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Earl Grey

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Newton Scamander knows that at some point, his closeness to one of their professors would cause trouble for either one of them.

To be fair, there was nothing illicit about his relationship with Professor Dumbledore. They were just another teacher and student who find the flow of conversation comfortable between them. Friends, if one wanted to be technical.

Terribly shy by nature and rather reclusive, Newt was estranged from his peers from the very start of his time at Hogwarts. He was often found alone and, to the barest of extremes, teased and singled out. Professor Dumbledore was merely being kind when he had invited Newt to have some tea with him.

At first, Newt spent the entire time quietly sipping his tea, ready to bolt out of the room but possessing better manners than rudely escaping from the man’s presence. But eventually, as Professor Dumbledore remained stubbornly inviting him for tea and patiently coaxing Newt to speak, Newt finally participates in the conversations.

They talk of the subjects taught at Hogwarts, how Newt is adjusting to life in a boarding school; menial topics that both of them can speak of without great cautiousness. And before he knew it, Newt considered Professor Dumbledore one of his friends (his only human friend).

Newt would always hold memories of quiet conversations with the lingering taste of lemon and jasmine fondly.

But then he met Leta and Newt felt that something is there between them. A budding something. And Newt was giddy at the prospect of making another (human) friend.

Professor Dumbledore had been disapproving of their friendship, of course. The man hadn’t hidden his opinions on Slytherins quite as finely as the man thought he did. But that was fine. Newt isn’t one to be easily swayed by the opinions of others (because no matter what Theseus and his mother thought, Newt would still be a magizoologist).

Their tea time conversations don’t stop, neither does Newt turn away from the man’s advices.

And when Newt faces the threat of expulsion because he wanted to save Leta—who betrays him in the end; ends their relationship without so much as a word—Professor Dumbledore steps up to his defense.

They don’t expel him. They don’t snap his wand. They don’t let him attend classes with the other students, nor do they send him home to his shamed parents.

He spends his last year at Hogwarts self-studying for his N.E.W.T.s under the strict and watchful eye of both Headmaster Black and Albus Dumbledore, sanctioned with in-school suspension until he graduates.

It wasn’t bad. Newt doesn’t even have to interact with the students—his housemates—anymore. Professor Dumbledore has him assisting in class, sending him out in the Dark Forest to retrieve creatures he can use for class demonstrations, and Newt takes care of them.

But rumors start to circulate.

They’re not really popular nor very well-known, but there are rumors.

Favoritism, paying particularly close attention to a student. Casual touches and familiarity towards each other. “It’s all very suspicious is all.”

Homosexual relationships are still a bit scandalous if only to put up a face for the muggleborns, but a relationship between a teacher and student is heavily frowned upon.

Newt listens to this with both embarrassment and worry. Professor Dumbledore laughs it away with a pat on his shoulders, “Let them talk. There’s nothing going on.” But there was a worried look on his face that was quickly wiped away that Newt believed he must have imagined it.

So Newt let it be.

It’s such an unfavored rumor anyway.

-0-

Newt has bubbles of water floating before him, encasing a few Grindylows that react docile enough to his presence. He’d spent a few days regularly swimming in the Black Lake to coax them out so that DADA students won’t have to disturb their habitat. Professor Dumbledore had prepared a tank Newt can put them in comfortably.

His concentration is disturbed when his eyes caught sight of a figure at the edge of the forest

Curiously, Newt stared at the man.

The distance between them made distinguishing the man’s face impossible but Newt can see that he has flaxen hair that clearly stood out from the gloomy darkness of the Dark Forest. He wore robes that were too heavy for the weather.

Newt is also sure this man has no business being at Hogwarts.

“How may I help you?” Newt asked because he is polite. Besides, Hogwarts’ wards wouldn’t have let this man in if he had meant harm.

The man tilts his head and stares.

Newt’s gaze is torn away when one of the grindylows hiss in agitation and nearly causes the bubble of water to ripple violently enough to break the spell.

“Oh dear,” Newt shushes the creature soothingly, drawing his wand to form patterns that cast a delicate warming charm over the bubble of water. “I’m so sorry. We should keep you in a darker place, yes? I’m afraid you’re gonna have to wait for a bit so please bear with me. This is just temporary. I have a nice tank you can stay in for a while and then I’ll send you back home.”

Newt is delighted when the grindylow settles down but frowns when he sees the others are slowly becoming agitated as well. He casts the warming charm over all of them and idly wonders if he could modify the spell holding the water to move along the creatures’ movements. A freedom like that would make them much more comfortable.

He’s about to leave when he catches sight if the man once again.

The man is still watching him but hadn’t moved from his place.

Newt tilts his head in consideration, averting his gaze when their eyes meet, “Would you like to come with us? I’m sure following me would be better than sneaking into the castle.”

It’s risky and potentially very stupid but Newt couldn’t just leave this man outside, not knowing what he wanted and worrying over it. Having the man with him would allow him to keep an eye on the man. Professor Dumbledore would know what to do.

To his surprise—and a twinge of wariness—the man starts making his way over.

Newt opens his mouth to speak but thinks better of it. Instead, he waits for the man. Up close, he is much more striking, classically handsome with blue eyes, angular jaws and high cheekbones. There was no way this man is from Hogsmeade or anywhere nearby, Newt is sure he would remember this man if he had seen him already. The man’s very presence demanded attention, each movement practiced to draw eyes on his form.

