Chapter 1: Senior Aurors: The Plan
Afterwards they didn’t remember whose idea it had been, but if they had had to give just one name, most of them probably would have written down “Hamsipood” with big red letters – just because it usually was Rodilus Hamsipood, who came up with the most ridiculous of ideas. As it happened, they wouldn’t have been wrong since the idea had indeed been Rodilus’. And as Rodilus’ usual standards went, the idea was even more ridiculous than his ideas usually were.
“If we do it, Graves is going to kill us!” Elisa Ipston was biting her nails as she always did when she was particularly worried over something. “He’ll just take his wand and then he’ll just… kill us all.”
“Nah, he won’t,” Rodilus said in his usual carefree manner. He was sitting with his feet up on the conference room table, hands behind his head, and looked just as confident and relaxed as Elisa didn’t.
“I’m not comfortable with the idea, either,” Almira Bariton admitted, tapping her pen against the table with a frown marring her bland features. She adjusted her round glasses. “We’ll get in trouble, even if Graves would miraculously decide to let us live.”
“And why the hell would I need to be interested in my boss’ love life?” Kilonski demanded in his usual gruff manner, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. “If Graves wants Scamander, he’s a grown man and can make his own decisions without us having to get involved, especially in such a mindless way as this.”
“But it would be for his own good,” insisted Rodilus, never one to give up without fighting. “It’d make Graves all happy and relaxed, and then he wouldn’t be riding us nearly as hard as he is – I mean, just this morning I had to rewrite my entire twenty-page report three times because there was a typo on page seven. One tiny typo! I’m sure he’s been unnecessarily hard on you, too.”
“I will have to attend classes on uniform protocol next week because Graves caught me with one button open yesterday,” Kilonski said thoughtfully. “Perhaps if he hadn’t been in such a bad mood, he might have just reprimanded me without further repercussions.”
“Exactly!” Rodilus exlaimed. “As much as I love and respect our dear bossman, there are things we could do to make our lives with him easier. I’m telling you, if our plan was to work, Graves wouldn’t ever again mind a few innocent typos or order anyone to retake classes with Junior Aurors because of a button. Imagine this, if you can: every single morning Graves would come to work after a pleasurable night spent in bed, and he would be relaxed and smiling - and would forgive us a few typos here and there.”
“You want us to go through all that trouble just because you can’t be bothered to proofread your reports?” Bariton sounded incredulous. “What the hell is wrong with you, Hamsipood? And I say it again: I don’t want to die in the hands of Percival Graves.”
Rodilus let out a sigh and let his feet drop onto the marble floor. He let his gaze travel around the room, from one skeptical face to another.
“No-one would die,” he promised. “Killing us would be against regulations, you see, and we all know that our dear Persephone would rather have his impressively dark and menacing eyebrows charmed into lizards than break the rules.”
“Getting a certain kind of a lizard – a newt, to be precise – to sit on his face,” Kilonski said, exhaling cigarette smoke out of his nose. “Wouldn’t that rather be the point of this whole thing?”
Rodilus sniggered, while Bariton rolled her eyes with a sigh.
“I’m in,” said Bartolomeus in his deep rumble of a voice, speaking for the first time since their Specifically Secret Senior Auror Meeting had begun some half an hour before, and four pairs of sharp eyes immediately turned to look at him – the rare times Bartolomeus opened his mouth to speak, he usually had something worth listening to say.
“Grindelwald, that bastard,” Bartolomeus grumbled, “abducted Graves while I was on duty. Graves was gone for months and I never once noticed that anything was amiss. It’s something that I will never be able to forget and forgive myself for. It’s an outright embarrassment!”
A murmur of agreement went through the conference room, as the four other Senior Aurors voiced their own regrets. While Graves was already working again like nothing had ever happened and hadn’t even mentioned his long capture, the Senior Aurors had been unable to move on. They were ashamed that Grindelwald, the evilest wizard of their time, had been able to capture their boss from right under their nose and none of them had noticed – that would have been enough to make the most prideful of wizards and witches humble and ashamed.
“If I can help Graves to find some happiness after failing him in such a tremendous manner,” John Bartolomeus continued, “I figure I owe it to him. That’s why I’m in, no matter what the rest of you decide.”
A silence fell in the room. It was broken after several long minutes by Bariton.
“Okay, okay, okay,” she said, shaking her head slowly while raising a hand. “Okay, now, hold on a second! We can’t start sexually harassing Newt Scamander just because we want Graves to take it a bit easier with us!”
“Not harassing,” Rodilus said with an emphasis, “sexually or otherwise. The idea is that we would all need to show some form of interest in him in order to make Graves jealous. A compliment here, a bit of flirting there. That way Graves would finally make his move on Newt – and I mean finally, it’s taken him for almost a year already, even though I could bet my annual income that Newt would be more than happy to get deeper involved with Graves, if you catch my drift. If we all began to show interest in Newt, Graves would realize that he can’t just keep on waiting, or someone might well take Newt from him. He would make his move, Newt would give his hole to Graves regularly-”
“Must you be so crude.”
“-and Graves would be in good moods at work from then on,” Rodilus finished, ignoring Bariton’s comment and her wrinkled-up nose.
“You do know I’m a lesbian, do you not?”
Rodilus had an answer ready for Elisa’s inquiry.
“It’s not like you’d have to be actually interested in Newt,” he pointed out. “You’d just need to pretend for long enough to make Graves a bit jealous, so he would sweep in to claim his man.”
Kilonski leant back in his chair, inhaling cigarette smoke. With a slow exhale, he let it all out.
“I think,” he said softly, “that this could actually turn out to be quite a good plan.”
“It won’t,” Bariton said with confidence, crossing her arms on her thin chest. “It’s the most ridiculous, foolish plan I have ever heard of! But,” she hesitated, “it might just work. Graves has forbidden me from chewing gum at work since he doesn’t think it’s ‘professional’ of a Senior Auror to do so. Perhaps if Newt was giving him other things to think about, he wouldn’t care about my chewing habits.”
Rodilus’ smile was triumphant.
“It’s decided, then – may the operation begin!”
Newt was sitting in his usual place on the sofa in Graves' office, cross-legged, with parchments scattered on his lean thighs. He was scribbling something furiously on the parchment balanced on his knee, a bottle of ink hovering near his writing hand, and seemed quite unaware of the glances Bariton kept sending his way.
Graves, on the other hand, seemed to be more than aware of the way Bariton would turn her head just slightly to take in the slim man on the sofa. Bariton made sure to look at Newt from head to toe, up and down, slowly, and then she would turn back towards Graves’ desk to discuss the case at hand like she hadn’t just been pretending to undress Newt with her eyes.
Bariton’s aim had been to gently demonstrate to Graves that Newt could catch the eye of many a wizard and witch. She had hoped to give Graves something to think about, she had hoped that it would be enough to prompt Graves to make a move on Newt.
Instead of Graves becoming thoughtful, however, he began to glower at Bariton. For every glance Bariton dared to send Newt’s way, she would receive a glare so dark that she began to worry that Graves would accidentally use wandless magic to curse her, as unlikely as that was to happen.
Bariton sighed to herself. She should have known better than to let Hamsipood talk her into his ludicrous plans.
Newt didn’t like going to the cafeteria of Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He always felt terribly at unease in any a room full of strangers, and the cafeteria was, besides, noisy and crammed and full of loud Aurors, each rowdier than the other – or so it felt like to him, at least – and Newt always felt slightly disorientated there, like someone had stuffed him into a sack full of Cornish Pixies and then thrown the sack underwater.
Yet, the powderlings he had hidden in Percival’s liquor cabinet in a tin box behind Lockhart’s Dry Gin were starting to get hungry and therefore he had no choice but to enter the full, noisy jungle filled with cigarette smoke and rowdy Aurors – the jungle otherwise known as the Sweet Copper, the cafeteria of Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
With a deep breath, pushing the door open, Newt entered the Sweet Copper – and was instantly hit by the cloud of cigarette smoke in the air. It stung his eyes and made him cough, and he hurried towards the counter, already wanting to be anywhere but there, passing by all the laughing, brooding, chatting, arguing Aurors, who had gathered there for lunch.
When Newt reached the dessert bar, he began to instantly look for something that had as much cinnamon in it as possible since that was what his powderlings needed. He looked at the various kinds of desserts on the other side of the glass with intent, critically, assessing how nutritious each of them would be for the powderlings.
There were cherry pastries there, shaped like hearts. They had messages written on them with pink frosting, messages like, “Cake a day keeps the boss away”, “Eat the cake, darling, and then let ME eat YOU!” and – for reasons Newt could only guess – “Fuck off, Fred”. There were also chocolate cake bites there behind the glass, up-side down cakes and modern gelatin molds, colorful and exciting, but what really caught Newt’s eye was the basket full of cinnamon rolls – cinnamon, just what he had been looking for, exactly what the hungry, growing powderlings would need!
Newt stepped eagerly closer, his hand already going into his coat pocket for the few coins he had there (he did own a wallet, but its whereabouts weren’t quite clear to him for the time being).
The large witch on the other side of the counter gave him a narrow-eyed look. She was wearing a simple white apron, but it was too small for her and she had therefore left it untied, allowing it instead to hang on her freely.
“Let me guess,” she grumbled, scratching her hairy chin. “You want fish soup.”
As so often when he was being directly addressed, Newt now found a sudden lump in his throat and suddenly it was terribly difficult for him to form words. He felt his face getting hot and couldn’t quite meet the eyes of the witch on the other side of the counter, impolite though as that was of him.
“Uh,” he managed softly, shifting on his feet, “no. Not fish soup, but thank you.”
“Are you sure, honey?” The witch sounded bored. The cigarette she was resting between her index and middle finger had bright red lipstick on it from where she had been sucking on it, and she used her thumb to tap the cigarette on the edge of the glass ashtray she had on the counter.
“You look like someone who would enjoy fish soup. It has dill in it, you know. Only costs a few copper ones, dear, and you’ll get bread on the side.”
“N-no, thank you,” Newt put emphasis on the “thank you”, to compensate for the impolite way with which he wasn’t meeting her eyes – he felt terribly uneasy under her gaze and could tell that he was blushing furiously which only increased his discomfort. “I was only thinking of buying a cinnamon roll.”
“Or two cinnamon rolls,” he corrected himself quickly, then soon adding, “O-or three cinnamon rolls. Or… How many cinnamon rolls do you sell per customer?”
“As many as the customer would like,” the witch snorted before taking a drag off the cigarette. “So how many would it be?”
“Not planning on eating them all by yourself?” the witch more demanded than asked and Newt could feel her looking him up and down critically, suspiciously, even as she exhaled the smoke she had just inhaled. “Sweetheart, you couldn’t possibly fit them all in you, slim as you are.”
“They’re not all for me,” the admission came easily, but the lie that followed got almost caught in his throat – he hated lying, but when it came to his creatures, he sometimes had no choice but to tell a lie.
“I’ll share them with Director Graves.”
The name “Director Graves” was enough for the witch to stop asking questions, just as Newt had known it would be. He was yet to meet a witch or a wizard in the department building who hadn’t given an instant reaction when the name “Percival Graves” had been mentioned. It was a mix of respect, admiration and awe - and quite possibly a little fear, Percival could come across as quite menacing indeed when the mood stroke him, after all - that made the people react to the name, and therefore, not surprisingly, the witch behind the counter fell instantly silent and hastily retrieved a paper bag into which six cinnamon rolls jumped, one after another, while she kept the bag open for them.
Newt had just paid for his purchase, losing the few coins he had in his possession, thanking the witch earnestly, and was about to turn to leave when suddenly there was an arm around his shoulders and he was being greeted – rather warmly – by one Rodilus Hamsipood, one of Percival’s Senior Aurors.
“Newt!” Rodilus – who seemed to be on first name basis with everyone, whether they wanted that or not – was now shaking him enthusiastically and Newt clutched the paper bag to his chest. While he did like Rodilus, the wizard’s uninhibited, boisterous manners always put him slightly on edge. Newt never quite knew what to say to him – although that never seemed to bother Rodilus in the least since the shyer and quieter Newt became, the more Rodilus included him in his conversations.
“Just the wizard I was hoping to run into today!” Rodilus declared before letting go off Newt’s shoulders. “Your name is Artemis, is it not? Your second name, I mean.”
Newt opened his mouth to answer, but to his mortification no voice came out. Feeling his blush deepening, he closed his mouth and quickly nodded his head instead, looking at the gleaming silver buttons on the front of Rodilus’ uniform, unable to look above them, unable to meet Rodilus’ eyes for his shyness. The buttons had the symbol of the department on them, two crossed wands. Most of Percival’s buttons also had the same symbol, Newt had noted, and the sight of it was therefore calming and familiar, but not enough so for him to meet Rodilus’ sharp gaze.
“Splendid!” Rodilus cried and hit Newt in the back so hard that it had Newt swaying forward before he managed to find his balance. “That’s just splendid, Newt! As it happens, it’s the name day of Artemis today, in Finland, and because my mother is a Finn, I feel obliged to participate in the fine tradition of name days. You wouldn’t insult my mother’s heritage by refusing a name day gift, Newton Artemis Fido, would you?”
Never taking his eyes off the silver buttons, Newt hurried to shake his head. He didn’t want to insult anyone or anything, even though he didn’t know what name days were, exactly.
“Splendid,” Rodilus said again. Taking a firm hold of Newt’s arm as if knowing that Newt might well otherwise run off, he turned towards the counter and the witch smoking on the other side of it.
“A cherry pastry for my friend here, Martha, if you please,” he placed the order.
“Which kind?” the witch, Martha let out a wet cough. “’Fuck off, Fred’, ‘Cake a day keeps the boss away’ or ‘Eat the cake, darling, and then let ME eat YOU!’?”
“Oh, what a dilemma, what a dilemma…” Rodilus mused out loud, scratching his head under his fashionable fedora with one hand, keeping a firm hold of Newt’s arm with the other. “The Fred pastry is just a tad too rude for my tastes, so I can’t buy that one, especially not as a gift for someone as sweet as freckles here. The boss one I can’t buy either because Newt,” he tilted his head towards Newt, “is going to be eating the cake in the presence of the bossman himself and we wouldn’t want to offend the man, would we.”
“‘Eat the cake, darling, and then let ME eat YOU!’ it shall be, then,” Martha said drily and reached out for a white pastry box hovering near her. The box gave a little shiver when the cherry pastry was placed in it as if it was happy to be of service.
Newt didn’t like cherries at all, but just the thought that he would have had to open his mouth to stop Martha from packing the pastry and to suggest that Rodilus should buy him something else was enough to make his breath hitch. He simply couldn’t do it, he couldn’t, even though Rodilus would be wasting money on him, and so he just stood there silently, feeling guilty and uneasy, but also terribly touched that Rodilus had wanted to delight him by buying him a gift.
Newt didn’t get many gifts.
“Marvelous,” Rodilus said, as he put a few coins down onto the counter. “Thank you, Martha.”
Martha grunted, the cigarette between her red lips, and handed the box over to Rodilus, who, in turn, handed it over to Newt, who pulled himself together and met Rodilus’ blue eyes – if only briefly – and offered the man a smile to show him that the thoughtful gesture of gift giving was very much appreciated. Newt was still smiling when he casted his gaze back down, unable to hold the eye contact for longer. He held the white box with great care like it contained eggs of a nuicander.
“Happy name day, Artemis!” Rodilus said cheerfully. “Thank you for respecting the culture of my mother enough to accept this gift. Now, do me a favor and make sure to ask Graves for some of that coffee he has in his office – that should go great with your pastry.”
Newt tried to thank Rodilus for the name day gift, but he just couldn’t get the words pass the lump in his throat. Shifting from one foot to the other, he tried desperately to get the words out, but Rodilus, ever so easy-going and friendly, only gave him a pat on the shoulder, not seeming to mind Newt’s lack of manners in the slightest.
“See you around, freckles,” Rodilus said in a low voice and then he was gone as soon as he had appeared, and Newt was left standing in the cafeteria by himself with a paper bag full of cinnamon rolls and a box with a cherry pastry in it.
When he got back to Percival’s office, Percival was busy with his case files as usual. He was writing something onto his black notebook and barely glanced up at Newt when he settled down onto the dark green leather sofa – a Chesterfield, Percival’s pride and joy, a gift from Percival’s favorite uncle who had, sadly, passed away before Newt had had a chance to meet him.
Newt was quick to take the six cinnamon rolls out of their paper bag and, with a quick look to make sure that Percival was fully occupied with his work, whispered a quiet levitation charm and used his wand to fly the rolls into the liquor cabinet, one after another, directly into the tin box where the sand-like powderlings now resided. He hoped the powderlings would enjoy their meal.
After having fed the powderlings, Newt focused his attention on the white box, on his name day gift. He eyed the box, feeling fondness for Rodilus and his thoughtfulness, and lifted the cover off the box. The scent of fresh bakeries reached his nostrils and he couldn’t help but smile – the scent reminded him of his mother and the Christmas holidays spent at home during his years at Hogwarts.
“You don’t like cherries,” was stated in a gruff, low voice, and when Newt looked up, he saw Percival, who was now looming over him and looking down at the cherry pastry with visible disdain like it had just called him a Grindelwald sympathizer.
Newt hadn’t heard him approaching, but now that Percival had left his work to come to Newt, Newt hoped dearly that he would sit down on the sofa so they could spend some time together. Hopeful, Newt moved to the side to make more room beside him, but – much to his disappointment – Percival didn’t sit down. Instead, the wizard turned his eyes from the pastry to Newt’s face. There was a calculating look in them.
“You don’t like cherries,” Percival repeated the truth, “and therefore you wouldn’t have bought a cherry pastry for yourself. Seeing as you have opened the box in which it was put, I dare say that you’re not intending to gift someone with it either – which leads me to the conclusion that someone gifted you with it.”
Newt smiled – Percival was really quite clever and observant.
“You’re right,” he said, looking down at the pastry, words coming easily now that he was talking to Percival, the rock, the protector, his best friend. “I didn’t buy it for myself - Rodilus wanted to buy it for me! He said it is my name day in Finland today and since his mother is from Finland, he wanted to-“
“France,” Percival cut him off, folding his arms across his chest. “Albertine Hamsipood was born and raised in France. Her son knows undoubtedly as much as about Finland as I know of the witch who robbed Augustus and I gentlemen’s clothing store two days ago – which is to say that he knows close to nothing about Finland and certainly wouldn’t know when your name day is.”
The fact seemed to offend Percival greatly, or at least he was now glowering darkly at the pastry Newt had in the box in his lap, while tapping his fingers against his crossed arms in an impatient manner.
“Well,” Newt said slowly, a smile still playing on his lips, despite of Percival’s less than enthusiastic behavior, “perhaps Rodilus just wanted an excuse to make my day a bit better. It was terribly kind of him, in any case, wasn’t it.”
“No.” Percival’s growl made Newt blink up at him, startled. “It was not kind of him. At all. He shouldn’t even be running around buying pastries when he should be working.”
Newt turned his gaze back to the pastry and eyed the red round cherries on it. The cherries did look pretty even though he had no inclination whatsoever to put them in his mouth.
“Rodilus wasn’t avoiding work,” he said. “In fact, he must have bought this for me during his lunch break. To think that he would take time off his rare break, just to buy me a pastry – it makes his act even kinder.”
The thought made Newt feel warm inside, and even though it was true that he didn’t care for cherries, he now took the gift in his hand gently and with great care like it was a gudgie or some other fragile creature. He wanted to at least taste the pastry, just because Rodilus had wanted to delight him by gifting him with it.
The pastry was warm and crusty and the grease made Newt’s fingers glisten, but the small bite he took out of it – careful to avoid the cherries – was surprisingly sweet and pleasant on his tongue. He swallowed the piece and, smiling widely, looked up at Percival with the intention of offering the rest of the pastry to him since he knew Percival didn't mind cherries – but was met with a stare so burning and dark that his breath caught.
Percival had unfolded his arms and they were now by his sides. He was clenching his fists and when their gazes met, Newt felt like he was looking in the eye of a storm. He was quick to lower the pastry down, back into its box, attention fully on Percival.
“What is it?” he asked, suddenly concerned: while Percival was often rather grouchy, he rarely ever – never, really – looked at Newt like his mind was full of something dark. He usually gave Newt rather warm looks, actually, so it was obvious that there was now something wrong.
“What’s the matter?”
“It was inappropriate of him to buy you a pastry with such a suggestive message on it,” came the answer after a while.
With a blink, Newt looked down at the partly eaten pastry in the box in his lap and re-read the message written on it.
Eat the cake, darling, and then let ME eat YOU!
Newt hadn’t given much thought to the message before, but Percival reading the words – and thinking that Rodilus had meant to suggest something to Newt with them – made something churn low in his belly and he found himself blushing and unable to look up at the dark figure looming over him.
“How dares he buy something as suggestive as that to you!”
Percival sounded insulted on his behalf and Newt felt instantly bad for Rodilus.
“Rodilus didn’t mean to offend me,” he therefore defended the absent Senior Auror in question. “It was terribly nice of him to want to buy me a gift, no matter why he did it. It was just a coincidence that there was… a message on the pastry.”
“Auror Hamsipood,” Percival put emphasis on Rodilus’ surname as if it was now a cause for great exasperation for him to hear Newt using Rodilus’ first name, for whatever reason, “might come across like an all around pleasant man, but he’s not one to do anything he doesn’t mean to do. If that cunning bastard gives you a pastry with a message on it, it’s safe to say that he intends you to read the message. If he didn’t intend the message for you, he would have bought a pastry that had no message on it at all. I’m sure there was one of those available as well.”
It was terribly unpleasant to hear Percival referring to Rodilus as a “cunning bastard” – Rodilus, who was always kind and friendly to Newt and who made a point of including him in conversations even when Newt was feeling particularly shy. Newt didn’t like at all of the tone of voice with which Percival was now speaking of Rodilus, and even though he disliked conflict greatly and would have been more than glad to avoid it, he couldn’t just let Percival think badly of Rodilus, not when Rodilus didn’t deserve it at all.
Like always when Newt felt particularly emotional, he could now, too, feel tears burning in his eyes and he blinked furiously to prevent them from falling.
