Percival couldn’t help but anticipate, just a little bit, the sight awaiting him in his living room. He had already removed his coat and gloves, rolled his starched white sleeves to his elbows and poured himself two fingers of bourbon.
A splash of water, deep inhale, the pleasant bite of the first sip. Daylight was fading fast, leaving his study in semi- darkness. Outside the window, a winter twilight was waning lilac and pink, a crescent moon already high in the cold sky. He hadn’t been expecting a distraught Credence upon his return home from work. Concern had flooded him at the sight.
The boy had been as ashen as if he’d been poisoned with arsenic. His head was bowed, shoulders hunching like they wanted to touch his ears. Percival didn’t know what it was about Credence's misery that was just this side of delicious. He drew it out just a little bit, asking detailed questions and watching the boy silently as a jury as he'd scramble to answer. Percival would soothe him soon enough. Far be it from him to keep the boy from writhing on the rack a little bit longer. Percival had never hurt him, given him reason to be so skittish. He’d already been like that.
When pressed, he’d spilled everything. His tutor, the Goldstein girl, had offered her abolitionist contacts to him. Offered him a way out, a boat to England. Political asylum. Percival had chuckled. That mousy little Goldstein girl, in his own house, offering to take Credence from him and slip him into the fickle, dangerous hands of smugglers and criminals? Admirable. He’d sooner send Credence to England himself, first class, on his own dime. It would be safer.
He'd patted Credence's wet cheek.
“Thank you for your candor with me. Now, did you accept Miss Goldstein’s offer?” He’d asked.
Credence had visibly paled. Tears anew leaked from his eyes. “No, never. No Sir. Please.”
Ah, there it was. Please. Percival didn’t know if he’d ever heard a more sincere ‘please’ than the ones that came from this boys’ mouth. Most of the pleas in Credence’s short, violent life had gone ignored, Percival knew, by his ham-fisted fanatic of a mother.
He didn’t quite understand how the prude no-maj woman, not even a biological relation to Credence, had looked into this face, the soft dark eyes, the trembling lips, the little tilt to the side his head did when he begged, and just bloodied him with a belt anyway. A gift, the most beautiful and fragile of trinkets, smashed with blunt force. What a waste.
Percival had tried to explain to Credence that he wasn’t phased, if anything a little tickled by the Goldstein girls audacity. This had only partially comforted him.
“I’m not angry” he repeated. “Not angry, child, never at you. Shhhh.” Until Credence relaxed a fraction.
”Now go to the living room.”
The boy had visibly stiffened at the air of command in his tone. He still spoke warmly, but Credence could hear it well.
“Kneel beside the sofa on the floor. Hands behind your back. I’ll be right along. Go on.”
Now, glass in hand, Percival started through the dark hallway to the living room. To his left the small, black-and-white tile kitchen gathered the evening darkness, still as a church in the witching hour. The black silhouettes of the kettle on the stove and potted herbs on the windowsill crouched like gargoyles. To the right, a shaft of soft light fell into the hallway from the livingroom. Generous lamplight and the tinny sound of ragtime from the phonograph flowed outward, muffled in the hallway by thick walls.
Percival leaned in the doorway, simply looking. He’d been pleased with the high ceilings and crown molding of the apartment, a sign of pride taken in the craftsmanship. He’d left the wallpaper, rose-colored vertical stripes and Fleur-du-lis, frivolous as it seemed to him. His sofa was an impractical thing, more for looks than lounging. Its back arched asymmetrically like a cat, cushions the color of wine and cream. In front of it, a large Persian rug covered the hardwood floor.
On the rug, beside the sofa, Credence kneeled, in simple black trousers and white undershirt, top button undone and collar askew. His bare feet curled up behind him, his hands wound behind him and clasped at his tailbone as if he was lashed to an invisible mast.
The curtains were drawn snugly against the cold glass of the windows. The clock on the mantle struck six. Suppertime, Percival thought. He had other plans, first. He sipped his bourbon again, swirled it in the glass absently.
Casually- “Is it cold, Credence?”