The man stops in front of him and Newt’s eyes turn to stare down where he doesn’t need to look at this man.

The man utters, “Lead the way, then,” sounding too close to an order.

Caught off guard, Newt fumbles, “Ah, yes, if you please…?” He gestures for the man to go first, ignoring the not-order.

The man clicked his tongue, disapproving. “Use your words, häschen.”

Mortification bubbles up like it usually does. It doesn’t even matter that this man is a stranger—dangerous, some part of his brain whispers. But Newt isn’t some coward who lets himself get intimidated.

“If-if you would p-please walk in front?” His sentence ends like a question and Newt cringed. Thankfully, the man doesn’t comment and starts to walk ahead.

Newt fumbles to catch up and manages to walk a bit behind the man with the bubbles of water with grindylows floating in front of them before they reach the castle.

Instead of passing through the main halls, Newt leads them through the servant’s passageways, intent on avoiding the other students. Only the teachers, the caretaker, and House Elves are allowed to use them anymore. Professor Dumbledore has given him access whenever he has to go out to retrieve or return creatures.

It doesn’t enter Newt’s mind that he is showing a complete stranger one of the secrets of Hogwarts until they are in front of the wall that opens in front of Professor Dumbledore’s office.

With sudden dread pooling in his belly, Newt hesitates in opening the passageway. A look at the man standing beside him told Newt that the man was looking around in barely suppressed curiosity. He briefly considered telling the man they made a wrong turn and lead him back out of the castle but quickly realizes that there was no way he can fool anyone.

That leaves him with leading both of them to the teachers.

With a shaky sigh, Newt taps his wand in the sequence that Professor Dumbledore had taught him before and allows the grindylows to pass through the now intangible wall. The man follows after a few moments of studying it.

It’s a miracle that somehow, even with his intimidating disposition, the man has remained quiet and content to let Newt lead the way.

He steps through the wall to see the man and Professor Dumbledore staring at each other.

What surprises him is that Professor Dumbledore, a man who he knew to be most patient and calculating, has his wand in hand and is looking at the man with narrowed eyes.

“Professor?” Newt mumbles in an attempt to diffuse the tension.

Professor Dumbledore briefly flicks his eyes to Newt and there’s...worry there. “Go inside my office, Newt.”

“Really, Albus,” The man says this with such softness that Newt almost believed the man is harmless. “Is this a way to greet your old friend? Newton can stay if he wants.”

Newt doesn’t remember ever introducing himself to this man. He wants to leave, but something akin to fear rooted him on the spot.

Professor Dumbledore narrows his eyes further, wand tilting to point at the other man. “What are you doing here Gellert?”

The man, Gellert, hummed, “What, no tea? You’ve always been fond of your tea. Earl grey, if I am not mistaken. I’ve sent you quite a bit whenever I drop by London.”

Newt thinks of the cupboard filled with stacks of untouched tins of Earl leaves, one that Professor Dumbledore stays away from.

With a jolt of sudden realization, Newt looks around the corridor. There are hardly any students who pass through this part of the castle but the portraits are all watching curiously. No one is missing, though, so Newt sighs in quiet relief. That means no one has been alerted yet.

Resolving to be the voice of reason—and guilty of bringing this man inside—Newt draws in courage to speak up.

“We sh-should— Perhaps taking th-this inside the o-office would be b-better?” Newt stumbled over his words, feeling heat creep up when both men’s gaze turn to him.

Gellert smiles, mocking and soothing at the same time, “I think that sounds lovely. Wouldn’t you agree, Albus?”

Professor Dumbledore manages a curt nod and started leading the way.

-0-

Newt is settling the grindylows in their new temporary home, adjusting the spells in the giant tank to allow them more comfort. He still feels guilty over pulling them away from their perfectly good home in the Black Lake but having them over in a controlled environment for the live demonstration was better than having students disturbing the lake.

He looks over the closed door separating him from Professor Dumbledore and Gellert.

Even with Gellert’s insistence that Newt doesn’t have to leave and Professor Dumbledore’s silent urging for him to do so, Newt chose to give them their privacy. If not for the man he respects and sees as a mentor, then for the creatures he has to take care of.

Feeling a tiny bit restless even after doing everything he can to keep the grindylows happy for now, Newt sets about making tea. He does so by hand, preferring the soothing process of having his hands preoccupied.

Perhaps without really thinking on it too hard, Newt fetches one of the tins of Earl grey and brews a pot of it. Professor Dumbledore had just about every flavor, though certainly dominated by lemon and jasmine, but the thought that the professor favors it made Newt miss the flavor himself. Theseus and his father never fail to brew it at least once a day. It drove mother mad sometimes as she never found the appeal in the floral taste.

With the pot of tea left to brew, Newt’s thoughts are inevitably drawn to the door leading to Professor Dumbledore’s study.

Quite a bit of time has passed since Newt had left them to their affairs and he is honestly worried by the way Professor Dumbledore has reacted. In all his time with the man, this is the first time Newt has seen him visibly tense or violent enough to draw his wand.

Of course the man has drawn his wand before, has taught them how to fight off opponents with their magic. Professor Dumbledore is a skilled duelist and magic user. It makes sense that he is capable of violence. But knowing it theoretically and seeing the professor in such a way is utterly different.