“Rodilus wanted to buy me a gift,” he said softly but stubbornly. “It is not nice of you to try to turn his act of kindness into something mean-spirited. I might not like cherries, but I do like the way Rodilus is trying to make me feel welcomed. It means a lot to me when someone makes an effort to be kind to me.”
From the way Percival had stiffened in front of him, Newt could tell that he had noticed that Newt was holding back tears.
“I don’t like the way you are now saying nasty things of Rodilus just because he wanted to be kind to me. It’s… it’s very unkind.”
A tear ran down his cheek and he quickly bent his head so his hair fell onto his face to cover it from Percival’s view.
Even though his mother had told him various times that a gentle heart was a gift to be protected, not something to get shunned for, his tears – easily shed and always near to the surface – had exposed him to much ridicule, especially as he was a male which, in most people’s eyes, should have made him less sensitive and less shy than he was. His mother might have seen his gentle heart as a gift to be proud of, but Newt himself had to live with that heart, and while it was what made him give his all to the creatures he loved, it had also caused him much pain ever since early childhood.
Newt couldn’t always tell whether a gentle heart overflowing with love was a gift or a curse, and he suspected that he would never find an answer to that question either.
“If it is,” he struggled to find the right word and settled for, “a fight you’re looking for because you want to release some tension, please find some other target and let me cherish the feeling that someone has liked me enough to buy me a pastry, even if it has a message you don’t like on it.”
A tear rolled down his cheek and dropped into the box, on the pastry, and Percival must have seen it, judging from the sudden low sound he made. Before Newt knew it, there was a handkerchief – made of black silk with the golden initials P.G. embroidered on it – pressed into his hand. His fingers folded reflexively around it.
When Newt dared to raise his head a little to look up at Percival from behind his curly mess of hair, he saw that Percival’s face was full of regret – and something that Newt couldn’t quite put a name to. Percival’s hands were twitching like he was barely holding himself back from reaching for Newt, and when he met Newt’s gaze, visibly taking in the tears hanging onto Newt’s lashes and the tear tracks on his cheeks, the regretful expression on his face turned into one of distraught. His hands fell to his sides, limp, and he took a step back as if convinced that putting some space between the two of them was for the best. Newt saw him taking a deep breath, even as Percival himself looked away.
“I did not mean to make you upset,” Percival was addressing the empty air, his voice unusually quiet, although Newt knew that it was he whom Percival was speaking to. “Please, do dry your tears, Newt. Don’t shed them for something I have done. They are too precious to be wasted on my… temper.”
With a sniffle, Newt did as he was told and wiped his tear-streaked cheeks dry with the black handkerchief with Percival’s initials on it. By the time Newt was finished, Percival had gone back to his desk and had his eyes fixed on the file opened before him. He didn’t move or look up, not even when Newt eventually put a lid on the white box and closed it, having quite lost his appetite for cherry pastries.
Silence fell in the room, only broken by the steady ticking of the tall-case clock in the back of Percival's office.
At some point Newt must have fallen asleep on the sofa, for when he woke up, there was a blanket covering him. Next to him, hovering in the air, was a plate and on the plate there was a piece of strawberry cake. The cake had a message written on it with white frosting.
"I am sorry", it read, and when Newt looked at Percival, who was still sitting at his desk, unmoving, looking terribly tired and strained, Percival casted his gaze quickly down, having clearly been caught staring.
Newt got up from the sofa, letting the blanket fall off him, and walked to the desk and around it until he was standing right beside Percival. Percival was still staring down at his desk, not moving a muscle, and Newt twined his arms around his stiff form, the scent of Percival’s cologne pleasant in his nose.
“I forgive you,” he whispered in Percival’s ear and tightened his embrace when he felt Percival releasing a breath he had apparently been holding.
A while later the two of them sat on the sofa, side by side, leaning against each other. Newt was eating his cake – strawberry was his favorite – while Percival wolfed down the cherry pastry like he was in a hurry to get rid off it.
“Please don’t be mad at Rodilus,” Newt asked, feeling like it had to be said. “He was awfully kind to me and doesn’t deserve your anger.”
Percival avoided his gaze.
“Sounds like you are quite fond of him.”
“I am,” Newt admitted.
Perhaps they could one day even be friends, Rodilus and he. Percival and Rodilus were friends, and Newt liked to think that he could, perhaps, gradually befriend Percival’s friends. The thought that they could share friends made him smile.
“You smile when you think of him.”
It was such an odd thing to say that Newt didn’t know what he was supposed to say to it. Therefore he said nothing and just kept on munching his cake.
They continued eating in silence.
I hope you liked reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you for the comments and for the kudos! They so make me motivated to write faster.
Chapter 3: Graves: Light and Shadow
mentions of pedophilia and some gore
oh, and cannibalism
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Graves was not, by any means, inexperienced when it came to the pleasures of the body. Over the years, he had found his release from the hips of many a woman and even more so with men. People, men and women alike, found his dark features handsome, and even if they had not, his considerable wealth and his status as Director of Magical Security gave him the kind of power many found difficult to resist, even – or especially – in a bed partner.
In the addition of learning to please and how he himself liked to be pleased, Graves learnt that he did not care for games, he didn’t care to chase after people who weren’t interested in him like he was in them. He preferred to be direct, and when he met someone he would gladly take to bed, he let them know of it, making sure to not pressure in any way, but leaving the possibility open regardless. Usually Graves had no trouble at all to approach the people he was attracted to since he dealt with rejection well – the admittedly very few times his offer for a night of shared pleasure was turned down – and didn’t take it to heart, instead simply shrugging and moving on.
This was not, however, the case when it came to Newt Scamander.
When it came to Newt, it would have been a lie to say that Graves wasn’t tempted, that he didn’t look and want. He would have lied had he denied that Newt’s smiles and bright eyes haunted his dreams, both when sleeping and when he was awake. It would have been untrue to claim that he didn’t admire the long limbs, that he didn’t wonder what the lean thighs would feel like wrapped around him, that he didn’t yearn to know what Newt would look like, smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like in the peak of his passion.
To wake up to Newt, warm and lovely as anything – what a bliss that would be…
But Graves was a Shadow and Newt was Light, and that was why he knew they could never be.
Or so Graves kept telling himself.
It was possible that, for once, he was scared, too scared to make his move, too scared to let Newt know of his desires.
So much Newt had grown to mean to him.
It was all down to Kilonski that the Aurors had been able to track down The Slaughtered Squib, as the fifteen wizards and ten witches called themselves. Kilonski’s outstanding undercover work had led them to the root of the organ trade – to the rundown apartment in the heart of Harlem, where The Slaughtered Squib had murdered countless of No-Maj children over the period of two months.
The No-Maj children had been captured for their internal organs, and after The Slaughtered Squib had butchered each child, having taken their kidneys and livers and hearts and brains to sell to their clients – to dark magic users all over the United States – they had disposed of the bodies by feeding them to the other No-Maj children they held in captivity for prostitution, the ones they had deemed “pretty” and “young enough”.
It was obvious from the start that the members of The Slaughtered Squib were hardened criminals and wouldn’t let anyone take them down easily. Therefore it was not a surprise when the Aurors, led by Graves, were met with strong resistance and lethal, merciless curses thrown in their direction when they apparated in the small apartment The Slaughtered Squib used as their headquarters.
Having anticipated the strong resistance, the Aurors were quick to respond, and the resulting battle had the three naked No-Maj children screaming and wetting themselves in fear in their cages before the Junior Aurors tasked with the responsibility were able to apparate them to safety.
It became obvious very quickly after the fight began that the members of The Slaughtered Squib were cunning and organized enough to know whom to concentrate their attack on. While some of them began to fight several Junior Aurors at once, one against many, managing to keep the Junior Aurors thus occupied, Kilonski had two dark wizards fighting against him, Bariton three.
Graves, for his part, found himself fighting nine of the criminals – three witches and six wizards – who had teamed up against him having apparently sensed his power, the considerable threat he posed to them. They shot him with curses powerful enough to shatter walls when they missed, and for several long minutes Graves’ world was nothing but the cold, calculating eyes that stared at him from behind unwavering wands pointed straight at him, the bright streaks of light shooting towards him through the clouds of concrete dust, the sound of shattering glass, various thuds and clattering noises caused by people moving about, grunts of people fighting around him, his own breathing, initially steady but more and more labored as the fight went on, and the smell of blood and sweat and urine.
The apartment was humming with dark magic, he felt that even as he blocked and barred and sent his own streaks of lights – curses and spells alike – towards the criminals.
Graves managed to take down the three witches and six wizards fighting him, one after another, and then he twirled around to help his Junior Aurors, while Bariton and Kilonski took care of their own opponents. When the concrete dust had settled, The Slaughtered Squib had been efficiently torn down, and Graves wasted no moment assessing the condition of his own people: Four Junior Aurors needed to be taken to The Sleeping Alicorn – one was unconscious and three were bleeding, although their team mates were already giving them first aid. Kilonski had a cut on his temple and Bariton was limping a little and favoring her left arm, but neither one seemed to be badly hurt, thankfully.
“Bariton, take the No-Maj victims and the wounded Aurors to The Sleeping Alicorn and get yourself looked after as well,” was the first order Graves gave, his breathing still labored due to the intense fighting.
Wincing a little due to the pain on his side where one curse or another had managed to graze him, he knelt down by the unconscious Junior Auror – Winnerfield, the twenty-five-year-old daughter of Meredith Winnerfield who was widely known for the recipe books she wrote – and used a counter spell on the choking curse she had been hit with. Winnerfield’s lips had already turned blue, but now that the counter spell had been used, she was at least breathing again and Graves hoped that no lasting harm had been done to her.
“Kilonski,” he called out to the Senior Auror who was tying up the unconscious criminals in a rather aggressive manner – Kilonski was usually a calm figure in any a situation and his unusual show of unnecessary aggression was now explained by his undercover work, Graves knew, by the things he had seen first hand when tracking down The Slaughtered Squib.
Looking around the room – at the cages where the children had been forced to sleep on their own feces, at the mattresses on which the stains of blood and semen told of the horror the children had had to endure, at the glass jars on the shelves, filled with tiny organs – Graves couldn’t fault Kilonski for his reaction. It was only humane for even the most professional of Aurors to react under such circumstances.
“Let Ipston know that I want the obliviators here this instant,” he told Kilonski, wanting to get the man away from the scene. “They need to follow the usual protocol and go through the perimeter to eliminate all the potential risks of exposure. After you’ve done that, follow Bariton to The Sleeping Alicorn and let the healers do their job – do not give them trouble.”
Both of his Senior Aurors acknowledged his orders with a sharp “Yes, boss!”
“Good job, people,” Graves said, voice gruff, although he had already regained his breath. “The world is a bit safer now that these bastards are no longer running around freely. All thanks to you. Be proud.”
As soon as Kilonski had apparated away and Bariton had taken the wounded Aurors and the No-Maj children to The Sleeping Alicorn, Graves chose two team leaders, Junior Aurors Blank and Bottoms – along with their uninjured team members – to help him transfer the unconscious prisoners back to the department building. The third team leader, Junior Auror Thompson he left in charge of the crime scene with the order to simply guard it and not to touch anything.
“Hamsipood will get someone here to process the scene,” he told Thompson. “Your only duty is to wait here with your team until Hamsipood comes to take over. Once he arrives, you are to take your Aurors and head with them to Doctor Frederick to get looked over.”
Doctor Frederick was the head healer of Department of Magical Law Enforcement, in charge of evaluations and routine checks after each considerable physical confrontation Graves and his Aurors faced. After his time as Grindelwald’s prisoner, Graves had had more appointments with Doctor Frederick than he cared to think about. As the general practice was, he had brought Doctor Frederic a “Fuck off, Fred” pastry from The Sweet Copper for each appointment and he was positive that the round Doctor Frederick had gained some weight due to his appointments alone. Since Graves, too, would now need to get looked over due to protocol and due to fighting The Slaughtered Squib, he made a mental note to get the good doctor yet another pastry.
“Yes, sir!” Thompson gave him a weary salute. “Understood, sir!”
With the help of his Junior Aurors, Graves took the members of The Slaughtered Squib to Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Once they regained consciousness, one after another, he questioned them personally, taking all the time he needed to press, to inquire, to demand, to threaten and to make them cower, and when there were no more questions to be asked, no more information to be given, he sent them all to be executed, showing no mercy.
Trials weren’t among MACUSA’s various practices. As far as the magical law went, head of MACUSA's Department of Magical Law Enforcement was The Jury and The Judge. Graves was the Jury and The Judge, and only the president could veto his sentences, although she had never so far used that right, appearing to trust Graves’ judgement.
A man less hardened would have crumbled under such responsibility and a man less strong would have given in to the power, but Percival Graves was neither one of those things. He was hardened and he was strong, and he took his duty as The Jury and The Judge extremely seriously.
To many, Graves knew, he was the messenger of darkness. He was a Shadow.
To the rest, he was the force between chaos and order, he was the force behind stability.
Whatever he was, Graves always fulfilled his duties, he did what he needed to do.
Having once again done what he had needed to do, having fulfilled his duty, Graves went to his office, sweaty and still covered in concrete dust, exhausted both physically and emotionally.
“Get me one of those ‘Fuck off, Fred’ pastries, Miss Pines, will you,” he told Miss Pines as he passed by her desk. “And let Doctor Frederick know that I’ll be by later for the routine appointment – at some point after I have finished my report to Madame President.”
“Certainly, Director Graves!”
Miss Pines looked up from her papers, frowning as she took in his form.
“Do you require anything else, sir?”
“No,” Graves’ answer was terse, but Miss Pines had been working for him for long enough to not take it personally – she had to know he was tired. “That will be all.”
With a nod and a twirl of her skirt, Miss Pines hurried off to buy him the pastry and Graves, with a sigh, walked to his office, pulled the door open and entered – only to be greeted with a sight that made him halt in his steps.
Newt was sitting on the sofa with Senior Auror John Bartolomeus with a giant bouquet of roses between the two of them. Bartolomeus had his guitar with him and he seemed to be in the middle of singing a love song – a song that was making Newt blush. Upon having heard a few chords and not yet half a verse, Graves decided that the melody was predictably dull and the lyrics terribly pretentious and cheesy.
Graves had heard Bartolomeus playing and singing before, and while he had previously thought that the man had an admirably soulful way with music, Bartolomeus’ voice was now grating on his nerves and he had the sudden urge to smash the guitar to pieces. It was odd how he had never before noticed what a terrible musician Bartolomeus was and how tacky and tasteless his love songs were.
Graves didn’t want roses in his office, especially not on his sofa where Newt had made a habit of sitting. Roses had thorns. They were unpleasant and Bartolomeus should have known better than to bring roses to Graves’ office.
Graves decided that he greatly disliked roses, especially the bouquet on his sofa.
Still holding onto the handle, he pulled the office door closed with more force than necessary. Newt – having apparently not been aware of his presence at all – gave such a fright at the sudden loud banging sound that he jumped a little, snapping his head towards the door, eyes wide.
“Percival,” he said, a broad smile seeming to lighten up his entire face. “I was starting to wonder if I would get to see you today at all.”
Bartolomeus silenced the sound of his guitar abruptly by placing his hand on top of the strings. He got up from the sofa, holding the guitar with one hand and giving Graves a lazy salute with the other.
"Sir," he said in his deep voice. He didn't look like he had been taken off guard at all and Graves had a feeling that he had been noticed by the Auror the moment he had opened his office door.
"Bartolomeus," he returned the greeting in a rather brusque manner. "Why are you in my office instead of yours?"
"I came to see Mr. Scamander." Bartolomeus met his gaze steadily. "It was my break and I was hoping to hear what he thought of my new song, seeing as he's English and the song is about English lovers."
Bartolomeus gestured towards the roses on the sofa with the hand that wasn't holding onto the guitar.
"Brought him some flowers for his pains, 's only polite to do."
"I see." Graves' voice sounded cold even to his own ears. "Your break is now over, Auror. Get back to work."
"Yes, sir," Bartolomeus said, and it had to have been Graves' imagination, but he could have sworn that Bartolomeus sounded amused.
When the door closed behind Bartolomeus, Graves turned to look at Newt with a bitter taste in his mouth. He found Newt staring at him, looking him up and down. Newt was frowning and visibly noting the way Graves' usually so immaculate looks were now covered in dust and grime, the way Graves' hair was sticking out this way and that. Newt looked concerned - which was probably why he hadn't yet said anything to Graves about the way Graves had just sent Bartolomeus away in such a curt manner. When he eventually spoke, his voice was soft and sad like Graves’ obvious weariness was making him miserable as well.
“You have had a bad day.”
Graves was the messenger of darkness. He was a Shadow. He was the force between chaos and order, he was the force behind stability. But to Newt Scamander with his tender kind heart, Graves was a dear friend.
Newt did, after all, have an odd affinity to love beings others feared and hated.
At that moment, Graves wanted nothing more than to close the distance between him and Newt, to pick Newt up, to wrap himself around him, to drown in Newt’s taste, Newt’s smell, in Newt, forget everything but Newt – to forget that there was such evil in the world that children were raped and caged and slaughtered, to forget that he himself had just given the order to have twenty-five people executed. He wanted to claim Newt as his, to declare it to the world that no-one else was to bring roses to Newt, no-one but he should be allowed to sing love songs to Newt.
Despite of his want, his longing, Graves stayed rooted to the spot.
It was true that he was a Shadow, and while he was a Shadow, Newt was Light. Graves couldn’t bear the thought that he would dim Newt’s Light, that his darkness would somehow taint Newt, too.
That Newt’s eyes would lose their bright shine and he would be the cause for it.
Gritting his teeth, Graves walked to his desk instead to Newt and pulled one of the desk drawers open in one terse move, taking an empty piece of parchment out of it – he had, after all, a report to write.
“Quite the opposite, I should think,” he said sharply, taking his seat. While Graves usually prefered to use a pen, today he reached out for a quill and a bottle of ink. “It was a successful day.”
"You seemed to have had a successful day as well," he couldn't help adding, petty though that was of him. He was unable to look at Newt, the bitter taste still in his mouth. "Seeing as you were just getting to know one of my Senior Aurors in a rather friendly manner on my sofa."
"Well, yes," Newt said. "John is a kind man when you talk to him. He's not scary at all, it turns out."
"I thought you liked Hamsipood," Graves bit out. "Already bored of him?"
"No," Newt said slowly. "Of course I do still like him. But Percival, what is this about? Why are you so angry? Are you angry because I let John sit on the sofa? He didn't damage it in any way, I promise. Go look for yourself, if you don't believe me."
Graves didn't answer. Instead, he began to outline his report.
Newt was hovering by his side, clearly worried, biting his lip, but to his credit, he remained silent and didn't interrupt Graves now that he was actually working again - Newt had learnt his lesson.
This was not the first time Newt had seen Graves at his worst. Over a year ago when Newt had come back to New York to market his new book, Graves had confiscated his suitcase, the suitcase full of more or less illegal creatures. For reasons still unclear to him, Graves had opted to store the suitcase in his office, under his sofa, and Newt had opted to start spending most of his time on the said sofa, guarding the suitcase and looking after the creatures in it, and that was how Graves and Newt had gradually become friends. Over the months during which their friendship had grown Newt had spent enough time in Graves’ office to stand witness to the days that Graves, too, would have called truly bad.
Newt had previously been rather vocal when it came to his concern for Graves’ well-being, but Graves had made it clear to him that he didn’t need that, that he didn’t need Newt telling him to go see a doctor or to go get rest – Graves was an experienced Auror, he was not careless or stupid, he knew how to care for himself. He would get rest when everything else had been taken care of and Newt would only be hindering him if he kept on pestering him with his needless suggestions.
Having listened to Graves tell him all that, it had made Newt cry and Graves had been earnestly sorry for it, but it also seemed like Newt had learnt his lesson, like Newt had learnt to remain quiet when Graves needed silence.
Graves appreciated that.
The rose bouquet seemed to be mocking him from its place on Graves' treasured sofa.
"You see?" it seemed to say. "Once again you've made Newt miserable. You brood in silence while he worries his little heart out wondering if he has done something wrong - how abusive of you! Someone else could well be able to make him happy like he deserves to be, but you are so selfish that you get jealous when anyone even attempts to delight him. Bastards like you don't deserve treasures like him, just so you know."
Graves clenched the quill in his hand. Then he sighed and loosened his hold. He put the quill down onto the table and ran a hand through his messy hair.
"I'm tired, Newt," he said by way of an apology, by way of an explanation. "I shouldn't be taking it out on you. I'm sorry."
"I understand," Newt was immediately ready - eager - to forgive.
Graves swallowed hard, knowing what needed to be said, but not quite able to get it out.
"If you like," he finally managed, "you should go to Bartolomeus. If that's what you really want, go to him."
He forced a reassuring smile on his face.
Newt was silent for a very long time. Then he got up from where he had been perched on the edge of Graves' desk, turned his back to Graves and walked away.
Only to sit down on the sofa, cross-legged.
"You've had a bad day," he said quietly, head bent, looking at Graves from behind his curly hair. "I think I'd rather stay here with you. For as long as you let me stay. If that's okay."
Newt was Light and Graves couldn't look away even if it burnt his eyes.
Oookay, people... This chapter was not as sweet and delightful as the second chapter was. It turned out that Graves wouldn't let me write this any other way. He's quite a different person than Newt is and therefore their views on the situation ended up becoming quite different as well. I hope you enjoyed reading nevertheless!
Once again, thank you for all the kudos and especially for all the comments! They are the fuel that makes me want to write faster and to update as soon as possible.
The retirement party of Senior Auror Jacob Gloomboot was going well. It was going so well that Newt was now hiding outside on one of the balconies, listening to the laughter and the cheerful jazz and the loud chatter coming from the brightly lit banquet hall, where people were dancing and socializing and eating cake and having such a great time that Newt just hadn’t been able to take it anymore.
While Newt had, truly, had a wonderful evening for the most part, it had also been exhausting – the noise, the crowd, all the people who wanted to ask him what it was like to sit on Percival’s sofa. It had eventually become too much for him – the crowd had been a little too large, the noises a little too loud, the guests a little too demanding with their questions – and that’s why Newt had sneaked out of the open balcony door and was now standing on the balcony, on the spot where the darkness of the surrounding night met the light of the banquet hall pouring out through the two large windows, breathing in the refreshingly cool night air, leaning with his arms on the railing.
