The beauty of young love was the stolen kisses when nobody was around. Or rather when it was assumed that nobody was around and frankly the aurors were a little sick and tired of walking in on Percival and Newt springing apart with flushed cheeks whenever they entered a room. So a prank was in order to perhaps let them know that the work place and someone else’s desk was no place to suddenly start making out no matter the fact they were alone and very much in love.
“You sure it won’t do any long term damage?” Fontaine asked with a slightly worried look.
“Relax, it’s a jinx my little cousin taught me over a firecall, they use it in Ilvermorny all the time. Even the first years. All it will do is shrink their junk for 12 hours,” the reassurance from Delgado eased the group a little. They sneaked closer to the bullpen which was empty save for Newt and Percival thanks to it being lunch hour. The aurors were not disappointed when they cracked the door open a touch. Their boss had Newt pushed against Goldstein’s desk and it was impossible whose tongue was shoved down whose throat but it was more than anyone wanted to see. Delgado pushed his wand through the gap and whispered the spell. A light blue light sped towards the unaware couple. There was a weak pop and the aurors began to laugh as they poured into the bullpen. They pulled up short. Delgado began to sweat. Newt and Percival were gone. With a panicked cry they rushed to the desk and began to push papers aside in the hopes of finding a clue as to where the two had disappeared to.
“They didn’t apparate!” O’Brien cried.
“It was safe. Jimmy told me it was an easy and simple trick,” Delgado moaned as he pushed things aside in a frantic search.
“Boss is going to kill us.”
“Boss needs to be here to kill us first. It’s boss’ boss I’m worried about,” White joined in the fray.
“Shit. Shit. Shit,” Delgado collapsed onto the desk almost in tears and buried his face in his hands, “Director Scamander is coming for a meeting. What are we going to say to him?”
“Say to who?” Tina asked from the doorway, puzzled why a group of her colleagues had made such a mess of her desk and were all but crying over it. They stared at her in mute horror.
“Nothing. Nothing. Nobody must know. Everything is fine. Everyone. Let’s go see boss in his office,” Delgado marched into Percival’s office and the other followed. Tina frowned at their backs as she began to tidy up her desk and pushed the drawer closed with her hip.
Inside the office the aurors rounded on Delgado as one.
“What are we doing here?” Fontaine hissed.
“We can’t let anyone know we accidentally made the boss vanish. We’ll have to figure out a way to head people off, cancel his meetings until we have him back.”
“And if we never get him back?” someone from the back asked.
“Hush. That kind of negative thinking will not help. He’d not dead. We haven’t killed him or Newt. They’re simply on...a holiday. Yes. They decided they needed time together away from work. If anyone asks they’re madly in love and on holiday together.”
People around Delgado nodded until O’Brien pointed out the protocol for taking holidays. There was nothing for it. They were going to have to act like Percival was very busy. The aurors were going to pretend to be him when it came to paperwork while heading off meetings and anyone who wanted to see him or Newt. Easy.
While their panic was ongoing and they were hatching plans to deceive MACUSA, Percival was blinking spots from his vision as he sat up. It was half dark, smelt of wood, ink and some other things he didn’t want to name. Part of him panicked he was back in the cell Grindelwald had held him in but a quick glance around settled those fears in favour of another. Newt was sprawled a little way away in a haphazard pile.
Percival rushed over to him and gently rolled him onto his back. Soft huffs of breath and a light moan reassured him that Newt was very much in the world of the living and he sighed in relief. By the time he remembered what to do with an unconscious person Newt was stirring and all that was left was to gently hold him through it.
“This is novel,” Newt’s words were a little thick with disorientation but his eyes quickly cleared. “Where are we?”
“Not a clue. I woke up a few minutes ago. It smells vile though,” Percival rumbled, his voice pitched low in fear of threats unseen finding them.
“Tell me about it.” Newt sniffed and sat up gingerly as he rubbed the side of his head. “I am not impressed with your aurors right now I must admit.”