“Yes Sir.” Came the impartial, quiet reply. Credence’s voice sounded so timid when he was like this. Almost girlish.
Sir. Merlin, he hadn’t even had to tell the boy. Since the first day he’d met him, he was Sir, and occasionally, intimately, despite it simply being his surname, Mr Graves.
Percival flicked his wrist and a fire roared to life in the hearth.
Credence dared a glance up at Percival. He wasn’t crying anymore.. Percival crossed the floor to stand in front of him. One hand held his glass by the rim and the other went into Credence’s dark hair. Gently he carded through- once, twice, from his forehead to the crown of his skull. Credence didn’t move. Didn’t make a sound.
Alright, Percival thought. He’s enjoyed the boys misery long enough. Bring him down from the gallows, bring him home.
“Darling?” He called softly, curling a finger under the boys chin. Credence offered no resistance, looked up at him. His lashes were still wet, cheeks still dewy.
"How are those knees?”
Sweet. Sweet as lemoncakes, sugarplums.
Percival lowered to a squat, knees popping. His hand on the back of Credence’s head guided the boy to look at him.
“You are such a good boy, Credence, do you know that?”
Credence searched his eyes for deceit. Poor thing.
“Do you?” He pressed gently.
Caught between the urge to shrug and the need to answer with Sir, Credence squirmed.
“Yes, Sir.” He went with finally.
“You did the right thing by telling me. I’m on your side, in all things.”
Credence looked like he wanted to say something. He wouldn’t speak out of turn.
“Go ahead. You may speak.”
“Will she be in trouble because I told you what she did? Miss Goldstein?”
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” He winked conspiratorially.
Credence almost, almost smiled. In the buttery gold light, the little twitch upwards on the corner of the boys mouth was heavenly. What Percival didn't mention was that he would certainly toy with Goldstein a little. He might call her into his office, ask about Credence's tutoring, watch her sweat. He might imply obliquely that he knew (although he'd known for a year that she was an active abolitionist, he just didnt care), and watch her try to decide whether to come clean. That might be impossible to resist.
But he hadn't lied to Credence. He was not going to press any charges or mention the incident to anyone else. He knew the institution was a crime, an insult to this century's intelligence. It didn't take much wit or empathy to come to that conclusion. In fact, he'd only participated in it when it became clear that it was a way to get Credence Barebone all to himself. He was not above a crude means to a delightful end.
"Now,” Percival purred, “why don’t you raise your arms for me and I’ll take that shirt off of you.”
He hadn’t finished the sentence before Credence’s arms were up. He slipped the shirt off Credence’s torso, pulled it over his head. He folded it, set it on the side of the sofa. Naked from the waist up, Credence’s arms went right back behind his back. His skin was smooth and milky, glacial. Graves wanted to make it red as a poppy, wanted to suck constellations of blood-bruises into his neck, his chest.
But first, a little mercy.
“We’re going to take it easy tonight, darling.” Percival said, circling the boy like prey before hiking his slacks up an inch and sitting on his sofa.
“Unless,” He drained his glass and set it aside, “unless you’re convinced you need punishment for.. how did you put it… betraying the Goldstein girl.”
Credence looked sidelong at him through thick lashes. His high cheekbones looked Slavic, the angular lines of his neck pooled with shadows. He squirmed.
“Credence, as far as I’m concerned you did right by me. But I know you have… ideas about these things. Seems you always think you should be punished for some thing or another,” Percival gestured vaguely with one hand.
“And that’s fine. If you wish, I’ll give you a punishment.”
He’d dangled mercy, a glittering pendant on a delicate chain. Credence, as he had suspected, was going to turn it down anyway, opt into pain and punishment. Percival suspected the boy was even starting to enjoy it, learning that it cold mingle with pleasure, that his master was not going to do anything too cruel.
Miserably, Credence nodded, an aborted sob catching in his throat. Oh, Percival itched. He is so hard on himself. That church must’ve been Hell.
“Alright then, we’ll do things your way. Come here.” Percival opened his knees, pointed at the floor. Coltish legs tangling, Credence moved to crawl between them.