The usually so lively street down below Department of Magical Law Enforcement was peaceful and now almost empty, apart from a couple of Junior Aurors who, like Newt, had sneaked out. Unlike Newt, the two Aurors were now snogging right in front of the display window of The Stunning Hat hat store, seemingly oblivious to their public surroundings, and Newt did his best to not look in their direction to give them all the privacy he could. Instead, he looked up at the cloudless, starry sky where the full Moon was casting its pale light down on earth. Some might have found the sight beautiful and even romantic, but Newt couldn’t help but be saddened by it – it made him think of all the torture and pain werewolves had to go through just that night.
Newt’s musings were brought to a halt when Senior Auror Arthur Kilonski stepped unexpectedly onto the balcony bringing with him the smell of cigarettes that seemed to be constantly hanging about him. Turning to face the Auror, Newt tried to not wrinkle up his nose since that would have been rude and he didn't want to hurt Kilonski's feelings.
“Mr. Scamander,” Kilonski was slurring his words and had clearly drunk a little more than he should have. There was a wine glass in his hand even now as he approached Newt, stumbling a little, and some of its blue, bubbly contents spilled onto his hand. “A certain someone is looking for you - Graves has lost his little bird, it seems. He'll be here any moment now.”
The Auror was teasing him, Newt could tell, which was not a rare occurrence nowadays at all: Even though he had been invited to the retirement party, Newt didn’t actually know Senior Auror Jacob Gloomboot. As far as he was aware, Jacob Gloomboot was the leader of the Auror Training and spent most of his time training Junior Aurors instead of working on cases, but they hadn’t really crossed paths before, Gloomboot and Newt, and therefore it had been a surprise to Newt when the wizard had come to meet him in Percival’s office that morning only to personally invite him to his retirement party.
“The sweethearts of my colleagues are also invited, Mr. Scamander,” Gloomboot had told him in his croaky voice, squinting at Newt from behind his thick glasses. ”So therefore Director Graves can bring you.”
Percival had sat silently at his desk, not uttering a word, not helping at all, when Newt – feeling terribly awkward – had stuttered and tried to explain to Gloomboot that he was not Percival’s s-sweetheart, but Gloomboot had just given him an unimpressed look like Newt had disappointed him in some fundamental manner.
“The party will begin at six, sharp,” Gloomboot had said, looking at him down his nose, “and I expect you to be there on time. If you arrive late, young man, I will not allow you entrance to the lecture hall and you will fail both the test and the entire course – tardiness is not a good quality in an Auror and I won’t stand for it.”
Gloomboot, with his 70 years of work experience, had become quite senile in his 90’s and Newt hadn’t had the heart to argue his point. Instead, he had helped the old Auror to sit down on one of the two chairs in front of Percival’s desk and had then hurriedly fetched him a cup of chamomile tea from the teapot Percival had brought in the office for Newt during their third month of friendship.
“This essay is late!” Gloomboot – who had momentarily seemed to have fallen asleep on the chair – had barked out when Newt had handed the teacup to him. “Outrageous! No points! This is unacceptable!”
And even though he hadn’t even been tasked with writing any essays whatsoever in years, Newt had found himself hastily and profusely apologizing before quickly shutting his mouth when he had realized what it was that he was doing. That had been enough to make Percival laugh out loud which had helped Newt to feel better about the whole situation – it wasn’t often that he heard Percival's genuine laughter.
Later, when Gloomboot had been about to leave and had been standing at the door, he had given Newt one last stern look - only for his expression to turn into one of amusement.
"Not nearly as senile as one might believe, Mr. Scamander," he had said, giving his temple a bit of a tap with his forefinger. "Meddling just happens to be one of my guilty pleasures. In any case, I do expect you to be at my party this evening - you wouldn't disappoint an old man, would you."
And then he had winked at Newt.
So, yes, more than one Auror seemed to now be in a habit of making fun of Newt.
Percival hadn’t said anything about sweethearts and Newt had taken his cue from him, staying silent as well, although he had been unable to shake off Gloomboot’s words – or the exciting, warm feeling that accompanied the thought that someone had referred to him as Percival’s sweetheart, no matter how jokingly.
The thought still made his heart beat faster.
Newt looked down at his black shoes, polished for once due to Percival's insistence. He played with the sleeve of his shirt, studying Kilonski shyly from behind the hair that had fallen on his eyes as it so often did.
Apart from the smell of cigarettes, Kilonski reminded Newt of Percival. Both of the Aurors were dark and tall and quite pleasing to the eye with their broad shoulders. They both had dark eyes – although Percival’s were warmer, and whenever something delighted him, their corners crinkled up in a manner that Newt always found very endearing indeed. Kilonski and Percival were both also careful with the way they dressed, each wearing stylish suits and polished black shoes and ties that had probably cost more than all of Newt’s clothes put together but were likely still cheaper than their leather belts. Out of the two, Kilonski wore the more colorful clothes while Percival’s were of darker shades (apart from his shirts which were always white) – which made Percival look just as powerful as he was and just as menacing as he could be when he wanted to.
“Auror Kilonski,” Newt greeted Kilonski in turn, his voice a quiet contrast to the sudden sharp laughter coming from inside. “Good evening.”
“Good evening to you, too, you lovely little thing.”
Kilonski was swaying a little and steadied himself by leaning against the railing. He gave Newt an intent look – or as intent as he seemed to be capable of in his intoxicated state.
“I need your assistance, Scamander.”
Kilonski pointed a finger at Newt – unfortunately the finger was a part of the hand that was holding the glass and Kilonski managed to thus spill the rest of his drink onto the white tiles of the balcony which made him swore out loud in such a harsh manner that Newt had to look away.
When he looked back, Kilonski was still pointing a finger at him, the empty glass held in his hand. The Auror met his gaze and Newt immediately lowered his, feeling his face heating up as so often happened when someone focused their attention entirely on him.
Kilonski was, besides, rather attractive - very much like Percival, especially now in the moonlight when his features seemed softer and more approachable than they were during daylight.
“A creature,” Kilonski said with emphasis, “a creature has attached itself onto me.”
He withdrew his pointing finger and gestured at his belt with his empty glass. There, on the belt, was indeed a creature – a nuicander, of all creatures!
Newt immediately forgot his shyness for the sudden excitement that filled him over seeing such a rare creature. His breath caught and he sunk to his knees in front of Kilonski to see the creature better, ignoring how cold and hard and unyielding the tiles were beneath his knees, ignoring the way the blue liquid Kilonski had spilled on the tiles now soaked through the fabric of his tweed trousers, all his attention on the nuicander.
The nuicander had sunk its sharp claws into Kilonski’s belt and the eyes on its red back where huge and black and slightly bulky, all signs of a healthy individual. To a muggle, it might have looked like a headless lady bug the size of a child’s palm, but Newt knew better than that – he knew that he was looking at a rare individual of an endangered species, even though he had only ever seen one nuicander before.
“Where did you find it?” His voice was hushed and full of awe.
“It was on my belt when I looked down some minutes ago,” Kilonski sounded exasperated and not at all pleased that he had been given the rare honor of having a nuicander getting attached to him. “I don’t know where it came from, nor do I care. I want it off my belt, but it won’t let go. I tried to crush it-“
“-but that didn’t work.”
“It wouldn’t,” Newt mused softly.
While the egg of a nuicander was as frail and breakable as nuicanders were rare (a part of the reason why nuicanders were so rare), a grown nuicander had a strong shell all around its form, a shell nearly as hard as stone. The shell was nearly impossible to penetrate - or to “crush”, as Kilonski had put it.
“So, can you get it off me or not?” Kilonski asked after Newt had taken his time to simply observe the remarkable creature up close.
“I can try,” Newt promised. “Please don’t be alarmed – it’s not doing you any harm. It’s just looking for a place where it can sleep for the next… eight years or so.”
“They need quite a lot of sleep,” he explained before Kilonski had had the chance the ask. “That’s why they seem so docile most of the time – they are sleepy for most of their hundred-year lifespan.”
Nuicanders were also known for being stubborn, and if they decided they had found a spot they liked, they were nearly impossible to remove from it – which had resulted in the name nuicander, a nuisance, since not all people were glad to have a nuicander sleeping on top of their head or on the keyhole of their front door for years on end.
“Sleeping on my belt for eight years? That just won’t do.”
Kilonski seemed to be one of the people who didn’t want a nuicander in their life, as remarkable as they were. He now bent his head and seemed to be addressing the nuicander, his voice calm even though he was visibly annoyed, “Okay, little fella. Let Scamander here look after you.”
“You better get on with it,” he then said to Newt, motioning impatiently with his empty glass. “It’s clearly not getting off by itself.”
Newt shuffled a little closer to Kilonski, walking on his knees, never taking his eyes off the nuicander. He had just reached out with both of his hands to wrap them around the nuicander in the hopes that the warmth they provided would be enough to coax the creature to let go off the belt and to curl up onto his hands instead, when Kilonski suddenly swayed backwards, sharply like someone had just given him a powerful tug from behind.
Startled, Newt looked up, hands now reaching out to empty air.
Percival had followed them out in the balcony and he was now standing behind Kilonski, one arm across Kilonski’s chest while the other held Kilonski by the arm, tightly judging by the grimace on Kilonski’s face. Newt couldn’t see Percival’s expression due to the bright light coming right out of the window behind him, but Percival’s voice had such an odd tone to it that Newt couldn’t even quite name it.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I.”
“Not at all, boss." Kilonski sounded out of breath. He tried to shrug himself free, but Percival only tightened his hold, tugging Kilonski backwards, fast to his chest.
“I’m so very glad to hear that.”
Although the words were pleasant enough, it sounded like Percival had said them through gritted teeth. He seemed to be hissing them directly in Kilonski’s ear.
“You are, after all, a married man, are you not, Kilonski, and it’s not like you would corner anyone while they were all alone only to somehow get them down on their knees for you, and you definitely wouldn’t just go, ’You better get on with it – it’s not getting off by itself?’ would you?”
“I-“ Kilonski began, but Percival cut him off.
“No, no, of course not,” he let out a chuckle that sounded neither happy nor amused. “Must have been my imagination.”
“Get up, Newt, will you,” Percival then addressed Newt. “The cold ground can’t be good for your knees.”
Newt blinked up at Percival, more than a little confused.
“But I’ve not finished yet,” he argued and looked back down at the nuicander. He shifted closer on his knees and reached out for Kilonski’s belt again.
“What are you doing?” Percival sounded uncharacteristically alarmed.
Before Newt had had a chance to respond, Kilonski was already talking, sounding more sober than he had just moments earlier, “He’s talking about a creature, boss! It’s as innocent as that, I swear! I’ve got a creature stuck on my belt and Scamander is on his knees to get it off me, not to get me off.”
Oh. Oh. That was why Percival was behaving like- Percival had thought that- He had thought that Newt…
Newt felt his face flushing beat red and he was suddenly unable to look at either one of the men – the attractive men – standing before him.
Thinking about it now, Newt could understand how Percival had come to the conclusion that Kilonski had been trying to get Newt to give him f-fellatio: It was likely that Percival had stepped onto the balcony to find Newt on his knees in front of Kilonski, only hearing a part of the conversation, the part where Percival demanded Newt to “get on with it” which might have made it sound like Kilonski was pressuring Newt to… to… to do that. Really, what else could have Percival possibly thought was going on, and Percival, ever so protective, had immediately jumped to Newt’s defense.
It was as touching as it was mortifying.
“He has a nuicander clinging to his belt,” Newt now explained, face burning with mortification, and he more felt than saw Percival’s gaze snapping to him. “He was asking me to assist him in getting it off of him.”
“Scamander’s the creature expert, after all,” Kilonski hurried to add. “I couldn’t think of anything else to do. None of my spells had any effect - the creature is holding on tightly and I want it off.”
Percival paused and seemed to think the words over. Newt saw him craning his neck, apparently to look over Kilonski’s shoulder at the belt and the nuicander still clinging to it.
He probably also checked that Kilonski was, indeed, still… decently covered.
“Please be careful so the nuicander won’t get hurt,” Newt pleaded and bit his lip before hastily explaining, “Nuicanders are almost extinct and that individual is not doing anyone any harm, apart from a little bit of temporary inconvenience, so let me save it and take it to my suitcase and it won’t bother any an Auror ever again. I promise.”
Slowly, as if with hesitation, Percival let go off Kilonski.
“My apologies,” he muttered. “I misread the situation.”
Kilonski adjusted his rumpled clothes, smoothing down his red vest.
“If I had found you and my wife in a similar situation, I probably would’ve beaten you to a bulb and asked questions later – no offense, sir – so I figure you were really quite reasonable, more so than I would have been.”
“You deserve consideration.” Percival’s voice was quiet and he was staring away, down at the street, evading both Newt and Kilonski’s eyes. “I do consider you a… good man, after all.”
Somehow it wasn’t quite clear whether Percival was addressing Kilonski – or Newt.
He watched on, never uttering a word, as Newt went to kneel in front of Kilonski and reached out for his belt.
Newt petted the nuicander, speaking to it softly, and the nuicander looked at him with its black eyes. Kilonski seemed to be holding his breath, and when Newt glanced up at him, briefly, he saw that the Senior Auror was looking uncomfortable, staring fixedly up at the Moon instead of observing Newt’s work with the nuicander.
He’s trying to not think about me giving him fellatio because he knows Percival is watching him.
No sooner had the thought hit Newt than he already snapped his eyes back to the nuicander, feeling his blush deepening.
Doing his best to not think about the two handsome men looming over him, Newt cleared his throat and continued speaking to the nuicander.
“Wouldn’t you rather come with me somewhere you can rest easily for as long as you like than stay here on the belt of an Auror who tries to crush you?”
The nuicander seemed to think so, or at least it didn’t take for all that long for it to crawl onto Newt’s hand and allow Newt to put it into the empty glass he took from Kilonski’s loose grasp.
With the nuicander now safely removed from Kilonski’s person, Newt got up with the glass securely held in his hand. He held out the glass to show its precious contents to the two Aurors, but neither one seemed interested in the nuicander, much to Newt’s disappointment – he had hoped they could have had a conversation about it and other such remarkable creatures now that the opportunity had presented itself.
“Thank you, Scamander. Have a nice evening, boss, and… sorry.”
Having mumbled the words, Kilonski twirled around and hurried back inside, broad shoulders hunched, looking like a man on the run, but Newt barely even noticed it now that he had a nuicander – a real, actual nuicander! – in his care.
“Beautiful, isn’t it,” he said, eyeing the nuicander with admiration.
Percival sounded wistful. Newt thought he felt Percival's eyes lingering on him but when he turned to look at him, Percival was staring fixedly at the nuicander in the glass. Happy that someone seemed to finally know how to appreciate the nuicander, Newt began to tell Percival of it, to describe nuicanders’ various interesting attributes, pointing out its claws and eyes and the genitalia - the nuicander seemed to be a female, although it was difficult to tell for sure without closer examination - and Percival let him talk, never once interrupting, although Newt could have sworn that Percival kept on staring at him instead of the lovely nuicander.
Newt still hadn't managed to shake the thought off now that the idea had been planted in his head.
The possibility lingered there.
"Is that a serial number on its belly?"
Percival's sudden question made Newt blink. Percival had pulled the wine glass close to his face and was now glowering at the nuicander in it, eyes intent and sharp.
Newt stood up on the tips of his toes to see the nuicander's belly better, and, yes, there, written on its shell was indeed the serial number 652-ss3 - Newt had been too excited to study the nuicander's marks, distinctive to its species, that he had ignored such an obvious thing in favor of getting a closer look at the claws.
It was, to put it mildly, embarrassing. He should have been more observant - what kind of a magizoologist did he think he was, if he didn't notice a serial number on a creature's belly!
"This is a confiscated creature!" Percival came to the conclusion, sounding suddenly so furious that a shiver ran down Newt's spine. "Property of the department! That son of a bitch, that absolute bastard tried to trick you on- He thought you would- Merlin, I will kill him!"
Who knows what Percival would have done, but it turned out that Kilonski was nowhere to be found. It was like the man had gone into hiding.
Newt didn't mind because Percival let him keep the nuicander.
Perhaps that was the way Kilonski had intended it, he thought cheerfully.
I was planning on including Tina in this chapter, but the chapter became longer than anticipated so she might make her appearance in the next chapter, we'll see.
Thank you for all the kudos and comments! Have I told you that I love the people who take the time to comment? Because I do. ;)
“Percival?” Newt asked carefully when the two of them were grooming Elizabeth, one of Newt’s three pompophants, deep in his suitcase. “I was wondering… I mean, could I perhaps talk to you about… a matter? A personal matter. When you have time?”
Percival, with the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to his elbows, two buttons undone to reveal his hairy chest, stood but a feet apart from Newt, attention focused on Elizabeth and the chisel he was running along her grey scales to clean the dried dung and mud off them. Elizabeth wasn’t minding either one of them and kept instead on munching the carrots her two carers had brought for her.
“I’ll make you time, if I don’t otherwise have it,” was Percival’s generous offer. “And you can talk to me about anything you like. It is always an honor to be your confidant, Newton.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that.”
Newt couldn’t stop looking at the dark hair on the back of Percival’s hands. What would it feel like? Soft? Coarse? His fingers itched to caress it.
Newt didn’t have hair on the back of his hands and he seemed to be generally less hairy than Percival. He hadn’t really noted this difference of theirs before, up until a few weeks ago, but now that he had, he couldn’t stop not noticing it. And not only did he notice, but he also wanted to touch, to feel, like he never had before, to run his hands on the firm body, to find the ways they were different, Percival and he – to find them by touch, with his hands, with his mouth, as scandalous as that was to admit even to himself. He wanted to study Percival’s body, wanted to discover it, yearned to learn it.
It was a burning passion, as strong as the one he felt when discovering a new creature, but different in every other aspect. This longing, this yearning was wilder, raw, not at all proper, not something he would ever discuss in polite company – or in any company, for that matter.
Newt’s eyes moved up the bare arms, the sleeves of the white shirt, rolled up to Percival’s elbows. He took in the smooth dark blue vest and let his gaze linger on the broad shoulders.
He wanted to lift his ankles up onto Percival’s shoulders, wanted to keep them there, wanted Percival holding them there.
With his face burning, Newt swallowed and looked away, only for his eyes to focus on Percival’s thighs, bigger and much more muscular than Newt’s own. Percival would be a heavy weight on him, Newt knew. If he chose to climb on top of Newt, Newt would be trapped between his body and whatever surface would happen to be beneath them. Percival would be stronger than Newt, more powerful, more in control – and Newt would love it.
It had been two weeks since Jacob Gloomboot had first referred to Newt as such, but now that the idea had been planted in his head, Newt hadn’t been able to shrug it off. He hadn’t wanted to shrug it off – quite the opposite: he had begun to feed it, to imagine what it would be like to be Percival’s.
He had found himself taken by the idea.
Percival’s sweetheart. That’s what he wanted to become.
The problem was, Newt hadn’t ever had an intimate relationship with anyone and the few friendships he had been fortunate enough to cultivate over the years hadn’t at all prepared him for pursuing a romantic relationship. He therefore didn’t know how people went about these things, he didn’t know how romantic relationships began, what people did to get into a romantic relationship.
(Newt wondered if everyone else knew these things by default, if he was different in this manner also, but chose not to dwell on such thoughts since they never led him anywhere where he particularly wanted to go.)
Queenie would have known what to do, Newt was sure, and Jacob and Tina might have been of help, too, but somehow it wouldn’t have felt right to ask them. In fact, it wouldn’t have felt right to discuss such a matter with anyone but Percival, not only because Percival was the one Newt was interested in pursuing but also because Percival was his best friend – the only person with whom Newt would have been comfortable enough to discuss such a matter in the first place.
“When a male pompophant finds a female pompophant in estrus, he nudges her rear end with his versatile trunk to encourage her to release urine,” Newt was speaking, fast, before he was quite aware he was doing so. “When the female releases urine, the male tastes the urine to see if she is in estrus and ready to mate. A female pompophant will release larger amounts of urine for a male pompophant that she particularly likes.”
“Interesting,” said Percival in his calm manner. He sounded amused and offered Newt a warm smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling up in the manner Newt liked so very much. “I wasn’t aware of that.”
“I was,” Newt sighed and his shoulders dropped, ”and the truth is, I could describe – in detail – how hundreds upon hundreds of creatures find their mate and how the mating process progresses for each species, but while I know all that, I do not have the slightest clue about-“ Newt swallowed and lowered his voice as if disclosing a jealously guarded secret, “I do not have a clue about how I should go about pursuing a romantic relationship with someone I like.”
Suddenly he found it terribly difficult to look at Percival and so he turned his back to the wizard and hurried to clean Elizabeth – it felt safer than seeing whatever expression was on Percival’s face. He scrubbed the dung off Elizabeth’s scales furiously, never once looking in Percival’s way, although he could feel Percival’s eyes now fixed on him.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I was hoping that you might, uh, I mean, that you might have some advice? Regarding that. About how I should let them know that I was interested. In having a r-romantic relationship with them, that is.”
From the sounds of it, Percival had stopped cleaning Elizabeth. Newt could sense Percival stepping closer to him, right behind him, where Percival stood silently for several long minutes, for long enough for Newt to start worrying his lip like he only ever did when he was either particularly nervous or particularly distraught.
Surely Percival wasn’t offended by anything Newt had said?
Perhaps Percival, observant as ever, had guessed that Newt was thinking about him and perhaps he wasn’t nearly as taken by the idea as Newt was. Perhaps Percival didn’t return Newt’s feelings nearly as enthusiastically as Newt had thought he might and was now therefore planning on turning Newt down kindly, in such a manner that their friendship wouldn’t suffer.
When Percival eventually spoke, his voice was deep and low, his breath hot and warm against Newt’s neck, so close the two of them were now standing.
“You’ve found someone.” It was more a statement than a question. “Someone with whom you’d like to pursue an intimate relationship.”
“Yes.” Newt’s answer was but a fast exhale, something not unlike a gasp, it was all he could manage from the sudden tightening of his throat.
A hand, larger than his own, took a hold of his wrist to halt the furious scrubbing, to halt all his movement. Strong fingers wrapped themselves around his wrist, the thumb gave a hint of a caress before the movement stopped.
