a way to transfigure him back into his human form. Can you help me with that?” he implored.

“Reversing human to animal transfiguration you say?” Aunt Cassie asked and stroked her chin. “Do you have that dormouse of yours with you?”

Credence nodded and coaxed Percival out of his sleeve before he carefully set the little rodent on the table.

Aunt Cassie hummed, took a pair of glasses from her apron and put them on. “What’s his name?” she asked as she picked the dormouse up and examined it.

“He’s called Percy,” Credence replied. “Or, more correctly, Percival Graves, I suppose.”

Aunt Cassie smiled to herself, a joke only she understood. “Graves? Like the Hogsmeade Graves?” she inquired.

“Yes,” Credence confirmed. “At least, he’s from Hogsmeade, I don’t know how many families named Graves there are in that village.”

“Percival Graves,” Aunt Cassie muttered under her breath and petted the dormouse with the tip of her finger. She lifted her head and looked at Credence. “I owe you an apology, don’t I? Here I’ve been calling you ‘boy’ all along, but we both know you’re not exactly human, are you?”

Credence gasped and flinched at her words.

“Oh, don’t be frightened,” Aunt Cassie was quick to reassure him. “I’m not interested in your heart! Then again, it no longer is exactly yours to give away, is it?” she regarded him with a pointed look, but Credence didn’t fully grasp the meaning of her words.

“Can you transfigure Percy back into a man?” he asked in a shaky voice. The woman was making him slightly uncomfortable.

Aunt Cassie nodded. “Yes, but I want payment,” she stated. Before Credence could ask how much money she requested, the old woman continued: “I believe you have easy access to unicorns. I want a strand of unicorn tail hair in exchange for reversing the transfiguration. Bring it to me within the next two months and we’re even.”

Credence agreed to this. “Do you want me to sign a contract?” he asked, but the old woman declined.

“I’m a seer. I know you will pay your debts,” she replied and stood up from the table.

The old woman turned to look at Percival, still in his rodent form, who cowered on the table. Aunt Cassie picked him up and set him down on the floor.

“Reparifarge!” she exclaimed and waved her hand over the dormouse – but it was not a dormouse anymore. In its place stood Percival, but he was visibly swaying from side to side and before Credence could catch him, he collapsed and hit the floor with a thud.

“What’s wrong with him?” Credence asked frantically and slapped Percival’s cheek in an effort to make him regain consciousness.

“Nothing, he’s just a bit woozy from the spell. He’ll be fine,” Aunt Cassie explained.

In the meantime, Percival had blinked his eyes open and regarded Credence with a dopey grin.

“Hey, gorgeous, is it hot in here or is that just you?” Percival slurred.

Credence looked taken aback and turned to Aunt Cassie. “Is this also a side-effect from the magic?”

“Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?” Percival called and tried to get Credence’s attention.

Aunt Cassie narrowed her eyes at Percival. “I don’t know, Credence. Was he already an idiot before he got transfigured?”

Credence slowly shook his head. Percival, meanwhile, had managed to sit up and was tugging on Credence’s sleeve.

“Hey, did it hurt when you fell…?” Percival asked.

“Yes, I broke my ankle, you were there,” Credence interrupted him tersely, but quickly looked at Aunt Cassie with a slightly desperate expression.

“He has a more severe reaction to the transfiguration than most, but that might be because his body is not used to magic. Give him an hour or so, and he will be fine. You can spend the night at the Leaky Cauldron, it’s an inn just across the street,” Aunt Cassie advised him. “If he’s not feeling better tomorrow morning, come to me again and I’ll whip up a potion.”

Credence thanked her and dragged Percival to his feet, who was still talking nonsense at him.

“Come on, just across the street she said,” he mumbled more to himself than to Percival.

With difficulties, Credence managed to book a room for two in the Leaky Cauldron and dragged Percival up the stairs into their room on the second floor. He deposited Percival on the bed with strict orders to get some sleep and went down into the public room again to order two large bowls of stew for dinner.

He didn’t have to wait long for their meals and he carefully carried the trays up to their room. Credence kicked the door open by using his foot and when he set down the trays on the table by the window, he was pleased to find that Percival’s eyes had mostly lost their glassy look.

“How did we get here?” Percival asked and looked around. “My memory’s a little fuzzy.”

“You got transfigured into a dormouse, and I had to find a witch to transfigure you back,” Credence replied and ate a first spoonful of stew. It was surprisingly delicious.

“I was a dormouse? And you found another witch to transform me back,” Percival repeated and looked at his limbs. “My hand is completely healed again, see? She must have healed it in addition to giving me back my human form.”

Credence had a look at Percival’s unmarred hand and made a mental note to thank Aunt Cassie for her troubles. As soon as he could, he’d call the unicorn and ask for a strand of tail hair.

“That’s great,” Credence said with a smile. “Now, sit down and eat, you must be hungry.”

They ate in relative silence for a while, but Credence could practically see the cogs turning in Percival’s head.

After a few minutes, Percival spoke up: “I said some dumb things when I got transfigured back, didn’t I?” he asked, visibly embarrassed.