Professor Dumbledore is dangerous and for him to be worried, to be wary of that man—Gellert—leads Newt to the conclusion that Gellert is an incredibly dangerous man.

So when Professor Dumbledore exits his study looking utterly drained and ruffled—so different from the calm, collected man Newt has known him throughout the years—Newt offers him a cup of tea laced with a drop of herbal oil with mild sedative qualities. Newt figures that the professor might need it. He didn’t ask where Gellert is.

It’s too late when Newt remembers the tea is Earl grey and Professor Dumbledore seems to have an aversion to it now. But the professor doesn’t comment. Instead, he takes it in hand and sips at it gratefully.

“You should be wary of that man,” Professor Dumbledore says to him, eyes hard and serious. “Gellert is a dangerous individual capable of making people do his bidding. The moment you lay eyes on him, turn the other way and never look back.”

Newt thinks of blue eyes glittering with knowing and nods.

“I need to hear your words, Newt,” the professor uncharacteristically demanded.

Use your words, häschen.

“Yes,” Newt swallows and turns around to busy himself. “Of course, professor.”

-0-

The meeting stays in his mind for a great time. Even as he leaves Hogwarts with the promise of dropping by every now and then, Newt thinks of blue eyes and Earl grey.

Then the war comes and Theseus is breaking laws to fight and Newt falls into worry over his brother and the war looming over the horizon. The wizarding world isn’t quite as worked up about it but Newt and Theseus lived in muggle London among countless other muggleborns rallying together to fight for their country.

Restless and anxious, Newt jumps on the chance to do something. He enters the war just like his brother did.

They fight in different fronts, Theseus serving in the West and Newt choosing to go to the East.

When Newt chose to fight, he didn’t think of the violence that come with the battlefields. At home, in London, Newt had seen families torn up by the war, people huddling in their houses and praying to anything and anyone for their safety. Newt had thought it was horrid.

But out there in the field, dead bodies strewn everywhere and the pains of days with no rest and constant fighting weighing him down, Newt feels nothing but resignation and a drive to survive. It felt a long time ago when he had sworn to protect every creature he comes across. Now he learns how to fire a gun, how to use his magic to make sure his comrades stay alive and their enemies stay dead. Learns how to spill blood that isn’t his with the intent to kill.

War changes everyone, he had heard.

Newt wonders how much he will change after it.

-0-

Magic doesn’t remain hidden when death ties you together in a deep bond with your comrades. Most of the soldiers are muggles but it wasn’t odd to see a wizard here and there. Magic became an abstract form of common knowledge. Nobody has actually seen it but they knew it had their back. And in times of desperation and survival, no one breathes a word.

There are people, though, that keep track.

Newt gets assigned in a weaponizing project once it became known to his superiors that he has magic. It’s a way for them to keep as much magic away from the front fields but still have their people be useful in the war.

The sight of dragons renewed Newt’s driving force to see this war finished.

They get assigned to one dragon each; are expected to bond with them and train with them to serve the war. Newt names his Earl and they adore each other. Hurt and tired and weary of the war, working with Earl for months has seen Newt recovered physically with scars adorning his body. (Sometimes he still sees blood when he closes his eyes, feels dirt and grime under his nails, the smell of gunpowder and dust clinging to every pore in his body.)

They work well—really well. Well enough that in a few months’ time, Newt is expected to lead an offensive with three other wizards who barely have any form of control over their dragons but was better than the rest.

(But Newt sees it, is livid with it. Those dragons are too weak to be released in a battlefield— the wizards too sure of their magical prowess in controlling the dragons that a single misstep would have the dragons devouring them in seconds.)

Newt was reluctant to return out there where death walks among men and pain a hovering presence both in mind and body. More than himself, he doesn’t want the dragons out there.

They go underprepared.

-0-

It’s in a battlefield with charred bodies, both human and not, that Newt is abruptly reminded by things unrelated to war.

So used to death but still feeling deep remorse and sorrow for the dragons, Newt knelt before Earl, tears an endless river running down his face. There’s blood all over him, dust and ashes and blisters covering every inch of exposed skin.

They had fought so valiantly but they were not prepared for the tanks and sophisticated muggle weapons. At some point, Newt had become frozen in both fear and rage, had blacked out until the only thing he remembers of the fight is death and smoke and fire and the dragons are dead, Earl with a gaping maw of blood and flesh where those wretched fools had took aim

Newt doesn’t know how long he stayed there, curled up and aching in every possible way.

But at some point, he comes.

Newt doesn’t know what business the man has, wearing a suit and tie in the middle of death and destruction. He stands out horribly with his clean appearance.

“What have you gotten yourself into, Newton.” Gellert’s voice held a tiny bit of mocking but sounded more like exasperation.

The man looks around dispassionately, as if dozens of corpses aren’t something to be concerned of. Newt doesn’t move from his spot curled up against Earl’s cooling body.

Gellert sighs and makes his way over, somehow retaining his pristine appearance despite having to walk over pools of drying blood on dirt and ash. He stops right before Newt, head tilted to the side consideringly.

“Albus would have been displeased to see you in such a state.” Gellert intoned even as he crouched down so he could be level with Newt’s gaze. “As it is, I am a bit concerned over your inclination to jump at opportunities that would see you in harm. What should I do with you, häschen?”

“Nothing.” Newt manages to croak out.