Newt wanted to lean back against the warm chest, but he didn’t, reminding himself that it wouldn’t be proper, not yet when he hadn’t made his intentions clear to Percival.
While he hadn’t yet had a romantic relationship, it wasn’t quite true that Newt was entirely inexperienced when it came to romance and intimacy: Leta Lestrange had, after all, once tried to kiss him during their fifth year at Hogwarts. It had taken his teenage self completely off guard, as it hadn’t occurred to him beforehand that she might have been interested in him in a romantic way, and he had, much to his shame, been a little too forceful when he had pushed her off him. She hadn’t taken it well either and gradually – but inevitably – they had begun to spend less and less time together until eventually only the memory remained of their once blossoming friendship, a fact that still filled Newt with regret.
(A bigger part for the end of their friendship had been the way Newt had caught Leta torturing a pixie during their sixth year and the duel that had resulted from that before he had been expelled, but that was something Newt didn't want to think about since he wanted his heart to hold some warmth and fondness for the witch who had been his dearest childhood friend, despite of everything.)
Nevertheless, due to the experience Newt had had with Leta, he now knew that he shouldn’t just spring something like a kiss – or any other form of physical intimacy – on his love interest; he hadn’t liked it when it happened to him and he didn’t want Percival to feel put off by him either. No, matters like these needed to be thought through carefully and all parties involved needed to be given enough time to process them, in particular when the love interest in question happened to be one Percival Graves. Things like rules and protocols and correct ways to go about things were as important to Percival as creatures were to Newt and therefore it was vital that Newt didn’t exasperate him by doing this all wrong.
“You have found someone,” Percival said again. His voice was so soft it almost made him sound vulnerable. “You have found someone… and you have come to me in the hopes that I will help you to get together with them.”
“Yes,” was again Newt’s answer.
“I mean,” he hurried to continue, clearing his throat, “it’s just, I don’t want to ruin the relationship by- by doing something wrong, and while I’m not entirely inexperienced when it comes to r-romance and i-intim- intimacy, seeing as I was once almost kissed by my friend, Leta, I still don’t know how I should tell them, how I should let them know that I’m… interested.”
He swallowed hard when Percival’s hold on his wrist tightened.
“I don’t want to… m-make them uncomfortable in any way. So I wanted to ask for your advice since you’re my best friend and I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about this with anyone else. I trust you.”
The hand holding onto his wrist withdrew and Percival’s bulk disappeared from behind him, leaving Newt feeling unexpectedly cold and almost bereft. When Newt turned around, he saw that Percival had taken several steps backwards and was now standing by the basket which contained the carrots they had brought for Elizabeth, John-John and Mubel, the three pompophants.
When their gazes met, Percival crossed his arms on his chest, the chisel still in hand, and gave Newt a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Newt had a feeling that Percival didn’t see.
“I wish you happiness, Newt.”
After a few silent moments – during which Newt tried rather desperately to think of something more to say to explain himself better – Percival unfolded his arms and threw the chisel violently aside in order to pick up the basket. Turning his back to Newt, Percival marched up to the palm trees under which Mubel was jumping up and down eagerly like the little pompophant he was. Percival proceeded to throw carrots at Mubel, one after another, and Mubel caught them all with his trunk, screeching in joy. Soon loud crunching sounds filled the air between Newt and Percival.
“You should introduce your love interest to your friends,” Percival spoke eventually, not looking at Newt. “Why don’t you invite us all for tea today. Your place. At five.”
It was not a request.
“If you want my l-love interest to meet my friends,” Newt dared himself to say, despite of not knowing whether it was the right way to go about things, “then you must be there to meet everyone.”
A smile, somehow tense, appeared on Percival’s face, but he still refused to look at Newt.
“You can count on it, Newt. I will be there.”
Newt’s one-room apartment was cramped and messy, and there were wet clothes drying on the clothesline that hang above it all, above the table at which Newt and his four guests were now sitting. The scent of pine soap was a welcoming contrast to the bitter smell of burnt raisin buns Newt had tried to bake (the baking had been going relatively well until he had realized that his two furbels had been about to escape from their metal can which had been enough to distract him from the baking with the results that the buns were now slightly more black than they were supposed to be and the apartment had flour in places where flour wasn’t usually found), but the dripping water drops were cold and distracting and not even their fresh scent was enough to compensate for it.
“Terribly sorry,” Newt said with a wince when yet another water drop hit the table. “About the laundry, I mean.”
Percival grunted in acknowledgement, glaring down at his tea cup like it had just called him disorganized, while Tina nodded with a sigh that had a somewhat resigned note to it. Rodilus, jovial as ever, was dabbling his forehead dry for the third time in a matter of minutes with a bright red handkerchief. He gave Newt a wink, making a crude joke about certain body parts he wouldn’t mind getting “dirty and wet” in Newt’s apartment – which was enough to make Queenie giggle in delight and Percival to snap in two the chocolate biscuit he had been holding.
Swearing, Percival dropped the biscuit and its crumps down onto his plate. With a snap of his fingers, he then had a bottle of gin appearing on the table right in front of him. The cork opened with a soft thump and Percival took a drink straight from the bottle.
It was disappointing that Percival wasn’t enjoying himself. If they wanted to become sweethearts, Newt thought, they needed to get to know each other’s friends, that was easy enough to agree with. It was also why – after having invited both Tina and Queenie for their regular Tuesday tea (Jacob he hadn’t invited due to Queenie’s request, she hadn’t yet told Jacob that she was a witch and she wasn’t comfortable with having him around Aurors) – Newt had popped by to see Rodilus, who was Percival’s friend. Despite of the unease he still felt around the boisterous Senior Auror, Newt had somehow managed to convey the message that Rodilus was expected to join them for tea at five o’clock at Newt’s apartment in Brooklyn. Rodilus had grinned at him, promising to be there on time, and Newt had smiled in turn, hoping that having one of his own friends around would make Percival more comfortable when surrounded by Newt’s friends.
Clearly that hadn’t worked since Percival now seemed, if anything, even more miserable than he had when Newt had yelled at him some five months ago over the gudgie Percival had accidentally stepped on.
“Why don’t you just dry them off with a spell?”
“I can’t use a drying spell on them because they were in contact with furber drool,” Newt felt compelled to answer Tina’s question. “Furbel drool never reacts favorably to spells and the results can be outright unpredictable – occasionally explosive. I haven’t yet managed to figure out the reason why that is which is why I have decided to research the subject more closely.”
“What’s a furbel?” Queenie wanted to know, eyes sparkling as she leant closer. “Is it a dangerous creature? If I need to have drool on my dress, I’d rather it was at least drool of a real beast. A proper beast drooling over you – the dream of every girl!”
She laughed – and Newt saw her winking at Rodilus, who grinned at her, clearly enjoying her sense of humor. Tina, on the other hand, looked mortified. Her face was flushed and she kept shifting on the wooden box Newt had given for her to use as a chair (Queenie was sitting on Newt’s only chair – it was a bit wobbly and had Graphorn claw-marks all over, but it wasn’t dirty or anything. Newt had done his best to turn three piles of books into tripod stools for Percival, Tina and Rodilus, but he had run out of time and that was why the three of them – and Newt himself – were now sitting on wooden boxes he usually used for storing vegetables for those of his creatures that liked vegetables. Newt hoped his guests didn’t mind the faint smell of dirt and turnips – he quite liked it, but not everyone did, he was aware).
Every time Tina took a sip of her blackberry tea, she gave Percival a nervous glance like she was worried she would get a coughing fit or embarrass herself in some other way in front of her boss – Newt could sympathize, it wasn’t like Junior Aurors were in a habit of having tea with the head of department, especially not while there was water dripping on them from someone’s wet trousers.
Still, Percival and Tina had been over for tea at Newt’s often enough that he would have hoped they would have been more comfortable around each other by now – not that Newt, of all people, would have been one to tell people to be comfortable in social situations, seeing as he himself had often trouble just looking others in the eye.
The first time Newt had invited both Percival and Tina for tea, the two of them had stood rigidly at the far ends of Newt’s one-room apartment, a steaming tea cup in one hand, a biscuit in the other. The atmosphere had been so awkward that even Newt had been aware of it, despite of not being the greatest when it came to social skills and reading social situations.
That had, however, happened months ago – even before Newt had yelled at Percival over the gudgie – and since then Newt had invited the two – along with Queenie – over for tea so many times that he liked to think that Percival and Tina were already on their way to becoming friends. They were becoming friends for sure.
Slowly. Very slowly. But gradually.
Percival and Tina might not have been all that confident about it, but Newt knew they would eventually become friends. Seeing as they had had both befriended Newt, who wasn’t remarkable in any way and had had trouble initially talking to them, surely it shouldn’t have been such a hardship for the two of them to want to befriend each other – how could they not become friends, two such remarkable people.
Queenie had been fast to take a liking to Percival – or at least to accept his presence in their lives. Initially she, too, had however been uncomfortable around him due to the way she wasn’t able to read his thoughts.
“Can you even imagine how unsettling it is to look someone straight in the eye and not know what they are thinking about!” she had bemoaned – up until Tina had told her, rather sharply, that yes, they were very well aware of what that was like, thank you very much, since they could never read anyone’s mind, eye contact or not. Queenie had fallen silent with a silent “oh…” but since then she had taken an interest in Percival, apparently finding it fascinating to “experience interaction like regular witches and wizards did”.
Rodilus’ mind Queenie had apparently been able to read, judging from the surprised, disbelieving expression on her face when the two of them had first met some half an hour earlier. Her disbelieving expression had soon turned into one of mischievous cheer and she had pulled him hurriedly aside, only to start whispering with him furiously in one of the corners. Newt had wondered about it at the time, but then Percival had arrived – which had been enough to draw his full attention.
Percival had entered the apartment like he owned it, dressed in his most regal suit, the black one he usually only ever wore when he went to particularly important meetings with the president; it hadn’t been Percival casually walking in, but Director of Magical Security making an entrance, and that had been enough to silence even Queenie, who generally talked and giggled and chattered in an hour more than Newt did in a full day.
Percival had proceeded to take Newt’s three guests in, looking Queenie, Tina and Rodilus all up and down in turn as if to assess them, before he had marched straight to Newt and had wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pulling Newt flush to his side. Newt hadn’t had the chance to stay by Percival’s side for long, however, since that had been the moment Queenie and Rodilus had decided that they wanted to dance – which had resulted in Newt having to dance with the both of them – since they both insisted and Newt hadn’t been able to say no – while Tina had attempted to have small talk with Pervical, who had been so focused on looking in Newt’s direction that he hadn’t much participated in her one-sided conversation.
Now that the dancing was thankfully over, Newt was sitting with his guests at the small table which was tucked just so between the bed and the bookshelf. Rodilus was sitting on his left, arm wrapped casually around Newt’s shoulder, while Queenie sat on his right, a hand on Newt’s arm. Percival was sitting on the opposite side of the table with Tina between him and Queenie. He had an unreadable look on his face and the few times he smiled, the smile never reached his eyes.
Newt didn’t like that at all. They weren’t having tea to make Percival miserable. They were having tea so that Newt and Percival could spend time with each other’s friends.
Percival’s bad mood was contagious and the tea was over sooner that Newt would have liked. Rodilus was the first one to leave with a pat on Newt’s bum and a jaunty wave – and a request to get Kilonski assigned back from Alaska where Percival had sent him for a course on “self-control and proper guidance” some two weeks earlier – and it didn’t take long for Tina and Queenie to follow his suit. Queenie kissed Newt’s cheek and Tina ruffled his already messy hair – and then the two were gone, apparating away from the other side of the threshold, leaving Newt alone with Percival.
Newt pulled the door closed and turned around with a soft sigh. He was planning on asking Percival whether he would like to stay for a little while longer, but whatever question Newt might have had in his mind died on his lips when he found himself face to face with Percival as soon as he had turned around. Percival was standing close enough to touch, looking down at him with something dark, something wild, something dangerous in his eyes, and before he knew it, Newt found himself backed against his closed front door by Percival’s presence alone.
Percival wasn’t touching him, even though they were close enough for their chests to have grazed each other had one of them taken a deep breath – Newt, for his part, was now unable to take deep breaths: his heart was pounding and his breath was coming fast like he had been running after several Nifflers. Percival loomed over him, silently, in an almost predatory manner, and when he suddenly put his left hand against the door, next to Newt’s head, and leant down, closer to Newt, Newt had to swallow several times to try to ease up the tightening of his throat.
Up close, the faint scent of Percival’s cologne – tarragon, grapefruit, orange blossom, vetiver and amber – mixed with Percival’s natural scents felt as powerful as Percival’s presence forcing Newt against the door.
“Which one of them was it?” Percival’s voice was soft, but it had an almost desperate edge to it. “Tell me, Newt. Which one of them is the lucky bastard to hold your heart? Was it Hamsipood? Or one of the Goldstein sisters?”
“None of them.”
Newt’s voice was barely a whisper. Usually struggling to meet people’s eyes, he now couldn’t look away from the dark pair staring down at him. The intensity of it all had him trying to back away, but he couldn’t get anywhere from the hard, unyielding door behind him and the dark eyes pinning him in place from above.
“None of them,” Percival repeated, close enough for Newt to feel the warmth puffs of his breaths on his face. “So you did not invite your love interest for tea, after all.”
Newt swallowed hard. His gaze snapped down to Percival’s lips as if on its own accord. He could feel his cheeks reddening.
“I did,” he said softly. “He was here.”
“But it was not Rodilus,” he emphasized, just to make sure Percival wouldn’t misunderstand him.
I shamelessly copied the thing about pompophant mating rituals from a site that describes the mating rituals of giraffes. Plagiarism at its worst. I'm ashamed. Ashamed, I tell you.
As always, I shared the chapter with you by way of thanking all those lovely people who made my day by commenting and leaving kudos!
Newt looked up in Percival’s eyes. They were focused intently on him like Percival’s entire world was right there between the two of them, like he had for once forgotten all about work, the stress of his job, all his responsibilities, in order to focus just on Newt.
His pupils were blown wide.
Mouth suddenly dry, Newt licked his lips. He lifted a trembling hand up to Percival’s face, hesitating only a little before letting his palm rest on the cheek. The skin under his touch was warm and a little rough where there was already a hint of stubble despite of Percival’s pedantic grooming habits.
Dizzy, not quite believing he was daring to do this, Newt stared at his own hand cradling Percival’s face. He moved his thumb slowly in a caress and Percival released a shaky breath, his eyes falling closed.
“Do you understand what it is I’m saying?” Newt managed to ask, softly. “Do you now understand it is you whom I would like to pursue?”
“Newt,” Percival’s voice broke. It sounded like a plea. “Newt.”
Percival breathed in and exhaled slowly, shakily, and his breaths were hot on Newt’s skin, their chests grazed each other with every deep breath he took. Newt didn’t know where to look – at Percival’s closed eyes, his thumb caressing Percival’s cheek, the inviting lips mere inches from his own.
“You mean I could have you.”
Having spoken the soft words, Percival opened his eyes – only to catch Newt looking down at his lips. He made a sound like a growl deep in his throat and swayed sharply forward – before pulling just as sharply back like he had been about to kiss Newt but had changed his mind at the last possible moment.
His face was flushed, as Newt knew his face was too, and they were now both breathing fast. Percival’s shoulders were visibly rigid, his entire body looked tense like he was about to fight – or make love. The scent of his cologne, the scent of him was making Newt dizzy.
Newt moved closer, enough so for them to come to stand flush against each other. He offered Percival a shy smile from behind his hair.
“Newt,” Percival said hoarsely.
He grabbed Newt by the caressing hand.
“Newt. You must stop.”
Newt’s thumb came to a halt.
Percival detached Newt’s hand from his face and lowered it by Newt’s side before letting go of it and taking a slow step backwards, then another, putting distance between Newt and himself. He was dragging his feet like he was reluctant to back away. Newt tried to follow – only for Percival to place a hand on his chest and to push him back, gently.
Percival cleared his throat. His tone was flat when he spoke, almost like he didn’t want to say the words but felt compelled to do so.
“I am flattered, Newt. Very much so, in fact. But you must understand – and I must make this clear: friends is all that we can ever be, you and I. I will not have a romantic, intimate relationship with you. You must settle for friendship with me.”
Newt’s face must have fallen because Percival instantly continued in a rather hurried manner, “I will be a loyal friend to you, Newt, I promise. You can depend on me for as long as I live. I will be there for you, I will protect you – I will protect you and your creatures and all else that you care about – and you can come to me with whatever ails you. I will be the friend you deserve. I will let you go to… someone else. I will not stand in your way. I will- I will help you to find someone, someone good, someone who will make you happy, someone who-”
“I don’t want anyone else. I want you!”
Newt could feel hot tears forming in his eyes. While he had known – in some distant, detached manner – that Percival might turn him down, he still hadn’t expected it, not in all actuality, not as a real possibility. He had, after all, caught Percival looking at him many times with that same hunger he had caught himself looking at Percival.
Percival had just now been affected by Newt’s admission, had he not? By the way they had stood but a hair apart, their breathing merged as one? His body certainly had – he was still flushed, his pupils were still blown wide, and Newt couldn’t help but keep glancing down at the evident bulge in Percival’s trousers. Newt wanted to have the bulging organ in him, he wanted to seethe it, with his hands, with his mouth, with his a-arse, but Percival wasn’t giving him the permission to even imagine holding it, seeing it, watching it waking up and growing to its full size.
“I know you like men as you like women,” Newt said matter-of-factly even as he fought against the mortification, bitter disappointment and hurt caused by Percival’s rejection. “You have introduced me to some of your past flames and there were men among them. So please tell me what is it about me personally that makes it impossible for you to consider a romantic relationship with me?”
Perhaps Newt might not have had the courage to ask – he might have just nodded frantically, apologized profusely and bid Percival hasty goodbyes while all the while holding back tears – if it hadn’t been for the way Percival hadn’t yet taken his eyes off him.
Percival was still staring at him, eyes longing and filled with sadness instead of the embarrassment and awkwardness one might have expected to see in the eyes of someone who had just turned down their best friend’s unwanted advances. He was staring at Newt like Newt was something immeasurably precious, like Newt was the one who had just turned him down, like he wanted Newt but couldn’t have him. His lips were a thin line.
A tear rolled down Newt’s cheek and he wiped it angrily away – sometimes he really hated how sensitive he was. Percival looked from Newt’s tear-streaked cheek to his eyes, and Newt met his gaze defiantly even as more tears insisted on joining the first one. Percival, looking helpless, was the first one to turn his face away.
“I did not mean to make you cry, Newt.”
“I know. You never mean it.”
Percival fished for one of his black silk handkerchiefs from his breast pocket and held it out to Newt who took it and did his best to dry his face. He kept on sniffling, until Percival eventually broke the heavy silence that had fallen between them.
“I admit-” his voice sounded loud in the otherwise silent apartment, “I admit you are as lovely as anything, Newton. Your words are… sweet, and I am not unaffected by them – as you must have noticed, judging from the way you keep looking down at the front of my uniform trousers.”
Had Newt not already been flushed, despite of his tears, he would have now blushed. Handing the handkerchief back to its owner, he casted his eyes down to stare at his sock-glad toes, unable to look at Percival now that he had been caught staring at such a private body part without permission. He hoped Percival wasn’t mad at him.
“If you think I’m ‘as lovely as anything’,” he nevertheless braved on, “then why would you not want to have a romantic relationship with me?”
“I would- I would let you k-kiss me, if you wanted to,” he added quietly, hastily, not daring to look up.
There was silence - then a heavy sigh and the sound of retreating steps. When Newt raised his gaze, he saw Percival standing in the middle of the apartment with his back to Newt, shoulders hunched, head bent.
The Sun was already setting and the one window didn’t provide much light. The shadows where long and flickering in the candlelight and they made Percival look like a figure out of one of those baroque paintings Hogwarts had been so full of.
“I had someone executed today.”
That was not at all what Newt had expected to hear.
“I’m not going to tell you details, but I don’t regret ordering the execution; they deserved it,” Percival continued. “My world is full of darkness, Newt. I have fought evils most people wouldn’t believe existed and tomorrow when I get back to work, I will continue doing so. I will hunt down dark wizards and then I will take them down. That’s what I was born to do.”
His fists clenched.
“While my life is all about dealing with darkness and evil, you have chosen to care for creatures no-one else gives a damn about. You have dedicated your life to helping, educating, caring, loving, while my life is to battle, to judge, to kill, to destroy. So, don’t you see, Newt? Do you really not see it? We can be friends, but if you would get deeper involved with me, the darkness of my life would inevitably seep into your life, your life of love and brightness. You are Light, Newt, and I am a Shadow. The love I could give you would not be worth the corruption of your world.”
Newt stared at the stiff form in the middle of the apartment.
Percival had rejected him, not because he didn’t want Newt but because he thought he was protecting Newt by keeping his distance. Judging from his words, Percival did have feelings for Newt, deep feelings. He had spoken like one might to someone they
Newt’s breath caught in his throat and he took an instinctive step towards the man.
“I’m not Light,” he told Percival. “I’m really not. If anything, I’m the Moon – I merely reflect the light people cast on me. Most people see me as someone awkward and off-putting and unpleasant and- and – someone with a dubious character, someone who saves creatures with no disregard whatsoever to human lives – because the light they cast on me is the negative kind of light and they choose to see that negativity casted back on them.”
“You, on the other hand, Percival. You give so much of yourself to the world, you face the evils and darkness so others won’t need to. You believe yourself to be a Shadow, but when I look at you, I see the Sun – it is you who shines brilliantly! You are dependable and so very brave and kind. You are loyal. You are strong. The light you see in me is only visible to you because you cast good light on me – you bring the best out of me, my light is a mere reflection of yours. I feel at home with you.”
Newt didn’t know if he made any sense, but he hoped terribly that Percival with his brilliant mind had been able to understand.
Percival was still standing with his back to Newt, his whole body a taut line. Newt walked around him so they came face to face. Percival regarded him with his head bent, fists clenched.
He looked ready to flee.
“Please, Percival,” Newt pleaded, “let me- let me show you. Let me make you feel it, the way I feel about you. Let me kiss you? You can then decide if you want me or not.”
It felt like an eternity, but eventually Percival gave a terse nod. His eyes burnt with want, with something wild and untamable Newt couldn’t quite name. Percival was powerful, oozing with magic. Percival could be dangerous when he wanted to be.