Credence smothered a laugh and nodded. “I think you didn’t recognize me. You must have mistaken me for someone else and you were trying to flirt, but you did an exceptionally bad job,” he replied.

“No, I did recognize you,” Percival corrected him. “I was only…I was confused by something you said in that witch’s caravan.”

Credence dropped his spoon. “You heard all that? But…but you were an animal. And when I asked whether you could understand me, you didn’t…”

“The dormouse instincts were rather hard to fight,” Percival admitted. “But I heard everything you said and…Credence, did you mean it?”

“I…,” Credence started, but his mind had apparently forgotten how to form words, and so he just nodded.

A smile spread over Percival’s face and Credence could feel his cheeks heating up. He was not entirely sure whether the other man meant to mock him or not and so he just sat there gaping like a fish for a few moments.

On the other side of the table, Percival swallowed and Credence’s eyes were drawn to how his Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. He thought how he wanted to put his mouth on Percival’s neck and run his tongue over the sensitive skin. His blush only intensified.

“Credence,” Percival asked, voice hoarser than the star had ever heard it. “What if I tell you that I feel the same?”

“Oh,” Credence breathed. “I’d like that, I think.”

The food on the table between them was all but forgotten.

“I very much want to kiss you right now, just tell me yes or no,” Percival said and his voice had taken on an almost predatory tone that made Credence feel like his whole body had been set on fire.

The older man stood up and made his way over to Credence, who reflexively stood up as well. Percival stepped close to Credence and cradled the fallen star’s face between his hands.

“I’m still waiting for your answer, Credence…,” he mumbled, when their mouths were less than half an inch apart.

“Fuck yes,” Credence said and closed the distance between them when he pressed his lips to Percival’s.

Their kisses quickly turned into insistent touches and it wasn’t long before they’d shed their clothes and moved to the double-bed in their room. Percival seemed to enjoy marking Credence’s skin with as many hickeys as he could, while Credence tried to wrap his arms and legs around the older man and never wanted to let him go again.

Percival made love to Credence for the first time on the creaky bed in their room in the Leaky Cauldron and Credence was sure that the people in the room next to theirs could hear them.

The second time Percival and Credence had sex that night, Credence couldn’t care less about all the noise they were making, because the sight of Percival riding him made all coherent thoughts flee his mind.

The third time was a lazy and gentle affair, and he was too far gone to say anything beyond Percival’s name, ‘I love you’ and ‘do that thing with your tongue again’.

They fell asleep in a tangle of limbs and with smiles on their faces.

*** *** ***

Gellert took a quick break to determine where the star currently was and breathed a sigh of relief – he had apparently decided to spend the night dangerously close to the border to the non-magical world, but still in the realm of magic.

If he used all his powers, he might just make it in the nick of time before the star could cross the border and be turned into a cold, lifeless rock.

In his haste, Gellert didn’t pay attention to the other travelers, not that there were many at this time of the day, or rather, night. When he spotted oncoming traffic, a woman in a caravan that blocked most of the road, Gellert could feel the familiar magic crackling in the air. It was the witch who’d dared to trick him into revealing his plans.

He impatiently waved his hand and hurled her, her horse and her caravan into the forest that framed the street on both sides. The caravan crashed against a tree with a satisfying crunch and the woman gave a loud shriek before she was silent.

Gellert smiled.

The road was clear once again.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Credence woke up, well rested and slightly sore in all the right places. He kept his eyes closed and stretched his body, not caring one bit that he was naked.

“Percy?” he mumbled. “That was the first time I didn’t have any trouble sleeping at night.”

Percival didn’t reply and Credence slowly blinked his eyes open. There was no trace of the older man anywhere in the room, his clothes and travel bag had vanished too. To an outside observer, it might have looked as if Credence had spent the night alone, had the star not had the love bites to prove otherwise.

A wave of panic momentarily threatened to overtake his mind, but as Credence glanced out of the window, he was calmed in an instant. The sun was already high in the sky – it had to be almost noon by now and Percival had probably woken up hungry, Merlin knew food had been the last thing on their mind last night. Surely Credence would find him down in the inn, eating a hearty breakfast.

Credence dressed in a hurry and tried to smooth down his hair as best as he could before he made his way down the stairs. To his immense distress, Percival was nowhere to be seen.

Credence hesitantly approached the innkeeper, who was standing behind the counter, cleaning glasses.

“I’m sorry, I’m looking for the man who arrived with me yesterday, his name is Percival Graves,” he asked.

The innkeeper stopped polishing glasses for a moment and seemed to think, before his face lit up.

“Of course,” he exclaimed. “That guy left half an hour, forty minutes ago. Said he was in a hurry to deliver a ring to Miss Goldstein and that he was looking forward to seeing his true love again.”

“A ring? For Miss Goldstein?” Credence whispered and quickly sat down on the nearest bar stool before his knees had a chance to give out. He remembered the first night they’d spent on Leta’s ship, huddled in blankets, when Percival had told him that he found Queenie Goldstein ‘suitable’.