Gellert hummed as he reached out to brush Newt’s matted hair up. His hand comes away dirty but it doesn’t seem to bother the man.

“I’m afraid not, hascha. You’re too important to leave here.”

With that, the man grabs him by his arm and they disappear.

-0-

Oddly enough, Gellert takes care of him.

The man leaves him to his devices quite a lot, to be honest, but Gellert does provide him with what he needs.

Newt spends the first weeks in bed, refusing to move without having to be ordered or forced to. Gellert doesn’t grow impatient like Newt had thought the man would. Instead, he had assigned a House Elf to force-feed Newt in regular intervals while he’s away.

Even drowning in guilt and sorrow, Newt recognizes the effort the man is going through for someone he barely knew.

“Thank you,” He had managed to rasp out in the odd times he catches Gellert in the same room as him. The man seemed surprised but quickly hides it.

Newt finds a dragon fang clutched in his hand the next time he wakes up.

When Gellert comes back the next time, Newt is sitting up on the bed with his back resting on the headboard. He has the dragon fang in his hands and he looked up at the man with a soft smile tugging on his lips.

“Do you have a cord or something I can put this on with?”

Newt wears the dragon fang—Earl’s, he knew—around his neck.

-0-

From that day on, Newt starts walking around the room, practicing movement with his limbs after weeks of willingly staying bedridden. He doesn’t come out though, nor does he open the curtains to see where he is. There’s still the heavy feeling that his new-found balance would shatter when he sees how the world is outside.

It works fine. There are books in the shelves scattered all over the room so Newt doesn’t get really bored. Most of them are fiction and Newt finds this to be drab but better than nothing. He notices that his wand is nowhere to be found. It doesn’t bother him. Not when he’s in this closed room and there’s (blood) nothing he has to use it for.

He and Gellert start to talk as well. Sometimes it’s about Albus at Hogwarts, sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s Gellert persuading him to accept his beliefs. (They don’t stray to the talk of war and Newt is utterly thankful.) They disagree sometimes but Newt is naturally inquiring and curious. It makes for interesting conversations whenever Newt challenges the man’s beliefs. They never sway each other from their beliefs though.

Before he knew it, Gellert is asking him to walk through the gardens and Newt agrees.

Nurmengard—as Gellert had called the budding castle—had well-kept gardens. Despite it clearly not meant to be a garden, it does have its trees and plants. Gellert spends much of his day outside and Newt never asked where he went, but this time, the man accompanies him.

“Why are you doing all of this?” Newt suddenly asked, staring down at the field bellow, something in his mind clicking in place as he sees it clean without dirt and grime and blood (the image flickers, but Newt assures himself that this is reality). “Why do you take care of me even though we have nothing between us?”

“I see you,” Gellert answers and Newt turns his gaze away from the flickering field to turn his full attention to the man beside him. “In my visions, I see you right here, by my side. You are the one I trust the most. The one who I listen to when I become conflicted. Albus has seen this part of you as well, has had a part to play into who you are now.”

“And you trusted him,” Newt mutters in realization, old thoughts and suspicions making its way back up into the surface.

“The three of us are tied together,” Gellert continued, not confirming nor denying Newt’s implied question. “I’m not sure how, but it will make itself known when the time comes.”

-0-

When Newt started to feel restless and confined, Gellert doesn’t stop him from leaving.

“You will come back to me, Newton.” Gellert ordered but Newt can see under the surface now— can see that the man does want him to come back. Has seen it, maybe.

Newt smiles and doesn’t correct the use of his name. “Of course.”

-0-

Theseus was beyond livid when Newt makes it back to London.

Apparently, some time in his stay with Gellert, the war had ended. Theseus had come back war weary to an empty house that had stayed unoccupied for who knew how long (three years and seven months, give or take a few days, Newt had mentally calculated).

He and Gellert had never talked much about the war but now Newt wishes he had asked.

“And where were you all this time?!” Theseus nearly exploded. “I asked around but no one has seen you since this- this mess has started.”

“I’m sorry, ‘Seus.” Newt mutters, contrite.

“I’ve been looking for you for months, Newt! I was so worried and I- I didn’t know what to do!”

Newt looks down on his feet, shame and guilt creeping up on him and swallowing him whole. There was no way he could tell Theseus the truth now.

Theseus sighed and pulled him into a tight hug. “You’re grounded for years, little brother.”

Newt nods in acceptance and pretends he doesn’t feel his brother’s trembling.

-0-

Newt does eventually curse Theseus’ name when he gets stuck working in a Ministry desk. The only consolation is that he still helps creatures with his desk job.

So when Augustus Worme comes to him with his idea on creating a creature encyclopedia, Newt jumps on the chance to leave.

Theseus proved hard to convince but in the end, Newt is an adult in whichever part of the world you are looking from.

He travels around, meeting creatures both magical and mundane. He helps them, too. Takes the time to teach them how to survive on their own, frees those who are caught in the cruel hands of humans. Eventually, he had to take some of them with him, the poor creatures much too domesticated or injured to ever survive in the wild.

He goes around so sooner or later he would know of Grindelwald and his fanatics. And what he hears sounds much too familiar for it to be a coincidence.

Newt continued to exchange letters with Professor Dumbledore throughout the years (excluding those when the war was going on. Owling, in the end, was much too risky) and so had merely had to ask.

The response was both what he expected and disappointing.