Newt felt something churning low in his belly not at all unpleasantly.
“A kiss,” Percival said gruffly, looking over Newt’s head as if prolonged eye contact would have been too much for him to bear just then. “Just the one. And then you will agree to accept me as only a friend. Then you will move on.”
“If you still want me to,” Newt lied easily enough – he wouldn’t ever be able to “move on” from Percival.
They were standing face to face in the middle of the one-room apartment in candle light, surrounded by laundry, empty vegetable boxes, scattered books, parchments, quills. The grey plank floor beneath them had flour on it, the dirty teacups were still on the table. The washing stand was mostly hidden by the various items Newt had purchased for his creatures with the money he had made with his first book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The apartment was in every way a place where important things wouldn’t be expected to occur, but yet it now felt like something of utmost importance was about to take place there.
Percival squared his shoulders and took a deep breath.
“Very well, then.”
Newt swallowed hard, terribly nervous despite of the brave front he put on, and leant a little closer.
It hit him then that he had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t know anything about kissing! Surely there was more to kissing than pressing lips together and waiting? Was he supposed to lick Percival’s lips? Or was he supposed to just open his mouth and – what? What? Was he supposed to angle their heads somehow?
The kiss would undoubtedly be clumsy and hesitant, Newt realized with trepidation. The kiss would be terrible and Percival wouldn’t like it. Percival would decide that Newt wouldn’t be worth kissing. And what if Newt would taste terrible? What if his taste would make Percival feel sick?
Suddenly Newt wished dearly that he had let Leta kiss him. They could have practiced together, Leta – with her biting honesty – would have let him know if he tasted bad and Newt would now be able to give Percival the kind of kiss that would convince him to let Newt pursue a relationship with him.
“I haven’t ever kissed anyone before,” he defended the kiss in advance. “It might be a bit clumsy.”
Percival let out a groan and rubbed a hand over his mouth.
“Merlin, give me strength…”
“But I’m a fast learner!” Newt hurried to add, desperate for Percival to stay – he didn’t want to say anything that might startle Percival into leaving. “Perhaps- perhaps you would let me kiss you a few times? Just so I could improve my technic a bit, so you could get a realistic idea of what there could be waiting for you, if you agreed to have a romance with me.”
“I already know what would await me which is why I know this is not a good idea.” Percival didn’t sound happy at all. “I promised you one kiss, so please get on with it. Even my self-control has limits when I’m being tempted to this degree.”
Percival closed his eyes and now just stood there, chest falling and rising fast, waiting, waiting for whatever it was that Newt would do to him.
For Director of Magical Security, it was a rare show of trust.
Newt took a deep breath and stepped closer, closer, close. Percival must have felt his breath on his lips, for they parted, and Newt moved his gaze from Percival’s closed eyes down to his lips.
“Let us try it,” he whispered against the lips, not yet quite touching them with his own. “I- I hope you’ll like it.”
Carefully, nervously, he twined his fingers around Percival’s neck – the pulse in the neck was rapid against his palms, the hair soft against his fingertips – and he whispered something soothing by instinct, to Percival or to himself, not even he knew.
He pulled Percival down to meet him and Percival let him. He let him!
Newt brushed his lips across the corner of Percival’s mouth and – then they were kissing.
The kiss was quite a lot like Newt – hesitant and a little bit awkward and shy – but neither one of them was complaining. After his initial hesitation, Percival took the lead and their lips began to glide slowly against each other. With a rising feeling in his chest, Newt became a little overwhelmed, but he ignored it and soon his mind slowed down. Time itself seemed to come to a halt - kissing felt amazing - and the smooth, wet glide was a sweet, soft contrast to the coarseness of Percival’s stubble against Newt’s lips, against his skin. Some might have complained that the coarse stubble hurt them, but Newt loved the sensation, he would love rubbing his face against it given the chance.
Trying to get closer, Newt shifted a little – and his belly came to unexpected contact with the hard organ in Percival’s trousers. The new sensation – he had never touched another man like this before, certainly not Percival – was more than enough to make Newt shiver. He gasped in the kiss and couldn’t help but grind himself against the demanding hardness.
Percival pulled back with a grunt of a swear, and then Newt was being pushed backwards by the firm bulk of an Auror until his back hit the bookshelf. Strong hands came to hold him, one by the waist, another by the leg Percival lifted up around his own waist.
"You're perfect." Percival's voice was husky. "So fucking perfect."
When Newt felt sudden cool air on his skin, he glanced down at where their bodies were touching and saw his shirt buttons undoing themselves silently, slipping through buttonholes as if of their own accord. He looked back up at Percival’s face. The dark eyes appeared almost black, and they held such heat, hunger and lust that the sight was enough to make Newt moan. He let his head fall back against the bookshelf, baring his throat to Percival who wasted no time in attacking it.
His throat was being mouthed, his sides and his chest – now bared for all the world to see – had two hands roaming all over them like Percival, grunting, was trying to mark him his by touch alone. Newt, with one leg wrapped around Percival, was standing on the tip of his toes, balanced between the shelf and Percival. He had an edge of a book pressing against his back, but he hardly noticed it, his mind only on the wet hungry mouth on his throat, the warm body pushed forcefully flush against his own, on the hardness of his groin, on the blindingly pleasurable pressure of Percival’s arousal grinding against his, on the hands that rubbed against his skin, travelled up and down his sides, mapped his belly, groped and touched and demanded more.
If his first kiss had been like he himself was, shy and timid, his second kiss was like Percival – daring, passionate, intense. Newt could taste Lockhart’s Dry Gin - Percival's preferred gin brand - on the tongue claiming his mouth and a thought – he would never again be able to drink any kind of alcohol without thinking of Percival – passed through his mind before it, too, was gone and all that was left was the need, the excitement, Percival giving and taking, Percival in control, Percival’s arousal, their love for each other.
While the demanding hands roamed over his body, Newt still had his hands twined around Percival’s neck. When Percival trailed a line of wet kisses from his chest up to his mouth, leaving a trail of saliva behind, Newt, boldened, allowed them to move first down to unbutton the vest, then up to the white collar. The first button came undone while they kissed, despite of the tremble of Newt’s fingers, and so came the second, the third, the fourth, and Newt sneaked his hand under the cotton shirt, gave the bare muscular chest the first tentative touch – and then suddenly Percival’s mouth was gone from his and Percival pushed himself off him.
They were both panting. Percival, eyes wild as he took in Newt’s ravished appearances, looked startled like he had been taken off guard, like he hadn’t expected for things to go quite so far. He ran a trembling hand through his hair, the buttons of his dark blue vest all undone, his shirt hanging mostly open, revealing his pecks and the lean belly and the dark hair on his torso, and Newt wanted very much to lick him.
“I apologize,” Percival said, still out of breath. “Merlin, you only just had your first kiss – and here I am molesting you against a fucking bookshelf like you were nothing but a passing fancy I was in a hurry to fuck! You deserve better than this, Newt – never forget that. I lost control. I do not know what came over me – although I acknowledge it is no excuse.”
“I wouldn’t mind you coming all over me.”
Newt had said it before he had even realized he had opened his mouth. It was impossible to say which one of them was more surprised by his boldness. Newt was scandalized – but also a little proud: Had he really said something as daring as that? Who would have thought!
The bulge in Percival's trousers had, if possible, grown even bigger, but Percival, for his part, was now gaping at Newt like Newt had just declared that he was going to give up magic and live the rest of his life as a Muggle.
“You clearly have spent too much time with Rodilus.”
“I like Rodilus,” Newt decided.
Something in Percival’s expression closed off. He folded his arms across his chest – only to seemingly realize that his shirt was hanging open, seeing as he quickly unfolded his arms and began to button it up, much to Newt's regret.
“Hamsipood’s life is nearly as dark as my own. He wouldn’t be good enough for you either.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s not him I’m interested in, after all.”
Percival gave him a dark look, even as he finished buttoning his shirt.
“I do trust you to make your own decisions, Newton, but you are an idealist, while I have always been a realist. You see things as you believe they are. I see things as they are. I know what would happen to you, if I allowed you to become a fixed part of my life. I wouldn’t bear to be the reason for your downfall. That is why I must refuse your offer to deepen our relationship, as tempting as I admit the offer is.”
“This,” Percival gestured between the two of them, “can never happen again. I’m sorry, Newt, I truly am. You wouldn’t even be ready to- and it doesn’t matter because this won’t be happening.”
“It was-" he swallowed hard, evading Newt's gaze, “an honor to be your first kiss. I will cherish the memory for as long as I live.”
Percival took his coat from the bed down onto which he had put it when he had first entered the apartment.
“Please, don’t go,” Newt hurried to plead, but by then Percival was already gone and Newt was standing alone in his apartment, hard and aching and flushed.
He could still feel Percival’s hands, his mouth on him, their erections grinding together. He wanted it all back, wanted Percival back.
Newt wondered if Percival might come to his senses if he sent him a howler.
Well, well, well. *shakes head at Graves and sighs*
I began to write these fics for my own enjoyment because at the time there weren't yet all that many Gramander stories around even though I wanted to read some. I figured someone else might be in a similar situation and so I decided to share. I'm glad it looks like many of you are enjoying this as much as I'm enjoying writing it!
Once again, sharing is my way of thanking you for the comments and kudos!
Chapter 7: Newt: Gentle and Coaxing
This chapter is specially dedicated to silverysnow. ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Newt didn’t send any a howler to Percival. Instead, he decided to go for a more gentle, coaxing approach.
That was why he baked thin barley bread for breakfast the very next morning, put the bread – as well as apples, cheese, butter, boiled eggs, sausages and two bottles of milk – in a wicker basket and went to meet Percival at his home, in the three-storey limestone mansion on the 76th street.
While the mansion might have looked welcoming with its white walls and the golden lanterns flanking the black front door, Newt was more than aware that it was protected by layers and layers of protection charms – it had, after all, been a home to many generations of very capable, precise, thorough Aurors.
(The front door had bitten Newt the first time he had touched it. “My door likes you,” Percival had said with an air of satisfaction when he had given Newt first aid in his precise, effective manner. “Otherwise you would have lost this finger.”)
The mansion had been built by Percival’s great grandfather, Senior Auror Franklin Graves – a descendant of Gondulphus Graves, one of the original twelve Aurors for MACUSA – and Percival’s great grandmother, Alexia Phillimore had moved in when the two of them had gotten married in the early 1840’s or late 1830’s (Newt couldn’t recall the exact year, even though he had seen it several times on a brass plaque below their wedding painting in the ballroom). Since then, the mansion had been the home for the Graves’ family and their house elves.
In fact, not even Gellert Grindelwald had been able to enter the building – which had resulted in the rumor that “Director Graves had finally done it and moved permanently in the department” and that he “would soon demand that every Auror did the same”. As far as Newt knew, Percival’s two house elves – Hetty and Gulp – hadn’t found their master’s behavior out of character either when he had stopped coming home after work, seeing as they, too, had beforehand considered it a possibility that Percival might move in to his work place and only keep the mansion to store his heirlooms.
It was sad. Percival was in a dire need of a life outside of work – and Newt was more than willing to become that life.
If Percival had not been interested, Newt would have accepted the rejection, even though it would have hurt. But since Percival had admitted that he was interested in Newt and had, in fact, deep feelings for him, Newt wasn’t nearly so ready to give up, especially not as Percival had only rejected him due to believing his fixed presence would “corrupt Newt’s world”.
As it happened, Newt didn’t share his views. If anything, he believed they would make each other happier, happy. They would complement each other, different as they were. They would be exactly what the other needed. While Newt, disorganized and often quite tardy, could benefit from Percival’s pedantry, he could in turn be a gentle, understanding, caring presence in Percival’s stressful and loveless life. And when Newt would feel small and insecure, Percival would be a steady shoulder. If there was someone he could depend on, that someone was Percival Graves and he liked to think that Percival felt the same about him.
And besides, it wasn’t like Newt was nearly as pure and uncorrupt as Percival seemed to believe he was. Newt had, after all, smuggled more illegal creatures (to and from various countries all over the world) than all MACUSA’s Aurors put together could name, so technically, Newt was already kind of a hardened criminal – even if he had so far not been sentenced for anything (since he was good enough to not get caught, usually) – and Percival’s presence couldn’t therefore make him much worse. Actually, Percival had the potential to influence him in a positive manner, seeing as he could teach Newt how to go about such matters legally, or at least less illegally.
Newt wanted Percival, and while he usually did his best to avoid all forms of confrontation and conflict, he was in this instance ready to put up a fight to get what he wanted – not that he was going to pressure Percival into anything the man wasn’t comfortable with, no, no, of course not. Newt’s intention was to simply get him to understand that there was no need to sacrifice their love, the future they could have together, a shared lifetime – not for something Percival thought might happen, certainly not because he thought it might keep Newt “bright”.
Bright! Newt was only “bright” in Percival’s eyes because of his gentle heart, his sensitivity – the few qualities Percival lacked but needed in his life. Percival could do with someone gentle, someone who could teach him to use his heart more. Newt could be that someone. Two words, “Be mine,” and Newt would be his. That would be all it would take, Newt wouldn’t require anything more. He would give himself – his body, his heart, all of him, whatever Percival would want – gladly to Percival, if only Percival would accept the offer.
Newt sighed and held the breakfast basket more tightly in his hold. They hadn’t had a fight, not exactly, but somehow it felt like they had, and he had wanted to come to see Percival first thing in the morning to put things right between the two of them.
The weather was crisp, the Sun bright despite of the early hour, and he wondered whether Percival would agree to take a morning stroll with him before going to work.
Trailing a mitten-clad hand on the ornamental railing made of wrought iron, Newt ascended the four steps that took him to the black front door. He knocked on the door, using the golden doorknocker, shaped like the head of an eagle. He had barely managed to let go off it, when the head of the eagle already sprung to life, looking around with its sharp eyes, opening its golden peak.
“Dark witches and wizards beware!” it shrieked in a high-pitched voice, focusing its stare on Newt. “Unless you have come here to repent or to die in a duel, this is no place for you – leave now and you may yet live! Identify yourself, visitor: Friend or foe? Who is it that dares to demand entrance to the residence of The Most Dutiful and Honorable House of Graves?”
Like always when he visited Percival, Newt wondered now, too, how often it had happened that dark wizards and witches had come knocking on the Graves’ door over the decades if the resident Aurors had deemed it necessary to charm their doorknocker to warn criminals off. At least the mansion was in an area mostly resided by magic users and so it was unlikely that any a Muggle might overhear the shrieking – although the Graves, known for their precision, must have taken Muggles in consideration when they had put charms on the knocker and there likely were therefore veiling charms of some kind involved.
“Newt Scamander, friend, not foe. Good morning,” Newt greeted the knocker politely. “I was hoping to see Percival.”
“Mr. Scamander!” the doorknocker sounded delighted. It was no longer shrieking but speaking like a butler might to a longtime family friend. It seemed to have put aside the way it – the brain of the door as it was – had bitten Newt the first time they had met almost a year ago. “You are most welcome! Come in! Come on in, please!”
The door swung open, revealing the large entrance hall.
“Thank you,” said Newt and stepped inside. The door closed behind him quietly and he was left standing alone in the entrance hall, the basket in hand.
Now that they were inside, there was no longer any reason to keep Pickett hidden – from curious Muggles or otherwise – and so Newt allowed the bowtrucker to leave his pocket and to climb up onto his shoulder. Pickett was visibly cheered by this, it even seemed to dance a bit in triumph when it reached Newt’s shoulder.
While Newt had visited Percival’s home many times before, he still liked to look around just like he had the first time he had been invited over. There was, after all, much to see: The floor of the entrance floor was made of dark oak wood and it gleamed in the light of the candles burning in the golden candleholders fixed on the white marble walls. There was a Rococo settee and two chairs, all of the same dark green color, arranged beneath the portraits of Gondulphus Graves, Franklin Graves, Elizabeth Graves and many other members of the Graves’ family Newt didn’t know anything about apart from the likely assumption that they had all been respected Aurors in their time.
The Graves in the paintings – with more or less dark features that had some Percival in them – were all now regarding him and Pickett.
“Good morning,” said Newt politely and a chorus of grunts of acknowledgement echoed in the entrance hall.
The young Alexander Graves whistled, welcoming “the lady of the house home” – only to be reprimanded sharply by all the other portraits.
“Oh,” Alexander Graves bemoaned, covering his handsome face with his arm in an overdramatic gesture, “the woe of being the only portrait with a sense of humor in this entire hall. ‘Graves’ – truly the name our family deserves! So humorless, such a lack of joy.”
“Be quiet,” ordered Jester Graves, his dark moustache quivering. “If you scare Scamander away, I will personally come to your painting and blend your colors!”
“Oh, please, no,” Newt hurried to say and all the Graves in the portraits snapped their eyes to him. It was like being stared intensely down by thirty angry Percivals. “D-Don’t a-argue because of m-me. I d-don’t m-mean to cause t-trouble. Let us all try and get along, s-shall we?”
The paintings fell silent.
“Very well,” Jester Graves – Percival’s Uncle Jester – said eventually. “Percival is the apple of my eye. Wouldn’t want to upset his future spouse.”
Newt sputtered, but none of the paintings were seemingly paying attention to him anymore. They had all gone back to posing in their prestigious manners.
Pickett chirped on Newt’s shoulder.
“Yes, Pickett,” Newt agreed quietly, looking with wide eyes from the paintings up to the chandelier twinkling above it all with its hundreds of crystals – the crystals reminded Newt of twistickles, the singing crystal creatures he had met in a cave in Crete. “Percival’s home is really quite impressive indeed.”
There was a sudden sound like a firecracker going off and Hetty appeared by Newt’s side, her blue eyes as large as the palms of her hands. She was wringing the hem of the white sheet she was wearing and a bright smile quickly formed on her always so pale face when she took in Newt and Pickett.
“Welcome, Master Newt!” she greeted Newt eagerly, curtseying several times so deep her knees verged on hitting the floor. “Welcome, welcome, welcome, Master Newt! Welcome, Master Pickett! Hetty is always happy when Master Newt comes to visit Master Percival! Master Newt is very welcome here and so is Master Pickett, who is dear to Master Newt!”
“Good morning, Hetty,” Newt greeted her in turn, smiling, and Pickett let out a cheerful chirping sound. “I see that you are wearing a new sheet today.”
If house elves could have blushed, Hetty now probably would have. She wrung the hem of her sheet more enthusiastically, standing taller like she was extremely proud of the pure-white cotton fabric wrapped around her thin torso.
“Master Newt noticed!” It sounded like it made her day. “Master Percival gave Hetty money to keep and Hetty bought the sheet for herself with the money Master Percival kindly gave her. It has no holes, Master Newt – look!”
Newt looked. It was a regular cotton sheet, but the sight of it filled Newt with happiness: Percival had listened to him when Newt had talked to him about the treatment of house elves. It had taken months, but eventually Percival had – if only to please Newt (and to make him stop talking about the subject) – agreed to give both Hetty and Gulp some financial compensation for all the work they did for him. It wasn’t much, just some coins per month, but both of the house elves now had money to buy the little things they wanted just for themselves. Hetty had already bought herself a mirror – and now the sheet – while Gulp had stored all his coins in a glass jar so he could “buy something nice for Master Percival for his kindness – what would Master Percival want Gulp to buy?”
“That is the nicest sheet I have ever seen anyone wearing,” Newt stated honestly and Hetty beamed.
Newt put Pickett onto the basket before lowering the basket down onto the oak floor. He took off his mittens, the Hufflepuff scarf and the blue coat, and Hetty smiled the whole time it took for her to hang them onto the hat stand.
He regarded her fondly.
House elves were among the most powerful creatures Newt had had the privilege to talk to. During his life at Hogwarts, he had spent years studying them, getting to know as many of them personally as he had been able to, and he had eventually come to the conclusion that the act of service was for a house elf an important way to help them to control their wild magic:
House elves spent much energy – instinctively – on keeping their extremely powerful wild magic in control, and the more elves needed to make decisions by themselves – the more they were cognitively challenged – the harder it became for them to do that. House elves needed most of their energy for keeping all their wild magic in check, but if no-one gave them tasks to do – if no-one filled their time and they had to think of something to do by themselves – that burdened them and consumed the energy they crucially needed for keeping their powers in control. A house elf who was unable to keep their power in control due to a lack of tasks to complete, turned first sad and gloomy, then unpredictable, possibly even aggressive, and, eventually, self-destructive – although there were, of course, considerable individual differences since some elves were better at controlling their wild magic without completing tasks than others.
There also seemed to be a connection between the completing of tasks and an elf’s ability to do magic – the more an elf completed tasks successfully, the better they were at doing specific spells. Newt didn’t know why this was, exactly, but he speculated it had something to do with their velominal interdomination.
Not only was the act of completing tasks a crucial way for a house elf to control their magic, but Newt was also positive that a successfully completed task also made an elf’s brain release hormones that made them feel “amazing like they were floating in their favorite scents”, as one of Hogwarts’ elves had put it. Similarly, a failed task, an act an elf interpreted as “misbehavior” or refusal to complete a given task released hormones that had house elves feeling like they had just caused “ruin and destruction to all elf kind”. This, in turn, brought to the surface the underlying self-harming behavior – typical to most creatures with considerable powers born of unpredictable wild magic – which had the elves punishing themselves.
In an ideal situation, all house elves could have been living as family members with educated magic users who treated them with kindness, who understood their special needs, the needs typical for their species. This way, house elves would have been given the aid they needed for keeping their wild magic in control and the people living with them would have had someone helping with house chores.
Newt saw no need for house elves to be treated like slaves, like they were things beneath any rights or like they were not worth humane treatment, but unfortunately most witches and wizards didn’t seem to care about the matter or they outright disagreed. In Newt’s mind, it was unforgivable to purposefully mistreat a creature that naturally formed deep attachments and was loyal to the cord, but he had managed to steal enough abused house elves – fifty-eight, to be precise (he had found a new, good family for each stolen elf and, before leaving, had made sure both the elf and their new family were comfortable with the settlement) – to know that some witches and wizards shamelessly used house elves – the magnificent creatures of pure wild magic – for crude needs, for acts Newt wouldn’t have believed anyone to be capable of doing to any an innocent creature unable to consent.