Apparently, last night hadn’t changed anything in Percival’s plans, because he’d left Credence behind just like that, without saying goodbye. With immense difficulty, Credence bit back a sob.

Of course Credence knew that things like this happened – he’d been watching the Earth long enough. There were men and women who lured you in with sweet promises and heated kisses, and the next morning, they’d act like nothing of significance had happened. Credence, though, had never thought it would happen to him, he’d thought Percival had been honest with him. However, their night together had apparently meant nothing to Percival, and Credence was on his own in the magical world.

If that was what Percival wanted, who was Credence to interfere? Who was he, except a naïve star who’d thought he found love with the first man he’d stumbled upon on this Earth?

Credence paid for room with money he’d nicked from the witch who’d transformed Percival into the dormouse and slowly made his way out of the pub with a broken heart and a heavy soul.

He was sure he’d never be able to shine again in his entire existence.

*** *** ***

Cassandra had been sitting by the window all morning, overlooking the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. Not quite an hour ago, Percival Graves, hard to miss in his fashionable, extravagant clothes, had made his way out of the pub with a spring in his step.

She pinched the bridge of her nose at his behavior – knowing the future, she was aware what sort of colossal misunderstanding his reluctance to disturb Credence’s sleep would cause and she was powerless to stop it.

At the moment, she was just waiting for the cue to play her part in the whole affair. Even if she was a seer, it didn’t mean she knew the entire future. Mostly, she got glimpses of the future, which she had to interpret correctly, and sometimes, her visions and prophecies only made sense to her, after the event had already happened.

Divination was not a very profitable art, and so Cassandra had long ago taken to selling easy and intermediate magical rituals and potions, until the persona of the eccentric, but ultimately benevolent persona of Aunt Cassie had become better known than the seer Cassandra Trelawney.

Due to a vision she’d had a few years earlier, Cassandra had set up her shop and living quarters in the small town near the border to the non-magical world, which was uncreatively named Wall. She’d long thought about the significance of the vision, but last night, when an anxious star had requested her services and introduced his companion as Percival Graves, she knew that it had all made sense in the end.

The prophecy she’d given to a Muggle not quite fifty years ago, along with two Babylonian Candles, was coming true and she’d have to interfere…

The star, Credence, stepped out of the Leaky Cauldron and looked, for all intents and purposes, heartbroken.

Cassandra quickly exited her house.

“Credence! Wait!” she called after the star, who stopped and turned around to look at her.

“I don’t have the unicorn hair yet,” he answered and wanted to turn away again.

“It’s not about the unicorn hair,” Cassandra replied. “Where’s Percival?”

Credence shrugged. “With his fiancée, I suppose,” he said and clenched his hands into fists. “At least that’s what the innkeeper told me. I wouldn’t know, he left before I woke up.”

“Oh, my boy, I’m sorry,” Cassandra said, even though she knew perfectly well that Percival Graves had no intention of getting married to anyone in Hogsmeade. Still, she couldn’t let the star fall into Grindelwald’s hands with a glowing heart, because in that case, the dark sorcerer would kill him right away.

“Did you see that in the future too? That he’d leave me?” Credence asked, voice only partly under control, it broke at the last sentence.

“I get glimpses of the future, and those only occasionally,” Cassandra explained. “I know that you’ll bring me the unicorn tail hair, for example, because I’ve seen it happening, but I don’t know the exact date and time when you will bring it to me,” she added. “I didn’t know Percival would leave you behind at the inn.”

Credence whimpered. “I was so happy,” he confessed. “I thought he felt the same.”

She gave him a sympathetic smile. “Now, do you want some Calming Draught? Or maybe just a cup of tea?” she asked and touched his forearm.

The star blinked. “I’d like a cup of tea, please,” he replied.

Cassandra sat him down at her kitchen table and cast a quick spell to prepare some tea. In seemingly no time, the star had a steaming cup of tea in front of him and wrapped his hands around it.

“What exactly happened between Percival and you that made you so upset? He left you behind in the inn without saying goodbye even though you thought he returned your feelings?”

Credence took a sip from his cup and confirmed her assumptions.

Cassandra made a non-committal noise. “Has he given you any indication that he loves you? Any at all? Maybe you were just reading too much into…”

“He told me,” Credence interrupted her. “He told me he loved me, more than once. I didn’t read anything into his words. He must have lied to me outright.”

“Oh dear,” she sighed. “What did you do?”

“We…we slept together,” the star mumbled. “When I woke up, he was gone. He didn’t say goodbye. For Merlin’s sake, he could have left me a letter or at least a note, but no…”

“I think you should talk to him. Let him explain his reasons and maybe his decision will be easier to accept,” Cassandra suggested and had to keep herself from wincing.

She knew she was sending the star into extremely dangerous territory, but her knowledge of the future forced her to do so. Percival and Credence would make it, in the end, Cassandra simply didn’t know how.

“Talk to him?” Credence asked, unconvinced.