He couldn’t be angry at Gellert, but Newt certainly cannot continue seeing the man in the same light after hearing of the actions of the budding Dark Lord. But you expected this, a small part of his mind whispered.

In the months Newt had stayed in Nurmengard—the months spent with quiet conversation and the lingering taste of Earl grey chasing away the scent of dust and smoke—Gellert had never hidden his motives. Newt had always been aware that the man had been working on something big, something he had invested much of his power on.

Whenever Gellert spoke, he unfailingly remains honest, truly believes in what he says and in that, he could make someone else believe in it too. The man is incredibly charismatic, incredibly dangerous. It’s no stretch to deduce that he could amass followers truly loyal to his cause.

And staring at the newspaper cautioning its readers of a threat posed by a dark wizard—a Dark Lord, it implies—Newt cannot help but see beyond what these words say, to see the man who he knows.

He wonders, now, who Gellert Grindelwald truly is.

-0-

He’s in Italy, visiting the sights like a normal tourist (as he was wont to do every once in a while) when he meets one of Grindelwald’s followers.

Newt is sitting at a small cafe, his case resting between his feet, mentally comparing the tea served to him to what he is used to. It falls short but was nonetheless interesting in its own unique taste. Dougal manages to retrieve some herbs that Newt brews into tea when the demiguise urges him to and it always ends up tasting curious. It wasn’t bad just… different.

He is startled out of his odd musings when someone pulls the seat in front of him. Newt watches her, noting the way she carries herself with elegance and power. She’s beautiful, with dark hair and tasteful makeup, a dress that accents her physique.

And Newt knows why she is here. Subtly, he puts a hand around the handle of his suitcase.

“Monsieur Scamander?” The woman smiles, as if Newt was expecting her to be there.

Awkwardly, Newt smiles back. “Yes?”

Instead of saying anything else, the woman presents him with an envelope that he takes in hand. Curious but just as wary, Newt looks to the woman in question.

She taps her finger on the table and her lips twitch up in a placid smile, “Our Lord sends his regards and hope that you consider his invitation.”

Blinking, Newt looks down to the envelope.

“Farewell, then, Mister Scamander.” The woman says as she stands up.

“Wait,” Newt stops her and is left confused for his actions. Embarrassment creeps up on him as she looked at him expectantly. “Uh, I don’t believe I managed to get your name?”

She smiles again (her almost permanent expression, it seems) and tips her head in a way Newt cannot interpret, “Vinda Rosier.”

“It was nice to meet you, Miss Rosier.” Newt responds politely, emotions a curious storm inside.

With that, she went off her way.

Newt opens the envelope to see all the documents he would need to get to America, including a non-dated ticket for a steamship at Equatorial Guinea, all looking official and stamped with approval by the Director of Magical Security.

Conflicted, Newt puts everything back in place and shoves the envelope in his coat pocket.

Pickett gives a curious chirp, peeking at him behind the lapel of his coat and he pats the creature reassuringly.

“It’s nothing, Pickett.”

A few days later he receives a letter from Professor Dumbledore about a Thunderbird caught by a particularly nasty poaching ring. And, well, wasn’t it such a coincidence that Thunderbirds live in the climate of Arizona.

-0-

New York is a big city.

He did not intend to let the niffler loose in a muggle bank but the creature was much too wily and resourceful. Newt would have been exasperated by now if he wasn’t too fond of all his creatures.

He was rather sorry for having to involve the muggle and it honestly was not his fault at the time but Miss Goldstein seemed resolved.

So Newt followed her to MACUSA.

-0-

The moment Newt catches the eyes of Percival Graves, Newt was certain there is something off with the man.

Theseus had always mentioned Percival Graves in his letters, saying that if Newt ever needed help and Theseus was unable to come to his aide, Percival Graves can be trusted. But the air this man gives out simply didn’t fit the image of a person Theseus would trust.

His brother is strict and invested a lot of effort in being proper (and therefore insisting Newt do it as well), sure, but Percival Graves held on an air of primness that would have repelled Theseus in such a way that he’d never approach the man unless necessary. Nevermind developing the kind of trust Theseus seems to have for the man.

But that could just be his imagination. This is the first time Newt has met the man. And honestly, Newt is much, much more concerned that his creatures are out there, in the middle of New York city, running the risk of coming to harm in the hands of humans.

-0-

Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski.

There’s something there, in the way they interact. Newt can see that they are rather taken with each other. He’d seen it enough with his creatures and with strangers alike. But the difference between them and Queenie and Jacob is that Newt cannot see a better ending for these two.

Magicals and muggles were not meant to be together. Not in the kind of society they live in. There’s too much history there, too much laws discriminating against each other.

Queenie seems to know this if her withering look to him was anything to go by, and Newt just sends her an apologetic incline of his head.

It’s times like these that Newt wonders if Gellert has it right after all. (With every creature he saves, with every trafficking ring he unravels, though, Newt thinks Gellert is right.)

He misses the widening of Queenie’s eyes as his thoughts are inevitably drawn back to the wizard.

-0-

The realization came like a Nundu pouncing on its prey.

Newt is sitting curled up in the corner of their little holding cell, thoughts on how to get his creatures back running a mile a minute. There’s the sting of betrayal on Tina’s actions and a niggle of worry for Jacob (but Newt was aware that of the three of them, the man is the safest); nothing compared to the gaping maw of unease and utter devastation for his creatures. Anything could be happening to them right now.