To see for himself that Percival treated his house elves with kindness, with consideration had been a relief for Newt, to say the least, and now Percival had listened to him and had begun to give money to Hetty and Gulp – if Newt hadn’t been endeared before, Percival could have well won him over with this alone.
“Master Percival is in his study,” Hetty let him now know. Her eyes twinkled knowingly like she had seen it from his face whom he had been thinking of, and Newt felt the tips of his ears reddening – he supposed he was really quite obvious with his affections.
“Would Master Newt like some breakfast?”
“Uh, n-no, thank you, Hetty,” he said, picking up the basket and letting Pickett scuttle back up onto his shoulder. “I have brought breakfast for both myself and Percival. I was hoping we could eat together this morning.”
Hetty curtseyed five times, grinning from ear to ear.
“Master Newt knows the way to Master Percival’s heart! Hetty is looking forward to the house becoming more lively when Master Newt one day moves in! Hetty is sure Master Newt will make Master Percival very happy!”
When, she said, not if, and no matter what Newt said to her, he couldn’t make her understand that “Master Newt” and “Master Percival” weren’t yet even romantically involved.
Even though they had kissed the evening before.
Percival was, as Hetty had said, in his study. He was sitting at his desk, flipping through his budget book while occasionally making notes on the margins with the quill Newt had bought for him for his birthday (the present had also included a nib pen, ink well and blotter as well as the nicest writing stand Newt had found – Percival could have afforded a similar set in silver, but he had seemed to have taken a liking to the gift set since the writing stand always stood on his desk and he appeared proud of it). The curtains had been pulled open and the dark paneling of the high walls appeared softer in the morning sun, but despite of that, the sturdy full wall bookshelf – filled entirely with thick books about law, crime and law enforcement – looked just as intimidating to Newt as it always did.
Percival, on the other hand, didn’t look intimidating at all. He hadn’t yet shaved, his stubble was clearly visible even from afar. He was wearing slippers and a cashmere gentleman’s dressing gown, red like wine, on top of his white pajamas. His hair was a mess, sticking out to odd directions, and Newt had a sudden yearning to ran his hands through it to make it even messier.
After being released from Grindelwald’s match box almost a year and a half ago, Percival had let his hair grow a little longer – it was not long by any means, but neither were the sides cropped short anymore. His hair was now just long enough to have a bit of a wave on it, but not so long as to not be fitting to a gentleman of his high status.
Newt was keen on his hair like this, especially in moments like these when Percival hadn’t yet done anything to it and it stuck out like he had just climbed off a broom after having flown against wind. It made him look more relaxed, happier, less burdened.
Rapping on the doorframe to announce his presence, Newt entered the study.
Percival looked up, brows furrowed. His writing hand came to a halt.
There were dark circles under his eyes like he had had trouble sleeping (Had Percival had trouble sleeping because of what had happened between the two of them? If so, their nights had been quite similar at least in that aspect), but upon noticing Newt, the frown disappeared from his face and Newt saw a hint of a smile on his lips. Then Percival seemed to remember that the last they had seen each other, he had bolted after quite some passionate kissing, and his whole body stiffened.
He placed the quill down onto the writing stand and slowly got up to his feet, his expression guarded.
“Newt,” his voice was raspy from sleep – or lack of, thereof. He opened his mouth as if to say something more, but no words came out and he shut it after a moment of looking visibly undecided, conflicted.
The air between them was heavy with tension. Newt could still taste Percival on his lips and he suspected that Percival, too, was now thinking of kissing.
Newt stepped up to the desk and put the basket down onto it, Percival’s gaze a heavy weight on him the whole time. No sooner had he done that when Pickett was already running down his arm, chirping with audible delight. It jumped down onto the desk, scuttled across it over to Percival and took a leap. It landed onto Percival’s left hand and proceeded to hug his thumb, letting out noises of happiness. Blinking, Percival raised his hand up to his face to regard Pickett more closely.
“Hello, little one,” he said softly and Pickett seemed to hug his thumb more tightly. “Did you bring Newt here? Or did I really fall asleep at my desk?”
“You might have,” said Newt, “but if you did, you have already woken up. You are certainly not dreaming now.”
Eyes on the basket, Newt could nevertheless feel the intent look he was being given from the other side of the desk. He refused to look up, suddenly unsure of himself, suddenly once more hurt and embarrassed by being rejected by Percival, of all people.
Rejected even after they had shared a moment of passionate kissing. It wasn’t pleasant.
Squaring his shoulders, Newt reminded himself that he was here to set things right, not to pity himself. He would do his all to make things right, to convince Percival that they would be good together, that they should be together.
“I thought you might want to keep your distance for a little while,” Percival spoke. “I hadn’t expected to see you so soon. In all honesty, I would have thought my home would be the last place you might want to visit.”
Gentle, coaxing, Newt reminded himself. He didn’t want to startle Percival into leaving, again.
“Hardly the last place.” He moved his gaze from the basket to Pickett who was still clinging to Percival’s thumb. It was easier to look at Pickett than at the handsome face of the man he wanted so very much. “I always like to visit you.”
“You are always welcome to visit me. If only as a friend.”
Newt pulled the towel covering the basket off and the scent of freshly baked bread filled the room.
“I brought you breakfast. I know how much you enjoy finances, but perhaps you could eat a little before you continue working on the budget? It’s not yet seven in the morning, after all.”
Newt hadn’t ever before met anyone who would end their evening with kisses only to begin the next morning by getting immersed in budget making. He might not have known much about kissing, but he did suspect that kissing didn’t usually result in budgets – it was just one of Percival’s quirks. Besides, while they had not had an argument, it almost felt like they had, and where Newt might have found comfort in tending to his creatures, Percival would go to paperwork to calm his mind. It just was how they were.
“I baked your favorite bread.”
That caught Percival’s full attention.
“Thin unleavened bread?”
“Made from barley,” Newt confirmed with a bit of a shy smile. “It’s crispy, but not too much. I added some mashed potatoes, too.”
With that, Percival had been won over, proper and good.
The plan “gentle and coaxing” was going rather well so far.
The plan “gentle and coaxing” had three stages. First, Newt needed to get Percival in good moods and make sure that he was no longer tense due to having bolted from Newt’s apartment the evening before. That had now been accomplished, thanks to the perfectly crispy thin unleavened bread.
The second stage was to discuss the Matter and to let Percival know that Newt was not happy at all with the decisions that had been made on his behalf.
“I have decided that I won’t let you waste our love,” Newt therefore said as frankly as he could once the two of them had finished eating breakfast and once the empty basket had been put aside down onto the Persian carpet. Pickett was now playing in the basket, gliding down the sides of the empty milk bottles with visible joy.
“It is my decision, too, you know,” he continued, playing with hem of his orange vest, feeling quite nervous indeed.
Seeing as Percival was only wearing his pajamas and a gown, Newt had made himself more comfortable as well – he had rolled up his sleeves and his bowtie was no longer neatly tied but rather hanging undone around his neck. It was difficult to say whether Percival approved or disapproved of this, but in either case Newt had now counted twenty-one times since sitting down when Percival’s eyes had snapped down to his throat where a love mark, left there by Percival the evening before, was clearly visible.
Newt had done nothing to cover the mark, nor was he planning to. He liked knowing it was there, and while he perhaps should have felt shy about such matters, somehow he didn’t mind at all the idea that someone would notice that Percival had marked him.
“If you decide to make a major life decision on my behalf, I have the right to keep on arguing my point – and my point is that we should be together. We are keen on each other, Percival, and not purely in a platonic manner either as was demonstrated yesterday at my apartment. Therefore, I’m not letting you sacrifice our shared future, the life we could have together. Just so you know.”
That was the second stage completed – he had said what had needed to be said.
In response, Percival sighed and stood up. He went to stand by the nearest window. With his back to Newt, he leant a hand against the paneled wall and looked outside at the quiet 76th street slowly waking up.
“Newt.” It was a sigh, more so than anything else. “I told you yesterday: it’s better you stay away from me. That hasn’t changed overnight.”
It was the time to put the third stage of the plan “gentle and coaxing” into action.
The third stage of the plan “gentle and coaxing” was to remind Percival of what he would be getting if he agreed to make Newt his. This was the stage Newt was both particularly nervous and excited about since it would involve pleasuring Percival, but even though it was now the high time to put his plan into action, Newt was still undecided whether he should offer his hand or his mouth to the man. He wouldn’t be skilled either way, the first time as it would be for him to do something as forward as this.
Quietly, he stood up from his chair and went around the desk to Percival, who was still standing with his back to the room. Newt hesitated a little, unsure of how people usually went about these matters. He raised a hand and placed it on the back before him, right between the shoulder blades.
The back instantly tensed up, the broad shoulders went rigid.
“What are you doing?”
The voice was wary, but Percival was neither pulling away nor telling him to stop. In fact, his breathing was escalating and Newt took it as encouragement. His arms went around the waist, he embraced the – more muscular, stronger – man from behind. The belt of the wine-red gown glided open easily like it had been made for the exact act of Newt pulling it open.
“I ask again: what are you doing, Newton?”
“I’d like to offer you my hand,” Newt explained, a warm flutter in his belly. “Or- or my mouth? If you’d rather? Only, I haven’t ever… I thought it might feel better, if I used my hand, the first time.”
“Ah, you’re trying to seduce me.”
Percival turned around, bringing them face to face. His lips might have been smiling, but his eyes certainly weren’t.
The hand previously placed on Percival’s back came now to rest on his chest along with Newt’s other hand. The pectoral muscles were clearly defined even through the cotton of Percival’s pajama top and Newt couldn’t help but palm them through the fabric. Percival’s breath hitched and his hands shot up to hold Newt by both of his wrists. His grasp was tight, but he wasn’t pulling Newt’s hands off of his chest - if anything, it was almost like he was trying to prevent Newt from pulling away.
“You are playing with fire and you need to stop before you get burnt,” Percival’s words were a stark contrast to his actions. “I suggest you stop it now.”
“I’m not playing with anything.”
When Newt next spoke, his voice was but a whispery huff.
“But if I’m cold, surely I need to get closer to the fire to warm myself up.”
He rubbed up against Percival, couldn’t hold back a moan. The strong hands had now such a tight hold on his wrists it hurt.
“We are both cold, Percival. Let me warm us up. Let me make you feel how much I care about you.”
He tried to go in for a kiss, but Percival turned his face away. His jaw was clenched. Newt felt his breath reflecting hot off it.
“You need to leave now, Newt. You need to leave this room, this house, this street. Stop teasing me and run when you still can.”
“I’d rather stay, thank you.”
Newt chanced a kiss on the clenched jaw, then another.
He had never been one to back away, timid though he might have generally otherwise been.
“I’m warning you,” Percival’s voice was deeper and hoarser than Newt had ever heard it before, it broke at the end. “If you keep on doing that, I’m going to lose control. I’m going to push you down on the floor and take what I want.”
Newt felt giddy at the prospect which must have shown on his face since Percival let out a noise of pure frustration.
“Yes, really. Why would I say it otherwise? Doesn’t it scare you?” He sounded almost offended like he had been trying to scare Newt off. If that was the case, it wasn’t working at all – such threats were a turn on, if anything. “I’m going to pin you down and-“
Percival fell silent and regarded Newt’s flushing face closely, with suspicion.
“You like it when I speak to you like that, don’t you.” He sounded almost resigned – to what, that Newt couldn’t tell. “Yesterday you were kissed for the very first time – and today you’re already looking forward to getting pinned down.”
“Oh, yes,” Newt breathed out. “Very much so.”
His gaze fixed down on Percival’s lips, unable as he now was to meet his eyes. His face felt hot, his breaths were short and soft.
His behavior was- it was- it was scandalous! It was exciting. The churning in his belly had him on the verge of- of- of something, something new, something he hadn’t ever experienced before. He didn’t know what it was, but it had him rubbing against Percival, it had him wanting to get closer, to touch, to be touched. It had him gasping and aware of every move either one of them made.
“There’s nothing I can say to make you change your mind, to make you realize that this is not a good idea, is there.”
By this, Percival was likely referring to the whole idea of the two of them in a romance.
Newt shook his head in response, smiling a little.
Wrists still in a tight hold, he rubbed their groins together. The returning pressure was there – at least one part of Percival’s body was in full agreement with him – this was a marvelous idea. Newt was trembling with it, yearning for it.
“Please, Percival,” he pleaded. “Please, just- just stop thinking for a little while and let your heart rule your actions.”
“It’s not my heart that wants to take control, I assure you.”
“Even better,” Newt whispered, and Percival groaned.
They looked each other in the eye, the heat growing between them. Newt pulled his hands free, Percival released them slowly.
“Let me show you,” Newt whispered and took a hold of Percival’s hand. The fingers twined around his as if of their own accord.
He took the few steps that brought them to the desk. Percival followed along silently, not uttering a word, even his breaths were oddly hushed, fast though they came. Newt moved the chair aside so he could stand by the desk. With his back to Percival, he placed both of Percival’s large hands onto his narrow waist and then bent over the desk, with arms leaning on it, bringing his bottom against the bulging groin behind him.
“I’d probably like it like this,” he confessed, glad that he had his back to the other man – he couldn’t possibly have said something like that to anyone’s face, not even to Percival. “I think I would-“
A sudden, unexpected push right between his shoulder blades made him squeak out loud. The pressure on his back was enough to force him flat against the smooth, cool surface of the desk, and before he knew it, there was a leg forcing his thighs apart. His arms were pinned above his head and a heavy weight landed on him, momentarily stealing his breath.
“I told you to stop teasing me.” Percival’s breath tickled his ear. “I asked kindly. I told you to run. Yet, you didn’t, and here we are.”
“And here we are,” Newt repeated, weakly. His heart was pounding.
Percival must have felt his rapid pulse, or at least his wrists were being caressed as if to calm him down. That was not likely happen, however, Newt was not going to be able to steady his breathing any time soon, seeing as there was something hard being pressed against the cleft between his buttocks. While he might have been caressing the skin of Newt’s wrists with his thumbs, Percival didn’t seem to be in any a hurry to remove the pressure against his bottom.
Not that Newt wanted him to, either.
Pickett had climbed up on the desk. It was now standing a few inches away from Newt’s nose, regarding the two of them, its upper body slightly tilted like it didn’t quite understand what was going on, like Percival on top of Newt was confusing to it.
“Go back to playing, Pickett,” Newt told it, mortified. “Everything is okay.”
Seeming to take Newt’s words for it, Pickett chirped and climbed off the desk. Newt saw it running back to the basket to play with the milk bottles.
A nose was nudging his neck, Percival was breathing in the scent of him. A soft kiss was pressed on his hair – before suddenly one of his hands was released and his hair was being grasped and pulled, hard. Percival pulled his head back, enough to bare Newt’s throat, adjusting Newt’s head like he wanted it, and then his throat was being licked and nibbled and mouthed.
“A-Are you going to l-leave another love m-mark?”
“Yes,” was all the answer he was given and Newt couldn’t help moaning.
This seemed to encourage Percival, for he began to move on top of Newt. His erection grinded against Newt’s bottom, he sneaked a hand around Newt’s chest to undo the top buttons of his shirt, looping his fingers on the collar to pull it off enough to bite Newt’s shoulder.
Newt was used to getting bitten. It was a familiar action, more so than anything else they had done so far.
“Tell me to stop.” It sounded like Percival was pleading, begging. “Tell me to stop and I will.”
“D-Don’t stop,” Newt managed and was given an almost pained groan in response.
Percival must have used wandless magic, for Newt was no longer wearing his vest and he didn’t recall taking it off. His shirt was now untucked, buttons undone, and a hand found its way on his skin under the shirt. Gentle but demanding, it touched his chest, rubbing and grasping and kneading. The quick fingers circled his nipples, had him gasping and trying to pull away when they pinched – but he wasn’t going anywhere, Percival had him pinned and trapped good and proper.
“Can I take your trousers off?” The voice was husky, hoarse. “Or would that be too much?”
“O-off,” Newt said immediately, panting a little. “Take them off.”
Not a heartbeat later, cool air embraced his bare legs, as his tweed trousers disappeared with a snap of Percival’s fingers.
Even though he had asked for it, Newt was suddenly overcome with embarrassment.
“Could you p-please l-lock the door?” he therefore asked. “And pull the curtains. I don’t want anyone l-looking inside and seeing me l-like this.”
“I don’t want anyone else seeing you like this either.”
There was the sound of the door closing and locking itself, and the room became dimmer when the curtains fell on the windows as if of their own accord.
The fabric of Percival’s pajamas felt soft on Newt’s thighs.
“Touch yourself, Newt.”
It was a request, a pleasant one, one that Newt hastened to obey, even as he hid his face in the crook of his elbow, equally aroused as he was mortified.
They stayed like that for an eternity, not for nearly long enough. Percival rubbed himself against Newt’s buttocks, against the cleft. Strong hands held Newt’s buttocks firmly around the thrusting member, they rubbed circles on Newt’s belly, found their way down between Newt’s legs to give the leaking organ there upward pulls, to squeeze it, to palm it, to fondle the testicles, and Newt had to bit his lip to keep himself from making too much noise, to not scare Pickett.
“You’d let me fuck you like this, wouldn’t you, right here in my study.”
It was hardly a question, but Newt still gave a reply, words but breathless moans.
“Yes. Oh, Merlin, yes! You can! Oh, Percival, please do!”
And that was all it seemed to take for Percival. The weight withdrew from Newt’s back, the warm body pulled off of Newt, only remaining between his thighs. Newt spread them further apart, offering himself for the taking – there was a groan – and a hot, liquid substance coated Newt’s cleft in spurts. Newt turned his head to watch – Percival panted above him, head thrown backwards, revealing the column of his throat, skin flushed, one hand on the small of Newt’s back, the other holding the dick still pointed at Newt’s hole.
It was twitching, the head red and throbbing. Newt wanted to put his mouth on it, to learn its shape with his tongue, to learn its taste.
Percival rubbed it against Newt’s buttocks as if to clean it off – it was hot and still hard, it reminded Newt of hot iron – and the sight of that had Newt coming, spurting all over the expensive Persian carpet.
When he got his breath back, Percival’s sperm was running down his inner thighs, wet and warm. Newt reached out for it, unable to resist the call for further investigations.
Curious, he brought his fingers up to his mouth and gave the white substance a tentative lick. Warm, a little bit salty. Like salt water, but thicker. Newt licked it all off his fingers, humming thoughtfully. It wasn’t a bad taste, it reminded him a little of the scent of gudgies. He could well get used to it.
Percival sat down on his chair with a heavy sigh, pulling Newt with him to sit on his lap.
“You got your first kiss yesterday – and now you’re licking cum off your fingers like it is nothing but melting ice cream.”
“I did say, did I not,” Newt pondered out loud, “that I’m a fast learner.”
The stage three of the plan “gentle and coaxing” had been a success.
Up until Percival had to go and ruin it.
“I have given in to temptation twice now, but that doesn’t change the fact that my presence in your life would bring you little else but darkness and tears. You do realize we can’t be together, do you not, not even after this.”
Percival Graves was too stubborn, honorable, self-sacrificing and pig-headed for his own good, of that Newt was certain, and Newt was sorely tempted to yell at him.
He didn't, though, but he informed Percival that he was definitely considering it.
I have noooo idea what actually makes house elves tick, but please, just bear with me. ;)
Once again, the update is a thank you for all the love you've been giving this fic!
Queenie took one look at him – and let out a sigh, head tilting to the side in visible sympathy like someone had put a weight on her narrow shoulders.
“Oh, Newt,” she said, folding her slender arms across her chest. “On his desk, of all places? And then he just left for work?”
Newt flushed beat red, his gaze shooting warily towards the front of the bakery where Jacob and Tina were now setting up the stepladder so they could start painting the crown moldings. They seemed to not have heard Queenie's words, or at least they were both giving each other simultaneous, conflicting advice on what the other should be doing so they could get the stepladder standing up the right way.
“Please don’t speak so loudly,” he begged her, voice hushed. “I don’t want anyone to- there shouldn’t- it’s not like-”
He cut himself off, unsure of how he should finish the sentence. He made a point of meeting her eyes, knowing she would see in them whatever it was that he couldn't find the words for, before the eye contact became too much and he moved his gaze down to the grey overalls she was wearing.
It had now been eight days since he had allowed – encouraged, wanted – Percival to release his load onto him, but things still weren’t looking up, quite the opposite: Percival had refused all the offers for shared pleasure Newt had made and had forbidden Newt from even giving him pecks on the cheek. Newt had tried to talk to him about it several times, but nothing he said seemed to convince Percival to listen to his heart instead of the most stubborn parts of his mind.
It was hopeless, that’s what it was. Percival did want him, that was obvious, but Newt didn’t know what else he could have possibly done, seeing as he had talked, kissed, offered his body and heart alike time and time again only to be rejected for reasons that had little to do with him and everything to do with Percival’s "code of honor and duty", or whatever one wanted to call it.
Newt had been unable to stop thinking about it, about Percival, about the life they could have together, so of course Queenie would have – just by meeting Newt’s eyes briefly – found out what had happened between him and Percival, a legilimens as she was. As far as she was concerned, Newt might have as well been shouting about it at the top of his lungs.
“It’s… it’s private,” Newt finally managed, busying his hands by picking up two paint cans from the supply closet, then pushing the door closed with his knee. The cans were heavy and the weight had the metal handles biting into the flesh of his palms, but tending to creatures had made him used to momentarily discomforts and he didn’t much mind.
“What we did, it’s between me and h-him, and it’s not- I mean, I don’t..." he bit his lip, unable to meet her enquiring gaze. "Please, Queenie, don’t take it personally, but it’s not something I should discuss with anyone but him.”
She unfolded her arms and touched his shoulder gently.
“Oh, Newt,” she sighed. “If only people were more like you. You don't even know how precious you are, do you."
She raised a hand to wipe the curly hair from his eyes - only for it to instantly fall back in its stubborn manner. A smile, a bit sad, tugged at her lips.
"Don't worry, dear, I understand," she promised. "I shouldn’t have even talked about it as crudely and tactlessly as that. I’m sorry. I suppose I was a little taken aback. You are like a little brother to me and it was my sisterly instincts kicking in.”
"Hey, you two!" Tina called out from the front of the bakery and they both turned to look at her. She and Jacob had finally managed to right up the stepladder and were now looking in their direction in a rather waiting manner. "Are you coming, or not? We're ready to start whenever you are."