Cassandra nodded reassuringly. “Hogsmeade is not a large village, you’ll surely find him quickly enough. And it’s just about a mile away from the wall,” she explained.

Credence drained his cup of tea and got up.

“Thank you for the tea, Aunt Cassie, and maybe…maybe when I’ve talked to him, I’ll come back for that Calming Draught,” he said and set out into the direction of Hogsmeade.

*** *** ***

The star had thankfully stopped for the night near the wall, but not yet in non-magical territory – this had allowed for Gellert to catch up with him.

Now, though, the runes told him that the star was moving again, in the direction of the non-magical world. It would be a close race, but Gellert was determined to catch his star.

*** *** ***

On his way through Hogsmeade to deliver Newt’s letter, Percival met Jacob Kowalski, who was carrying a bouquet of flowers.

“Jacob, what are you doing this fine morning?” Percival asked and gave the other man an easy smile.

Jacob coughed. “The flowers are for Queenie,” he explained. “I assume you…you’re trying to propose?”

Percival rolled his eyes – so Queenie had been in love with Jacob all along? Christ, he had been truly blind, hadn’t he?

“Don’t worry, I no longer want to marry her. Someone made me promise to give Tina a letter, though, that’s what I’m doing,” Percival calmed Jacob down and the other man was visibly relieved.

“Your father was very worried about you, Mr. Graves,” Jacob told him. “He said something about how you went off to find a fallen star.”

“I did find the star,” Percival replied. “Among other things,” he added, and thought of Credence, who was still asleep in their room at the inn. Once he got back to his beautiful star, Percival didn’t plan on leaving the bed for a few days at least.

They did their best to avoid Mrs. Esposito and knocked on the apartment door. Queenie was delighted to see Jacob, and looked slightly shocked when Percival entered after him.

“Mr. Graves, I didn’t expect to see you…,” she began, but Percival shushed her.

“Tell Tina I’ve got a letter for her,” he said with a wink, but apparently Tina Goldstein had heard him.

“I don’t want your letter,” she yelled as she made her way towards them. “Neither Queenie nor I are going to marry you, not now, not ever!”

Percival stifled a laugh and pulled the envelope out of his coat pocket. “It’s not from me, it’s from Newt, he asked me to give it to you.”

Tina had snatched the envelope out of Percival’s hand before he had even finished speaking. She carefully examined it and furrowed her brow. “This is Newt’s handwriting, yes. But where did you meet him?”

“I met him shortly after I found the star,” Percival clarified. “We traveled together for a few days. I believe he has included a more thorough explanation in his letter.”

“Did you really find the star?” Queenie asked anxiously.

“Yes, but don’t worry, you can marry whomever you want, I won’t hold you to anything. I found the one I’m meant to be with already,” Percival admitted and coughed awkwardly. “I’ve got a little piece of the star with me, though, if you want to see it,” he added sheepishly.

“Oh yes, show us,” Queenie demanded excitedly. “What does a star even look like?”

“The star’s beautiful,” Percival mumbled as he carefully extracted a folded handkerchief from his coat pocket. “Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

He handed Queenie the handkerchief and she slowly unfolded it. Jacob, Tina and she all looked intrigued and bent over the handkerchief.

“Oh,” Jacob said. “It’s a bit anti-climactic. I expected a shiny rock, or something like that.”

Percival chuckled. Of course they would – instead he’d cut off a lock of Credence’s silken hair when the star had been sleeping and carried it with him as a symbolic piece of the star. He didn’t have the heart to wake Credence, not when the star had trouble getting enough sleep as it was.

“Just an ordinary piece of rock,” Queenie stated and returned to handkerchief to Percival.

“What do you mean, rock?” Percival asked, but as he stared down on the handkerchief in his hand, his blood ran cold. Instead of a lock of Credence’s dark hair, there was a small black rock in his handkerchief, and he gulped.

He should have known that stars only took the form of beautiful young people in the magical word, in the non-magical world, stars were indeed nothing more than a piece of rock. He was an idiot – he’d actually planned on taking Credence across the border into the non-magical world, a passage that would have surely killed him. His heart skipped a beat when he realized that Credence wasn’t even a mile away from the border at the moment.

 “Credence!” Percival whispered in shock and bolted down the stairs, out in the street and into the direction of the wall. He’d have to get Credence away from the wall, away from danger.

Jacob Kowalski and the two Goldstein sisters stared after him, matching expressions of confusion on their faces.

“Graves snapped,” Jacob stated. “Who’s going to tell his father?”

*** *** ***

It couldn’t be far until Hogsmeade – Credence could already see the wall looming ahead of him. He wasn’t quite sure whether he wanted to see Percival at all. The man had probably already proposed to Queenie Goldstein. Credence didn’t want to see evidence of their happiness.

The star squeezed his eyes shut and willed the memories of last night to recede into the back of his mind. He had fallen in love and he’d gotten hurt, so what? He’d seen it happen before, centuries and centuries of it, but nothing, nothing could have prepared him for the pain he felt.