“They’re not mine. I simply try to corral them into an organised mess,” the replied was huffed out and defensive. It made Newt laugh and he rubbed Percival’s arm in apology.
“Just joking. You up for some exploring?”
Together they picked their way through the gloomy world they had found themselves in. The ground was slippery white of a texture neither of them had encountered before and Percival spelled their shoes to be a little sticky. They walked for a few minutes before Newt stopped and stared at the ground.
“Look,” he pointed, “it’s a large letter “a” but it’s upside down.”
They walked around so it faced the correct way. Indeed it was an “a” much like one a typewriter would leave. It was followed by more letters.
“-a loaf of bread,” Newt read out loud and looked at Percival who walked along to keep reading.
“The damage was minimal as the spell was absorbed by the baked goods. Oh no,” Percival sat down and stared at Newt with mild horror. “This is Goldstein’s report on the robbery that I sent back for her to rewrite. Look, it’s even got the typo circled in red like I tend to do. What hellhole is this?”
Any answer Newt could have given was cut off by Percival’s eyes going wide and he pointed in fright behind him. An inaudible silent scream left his lips and he shuffled backwards. Slightly worried Newt turned to see what he was pointing at and faced eight eyes blinking at him.
“Where is Director Graves?” Seraphina’s voice held as much patience as an erumpent in heat.
“He’s taken a late lunch,” Timmins said smoothly. She cursed the fact that it was her allocated hour of “boss protection” during which all the difficulties arose. A bead of sweat trickled down her back but she didn’t move.
“A late lunch?”
“Yes ma’am, Delgado’s report took longer than expected to go through with him so Director Graves has taken a late lunch with Mr. Scamander,” it sounded like a plausible excuse. Mostly.
“In all the time I’ve known Director Graves he has never taken a late lunch. If he worked through his lunch hour then he would plough on through until the end of the day.”
Timmins gulped and tried to send the President a small smile full of unsaid things as she muttered “it’s the wonders of young love”. It seemed to do the trick, Seraphina’s face softened and she nodded.
“About time too,” she agreed, “when he gets back please have him send up the monthly figures.”
Timmins sighed a breath of relief as the president swept out of the bullpen. Immediately the others swarmed around her.
“Why did you have to say it was my report that made him late?” Delgado demanded.
“You got us into this mess so you take all the blame. Now what figures could Picquery possibly want?” They all bundled into Percival’s office to try and figure out just what they needed to buy themselves more time.
“Hello there,” Newt greeted the spider that advanced towards them menacingly. “We’re just a little lost, sorry to be in your territory, we’ll be out only in a minute.”
The giant spider either didn’t understand or didn’t care. Its eyes fixed on Newt and Percival who had stood up and was pointing his wand at the creature. The mandibles clicked, they were big enough to easily wrap around either of their waists and crush them into a tasty snack.
“We mean no harm,” Newt’s hands were up, trying to placate what was rapidly turning from creature to monster and they slowly backed away. Percival fired a spell that fizzled against the creature but seemingly had no impact. It lunged and Newt turned to push Percival.
“Run!” he cried and they took off at a mad dash, the sound of eight legs galloping after them sent chills down their spines.
“That way!” Percival veered to the left suddenly and dragged Newt with him. They skidded to a stop behind a hairy lump and leaned against it to catch their breath. Upon closer examination their hideout was a dead fly, its wing crunched under their shoes like fresh snow.
“Back away slowly, hopefully it will opt for an easy meal,” Newt whispered and together they took slow steps away from the dead fly they had been leaning against. The swish-slap-thunk of the spider approaching slowed and they listened to the mandibles click a few times before they squelched into the fly. Neither of them wanted to hang around to watch that and they moved further away from the scene as quietly as possible.
The day drew to a close and the aurors heaved a sigh of relief. While they’d had no luck locating Percival and Newt, not even hidden in the man’s office to cast locating spell after revealing charm, at least they’d survived the day with nobody realising that they were gone. The next day was going to be more difficult. Word was that Director Scamander was arriving.