And the obsucurus…

He figures he must look pitiful with the amount of concerned looks he receives from Tina and Jacob.

Shifting from his position, Newt hears the faint crinkle of paper from one of his coat pockets. He reached a hand down to retrieve it only to freeze when he remembers what it is.

How could he have forgotten?

The Director of Magical Security in MACUSA is Percival Graves.

Percival Graves who Theseus trusts the most.

Percival Graves who would never be in league with Gellert Grindelwald.

Percival Graves who impounded his case with an uncharacteristically apologetic look.

There’s a jingle of keys outside their cell and Newt pushes himself up to stand. The orderlies come in and Tina walks to stand beside him. Newt feels he should be angry or disappointed at her, but the epiphany has stirred his emotions around into confusion.

They take Tina and Newt with their wrists shackled and the orderlies closing them in.

Newt looks back, “It was good to make your acquaintance, Jacob, and I hope you get your bakery.”

-0-

They are led to an interrogation room.

Newt is forced to sit down on the cold, hard chair and his wrists re-schackled around it. He tests the bonds carefully, eyeing the not-Percival Graves with a raised eyebrow.

“You’re an interesting man, Mister Scamander.”

It’s odd because the tone of voice is familiar but the pitch is all wrong and the face out of place.

Tina interrupts, “Mister Graves—”

Graves holds up a hand in silence, the gesture patronizing but authoritative. Tina backs down as if struck.

There’s a file in front of Graves that he examines for a bit and Newt takes that time to think of a way to say that he knows, to maybe get Tina out of here. But Graves beats him to it, blinking before his imploring gaze is set on the orderlies holding Tina.

“Leave us,” He ordered.

They comply and pulls a resisting Tina away.

Once the door clicked close, signalling that they are alone, Graves waves his hand and Newt feels the hairs at the back of his neck stand up.

“A privacy ward,” not-Graves explained as he leafs through the file. “I apologize that we had to meet again this way, Newton. I would offer you some tea but I’m afraid they do not have anything that would satisfy your taste.”

Newt only shifts to a more comfortable position, “My creatures?”

“Are fine. Only I have laid hands on it.” not-Graves—Gellert—responds and puts the file aside, turning his full attention onto Newt. Relief flooded Newt but he does freeze when Gellert continued, “But I do have a question, hascha.”

With a slow move of his hand, Gellert raises up the Obscurus from Newt’ case. He brings it onto the desk, its amorphous black mass pulsing, swirling, and hissing inside its containment bubble.

“What can you tell me about this?”

Newt narrows his eyes, dimly realizing that Gellert has been inside his case and dearly hoping no one is hurt. “Why do you want to know?”

Because Gellert may have been a man he respects (even though it is quite clear that the man isn’t the sort of person Newt would regularly associate with) and, to some degree, is fond of—Newt puts the safety of his creatures first and foremost. Their relationship is a complicated one but Newt must make it clear that there are limits to it.

Gellert tilts his head and seems to contemplate his words. In the end, the man explains, “You have seen what happened to the muggle senator.”

“Yes I-” Newt blinks and gathers his wits about him, his mind scattered with worry for his creatures and the conflicting emotions for this man. “An Obscurus. But what do you want from it?”

“I’ve seen it, in my visions,” Gellert removes the Obscurus from the desk, lets it float a few ways away where it stops its agitated movements. “The child is strong in magic. I want to help them.” His voice is soft, convincing.

But Newt isn’t naive and has known this man long enough to see through it. It isn’t a lie, not really. “You do not help without getting something from it.” He stated.

“No,” Gellert smiles, as if pleased that Newt saw through him. “The child is powerful. I want their power on my side. And you, my dear, came at the opportune time. It’s clearer now, my vision. And I’m afraid I may have started it on the wrong foot.”

Newt’s eyebrow twitched, surprised despite himself that Gellert has admitted to committing a mistake.

“Credence Barebone,” Gellert says with a frown, “He is the Obscurial. A boy who grew up with the leader of a No-Maj anti-witchcraft group called the New Salem Philanthropic Society.”

Gellert doesn’t have to elaborate. Newt is aware that he is playing into the man’s hands but his mind flashes back to the boy giving out pamphlets in front of the muggle bank. Flashes back to Sudan where there was a girl who had been persecuted by her village—her own family.

But, “Where are my creatures?”

There was a smile there, in not-Graves’ lips that is far too soft to be anything else. “Of course.”

-0-

Newt slips off Woolworth with his case tucked securely into his arms.

He apparates to an alleyway that Gellert has told him, pocket weighing heavily where Gellert has slipped a pendant in.

The night is gloomy and Newt feels rather discomfited with what he is about to do but resolved to do this one thing for the sake of the child. He had already failed once but Newt is determined not to make the same mistakes again.

He didn’t have to wait long. The child trudges in and Newt studies him. Credence Barebone walks curled around himself, eyes downcast and the very picture of a beaten down child.

All confusing thoughts of aiding Gellert Grindelwald is thrown away in an instant.

There was no way Newt could ever let this continue. Even if Gellert had not put this to his attention, Newt would still have done everything in his power to help this child.

“Mister Graves?” The boy’s voice is soft and trembling, and Newt’s heart broke as he sees how lost Credence looks.