“Let’s get these off,” Percival stood, putting his arms around the boy’s waist and whispering ‘up’.
He undid the boy’s belt, ignoring how his breath hitched. The boy was searching his face for reassurance that that wasn’t what was happening. Couldn’t be. Graves quickly tossed the belt to the side, dispelling any wild notions. The belt was one thing Graves would never even tease with. Nothing he ever did to Credence had anything to do with a belt, or pain on his hands or back. Someone else in his position might have tried to override the old trauma, claim Credence's association with it as their own, or simply watch how afraid he would get, but Percival didn’t see the point. There was some honor to be had, even among thieves.
Nothing Percival did was lasting, or frightening. He hoped he read the boy better than that, relented when he smelled fear. Credence was no longer a punished pseudo son, but rather protected property. Beloved.
Once Credence was naked Percival sat back down. Credence fell between his spread knees as if weighted. He looked up when Percival’s finger traced along his lower lip. His mouth opened obediently.
“Good boy.” He whispered, slowly letting one finger dip into he willing heat of the boy’s mouth. Credence huffed breath from his nose, started to suck a little. He added another finger, used his free hand to caress Credence’s smooth chest, to play with the velvet skin of his nipple, to pinch. Credence shuddered, exquisitely sensitive.
“Good boy.” Percival soothed again, working the other nipple between two fingers until it hardened and a chill sent gooseflesh racing up Credence’s arms.
“Up,” he said, gently removing both fingers.
Credence’s pupils were dilated, lips plump and wet with saliva. His cheeks had regained a little color. He stood to obey, leaned over Percival’s lap dutifully. Percival was still fully clothed, which became apparent as a stark contrast when he was naked across Percival's lap. How vulnerable Credence must feel, bare skin rubbing on trousers and waistcoat, exposed, nowhere to go. He rubbed the boy’s bare ass with a flat palm.
“How many do you think you deserve?”
“I don’t know, Sir.” Came the reply from next to his knee.
“How many, Credence?”
“Fifty? Fifty hard slaps right here?” He patted one naked cheek. He felt Credence squirm on his thigh, cock twitching despite himself. "Hmmm."
“I don’t think that fits the crime.” Percival mused, dispassionate as a judge.
“I think twenty will do just fine. If you try to sit up, ten more. If you say stop, or if you beg, ten more. Do you understand, little one?”
Credence whimpered a ‘yes sir, thank you sir,’ genuine relief in his voice.
Fifty, Percival scoffed internally. He knew Credence would never ask him to stop, even if he beat him bloody. He admitted to himself that this thrilled him. At the same time, it made him doubly determined to care for Credence with responsibility and skill, not brute force like the no-maj woman had his whole life.
“One,” Percival said as a warning, and brought his hand down on the bare skin of the Credence's ass. Skinny as he was, it gave a delightful resistance, a ripple of flesh bouncing back. Credence sucked in a breath as the spot turned immediately pink. Two. Three. Percival stopped counting aloud but kept a mental tally lest he get carried away and break his word to Credence. His blows were not malicious, but they were hard enough to sting meanly. His practiced hand made perfect contact. His slaps echoed crudely against the lofty ceilings.
Credence whimpered when he slapped lower, where his spread cheeks met his thighs and where his pink hole twitched vulnerably. At ten, Percival stopped to caress the tortured flesh, getting a wanton little moan from the boy. He tapped Credence's hips and they lifted immediately, weight transferred to his toes to support him. Percival moved Credence's balls so they were exposed on Percival’s thigh below his spanked pink ass.
“Down” He ordered and Credence’s weight went back on Percival’s legs.
Much more gently, he tapped the boy’s balls with four fingers, Ilvermorny ring adding an extra little torment, eliciting urgent little sounds from him.
“Shhhh, shh.” He soothed, feeling Credence's erection strain against his pants. Graves leaned back and to the left so he could see his face. Eyes closed tight, mouth slightly open, brows knitted.
Oh, perfect. He reached a hand to caress the back of Credence’s neck, grounding him, soothing him.