The darkness grew thicker around them and the ambient noises that Newt and Percival had at first ignored died down too. It was their absence that made them realise they existed in the first place.
“Where do you think we are?” Newt asked. All afternoon they’d been moving through the landscape. It never got any brighter, there was no sign of other humans. Aside from Goldstein’s report as their carpet, the spider and its fly they’d reached the end of their prison. A wooden wall which they followed until they hit a corner with a few crumbs in it. Nothing appealing and water was more important than food but it was better than nothing. As the silence ate away at them they returned to the pile of what might have been napkins. A few had mustard like stains on them but there were a few clean ones that they wrapped up in for warmth.
“Given all we’ve seen, I would guess we’re in Goldstein’s desk drawer. We were leaning against it before we woke up here. Question is how did this all happen?”
Newt sighed and tapped his wand. It let out a little fizzle of sparks but neither of their magic seemed to want to work properly. In their twilight world they huddled together and tried to sleep.
It was Delgado who took the early shift on “boss protection”. He was in slightly before Percival would normally be and sorted through the day’s schedule. The meetings he could he sent apologies for but there was one the seemed inevitable. Director Scamander was scheduled for a lunch hour meeting with both Percival and Newt. He cursed the lack of foresight in not keeping strands of their hair and a pre-brewed polyjuice potion. Perhaps when it was all over he would make the suggestion and oversee the implementation of the policy.
People trickled in, those in the know shot him glances and when it was possible word was spread about the imminent disaster. It struck sooner than expected. Shortly after 10am the door to the bullpen opened and in strode Newt’s brother. The guilty group froze and looked at each other in a panic. There was no denying that Newt wasn’t there. To make matters worse Picquery stood behind him.
“At ease,” she said and people went back to what they were meant to be doing. Or tried to. They watched in horror as the two new arrivals made a beeline for Percival’s room, knocked on the door and opened it. They stood and stared into the room before turning as one.
“Where is Director Graves?”
There was no denying it. No early lunch, no young love with Newt, no claims of being on holiday. Silence reigned.
“I will ask again. Where is your director?” Picquery’s tone brooked.
“He’s not here,” Delgado finally croaked out.
“I can see that,” Picquery’s anger was rising, “hence I asked where he is.”
“I don’t know Madam President. I’ve not seen him since yesterday lunchtime. In fact I don’t think anyone has,” Tina piped up. The aurors stared at her with abject hate. They were definitely done for now.
“You see, what had happened,” Timmins began.
“There was a little accident,” O’Brien cut in.
“What we mean is that everything is under control,” Delgado tried to add. It was a cacophonous mess and Picquery clapped to shut them all up.
“You mean to tell me that Director Graves has not been seen since yesterday lunch time? Where is Newt Scamander?”
Nobody dared look her in the eye.
“After last year, don’t you know any better?” she chastised.
“What have you done to my brother?” Theseus growled, low and threatening.
“It was an accident!” Fontaine cried. “And it was all Delgado’s fault. He was the spell.”
All eyes fell on Delgado who stammered and tried to shrink in on himself.
“Care to explain?” Seraphina asked in a dangerously soft tone. Delgado nodded and began to stumble through what had happened the day before. When he got to the bit about Tina’s desk she looked up sharply.
“Is that why you all were going through my desk?”
Heads nodded shamefully red faced. Despite herself Tina let out a scoff and threw some papers on her desk. They knocked her coffee over and it began to spill everywhere. She tried not to curse in front of the president and esteemed guest but it was a close call. Instead she yanked open her draw and grabbed the napkins she’d put in there from the time’s she’d wandered back from lunch with a hotdog in her hand.
There was a crack and a blue light. Followed by a creak, another larger crack and the sound of something heavy falling. People blinked at the desk which was in pieces on the floor. On top of it Newt and Percival were huddled up and blinked blindly into the brightness of the room.
“Well, that was an adventure,” Newt commented before levering himself up from the floor and pulling Percival up too.