“Hello Credence,” Newt spoke as he does to his creatures. The boy startles and finally looks up to meet his eyes. Newt does his best to seem harmless, relaxing his muscles and putting on a soft smile.

“H-Hello.” Immediately, the boy ducks his head down, as if expecting to be scolded. Newt stifles a sigh and instead walks over to the boy. Credence flinches but doesn’t back away entirely. Newt will count it as a win.

“Mister Graves sent me to come get you,” Newt explained pulling out the pendant Gellert has slipped inside his pocket. It’s his symbol, the deathly hallows. Credence will recognize it.

“Oh I-” Credence stutters, eyes drawn to the carved metal. He seems to break down on the spot. “I’m sorry I- I tried my best. I can’t- I can’t find the child-”

With a soft, “Credence…” Newt shushes him as the boy cried. He raises his arms and the boy goes willingly, hesitantly clutching at the lapels of his coat. It’s antipathetic of the way the boy had curled in on himself.

What have you done to this child, Gellert? What did you plan to do when you didn’t know he is the Obscurial?

There was simply no way that someone who grew up as Credence had would be accepting of physical contact with a stranger. So trusting.

Absently, Newt notes that Credence is as tall as him, having to hunch down impressively to press his face on Newt’s shoulder.

“It’s alright, Credence,” Newt cooed as he tried to soothe the distraught child. “It’s alright. We know who it is now.”

There’s a few moments of silence before Credence pulls away, “Wh-who is it?”

Newt doesn’t smile because it’s inappropriate, “You are.”

-0-

Newt sneaks them in to the Church in Pike Street so that Credence can see his sisters.

It’s a private moment, Newt figured, so he doesn’t come in with the boy. Credence seemed reluctant but with reassurances from Newt, he continued on his way.

Once alone, Newt sighs. Pickett squeaks at him in concern and Newt smiles at the tiny creature, “He should be fine. We’re going to take care of him now.”

Pickett’s leaves twitch for a bit, weighing what Newt had declared, before settling on excitement. Newt chuckles fondly as Pickett let out a series of chirps that had a lot to do with having a new tree than anything else.

This little bit of peace is interrupted when Newt hears crashes from the building before them.

With alarm, Newt barges in through the door, worry swirling through his gut.

Credence is there but the Obscurus is wreaking havoc. The amorphous mass larger than Newt has seen before. It’s pulsing and swirling and hissing, throwing things around in agitation.

“Oh dear,” Newt mutters to himself.

-0-

In the end, Newt manages to coax Credence into the case before he manages to escape out into the city. His creatures would be able to defend themselves against him.

Panting with exertion and more than a little worse for wear, Newt is left to clean up the mess in the Second Salem Church. It was only a matter of casting the repairing charm but underneath all the rubble, Newt’s heart clenched as he saw the body of one of Credence’s sisters.

There’s a tiny gasp at a corner, loud enough for Newt to hear it.

He looks around and sees a tiny form huddled in a dark corner.

Before Newt could move closer, there’s a sound of apparation in the middle of the room. Newt tenses, his grip on his wand and suitcase tightening.

“Newton.” The unfamiliar but familiar form of Percival Graves appeared.

Newt relaxes minutely but doesn’t hide his wand. “Gellert,” He said in greeting.

Gellert looks around only briefly stopping at the body Newt had been unable to hide and Newt subtly casts a notice-me-not on the huddled form in the corner. “Where’s the boy?”

Newt’s shoulders sagged, feeling protective of the boy but unable to lie to the other man. “He’s inside my case. I don’t think he should see you until everything is explained well to him.”

There’s something in Gellert’s eyes but he didn’t seem displeased.

Newt scrambles to explain his reasoning, mortification creeping up for some reason not fully realized, “It’s just, he seems so confused. And- and I don’t think it would be wise to tell him of your real identity quite yet. Everything won’t make sense for quite a while.”

So of course, when Newt looks up, that something in Gellert’s eyes is mirth.

Newt is surprised when the man lets his disguise fall, Percival Graves melting into Gellert Grindelwald in Percival Graves’ clothes. There’s something different now. Newt sees the man’s eyes and is caught by the stark difference between the two.

Without thinking, Newt closes the distance between them, reaching out to his face but hesitant to touch.

Newt stares into mismatched eyes, “What happened?”

Gellert’s eyes crinkle at the corner and reaches up to hold Newt’s hands. “Something that must be done.”

A moment falls between the two of them, one that Newt cannot define but can otherwise feel. It’s heavy and monumental and he dared not to breathe.

Gellert is the one who breaks it, “You must go now. Aurors are about to come here.”

Newt frowns and backs away, confused and a little out of his depth. “Where would we go?”

“You know where, schatz.” Gellert smiles as his words activated the portkey he had long since given the magizoologist.

There’s a moment of silence in the stale air of the Church.

Gellert turns around and points his wand at the corner.

Avada Kedavra.”

He doesn’t wait for the green light to hit its target before he apparates away, content to have gotten what he came for.

-0-

Albus Dumbledore sits quietly beside Porpentina Goldstein and Theseus Scamander, both of whom were bickering over what course of action they will take. Leta Lestrange is absorbed in a quiet conversation with Yusuf Kama, and Jacob Kowalski is wandering around the house, poking and prodding at Nicolas’ paraphernalia.

