Credence apparated in the club and immediately regretted it.
Too many people. Too loud.
Which wasn’t so much of an issue these days, he had been doing well. But around this time of year it was still difficult. Everyone had somebody. Family, friends, lovers. As was evident from the witches and wizards, and various combinations thereof, grinding on each other on the dancefloor.
Credence sort of hated Christmas. He didn’t even get it. He understood why the no-maj’s celebrated it, but was sure the only reason the wizarding world did was because he was one of their most famous wizards. So much so he was known and worshipped by the no-majs, and many of their Christmas ways had spilled into the wizarding world as a result. It felt like a time of the year that the wall between their two worlds were sort of blurred and that made it all the more confusing for him.
That made Credence a little uneasy. But more so it just made him feel a little bitter - everyone had someone but him. He didn’t even want anyone, but resented that the choice didn’t feel like his, even more so at this time of year.
He let out a heavy sigh and leaned against the bar, the house-elf serving behind it asked, "Usual, sir?”
Credence was still deciding whether to say yes or just apparate out of there and go mope somewhere quietly, when his gaze - taking in the thrumming dancefloor - landed on the most beautiful man he had ever seen. A vision in a smart three-piece suit.
Percival Graves hadn’t been to this sort of place in years. He had insisted he was too old for it, but Tina wouldn’t have any of it.
“It’s Christmas. Come on.” She had near pouted saying she was meeting her boyfriend on the way and maybe other people from work would be there. Usually words that would have him running the other way, but being the Friday before Christmas arrived on the Monday, and having worked late as per usual, the thought of some downtime was nice. Downtime that would hopefully help him forget that he had the next few days off during which his only plan was to spend Christmas with his perpetually disappointed mother.
As her boss he could have said no to Tina, easily. But she was one of the best aurors in his department and he liked her a great deal. She was sweet and charming and he felt almost brotherly towards her in a way. Her boyfriend Newt was… an interesting fellow, but Graves tried to excuse the Brit his eccentricities. There could be worse company for the evening.
The few others from the team that joined them once they arrived seemed to have disappeared again. One moment he was dancing - badly - with Tina and the next she was dancing with Newt. He tried not to look as awkward as he felt, dancing alone to unfamiliar music surrounded by many people half his age.
Maybe this had been a bad idea. Maybe this would make him just feel old and alone rather than helping him forget that for the evening.
A couple of songs later and he was on the verge of leaving - deciding that this was actually a terrible idea and would make him feel lonelier than ever - when his gaze fell on the young man at the bar. He had been looking around the room aimlessly, trying to find something to focus other than his own patheticness, when he saw him. And what's more, the boy seemed to be looking at him intently to the extent that he seemed oblivious to the several other witches and wizards at the bar practically begging for his attention.
There was something in that look that made Graves feel… good. He hated this time of year because it always got him down, stripped him of his confidence and charm, or so it felt. It was hard to be confident and charming when a sadness started to seep into your bones the more you saw people coming together and enjoying the holiday cheer as a couple; The more your mother asked when you would finally settle down when you didn’t dare tell her the truth of your proclivities.
He wasn’t even so concerned, any other time of year he couldn’t care less - he enjoyed being single, not having to compromise his life. But Christmas? Ever since school it had been the same.
But that look… he felt warm and bolstered. That look made him want to stride over to the young man and talk to him, flirt with him.
And that’s where he faltered. It had been years since he had even remotely attempted flirting with someone. He’d been married to his job too long to really remember.
All that felt a distant memory as he looked into those dark pools, drawing him in, and he wondered if they accepted male students at Beauxbatons because he seemed as enticing as any of the ladies graduating from that institution. His skin was fair, and hair dark - he wore tight dark jeans and a loose, blousy shirt that was open to his mid-chest in a way that made Graves’ mouth water and blood pound.
He was halfway to the bar before he realised he had even started walking.
Credence couldn’t help the grin as he saw the man - a silver fox of high calibre - start towards him. He turned to the bar and confirmed his order - he would definitely be staying. A bit of Christmas fun was exactly what he needed.
His living situation was adequate, but the thought of spending the entirety of the weekend in that place? Even if he could find someone else’s warm bed to sleep in tonight would be better than nothing.
The man, predictably, arrived at his side and took the bar stool next to him. He cleared his throat before asking Credence - “Can I get you a drink?” The words were crooned in a way that might have been charming when the man was dating a decade or two ago. But Credence could overlook the old fashioned charm for such a fine looking wizard.
In fact, the man just being there grounded him somewhat. The remaining flighty feelings he had seemed to recede. It was calming and reassuring. It felt like the rest of the room had disappeared. He wasn’t sure if this was some sort of magic, but he was grateful for it.
An empty glass placed itself in front of Credence and began to fill before he turned to the wizard and pointed at it - “already got one, thanks. Can I get you a drink?”