From what he’d seen of Earth, the star had always thought falling in love felt like carrying a candle flame around in your heart – the warmth kept you comfortable even in the coldest nights and the danger of getting burned was there, though it was relatively small. In comparison, falling for Percival Graves had been akin to unleashing a forest fire.

Lost in his thoughts, Credence didn’t notice the horseless carriage until it was too late. He was just about to climb over the wall, when he was suddenly yanked back by a magical force. Credence lost his balance and fell to the ground, catching the worst of the impact with his hands. He winced as his palms were scratched bloody from the pebbly ground and saw how the door of the carriage was opened. A man, back bent with old age, climbed out of it.

The old man curled his arthritic fingers and Credence was hauled up into the air, made to hover before the ancient-looking man.

“So we meet again, dear Credence. You can either ride in the carriage or be dragged behind it. It’s your choice, really,” the man said, voice as old and fragile as brittle parchment.

“C-carriage,” Credence stuttered and the same force that held him up in the air dragged him into the carriage and forced him into a sitting position. The wrinkled old man climbed in after him, shut the doors and with a clap of his hand, the carriage sped away.

“Now, my lovely star,” the man began and slid a hand under Credence’s chin to make the star look at him. He paused when he saw the marks Percival had left on Credence’s neck night before.

“Looks like you’ve gotten your companion to give you what you wanted,” the man chuckled. “Where is he? What was his name? Graves?”

Credence narrowed his eyes. “He’s still engaged to be married. I don’t know why that interests you, Grindelwald,” he said, voice laden with unshed tears.

Grindelwald growled. “I should kill him for making you unhappy. Still, I believe I can give you a potion to make your heart glow again, or achieve the same effect with a magical ritual. If push comes to shove, the broken heart of a star is still better than no heart at all,” he concluded and then patted Credence’s cheek. “Don’t worry your pretty head about it. We’ll soon be in Nurmengard, where I’ll put you out of your misery.”

Credence whimpered, but couldn’t escape, because Grindelwald’s magic kept him in place more firmly than any shackles ever could.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Percival sprinted towards the wall as fast as he could. He’d been an idiot and he’d put Credence in danger. Hopefully, it would all turn out alright. Maybe he’d even find Credence still in their room in the inn, asleep and unaware.

He’d reached the wall by now, but his legs felt ready to give out and his breath came in greedy gulps. He hated it whenever he felt his age. A quick look around made him relax – he couldn’t see any rock that might indicate that Percival had been too late.

He breathed easier for a moment and, ignoring his protesting muscles and burning lungs, began to scale the wall – it was not a terribly high wall, and so Percival was over on the other side pretty quickly.

Once he had reached the other side, his eyes were immediately drawn to the peculiar carriage tracks on the ground. Wherever the wheels of the carriage had touched the ground, the grass was scorched black. He probably would have gone looking for Credence at the inn, had it not been for the old woman who suddenly grabbed his arm. She must have been waiting for him by the wall.

“Percival Graves, you’re going to follow those tracks and if it’s the last thing you’ll do,” she demanded in an agitated voice.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “Have we met before?”

The woman released his arm and put her hands at her waist. “I’m the reason you’re no longer a dormouse,” she explained. “Now, you’d better go and rescue Credence, it’s the least you can do for breaking that poor star’s heart,” she commanded.

Percival goggled at her. “What? I didn’t break his heart. I’m in love with him,” he attempted to correct her.

“Oh, but he was crying in my kitchen this morning, convinced that you left him for Miss Goldstein. He would have gone after you into the non-magical world, but Grindelwald got to him before he could do so. You need to go after them!” she yelled at a volume that could have woken the dead.

“Right, and how am I going to get to wherever it is that Grindelwald dragged Credence?” Percival asked frantically. Never mind that he had no idea how they should escape from Grindelwald’s clutches a second time. He didn’t have another Babylonian Candle with him. Percival supposed that he could go back home and fetch the last one, but it would probably take too long…

In this moment, the unicorn galloped out of the forest and whinnied at Percival.

“Of course, now you show up again,” Percival mumbled and climbed onto the animals back. “Let’s find Credence!” he prompted the unicorn. It sped off before he had even finished speaking.

The animal galloped and picked up more and more speed until it ran faster than any horse he had ever seen and Percival did his best to hold on. It carried him through the lush green plains of the magical world, but he couldn’t pay any attention to the beautiful landscape. His thoughts were fixed on Credence and he prayed he wouldn’t be too late – it was his fault that Credence had been captured by the sorcerer in the first place.

Slowly, but surely, the landscape started to change. The green grass was replaced by a more mountainous landscape until the unicorn entered a gloomy valley. Only a narrow path next to a small stream led into the valley and Percival’s heart hammered in his chest once they got deeper into the valley.

After a slight turn, a fortress loomed up ahead. The unicorn increased its speed once more and sped towards Grindelwald’s lair. It carried him right up to the gate – Percival dismounted and told the creature to wait for him until he returned with Credence.