“You’re being so good. I’m going to have to take care of you, aren’t I?”
Credence panted as Percival tapped his trapped balls, wincing when he drew back his hand without warning and gave the eleventh slap to Credence's ass. He finished the spanking harder and faster than the first ten had been, and Credence was still whimpering when he stopped.
“There, there,” He murmured, sliding his hands over the hot flesh.
“You did well. You did so well for me, sweetheart.” He reached a hand around Credence's torso, between his own knees and teased the tip of the boy’s cock. He slicked his right thumb with his own saliva, teased it around his puckered hole. The flesh of his ass was bright red, emanating heat. Percival teased some more until Credence’s hips bucked, needy. Only then did he push inside the tight ring of muscle.
Naked, spanked until tears wet his eyes, finger-fucked... what a punishment, Percival grinned. One of Credence's fists was trying to find some grip on the sofa, the other clutching at Percival's pant leg. His toes curled, calves and hamstrings flexing in the air uselessly. Percival stroked him tortuously slowly, wringing Credence’s pleasure from him as he wanted it, and not a breath faster. His thumb worked inside Credence until he jumped.
“Ohh, right there? Is that the spot?”
His voice was low, controlled, a little teasing. He knew from observation that it drove Credence mad, to be pinned like a specimen and tortured with pleasure. Credence got off on Percival’s cool-headed control, he knew, and when obscene things were done to him with such dominant supervision. Well, Percival mused, he wasn’t the first.
He kept stroking that spot inside him, his strokes to Credence's straining cock slightly faster now. He had felt pre-cum soaking his pant leg since the first round of slaps, used it now to slick his hand slightly. He prodded the boy's prostate in time with his strokes.
"P-please can I..." Credence gasped and bucked. "Can I come?"
"Do you think you deserve it?" A loaded question, a trick?
"Yes Sir!" Credence whined, beyond shame or humility.
"Yes," Graves grinned wolfishly, "You do. It's alright baby, I'm gonna let you come."
Percival tightened his grip, watched the boy on his lap tense.
“That's what you need. There you go. Wet as a girl.” He teased. Seconds later Credence was coming into Grave’s hand and onto his leg, a few pearly drops landing on the elegant rug.
Percival sat the boy up and turned him around. He held him to his chest for a moment, soothing him as he twitched with aftershocks. His cheeks were almost as red as his ass, eyes a glaze of pleasure. Percival kissed his neck, his ear.
“Good boy. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” He murmured against Credence's temple, dotted with sweat.
Credence was still breathing heavily. “No, Sir.”
“Alright, no more 'Sir' for tonight. It’s Graves, or Merlin forbid, Percival, alright?”
“Yes, Sir.” The boy said before he could catch himself. Percival laughed, though Credence looked mortified.
“Sorry, Mr Graves.”
“Don’t be sorry. Do you feel better?”
Credence nodded, and Percival pulled him to a normal sitting position o the sofa. He could be entertaining guests for tea, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was stark naked.
“Yes. Thank you.”
“Good. I don’t want you feeling badly about it anymore. Everything is quite alright.”
Percival stood, going to the brown leather armchair by the fire and grabbing the pleasantly warmed throw from it’s back. He unfolded it, draped it over Credence’s shoulders. Credence clung to it, drawing it together at his throat like a cloak.
The boy’s eyes fell on Percival’s soiled pant leg. He bit his lower lip.
Percival shook his head, amused.
“Don’t you worry about that. I did that to you,” he said, gesturing at the spot on his trousers.
“Besides,” he pulled out his wand, cleaned it good as new with barely any motion at all, and the rug, for good measure. “these things are so easily mended.”
Percival reached a hand to Credence’s cheek, stroked it tenderly, smiling at him reassuringly.
“Are you hungry, chéri?” Credence nodded, lips twitching up in a little smile of his own.
“Sweet boy.” Percival crooned, knowingly trying to make that half-smile broaden into the real thing.
Not yet, perhaps. Soon.
“Come. Let’s get you cleaned up and in some warm clothes and we'll go out tonight. You need a glass of wine and something hot.”