Albus thought that the presence of the man was an unneeded risk but had kept his opinion to himself.

It’s been a year since the tragic end of the Second Salemers; since Credence Barebone and Newton Scamander disappeared; since MACUSA found out the breach in their security when the body of Percival Graves appeared right in the middle of Woolworth building, the mark of Gellert Grindelwald forever etched on the man’s skin.

Now they are here, cramped in Nicolas Flamel’s home, following the only lead they have on tracking down Credence Barebone and Newton Scamander, even Grindelwald himself.

In other circumstances, Albus wouldn’t have agreed to this immature plan the Ministry had created. But Albus would rather blind himself than to beg ignorance to the fact that Newt Scamander had gone to join Gellert Grindelwald’s side.

Oh, unlike what the Ministry thinks, Albus is still quite incapable of fighting against Grindelwald. And in deepest part of his mind, Albus would admit that he is reluctant to hurt the man who used to be so dear to him.

Yet here he is, with a group desperate enough that they stuck together to find who had been lost.

Theseus Scamander had spent months tracking down his lost little brother, had been so desperate that he went to Albus himself for aid. Although it wasn’t hard to keep track of Newton, not to people who knew him well. With Theseus comes Leta Lestrange, distraught and beaten down when they had met Yusuf Kama.

Porpentina Goldstein was a different matter altogether. She is hardened, distrustful of people, but a good Auror with a good head on her shoulders. She lost her sister a few months ago. Whether Queenie Goldstein was alive or not, no one knew, but Porpentina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski wouldn’t stop looking for her until someone comes up with evidence that she is dead.

Albus himself was unsure why he is here.

Perhaps it had been out of sympathy. Perhaps he just wanted to appease the Ministry.

But Albus knows that he wanted to see for himself how his former student is doing. Wanted to see Gellert once more.

-0-

Watching in the sidelines of the gathering, Albus can’t help but smile.

Gellert truly is magnificent.

The man catches the attention of the audience quite well, holds their fascination (and horror) in the palm of his hands, molds his words to fit into everyone’s sympathies. He’s confident and powerful and seems to loom over everyone even when he stands below them.

Newton stands beside him, looking as if he belonged there and so unlike the meek and shy student Albus has grown fond of. He is curious how much Newt has changed, how much he has grown in the year they hadn’t written to each other.

(Albus knows that Gellert takes care of who he sees as his.)

A glance to the side served to wipe away the smile from Albus’ face but not completely. Theseus Scamander is watching the scene below them with gritted teeth and clenched hands, looking seconds from flying down to take his brother and run.

“Keep to yourself, Mister Scamander,” Albus reminds the young man. “We can’t let them see how affected we are. Gellert has the power here.”

And just as Albus said that, a foolish young Auror casts the killing curse on one of the people.

Gellert takes that chance, earning the majority’s sympathy, casting the Aurors in such a bad light that Albus himself cannot disagree witth.

The Dark Lord cast the flames with much more flourish than was necessary, and beside him, Newt catches Albus' eye. Newt waves at him weakly before he has to stand beside Gellert once more.

It takes a moment for Albus to realize he had missed Gellert much more than he wishes to admit.

In another world, Albus would have been right beside the man, rallying their people to reach their goal.

“Albus,” Gellert calls out after a lull in the fighting.

The chamber is filled with tense silence. Albus smiles serenely, “Yes?”

Gellert looks up at him, head tilted in the way Albus knew he tended to do when rifling through all the possibilities laid out to him.

“Will you join us?”

Albus can feel the weight of everyone’s stare at him.

There’s a smile tugging at his lips. His fate had already been decided for him, then. That doesn’t mean he had to make this any easier.

“You know I cannot fight you, Gellert.”

Someone gasps but Albus does not look, instead his gaze is locked onto Gellert’s imploring one.

Gellert turns behind him and leans in to whisper to Newt. The magizoologist’s eyebrow raised but he nodded.

Albus watched curiously as Newt stepped over the flames and made his way to Albus’ direction. Blinking, Albus turned his gaze back to Gellert, somewhat incredulous and exasperated. Gellert just smirked at him teasingly (and it was horrible to admit but Albus barely suppressed a blush).

Theseus Scamander was moving before anyone could make sense of what is happening. He is stopped by the younger Scamander, wand raised to deflect the spell flying his way.

Albus was barely able to make out an “I’m sorry, Theseus,” before Newt has his wand pointed to his brother and a jet of red light hit him.

All at once, this seemed to spur movement to everyone. But Gellert is faster and there are blue flames moving again, consuming anyone who dare come close to either of them.

Newt reaches him with no more problems.

“Hello professor,” Newt says in greeting, his smile placid but genuinely pleased.

“Newt,” Albus nods back, “It has been a while. How are you?”

This time, Newt’s smile is brighter. “I’ve been fine. Gellert has been letting me rescue more creatures than I could have found when I was travelling alone.”

“I see,” Albus smiles, the small, tense part of him unravelling with the appeasement of his worries. “That’s good to hear.”

Newt tilts his head, not unlike that of Gellert’s habit and Albus cannot help the burst of fondness. “We should go. Credence and Queenie must be worried about us by now.”

Albus takes the offered hand with a smile.

(That talk, years ago, was such a bittersweet memory. It hadn’t been a reparation, but it had served to clear the air between him and Gellert. Albus, after all, still favors Earl grey above all.)