"Coming!" Queenie called back.
She took one of the paint cans from Newt's grasp, ignoring his protest that he could carry them both by himself.
"Queenie," he whispered to her as they walked along the hallway to the front of the bakery. "Could you perhaps n-not tell Tina and Jacob that I... with Percival. On his desk."
“Of course, sweetie. I know you embarrass easily,” came Queenie’s answer just as they came around the dessert bar to the middle of the shop.
They put the paint cans down onto the floor. The floor as well as the emptied shelves had been carefully covered with old newspapers to protect them from any paint splatters, and the stepladder stood in the middle of it all ready to be used (Tina and Jacob were regarding the stepladder rather proudly and both Queenie and Newt hurried to praise them for their team work).
Jacob was convinced that changing the wall color from white to daffodil yellow would give the sales a healthy boost since the daffodil color, according to him, would give the bakery “a more welcoming atmosphere”. This was why Newt now found himself – an hour after the bakery had been closed for the day – spending the first Friday of February preparing to paint the walls with Jacob, Queenie and Tina – manually, since Queenie had forbidden both Tina and him from using magic where Jacob could see.
When Jacob prized the cans open with a screwdriver, the smell of paint mixed with the sweet scents of the bakery. Queenie handed Newt a paint roller and soon the two of them were spreading the daffodil color on the walls with Tina while Jacob climbed up on the stepladder.
Newt tried to not get any paint on his boots or on his white shirt. He adjusted his suspenders carefully and rolled up his sleeves. Truth be told, he wouldn’t have much minded if his clothes had had some paint here or there, but Percival always got a pained, pinched, long-suffering look on his face whenever he saw Newt covered in dirt, dung, mud, blood, silt or various other substances unavoidable when one looked after creatures, and Newt had therefore made it a new habit to try and avoid stains if possible since he still hadn’t yet mastered – the surprisingly difficult – scouring charms all that well.
Jacob in his grey overall, similar in style to the ones Queenie and Tina were wearing, was now standing on a stepladder next to Newt, painting the crown moldings painstakingly with a tiny paintbrush. The stepladder, swaying and shaking due to the heavy weight on it, would have probably keeled over by now had Newt not used a subtle steadying charm on it. He certainly didn’t want Jacob to fall down and to hurt himself, he rather risked a little magic in his presence, even if he was quick to put his wand back into his pocket as soon as he no longer needed it.
“I haven’t felt this happy in ages,” Jacob said for the umpteenth time, whistling a little. “Everything has been going so well recently, I feel like I have a purpose. I can’t really even explain it, but, well, I’m sure you understand: I have the successful bakery I have dreamt of since I was a little boy – and a woman so wonderful my imagination wouldn’t have even been able to come up with a dream like her.”
“Oh, you,” Queenie said, blushing prettily, and the two of them exchanged such warm smiles that even the daffodil color did seem suddenly warmer.
“On top of that,” Jacob continued, “I have two good friends, Tina and Newt, who are willing to spend their Friday evening here in my dream bakery by helping me, along with the woman too lovely for me to even have dreamt of. I honestly don’t think I could be much happier!”
It was easy to be happy for Jacob and Newt told him as much.
“You’ll be my bestman,” Jacob promised with a wink and continued in a mock-whisper, “Once I’ll get the courage to propose to Queenie, that is. Be kind and don’t mention anything to her yet, Newt, will you.”
Newt quickly shook his head and tried to smile, even as his heart sank.
Jacob wasn't aware of it, but if they stayed in New York, he and Queenie would never be allowed to get married. They would have Aurors apparating in their home to obliviate Jacob, and Queenie might get taken in for “purposefully exposing magic to a No-Maj”. Queenie was fully aware of this, as some days earlier Newt had accidentally overheard her telling Tina that she was hoping to get Jacob to agree to move to England with her before it was too late – that’s where they could be together, that’s where the magic law would not be coming between them, a Muggle and a witch could spent their life together in England.
If Jacob and Queenie wanted to spend their life together as sweethearts, they would need to leave the United States. Jacob would have to choose between Queenie and his beloved bakery, his childhood dream – but seeing the way his eyes began to shine and his breath hitched whenever someone even mentioned Queenie’s name, it wasn’t difficult to guess which he would end up choosing when it would come down to it.
Newt sighed to himself. He would miss them, just like he sometimes found himself missing England, but knowing they would be happy together was a great comfort.
“Of course he won’t,” Tina was saying from where she was moving the roller up and down, painting the wall with such efficient movements it was obvious that she was used to working hard even without magic. “Your surprise is safe with Newt – although Queenie likely will never forgive you, Jacob Kowalski, if there won’t be roses involved when you propose to her.”
“There will be,” said Jacob firmly, “because even if I wouldn’t be bringing her any flowers whatsoever, there would still be the most beautiful rose of them all present – she herself.”
“I'm earnestly happy for you two,” said Tina. “But we need to paint more efficiently now, if we want to get everything finished by tomorrow. I need to go to work in-" she glanced at the cuckoo clock on the back wall over her shoulder, "in about two hours, and before that I have to change into my work clothes. Graves can be a strict bastard when it comes to the dress-code and the shock he would get if I came to work wearing grey, paint-smeared overalls... Ha! I would be lucky if he settled for reassigning me to somewhere distant and far, far away.”
“Where is it again that you work at?” asked Jacob with a frown on his face - just as Newt opened his mouth.
Before he knew it, Newt was already letting his friends know in a rather heated manner that Percival was not a bastard but the sweetest, bravest, kindest man who wanted to be precise, yes, but which in no way made him a b-bastard but a prompt professional and it wasn’t nice at all of Tina to call him that.
When he was finished, he might have been sniffling a little, overcome with emotion. His three friends had fallen silent and were now regarding him with their mouths hanging open, paint rollers and brushes seemingly forgotten in their loose grasps for the time being.
Blinking furiously, Tina cut through the silence by apologizing - awkwardly - for using such a word to describe someone Newt was “so fond of”.
They continued painting in silence, some more confused than others.
Newt felt terrible. Under normal circumstances he might have taken Tina's words better, but he was tired of being rejected by Percival. He was tired, worn, sad. He wanted them to be happy, like Queenie and Jacob. They could have been happy and it was frustrating that they themselves stood in the way of their happiness. Nothing was preventing them for loving each other – nothing, but them, but Percival’s sense of honor and duty, or whatever it was.
“Speaking as someone who has a sweetheart of her own,” Queenie cleared her throat, “I think you should try to make him jealous, Newt.”
Newt felt the tips of his ears reddening. He focused his eyes on the movement of the roller and wished someone would change the subject as soon as possible.
“Jealous?” repeated Jacob, audibly baffled. The stepladders let out squeaking noises when he shifted on them, possibly to better look down at Queenie, but Newt couldn't bring himself to even glance up at him, too embarrassed as he was to look anywhere but at the monotonic grind of the roller steadily moving up and down on the wall in front of him.
Somewhere behind him paint splattered down, it rustled the newspapers covering the floor.
“Make me jealous? But why?”
“No, sweetie, I wasn’t referring to you,” Queenie sounded fond, amused. “I wasn’t suggesting that Newt should make you jealous. I was suggesting that he should make his love interest jealous, namely Percival Graves, who also happens to be Tina’s boss.”
Jacob had never met the real Percival Graves since Queenie hadn’t been comfortable with the idea. She considered it a too much of a risk despite of Newt’s assurances that Percival wouldn’t cause any trouble.
“Oh, no. No, no, no,” groaned Tina, as she stepped by Newt to stand beside her sister. "Don’t get involved, Queenie, or I swear I'll throw away all your body soap."
On the wall in front of Newt, her shadow threatened Queenie's shadow with a paint roller. Queenie's shadow raised a hand up, but didn't back away, and the paint roller came down slowly.
"This once stay out of it," Tina pleaded. "I’ve been working so hard to impress Graves, I've spent so much time on working on our relationship, both professional and private, and I really don't need you to come up with anything unexpected.”
“Coming up with things unexpected is your area, sister, not mine. I'm as predictable as they come.”
“I'm serious,” Tina sounded that too. "Last Monday we finally reached the stage where we were able to make small talk. We talked about Pommy Bumbernickel's latest book, Father, Father, Where Did You Go? for about four whole minutes until it became obvious that neither one of us had actually read the book and that we had both just been humoring each other. It was one of the most awkward situations I've ever experienced - but it was also undeniably progress.
Newt was very much delighted to hear that. He had known Percival and Tina would eventually become great friends. From the sounds of it, they were already on their way to becoming just that!
“Percival,” Jacob said slowly and Newt felt his eyes on his back. “Newt's love interest is called Percival? That is a man’s name.”
Unlike wizards who found it natural, Muggles usually thought it was a sickness of mind, Newt knew. When a man yearned to caress another man, when a woman wished to kiss another woman – Muggles thought there was something wrong with them, that they needed to be cured. Some of them found the kind of love disgusting. Even though there were Muggles, too, who were keen on their own gender, sex with someone of one’s own gender was a crime according to Muggle laws. One could be arrested for it.
Newt wondered if Jacob found his love for Percival disgusting.
At least, he thought a bit hysterically, no Muggle could ever be able to arrest Percival even if they tried. Newt wouldn't be easy to catch either.
“Jacob, honey,” Queenie said patiently, “do you remember when I told you that Newt is from Europe and how it is perfectly acceptable in his culture for people of the same gender to love each other?”
“Uh, yes,” said Jacob, “and I have come to accept that, yes. I was merely wondering if this Percival person might be a friend of my cousin’s. You see, my cousin is that way inclined too, if you know what I mean, or so the rumor goes. Say, Newt, do you know Hans Kowalski?”
Newt shook his head, still unable to turn to meet his friends' gazes. It was more comfortable to face the wall.
“Oh," Jacob sounded surprised. “Perhaps Hans isn't, after all, that way inclined, if you don't know him."
"Not all people 'that way inclined', as you put it, know each other,” Tina said pointedly.
"I'm pretty sure they do," Jacob insisted, soon adding, "Of course they do, don't you, Newt?"
Jacob was, thankfully, an exceptionally enlightened Muggle when it came to acceptance. It didn’t sound like he was at all disgusted by Newt and Percival’s love.
“Newt,” Queenie now addressed him. “I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, my intention is only to be of help, but I honestly think making Graves jealous could work. He seems like the possessive type. He would be bound to react.”
“No,” Newt’s answer was firm. The word didn't even get stuck on its way out despite of the tightness of his throat. “I don’t want to manipulate him into a relationship.”
Of that Newt was certain.
“Very well,” Queenie sighed, giving in easily much to Newt's relief.
“On another note,” she continued in the same breath, “there is tomorrow the Annual February Dueling Competition, better known as the AFDC. One of my friends would like to go to watch it, but she’s wary of all the male attention she would be getting since she would be going alone."
Bewildered by such a change in topic, Newt lowered the paint roller by his side and turned to look at Queenie, head bent a little so he could study her from behind the safety of his hair.
Queenie gave him an encouraging smile like she knew how difficult it sometimes was for him to be so shy and timid.
"Elisa has been asking me," she continued, "if I knew any men who would agree to accompany her to the AFDC tomorrow – without any intention whatsoever to make a move on her. Seeing as your interests lie elsewhere and you definitely wouldn’t try to make her any inappropriate suggestions, would you do me the favor and accompany her tomorrow to the Annual February Dueling Competition?”
Newt instantly wanted to say no - no, he didn't want to go to a dueling competition of all places, and no, even the thought of having to accompany a strange lady anywhere made him feel sick with nerves - but Queenie was looking at him with wide eyes, pleadingly. She was biting her nails as if his answer could either ruin or make her day, and he simply couldn’t bring himself to outright disappoint her.
“I- I don’t know where that competition is held,” he tried to come up with an excuse, but Queenie seemed to take it as a minor inconvenience rather than as the reluctance it actually was.
“Oh, don’t you worry about that, honey!” She waved a hand in a dismissive manner. “You’ll just wait in Graves’ office until at around six. Elisa will be by and you can then go to the competition together. She’ll be so delighted that you’ll take her – thanks a lot, Newt!”
“I-“ Newt began, hesitated – and shut his mouth.
He didn’t know how he could have possibly said no. He always had trouble saying no – he hated disappointing people, especially those he liked – and in particular now when Queenie was smiling and thinking happily that he had agreed to take her friend to the competition.
“I’ll… be waiting,” he therefore promised, lamely, fidgeting with the paint roller, throat tight.
“All is fair,” Jacob mused and gave Queenie a wink, “in love and war.”
Later, when the bakery had a fresh new layer of daffodil-colored paint and Jacob regarded it with an air of almost tangible satisfaction, Newt saw Tina pulling Queenie aside.
“For once,” he heard Tina mumbling. “For once, I asked, and you just couldn’t stay out of it. You shouldn't meddle like this, Queenie - and most of all, you shouldn't be forcing Newt into such an uncomfortable situation. You know he has trouble saying no, you know he was reluctant when you asked him to go to the AFDC with Elisa - what where you even thinking, forcing the whole thing on him like that!”
Queenie reached out to tuck a strand of loose brown hair behind Tina’s ear. Newt turned his head away, not wanting to intrude in a private moment between the sisters even if he was their topic of conversation.
“You shouldn’t fret,” he couldn’t help but hear Queenie saying. “It’ll give you wrinkles and then you’ll look like something between Aunt Barbara and a raisin. It'll all turn out fine in the end, Tina, you'll see.”
“Why are you so nervous?”
“I’m not nervous,” Newt insisted, glancing at the long-case clock behind Percival’s desk for the seventh time.
Elisa Ipston, a Senior Auror, Newt knew, would soon be there and then the two of them would be going to the AFDC Annual February Dueling Competition together, Newt would be accompanying her the whole evening.
The thought filled Newt with nerves. What would he say to her? What would they discuss? What if he would run out of topics? Newt had spent the whole day listing topics of conversation in his mind – What do you think about werewolf rights? Do you like reading? What is your stance when it comes to house elves? – but he wasn’t at all confident that he could get them pass the lump that had once again formed in his throat.
“If you’re not nervous,” said Percival, “then why are you sitting up in such a tense manner? Why do you keep on looking at the time?”
A shrug was all the answer Newt could manage from his nervousness.
Usually they spent Saturday evenings together, Percival and he, but this evening Newt would be spending his time with Elisa Ipston. It wasn’t a happy thought at all.
Newt played with his sleeves, worrying his lip.
He was wearing his best shirt due to Queenie’s insistence. When Percival had been out on a meeting earlier that day, she had been by with all the intention of making personally certain that Newt was “presentable”. She had combed his hair, had changed the color of his vest from orange to blue, had made his clothes temporarily smaller – “More fitting, dear, not smaller,” she had insisted on calling them – with the results that he had to now look quite silly indeed because Percival - usually immersed in his work - had been giving him glances the whole two hours Newt had spent on his sofa trying to read any material he had on furbels.
Newt sighed and adjusted his vest.
“In a hurry to go somewhere?” Percival asked. He was once again looking at Newt, up and down, slowly, and Newt wondered, again, how terribly silly he had to look to have earnt such scrutiny.
Newt tucked at his collar self-consciously. He wanted to untie the bow, but Queenie had charmed it so that it could only be untied when he got back home.
”Everyone dresses nicely for the AFDC,” she had explained. ”You wouldn’t want to stick out, would you.”
Newt certainly didn’t. If there was one thing he didn’t want in a crowd of people, it was to stick out.
Crowds! Newt didn’t like crowds at all, and this evening, instead of getting to spend it in the comfortable peace of Percival’s office, watching Percival first working and then eventually taking the man down in his suitcase to care for creatures with him, Newt would today have to spend hours upon hours in a crowd of people with a lady he didn’t know apart from having occasionally seen her talking to Percival about things Aurors talked about.
“I’m going to the Annual February Dueling Competition,” Newt explained, resigned.
“The AFDC?” Percival sounded surprised. “But you don’t even care about dueling.”
“I don’t,” Newt confirmed, “but Elisa Ipston does and I’m going with her to watch it.”
Why did the bowtie have to be so uncomfortable? Newt tugged at it. Perhaps Percival would know the counter spell, so Newt could just take it off.
This is a favor for Queenie, Newt reminded himself. Elisa Ipston was Queenie’s friend and Newt needed to make sure she would have a nice evening. Patience was in order.
“You’re going with Elisa Ipston to watch the AFDC,” Percival repeated what Newt had just told him. “You’re dressed in fine clothes and fidgeting all nervously. Because you’re going to go with her to watch the AFDC.”
“Yes, I just told you.”
Percival didn’t need to rub all the discomfort in his face. It was just plain irritating.
“You’re spending this whole evening with someone else. You're taking them to watch the AFDC, even though you don't even care about it. You're only going because they want to go.”
“Yes, I know.”
"You're dressed in fine clothes because you're taking someone to watch the AFDC - because they are interested in it."
"As I just told you, yes."
“You’re going away with someone.”
Why couldn’t Percival just let it rest? It wasn’t necessary to mock him.
“You don’t need to keep on repeating it!” Newt snapped. “I’m aware of all of that already.”
Uh-oh, Queenie has been set loose. *dances to ABBA* "You are a meddling Queenie!"
I can already tell that I'm going to love writing the next chapter...
Thanks for the comments and the kudos! I read all of your comments and they bring me a lot of joy.
I'm terribly sorry that I haven't been thanking every single one of you personally for taking the time to comment. I know from experience that answering to comments would take me a lot of time and I believe you would prefer my spending that time by writing chapters - I only have a certain amout of time per day to spend by writing, unfortunately. So, please, take these chapters by way of an answer to - and a thank you for- your comment!
Happy New Year!
Percival stood up slowly, his hands braced against the mahogany desk as if he was in need of the support it provided. There was now a guarded, unreadable look on his face – Newt had clearly hurt his feelings.
“I’m sorry,” Newt said, rubbing his neck - he regretted snapping at Percival already, the man had clearly taken it hard. “I didn’t mean to upset you.“
“No,” came the sharp reply. “I’m the one who should apologize. It’s not my place to-“
Cutting himself off, Percival offered Newt an uncharacteristically shaky smile. His eyes remained unreadable.
“That is to say, I was merely… surprised.“ The hand he ran through his hair was trembling. “ I hadn’t expected- Although, I do understand, of course. It’s… understandable. It should have been expected.”
Newt had only ever snapped at Percival a few times since the beginning of their friendship, so it was no wonder it had now taken Percival aback, it was no wonder it had upset him.
“I’m nevertheless sorry that I upset you,” Newt wished for him to know.
His apologies were waved off.
Percival frowned down at his desk and began to pile up his files. His movements were a little clumsy and it almost looked like he was picking up case files to pile in random – to give his hands something to do rather than to actually organize anything.
“I only want you to be happy, Newt, truly. I wish you-“
He cleared his throat
“I wish you a nice evening. With Ipston.”
It was unlikely going to be a “nice evening” and Newt opened his mouth to say as much, but just then there was a knocking sound and Miss Pines pulled the door open, interrupting whatever it might have been Newt would have ended up saying.
Miss Pines didn’t step in. Instead she craned her neck as if to see the office better without having to enter. Her eyes, framed by round glasses, instantly shoot up to the ceiling and her grip on the door handle remained tight like she was being cautious just in case the ceiling had turned into a void that would try to suck her in.
In her defense, that had happened just before lunch when Newt had been in his suitcase, unaware of it, but the danger had since passed. Percival – along with Rodilus and Bariton – had already managed to lift the curse and the witch responsible – having stood in the lobby, screaming and insisting that Percival was “Morgana herself reincarnated” – had been arrested. There were no longer voids in the office, the ceiling was once more its regular self.
“Miss Pines," Percival acknowledge her just as Newt offered her a reassuring smile. "It is safe to come in – the void is gone, and I did promise you that I would try warn you beforehand if something similar was to occur again.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, finally letting go off the handle and lowering her gaze from the ceiling down to her employer. “In a state of emergency, however, you might not be able to warn me and therefore I’m being cautious as to not put myself in the harm’s way again. As your secretary, it is my responsibility to aid you – I take great pride in that and I do my best to prevent any hindrances that you might face when doing your job: I find missing paperwork, I schedule your meetings, I will try to not get sucked in voids so you won’t need to again divide your attention between my safety and lifting a curse put on the ceiling of your office.”
“Your work ethic is admirable,” said Percival, inclining his head, and Miss Pines blushed, visibly pleased. “Although the appearance of the void was rather unexpected and I can hardly blame you for almost getting sucked in it – could have happened to anyone. I’m glad we managed to get you out in time.”
“Thank you, sir.”
She adjusted her glasses and gave Newt a glance before focusing her brown eyes back on Percival.
“Senior Auror Elisa Ipston is here to see Mr. Scamander, sir. Should I show her in?”
Elisa Ipston was there.
She was there!
The discussion Newt had been having with Percival had momentarily distracted him from her impending arrival, but now she was there right outside of the office, based on Miss Pines’ words, and suddenly Newt was a bundle of nerves again.
Newt was going to be sick, that’s how nervous he was.
He sprung up to his feet and snatched his jacket from the armrest of the sofa. Fumbling with it quite a bit, he managed to sneak his arms into the sleeves. He was supposed to be a dependable companion to Miss Ipston for the evening – a presence to chase away all unwanted suitors, a force between her and unwanted attention – and as such, the least he could do was to wear his jacket and to look presentable, as Queenie had put it.
Percival’s stare was heavy on his neck.
“Yes,” was the answer Miss Pines was given. “Do show Ipston in. She’s here to see Newt. It’s not my place to prevent her from doing so.”
“Very well, sir,” came Miss Pines’ reply.
It didn’t sound like she approved. In fact, it sounded like she didn’t much like Miss Ipston at that moment – even though Queenie had mentioned that the three of them – Queenie, Miss Pines and Miss Ipston – did gymnastics together on Tuesdays and were friends due to that.
Miss Pines pulled the door more widely open and Miss Ipston’s high heels click-clacked as she walked in, the fringes of her white flapper dress giving each of her steps quite a lot of movement.
With a frown sent in Newt’s way, Miss Pines left and closed the door quietly behind her.
Miss Ipston took in the office before her blue eyes landed on Newt. Her cheeks dimpled when she smiled.