Percival pushed the gate open and entered the fortress. He felt lost in the cavernous entrance hall for a moment, but then he could make out voices coming from not far away. As quietly as he could, he crept towards the room the voices emanated from. He peered inside the room – what he saw almost made his heart stop.

Grindelwald, who looked too old to even be alive anymore, was using his magic to manhandle Credence onto a table that bore a frightening resemblance to a sacrificial altar. Credence tried to fight back as best as he could but it was obvious that he could only do little against Grindelwald’s power.

Percival creeped closer to the room and bit back an ill-timed laugh when he saw that the maniac had bloodied scratch marks on his cheek – Credence must have at least gotten a little bit of revenge on the sorcerer.

Still, as Percival observed Grindelwald and his powerful magic, he felt like a fool for not working out a plan on how to defeat Grindelwald beyond breaking into the castle and getting Credence away from him. He didn’t have any weapons except for a short hunting knife, but what good would that do against a powerful sorcerer who could crush him with magic before Percival could get close enough to harm him with the knife?

Perhaps he could throw the knife and catch Grindelwald unaware? Accidentally, he touched the cylindrical container that was hanging from his hip – Captain Lestrange’s parting gift. His eyes widened as he regarded the cylinder and a plan emerged in his mind.

Percival removed the cylinder from his belt. He waited until the sorcerer moved into a favorable position, took careful aim and removed the cap from the cylinder. The lightning flashed through the room and for a moment, all Percival could see was white.

He could hear Credence yell in shock, dropped the now useless cylinder and ran towards Credence. As Percival got closer to the front of the room, he could see that Grindelwald had been hit by the lightning and lay immobile on the ground.

*** *** ***

Credence let out a surprised scream as the magic that kept him pinned to the table suddenly vanished. He scrambled to get away from the table and took a look around to see that Grindelwald lay limp and lifeless on the ground.

Credence was even more shocked when he spotted Percival running towards him. The older man pulled him into a hug, but Credence flinched away.

“Did Miss Goldstein not want you when you didn’t bring her a star? Is that why you’re here?” he asked.

“No, Credence, I’m in love with you. It was a misunderstanding,” Percival explained.

Credence blinked. “But the innkeeper told me you left to give a ring to Miss Goldstein,” he replied quietly. “I assumed you were ashamed after what happened last night and that you left me because of that.”

“Believe me, I’d never willingly leave you behind,” Percival said. “I made a promise to Newt back on the ship. He wanted me to give a ring and a letter to Tina, Queenie Goldstein’s older sister. I was just keeping my promise.”

Credence gave him a relieved smile and kissed him for a quick moment. However, their focus quickly turned to Grindelwald, who was unconscious, but still breathing.

“Credence, do we have anything we can use to tie Grindelwald up?” he asked.

The pair rummaged around the room, until Credence tossed him a long piece of hemp rope. Together, they dragged the knocked out Grindelwald to the iron handrail – the old man was so frail, he weighed next to nothing. Percival tied his hands to the handrail, effectively shackling him. After he’d tested the ropes one last time, Grindelwald already gave a groan that indicated he was regaining his consciousness.

“Let’s get away from here,” Percival muttered. Credence was quick to comply and they sped towards the gate. They had almost reached the exit, when the gate slammed shut in front of them and locked itself.

“Do you think ropes can hold me?” Grindelwald cackled behind them.

They turned around and saw the old man staggering towards them, carrying a huge obsidian knife in one hand. With the other hand, he kept the rope that had bound his hands only moments before floating in the air.

“I should thank you, Percival Graves,” the madman continued. “His heart would have been of little use to me, broken and pathetic as it was. Now that you’ve set it aglow once more, it shall be mine!”

“I’m no longer afraid of you,” Credence said defiantly. “You won’t get my heart.”

“Ah, but you are afraid for someone, are you not, my pretty star?” Grindelwald responded, tilted his free hand and the rope wound itself around Percival’s neck, knotting itself into a hangman’s noose. Percival tried to slip it off, but each time he tried, the noose tightened a bit. Soon, he was struggling to breathe.

“Credence,” Percival wheezed as the noose dragged him upwards, the weight of his entire body only supported by the tips of this toes.

“Let him go,” Credence begged. “I’ll stay, but please, let Percival go.”

“Don’t…,” Percival managed to choke out, before the noose dragged him up an inch higher and he was completely suspended in the air.

“Let him go!” Credence cried.

“Very well,” Grindelwald agreed and Percival fell to the floor. The noose was lifted from Percival’s neck and instead tied Credence’s hands behind his body. “Take a good last look at your lovely star, Percival Graves, and remember not to try and beat magic with your primitive non-magical methods. It never works.”

Percival tried to say something, but was instantly shaken by a violent cough.

“Run!” Credence yelled into Percival’s direction. “Run as far away as you can! He’ll come after you! I love you, Percy!”

Grindelwald clenched his fist and his magic prevented Credence from opening his mouth to say more. The sorcerer charmed the gate open, dragged Percival out of the castle with magic and made the gate slam shut again.