The older man looked confused for a moment and it was all Credence could do not to roll his eyes in disappointment. One of those guys. The ones who came from that era of thinking a little too heteronormative for Credence’s tastes. Maybe this had been a bad idea.
“It’s ok, don’t worry about it. I’m not staying-” Credence started.
In a sort of panic the man answered quickly - “Yes, I’ll have what you’re having. Thank you.”
Credence quirked a brow, grew a lopsided grin and signalled the bartender.
Graves was so out of his comfort zone it was troubling. It made him feel more vulnerable than he ever had in the field as an auror. But then it wasn’t like he knew any spells to cast against this sort of assault, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to.
And, of course, it wasn’t assault. It was… flirting.
He bit his lower lip as he set down his second empty glass - both drinks bought by his young companion, whose fingers were now playing lightly over the back of Grave’s hand.
They had been talking an hour and had said nothing of importance. General chit chat, laughter and flirting - personal information shared sparingly. Until Credence, as the young man introduced himself, said -
“Isn’t it weird that Jesus was a wizard? I mean… it’s not weird. Not for us. But it is?” He looked at Graves quizzically and then shrugged. “No, I guess it isn’t. But when I found out? It blew my mind! It makes so much sense, but growing up a no-maj gives a different perspective.”
“A no-maj?” Graves instantly jumped on the tidbit. Strangely, it wasn’t just because it held a sort of professional curiosity for him, but because it was the only personal thing - other than his name - the boy had shared. Graves was finding himself hungry for more by the minute.
Credence waved his hand dismissively and seemed to retreat into himself a little, as though he hadn’t meant to divulge the information. He seemed immediately guarded and Graves felt a pang in his chest. He let the matter drop in favour of keeping the company.
“Shall I get us more drinks?” Graves asked instead.
Credence studied him for a moment, and Graves was worried he was going to decline and leave. But instead he grew a lopsided grin, leaned in and kissed him gently. He allowed his lips to part and the boy continued his slow exploration until Graves felt breathless. There was a power there that Graves’ couldn’t quite identify - like there was a spark of magic between them.
Finally the boy pulled back and asked - “Or, do you want to take me home?”
Credence whistled as they entered the nice, luxurious, apartment. The man had expensive tastes, and that seemed to suit him.
“I… don’t usually do this sort of thing.” Percival Graves said as he closed the door behind them.
Credence wasn’t an idiot. He had recognised the name on introduction - he had made it a point of interest to know as much as he could about MACUSA. In fact he had considered calling it a night when he realised the man flirting with him was an auror, wondering how he might judge him. But, there was something about Graves. A sort of soft underbelly - a vulnerability and loneliness that might have been hard for anyone else to see, and yet it was plain to Credence perhaps because he felt much the same way. As they had talked and flirted the man seemed to relax and Credence had enjoyed his company more than most.
“Would you like a drink?” Graves asked, loosening his tie. He had already hung up his coat and was reaching to help Credence out of his. The gesture was jarring to him - he still found touch in general difficult unless it was on his terms. But he allowed it as he shrugged out of the oversized coat and nodded.
“Just a glass of water would be fine.”
Graves looked about to say something but obviously decided against it and disappeared off into what must be the kitchen. Credence, curious as he was, followed to find the man pouring himself a whiskey as a glass on the counter began to fill with iced water.
He turned with the drinks and jumped when he saw Credence standing there. “Damn! You… you’re quiet.”
Credence smiled and shrugged. “Force of habit.” He took the glass of water and went back to the living room smiling warmly at the lovely view he’d had of the man’s back and shoulders. The shirt and vest were very becoming. And Credence couldn’t wait to get him out of them.
Graves indicated the sofa and then dropped into the opposite armchair before Credence moved. Credence set down his glass and, ignoring the sofa, stepped in front of Graves and sank to his knees. He rested his hands on Graves’ thighs, trailing fingers softly as he pushed his legs apart.
Graves drew a deep breath and Credence felt a slight shudder as he started to run his hands further up firm thighs, on and on until he was reaching for the man’s belt buckle.
“Stop.” Graves said, snatching up Credence’s hands. “That… that isn’t why I brought you here.”
Credence quirked a brow. “Really? Because everything up to this point, and your clearly hard cock, say otherwise.”
Graves scrubbed a hand roughly over his face as he let Credence’s hands fall back to his knees. “I know… And I want to… I just. I don’t do this. I don’t pick people up in bars, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just, it isn’t something I’ve ever done. I just wanted to get to know you better. This feels weird.”
“You’re making it weird.” Credence laughed and let himself drop back so that he was sitting cross legged at Graves’s feet, propped up with his hands behind him as he looked up at the strange man. “But it’s okay, you’re entitled to change your mind. I was just… surprised.”
“I’m sorry. I understand if you want to leave.”