Credence heard a faint whinny through the door and let out a relieved breath – the unicorn was here and would carry Percival swiftly to safety. That was all that mattered now. He could make out the sound of hooves galloping away from the castle and after that, focused his attention on Grindelwald, who came towards him, knife raised in his hand.

“Now, thanks to your little lover, I don’t have to bother with any rituals or concoctions to make your heart useful,” Grindelwald snarled and approached Credence. “Wasn’t he sweet? Trying to come and rescue you, as if you were a damsel in distress. Go ahead, say something,” Grindelwald prompted him and released the hold he had on Credence’s jaw.

“You know as little about love as you know about stars, Grindelwald,” Credence said in a firm voice and met Grindelwald’s manic glare. “My heart belongs to Percival. It will never be yours.”

“What are you talking about? Your man is gone and I have you in shackles, at my mercy!” Grindelwald cackled and reached out to touch the side of Credence’s neck with his mummy-like fingers.

“Grindelwald, do you know what stars with glowing hearts can do?” Credence asked again, and hoped that Percival was at a safe distance from the castle, because he didn’t think that he could distract Grindelwald any longer.

“Yes, they restore my youth,” Grindelwald answered and raised his knife, prepared to strike.

“Oh no, they shine,” Credence answered his own question.

Credence let his love, his emotions, his power, everything he usually kept contained, spread outwards and was delighted to take in Grindelwald’s shocked expression. The sorcerer’s hand flinched away from Credence’s neck as if it had been burned, and Credence supposed that was true, in a way.

By now, he started to glow brighter and brighter and a familiar warmth coursed through him which he remembered from his time in the sky. He let it go for a moment and thus sent a shock wave through the castle. After that, he pulled everything back to himself once more and took a startled look around. The castle of Nurmengard was gone, and Credence was standing in the middle of a crater. There was no sign of Grindelwald anymore.

“Oops,” Credence mumbled. He’d only meant to kill Grindelwald, not vaporize the entire castle.

*** *** ***

The unicorn carried him away from the castle at a breakneck speed all while Percival felt like a failure. He’d almost brought Credence to safety, but Grindelwald had still won in the end.

He’d failed his love, he’d failed Credence. He’d been a reckless idiot, leaving Credence in the inn. On the other hand, had he brought Credence along into the non-magical world, it would have killed Credence as well.

Percival almost couldn’t believe that just last night they’d made love and fallen asleep in each other’s arms. And now this was supposed to be over? His treacherous heart couldn’t accept that he’d just lost Credence like that.

The unicorn slowed down and Percival was grateful for it. Riding a horse without a saddle and bridle was not much more than trying not to fall off. He took a look around, gently massaging his hurt neck and his eyes widened as he saw how far away he already was from Nurmengard.

The outline of the castle against the horizon seemed to mock him, an ever-present symbol of his failure. Was Credence even still alive, or had Grindelwald already…? Percival wiped his eyes and didn’t dare to think any further, it hurt too much.

He looked one last time at the castle, when suddenly, instead of the castle, all he saw was a blinding white light that engulfed Nurmengard and its immediate surroundings.

It was so bright that Percival had to close his eyes, and as he opened them again a few moments later, he was blinded for a few moments before he slowly regained his sight.

Was this how a star died?

The unicorn had started to move again and Percival was startled to discover that it moved towards Nurmengard, not further away from it.

“No, don’t go back to the castle,” Percival said, but as he looked up, he discovered that there no longer was a castle. He saw a crater, much like the one in which he’d found Credence, a little more than a week ago.

No human, not even a powerful sorcerer could have survived such a release of energy. Perhaps this really was how stars died and Grindelwald had underestimated Credence’s power. Cruel irony, then, that his hunger for power had become the sorcerer’s own undoing. At least Credence had gotten justice in the end and his murderer was dead as well.

The unicorn picked up speed and galloped towards the crater, although there was no rational reason to do so. It probably sensed that Credence was no more and this was its way of mourning. Percival couldn’t see well through the veil of tears that clouded his vision, but the unicorn stopped once it had reached the edge of the crater.

Percival wiped his eyes with the sleeves of his shirt, not caring about manners in the slightest. His star…

“There you are! Took you long enough if I may say so,” came a voice from slightly below him. Percival stared at the edge of the crater where Credence was making his way up to them.

Credence, who looked safe, whole and altogether too cheerful for someone who’d just survived a lethal explosion.

Percival dismounted immediately and stumbled into the crater, towards the star. With disbelief written all over his features, Percival reached out to touch Credence, to verify that he wasn’t a figment of his imagination.

No, Credence was warm and solid and laughed at Percival’s reaction. “It’s really me, don’t worry,” he said. “Merlin, I’m glad you made it far enough. I didn’t realize I’d cause so much destruction,” he added in a softer voice.

You did this?” Percival asked. “How?”

They started to make their way out of the crater together. Credence gave him a weak smile, the adrenaline rush now clearly wearing off and leaving him exhausted.

“I’m a star, Percy, a star with a glowing heart. This means I can shine,” he explained. “I only meant to kill Grindelwald, not annihilate the entire castle and its surroundings. Somehow, I must have underestimated my own power – my shine was never so strong before I fell.”

Percival laughed helplessly. “So, to take down Grindelwald you just used your powers as a star against him?” he asked. “That’s genius, really, but why didn’t you do that earlier?”

“I couldn’t,” Credence replied. “I thought you’d left me for Miss Goldstein. My heart was broken and cold so shining was out of the question. When you were in the castle, I couldn’t have used it on Grindelwald without endangering your life, too. I only used a tiny bit of my powers, but…,” he trailed off and gestured to their surroundings.

Percival gulped. He never would have thought that stars could be this powerful. One thing was for sure, Percival would never look at the night sky again and feel anything other than awe and humility. And all this while, such immense power had been hidden in Credence’s slender body…

“You’re a miracle, Credence,” Percival said solemnly. “I mean it.”

Credence grinned. “You’re not bad either, Percy. Although I demand that you promise me to never give me a scare like this morning again. If you have to go on an important errand ever again, at least leave me a note.”

They had reached the unicorn, and in a scene that felt like déjà-vu, Percival once more helped Credence onto the animal’s back, before he himself followed suit. This time, he didn’t think anything of sliding his arms around Credence’s waist and holding him tight as the unicorn slowly carried them away from what had once been Gellert Grindelwald’s stronghold.

“Are you going to show me the non-magical now, Percy?” Credence asked and leaned back against Percival.

“Credence,” Percival said slowly. “If I’d take you with me into the non-magical world, it would kill you.”

“What?!”

Percival tightened his hold on Credence, who’d started shivering.

“I cut off a lock of your hair. If Queenie asked me about the star, I thought I’d show it to her as a symbolic piece of the star. However, when I looked at it in Hogsmeade, it had transformed into a small rock.”

“Percy?” Credence said in a meek voice.

“Hm?”

“This means I can’t come with you to the non-magical world,” the star pointed out. “What about your inheritance, then?”

Percival pressed a kiss to Credence’s shoulder. It was true, his inheritance was the reason why he’d gone on this whole adventure to find a star in the first place. Now that he had to choose between the two, he found that it wasn’t a tough choice at all. He might have searched for a way to secure his inheritance, but he’d found something so much better along the way.

“I choose you,” Percival answered. “Of course I choose you. But there’s one thing I don’t quite understand. You told me that Grindelwald had the heart of a star, which should make him immortal, but he still looked so old and he died in the end. Why was that?”

Credence shrugged. “Wrong interpretation of old runic texts, I believe. You just need to have the heart of a star in order to be immortal. If you actually eat it, it still gives you power and a longer life, but it won’t give you immortality, because you use up its powers,” he replied. “Can we safe this topic for another day, though? It’s making me uncomfortable.”

“Of course,” Percival replied, slightly ashamed. “I should have realized…”

“Never mind,” Credence shushed him. “Can we get a room in an inn somewhere? I need a good day’s sleep after all of this.”

Percival agreed and they eventually ended up in the same inn as yesterday, albeit in a different room. They fell asleep swiftly and slept till noon the next day.

*** *** ***

Percival sent a letter to his father and requested a meeting by the wall. He’d fallen in love and wished to get married, however, due to complicated circumstances concerning Percival’s intended, they had to meet with Percival’s father in the magical-world.

When Percival read the draft of his letter to Credence, the star started to laugh. “Will you make an honest star out of me, really?”

Percival grinned sheepishly. “Well, if you want to, of course, although I can’t imagine that we need a marriage certificate for what we’ve planned.”

“I imagine your father will be quite shocked when he hears of our plans,” Credence said softly.

“Truth be told, I think he knew I wouldn’t take over the Estate,” Percival admitted. “Choosing to reinforce that obsolete family tradition was perhaps nothing more than a last effort to keep me on my path as the Graves heir.”

“And just look where that got you,” Credence teased and hugged Percival from behind.

“I’ve got the sweetest, most gorgeous star for a lover and a lifetime of adventure to look forward to. What a horrible fate,” he replied with a laugh.

*** *** ***

Yvain Graves, upon reuniting with his son and meeting Credence for the first time, accepted that the Estate would never belong to Percival.

He wished his son and Credence all the best and almost managed to hide his surprise once they told him of what they planned to do for a living.

The last thing he did before he returned back to the non-magical world, was to give Percival the second Babylonian Candle.

“Perhaps there will come a time when you need to use it. If so, use it wisely,” he said with a wistful smile.

*** *** ***

Percival and Credence joined Leta’s crew on the Heart of Gold and sailed the skies for many years. Percival loved the adventure and the excitement that came with catching lightning, while Credence was closer to his old home this way.

Although they remained on the ship for years and years neither Credence nor Percival seemed to grow any older.

For no man can live forever, except he who possesses the heart of a star – and Credence had given his to Percival completely. When all their friends had grown old and retired, it was time for them to light the Babylonian Candle (the last in existence in all of Hogwarts) and they returned to Credence’s place amongst the stars.

They still live happily ever after.

The End