Credence’s smile dropped and he felt a chill go through him. He really didn’t want to return to the halfway home tonight. It wasn’t that it was a bad place, it wasn’t any worse than most of his childhood. It was just, loud and busy and strange... and not his. It was limbo and reminded him of what it was like when he was still an obscurial. Between places. He hated that feeling. He was going to come as close as he ever would at that moment to admitting to himself that part of the reason he went home with guys was to make believe. To pretend he had this, even if just for a night - something secure. A home and someone to love him. The guy didn’t even really matter.
Though… Graves kind of did. It was so clear to him that the reason Graves couldn’t do this was the same reason why he so often did it.
“Sure.” Credence replied, chipper as he could, getting to his feet. “Though, I guess it’s kind of late and dark. Maybe I could crash on the sofa?”
Graves looked like he was reprimanding himself for being a terrible host, as he replied. “Of course, of course you can. In fact, no… have my room. The spare room is made up for my mother, but you can have my room.”
“If you’re sure?” Credence asked tentatively, or trying to seem that way at least. He had no intention of leaving, whether he slept on the sofa or in the hallway for the night. He had already mentally allowed that he didn’t have to be back at the home tonight, and he didn’t want to have to try and process that.
“Yes, yes.” Graves nodded, knocking back his drink and then practically springing from the chair. “It’s just through there. I’m going to take a shower. Let me know if you need anything.”
Graves let the cold water blast over him.
What the hell had he been thinking bringing this kid here? He couldn’t do this. He didn’t think he’d picked anyone up since he was in his twenties. And his mother was coming for Christmas - he had so much to get done at the weekend.
This was all such a ridiculous idea.
When he emerged back into the living room in just a towel, he ran into Credence coming from the kitchen with a fresh glass of water, in just his underwear.
Graves swallowed hard as the boy gave him an almost shy smile.
“What?” Graves blanched. Credence grinned.
“I was thirsty. I’m going to bed now. But… look, if you want to join me at any point. I mean, we don’t have to… do anything. Just if, you… you know, what to spend the night together. Just spend it, nothing… um....” As he spoke his words seemed less and less certain and he looked a little vulnerable. He looked lonely. Graves could relate. Sometimes he just wanted someone there to hold and be held. Sometimes he just wanted someone.
They said their goodnight’s again.
Two hours of sleepless gazing at the ceiling later, Graves crawled into bed behind Credence and curled his body around the warm and comforting form before him - feeling as though he was encompassing pure magical energy in his arms.
Credence had been sleeping lightly when Graves entered the room quietly and very gently climbed into the bed. He spooned up against Credence, and Credence couldn’t help a sigh as he relaxed back into the warmth behind him.
“Is… is this alright?” Graves asked and Credence smiled, finding the man’s hands with his own and pulling them around him. He hummed his consent and started to drift off in Graves’ arms.
He woke hours later with the glow of the winter sun trying to burst through the curtains, and Graves’ morning wood slotted perfectly against the crack of his ass. Reflexively he stretched and sighed, and pressed back against Graves..
Graves must have woken up then because his arms suddenly tightened around him - stiffened. Like he was just remembering why the hell there was someone in his bed. He finally loosened up and started to pull away but Credence grabbed his retreating arms and pulled him back.
“This doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you?” Credence said, releasing Graves so he could still retreat if he wanted to. He felt the man relax a little and then nuzzle into his neck, which drew a contented sigh from Credence. “Just tell me when you want me to leave okay?”
He felt Graves nod, but there was another minute of silence before Graves said - “This… is nice. I haven’t had this in a long time. I’m sorry about last night, I sort of… I’m not good at this, I’m sorry I lead you on. I didn’t mean to, I didn’t mean it to be a lead on… But… this is nice.”
That made Credence smile. It felt good to bring someone as much comfort as this was for him too. “I used to find physical touch incredibly hard, but now… it’s comforting.” Credence found himself revealing, his gut dropping as he said it. He wasn’t sure if there was just something about this guy, or whether Graves had cast some sort of truth telling spell. It was hard for him to know - he really still didn’t understand magic to the level he should at his age.
If he had been raised a wizard then he would have finished school over five years earlier with a firm grasp of wizardry and the world he now found himself in. Instead there were so many things he was still discovering, and sometimes that was more frightening than fascinating. It was all so much.
He remembered reading about Harry Potter - the guy who stopped the dark wizard uprising in the UK. He hadn’t known he was a wizard until he was eleven, and look how much he had gone on to accomplish! But Credence wasn’t Harry Potter. And he hadn’t known he was a wizard until he was in his early twenties and it was… harrowing.
He shuddered and Graves pulled him closer.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Credence dismissed. “I just… used to be a very different person and it’s weird to remember.” He let out a breath. “Sorry, it’s not your problem.”
Graves made a low rumbling sound, and Credence smiled at the reprimand he could sense from it. They were quiet for a few more minutes and then Graves asked - “do you want breakfast?”