“Darling!” she called out and it took Newt a moment to realize that it was he whom she was referring to. By the time he realized this, she was already holding him by the arms and standing up on the tips of her toes kissing his cheek in greeting.
Newt was supposed to be her dependable companion for the evening, but he almost pushed her off him, so startled he was by her unexpected closeness, by the liberty she took in kissing his cheek, in calling him “darling” , but at the last moment he remembered his manners. Some people kissed cheeks by way of greeting, and even if he didn’t like it, it was better to just endure and to move on. Newt certainly shouldn’t use force like he had done with Leta – that never ended well for anyone.
She smelt like roses, and her blonde curls and the white feather on her pearly headband tickled his nose. The feather reminded him of some of his feathered creatures and he had a sudden urge to take it into his suitcase. In all actuality, he wanted to take himself in the suitcase, to hide there among his creatures, but since that would have been rude and since he was doing Queenie a favor – and since he didn’t want to disappoint Miss Ipston or to make her feel bad – Newt stayed rooted to the spot instead of running to his suitcase like he so very much wanted to do.
“So wonderful of you to accompany me to the AFDC, Newt. I’m looking forward to this evening.”
She pulled back and gave him a wink. Her lips were painted red, and Niffler – had Newt not locked it in the suitcase – would have certainly tried to get its paws on the pearls hanging low around her neck.
“Uh, g-good evening, s-sir,” she hastily added as if as an afterthought, and suddenly a black handkerchief came to Newt’s line of sight. He had just enough time to see the golden “P.G.” embroidered on it before it was brought up to his cheek.
Percival stepped in front of him and Miss Ipston was forced to move aside – with Percival between them, Newt felt instantly a bit better, nervous though he still was, as well as startled for having been kissed on the cheek without any kind of a fore warning whatsoever.
Percival didn’t meet his eyes, even as he wiped Newt’s cheek gently with the handkerchief.
“You’ve got lipstick on your face.” His voice was low, it had an edge to it. “Can’t have you running around like that, can we.”
He was always so careful when it came to looks.
Soon, far too soon, his comforting presence withdrew and he stepped back, putting the handkerchief back in his pocket.
“You’re going to the Annual February Dueling Competition?” The words were addressed to Miss Ipston, who hurried to nod like he had just demanded her a status report on some urgent case.
“Yes, sir, we are!”
Percival didn’t say anything more to that. He regarded her quietly, only his profile visible to Newt.
The long-case clock began to chime.
“Perhaps-“ she swallowed audibly when they had stood there in silence for long enough for the clock to have struck six times. “P-Perhaps we should get going, Newt? Wouldn’t want to get poor seats, would we.”
She let out a shaky chuckle. While she had been confident upon entering, she now looked nervous. Newt could sympathize – now that they would be going to the AFDC, she must have been worried about all the male attention she would get, Queenie had explained this to Newt beforehand.
Somehow her nervousness made him calmer, it eased the tightness of his throat and he even managed to find his voice again.
“Yes,” he said, good-mannered enough to offer her his arm. “Shall we?”
She took his arm – just as his other arm was seized as well. Surprised, he looked at Percival – who, upon meeting his eyes, instantly let go, looking a little taken aback like he hadn’t expected to find himself grapping Newt’s arm.
Frowning at the floor, Percival cleared his throat and shoved his hands deep into his trouser pockets.
“Have a lovely evening.”
“Yes, sir!” came Miss Ipston’s half-shout of an answer like she had taken the good evening wish as a direct order. “Thank you, sir!”
“Thank you, Percival.” Newt’s answer was softer. “You, too.”
The Annual February Dueling Competition was held in the dueling hall in the second floor of the department building. Usually the hall was reserved for Auror training, but this evening it was full of wizards and witches, only some of whom were Aurors, judging from the lack of uniforms. Everyone was nevertheless, as Queenie had told Newt, dressed in fine clothes, and there were a lot of feathers and fringes and top hats. Silver and diamonds and pearls glimmered in the light of the chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling.
It was a large hall. The area in the middle of it all, reserved for dueling, was empty, but around it there were round tables and cheerful people sitting at those tables. The balconies above were full of people as well, and among the crowd there were goblins going around, calling out for anyone who wanted to place bets on the outcome of the duels, and waiters and waitresses went from table to table, taking orders for food and wine later to be served at each table.
The hall was as full of noise as it was people. On a podium in the back of the hall, there was a group of wizards playing speedy jazz with double bass and trumpets and all, but it was meant as background noise and no-one was specifically listening to it. Instead, people were chatting with their companions and even the occasionally bursts of laughter were drowned in the general noise.
Newt wanted to cover his ears with his hands, but Miss Ipston seemed to enjoy the lively atmosphere. She had been quiet and serious when they had left Percival’s office, but a bright grin had formed on her face the moment they had been seated at a table right next to the dueling area – and it hadn’t left her lips since.
Their table had room for seven people, but the five other chairs remained empty, despite of the considerable crowd around them. In the middle of their round table, there stood a fairy (Ruppler, her name was, Newt found after introductions – “And I’m working so leave me be!”), armed with a tiny bow and arrows the size of matches. Every time someone tried to join them at the table, Ruppler would shoot them with an arrow and the table would say, “Pardon us, sir or madam, but this table is RESERVED FOR SENIOR AURORS AND THEIR GUESTS.”
“We reserve a table every year,” Miss Ipston explained. “We, as in Senior Aurors. This year it was Bartolomeus' responsibility and it sure looks like he did a fine job at it. Too bad everyone else was put on duty for this evening, but it’s like that every year – we reserve a table for us all just in case, but usually only a few of us can actually make it. Last year it was just Kilonski and his wife. This year only me, it seems. And you, of course.”
“This is one of the best tables,” she added. “We’ll have a great view on the dueling – if we’re not careful, some of the curses might even hit us!”
The prospect seemed to excite her.
Newt tried to find something to say to that, but couldn’t.
He fidgeted on his chair, eyed the empty dueling area right next to them and trailed a finger along the flower embroideries on the white tablecloth.
“What are your thoughts on werewolf rights?” he finally managed to start a conversation, relieved that he had had the sense to think of discussion topics beforehand – he would have been such bad company otherwise.
Miss Ipston, having been looking at the people at other tables, turned to blink at him.
“W-What are your thoughts on werewolf rights?”
She stared at him – and then burst out laughing like she thought he had just said something particularly humorous.
“Oh, Newt,” she chuckled even as she turned her gaze to the surrounding tables again. “For a moment there, I almost thought you were asking in all seriousness like some kind of a beast sympathizer. ‘What are your thoughts on werewolf rights?’ Rights, indeed! Like those filthy monsters deserved any other ‘right’ than a silver bullet in the head.”
Newt could no longer look at her. He had a bitter taste in his mouth.
All alone in a noisy crowd forced to spend time with someone ignorant, getting laughed at. It was almost like being back at Hogwarts again, except no-one had yet taken any points from him.
He missed Percival.
In all honesty, Newt had half a mind to leave, but he had promised to Queenie that he would company her friend and a promise was a promise – he couldn’t leave, no matter how much he wanted to.
“Werewolves are regular human beings for most of the time,” he said which drew Miss Ipston’s attention back to him. “The wolf takes over for one night a month, but for the rest of the month, werewolves are just regular witches and wizards, like you and I. They, too, have dreams and fears.”
Miss Ipston wrinkled up her nose.
“I once arrested one of those monsters for biting a toddler,” she said, leaning back in her chair, playing with the pearls around her neck. “I took the girl to The Sleeping Alicorn and I was the one who had to explain to her distraught parents what had happened. Did the monster who bit that three-year-old have dreams when he wasn’t in his wolf form? Hmm, probably. Fears? Yes, entirely possible. Do I care? Fuck no!”
“But what of the child?” pressed Newt. “What of the little girl? What of her dreams and fears?”
Miss Ipston frowned.
“What do you mean? What of them?”
“If she s-survived, she would have turned into a werewolf, too,” Newt reminded her gently. “One night each month she would have spent as a wolf, but the rest of the month she would have been a little girl. Do you not think that she should have had rights? That she should have been treated in a humane manner?”
She didn’t answer, just kept on looking at him blankly.
“If,” Newt licked his lips nervously, but dared on, “if werewolves would be allowed to attend school, to get educated. If employers could grant werewolves the time of the full moon off – at least the night of the full moon itself, possibly a few days after that to recover – most of werewolves would be able to work just like all the other wizards and witches. Working would improve their financial situation, it would give their life more meaning and purpose – and do wonders for their self-esteem – and not nearly so many of them would be forced to turn to a life of crime.”
She looked away.
“Let us not ruin the evening,” was all she had to say. “Do change the topic, if you please.”
Although he was used to such reactions, Newt sighed.
She probably wouldn’t want to talk about house elves' rights either.
Suddenly the smell of alcohol hit Newt, pungent and piercing, and in the next instant a shadow fell over them.
“Aren’t you a lovely one?”
It was said in a slurred voice. When Newt looked up, he saw a giant of a man looming over them leaning on the back rest of Miss Ipston’s chair for support. He was tall, taller even than Newt, and his muscles bulged through his tight brown suit. He had a leer on his bearded face and his vest hung undone, red tie untied.
Miss Ipston was regarding the man over her shoulder coolly with narrowed eyes.
“I suggest you move along,” she said.
Newt was there to defend Miss Ipston from any unwanted advances, and so he now stood up to face the man, the wand in his pocket a solid, reassuring pressure against his thigh. He hoped he wouldn’t need to use it.
“Please, sir,” he addressed the leering man, “the lady isn’t interested. Kindly leave her be.”
The leer got an outright dirty edge to it. The man stepped closer, close enough for Newt to smell his foul breath, the alcohol on him, the faint smell of urine.
“Don’t mind if I do." He licked his lips slowly. “Seeing as I wasn’t talking to the lady in the first place. You, on the other hand, I would like to get better acquainted with. Ever been fucked from behind by a real big dick?”
The man was talking to him?
It took Newt completely off guard. The way the man stared at his body – pupils dark with lust, gaze roaming everywhere – had him wanting to shield himself from the hungry eyes. His voice got stuck in his throat, he stood frozen in place, unable to think of anything to say.
“Fuck off,” Miss Ipston spoke on his behalf.
She, too, had risen to her feet, and she now pushed Newt back to come standing between him and the man. While she was petite enough for the top of her head to barely come up to Newt’s shoulder, she had the stance of someone used to fighting. She suddenly looked like the Senior Auror she was, even the feather on her headband was shivering like it was trying to be intimidating.
“I’ll count to three,” she said calmly, a dark undertone in her voice, “and if you’ve not disappeared by then, there’ll be consequences.”
“You can’t arrest me,” the man sniffed, looking at her down his nose. “It’s not illegal to make a bit of a suggestion to a fuckable budgie.”
Fuckable budgie. That was something Newt had never been called before. He didn’t like it.
“Who said anything about arresting?” Miss Ipston demanded. “Not me, that’s for sure. My point was – and remains to be – that I’d be delighted to take you to Director Graves, if you don’t leave my friend be. I’m sure Director Graves would be equally delighted to have a chat with you, seeing as the ‘fuckable budgie’ in question is really quite special to him.”
As usual, just the mention of Percival’s name was enough to get a reaction. The man’s leer disappeared like it had never been there and he took a hasty step backwards, looking from Miss Ipston to Newt with visible alarm. He raised his hands in front of him as if to protect himself.
“I didn’t know that was Graves’ bird!”
Newt almost preferred to be called “that” to “a fuckable budgie”.
“Shouldn’t matter,” Miss Ipston stated. “Crude suggestions like that do not belong in the AFDC. I’m going to memorize your face for future references. Now, do get lost.”
The man hastened to do just that.
When they sat down, it occurred to Newt that she hadn’t seemed all that burdened with dealing with the man. The next time he saw Queenie, he would tell her that Miss Ipston was more than capable of taking care of herself – she wouldn’t need Newt or any other man to accompany her anywhere again, that was for sure.
“Much good I am,” he said to her, ashamed, “freezing up like that. I’m here to defend you – and you end up being the one to defend me.”
She patted his hand, smiling once more.
“When it comes to crude sexual advances like the one that gentleman just made,” she said, “it takes you off guard, no matter who you are. You don’t expect it, and even if you do, your reaction can still be unpredictable. Many freeze up, nothing to be ashamed of – it’s a natural reaction for something as unpleasant as that. Besides, it’s my job to defend others. I wouldn’t be much of an Auror, if I hadn’t done something - and Graves would have had my head on a block, that’s for sure.”
“Um,” she hastened to add, sheepish, “perhaps not mention that last part to him, okay?”
That was the moment Rodilus dropped down onto the chair on Newt’s other side. He touched his fedora by way of greeting Newt before giving Miss Ipston the finger by way of greeting her.
“Bastard number one made it here after all, it seems,” Miss Ipston sounded delighted. “Don’t you look dapper tonight, Hamsipood.”
He did. Black suit, blue tie, the fashionable fedora – Rodilus did look dapper.
“If I didn’t know better, I might take you for a gentleman.”
“If I didn’t know better, I might take you for a lady,” Rodilus shot right back with a smirk. “Seriously, Ipston. You clean up nicely.”
“I sure do,” she agreed, giving her curls a bit of a touch. “It took thirty-three charms to complete the look, but it should do it – I should look nice enough to have done my part for Plan G, don't you think.”
Rodilus wrapped his arm around Newt's shoulders and gave him a wink.
“You know, freckles, if I didn’t know better, I might take you and Ipston for a pretty sweet couple. You look good together.”
Newt sputtered, both Rodilus and Miss Ipston laughed.
“Let me buy you both a drink,” said Rodilus, and like always when it came to Rodilus, Newt just couldn’t find his voice, to refuse or otherwise.
The chapter got too long, I had to cut if off here. Did you enjoy this bit? ;)
Thank you for the kudos&comments! As always, they motivate me to write faster.
Chapter 10: Newt: The Annual February Dueling Competition
Philippus Heppus, an Austrian immigrant, had apparently been the champion of the AFDC for the past three consecutive years, having beaten Rodilus in a duel two years back, and Rodilus was now determined to get his rematch.
“I’ve been practicing,” he told Newt and Miss Ipston. “I’ll challenge him today.”
“You won’t be the only one,” said Miss Ipston, nursing her white wine. “Heppus is unbeatable, they say. Half the department is looking forward to dueling against him.”
“Except for our dear Graves, of course,” Rodilus said and winked at Newt, who hurried to take a sip of his drink to hide behind the glass.
The drink tasted sweet and fruity, but it still burnt going down. Newt tried to not grimace, not quite succeeding.
“Persephone,” said Rodilus, “is confident in his abilities without any need whatsoever to prove anything to anyone. He hasn’t participated in the AFDC ever, as far as I know (and I do know). He’s not interested in competitive dueling which is admittedly fortunate for the rest of us because I reckon he’d do a little too well.”
“W-Why do you c-call h-him Persephone?” Newt managed to ask, voice so soft that Rodilus had to lean in closer to hear and even then Newt had to repeat his question twice so Rodilus could make it out.
“Oh,” Rodilus finally heard him. He leant back in his chair, tilting his fedora to the back of his head with his forefinger. He frowned, eyes suddenly shadowed.
“That’s because I was once abducted – long ago, back when I was a Junior Auror – and my captors brutally tortured me for days for information I didn’t have.” He said it all in a flippant manner like telling some kind of a joke. “It was gruesome, I can tell you. It was pretty much the Underworld to me with evil spirits and Hades and all. It was pure torment.”
Newt's heart ached just imagining what Rodilus had had to endure.
“Anyways,” Rodilus continued, “one day I was roused from my slumber and there was this being leaning over me, only it was clear to me that they were not one of my Underworld because their touch was gentle, their words soothing, everything about them was, you know, good. This being told me she was Persephone, I could swear she did, though obviously he must have said something more along the lines of, ‘calm down, Rodilus, stop kicking me – it is just I, Percival’, but I was pretty out of it, so my mind must have made its own interpretations of the name ‘Percival’, ones that made the most sense to me at the time – the only good person in the Underworld was, after all, Persephone, and the only good person in that place I was kept in was suddenly kneeling there beside me – it made sense it was Persephone.”
“So, yep,” Rodilus came to the conclusion, “I know him as Persephone because he once saved me from my own personal Underworld.”
Smirking, he leant in closer again and whispered in Newt’s ear as if disclosing a secret, “’Perse’ means ‘arse’ in Finnish – I know because my mother is a Finn – and every time Percival gets on my nerves, I secretly call him Arsephone in my head, so there’s that, too.”
Rodilus chuckled and pulled back. Newt, with his ears burning, hastily took another sip of his fruity drink. It burnt, going down.
Surprisingly, one after another, Kilonski – who had been assigned back from Alaska some days earlier – as well as Bariton and Bartolomeus all gathered at the table reserved for Senior Aurors and their guests. They seemed delighted to find their whole group sitting together at the AFDC. There was a lot of handshaking and patting in the back, but also quite a lot of crude hand signs and words exchanged which Newt would have thought were insults had he not known better.
Apart from Miss Ipston and Rodilus, the Senior Aurors were all wearing their uniforms, the dark blue cloaks, like they hadn’t had the time to change for anything finer, and the buttons with the symbol of the department on them – two crossed wands – reminded Newt so much of Percival that he had to stifle the urge to reach out to touch Bartolomeus’ buttons.
“Very gracious of Graves,” said Miss Ipston slowly, raising her eyebrows as she looked around the table from one Senior Auror to the other, “to have decided that we all needed the evening off just today.”
“Very gracious indeed,” Bariton agreed with a sharp nod, the lenses of her glasses flashing in the light of the chandeliers, “as well as sudden and unexpected, seeing as just this morning he was still adamant that we were to be on duty the whole evening. He must have changed his mind for some reason.”
“Whatever could that reason possibly have been?” mused Kilonski, speaking with an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth. He lit the cigarette with his wand, inhaling the smoke slowly.
“I can’t think of anything,” said Rodilus.
He had his arm around Newt’s shoulders, his feet up on Bariton’s lap under the table. Newt had never met anyone who could make themselves as comfortable virtually anywhere as Rodilus could.
“Neither can I,” said Bariton, looking at Newt like she expected him to have the answer since he was Percival’s closest friend. Newt lowered his gaze, focusing it on the embroidery of the tablecloth. It was more comfortable than holding the eye contact.
“Last year Persephone wouldn’t let me participate in the AFDC because I had misspelled a suspect’s name,” Rodilus told Newt. “In my defense, there were sixteen consonants and only two vowels. He made me rewrite all my paperwork regarding that particular case. Took me till morning and all the dueling was over by then. I couldn’t have my rematch last year against Heppus because of that. I called Graves ‘Arsephone’ in my head an entire week afterwards.”
The Senior Aurors laughed. Percival being called “Arsephone” had Newt worrying his lip – which Rodilus must have noticed because he gave him a bit of a friendly nudge before declaring that everyone needed “a bit of Arsephone in their life every once in a while to get things done properly”. It wasn’t always a bad thing, Rodilus said. It wasn’t an insult, not always, at least, he claimed.
“Fifteen minutes ago,” Bartolomeus spoke and everyone fell instantly silent like they always did when Bartolomeus opened his mouth, “I was given a direct order to take the evening off and to come watch the AFDC at the Senior Auror’s table with Ipston and Scamander.”
Whether Bartolomeus was happy about this, that was impossible to say, blank as his face was.
Percival must have felt like his Senior Aurors worked too hard, Newt decided. It was good of him to encourage them to relax together.
Even as he thought this, the Senior Aurors were chuckling like Bartolomeus had made a particularly amusing inside joke. Newt tried to not feel left out, shifting on his seat.
The Senior Aurors fell silent, still smiling.
The silence lasted for a little too long, long enough for Newt to begin to gather his courage so he could ask Kilonski what Alaska had been like – he was, after all, interested in the local fauna and considered an expedition there.
Just as Newt was about to open his mouth, there was a sudden murmur going around the hall. The band stopped playing mid-chord, the people stopped talking. Heads began to turn towards the entrance door one after another, and Newt followed everyone else’s gaze, turning to look at the door over his shoulder. The people around the door had made room for a lone figure who was now standing still just on this side of the hall, observing the crowd before him.
It was Percival.
The sight was more welcoming than anything else that whole evening. Suddenly more at ease, Newt sat up straighter and waved at his dearest friend, grinning. Since his frantically waving arm seemed to be the only moving thing in the entire hall, Percival had no trouble spotting it. His dark eyes instantly focused on Newt and he began to make his way towards their table. People made room for him as he walked pass by them. Some of them bowed.
“Well, I’ll be damned…” muttered Bartolomeus. “He did come.”
Kilonski was swearing – the cigarette had apparently dropped from his mouth, open as it had been hanging. He leant down to pick it up from the floor, just as there was a sudden movement under the table like someone had just kicked Miss Ipston. Newt, her defendant as he was for the evening, turned his gaze from Percival’s rapidly approaching figure in order to do his best to glare at all potential suspects – kicking went a little too far even for rowdy Aurors.
Miss Ipston herself didn’t seem bothered by the kick. She merely sighed and rolled her eyes, leaning closer to Newt, close enough for the feather on her headband to tickle his cheek, and began to play with the hair on Newt’s neck.
“I really like your hair, Newt,” she said, voice loud in the otherwise silent hall. “It’s so soft and it smells like honey.”
Newt blinked. That was unexpected. He had no idea what to say to that.
“Thank you?” he settled for just as Percival reached their table.
For a few still moments, Percival stood by their table, looking at them all in turn. He met Newt’s eyes almost defiantly, squaring his shoulders, before addressing his Senior Aurors.
“Isn’t this a sight,” he said. “My favorite bastards all together.”
He was greeted in turn with informal salutes – off duty as the Senior Aurors were – and a chorus of “good evening, sirs”.
“Shut up,” was his reply. “You disgust me to the core.”
“Newt,” he then said, voice softer, kinder.
“Good evening, Percival.”
It was easier to breathe now that Percival was there, even if Miss Ipston was still playing with his hair.
“I’m glad you decided to come to watch the dueling,” Newt said earnestly, adding hopefully, “Are you going to sit with us?”
“Of course he is!” said Rodilus.
Kilonski was already pulling out the last empty chair for Percival, the located cigarette once more securely between his lips.
“I’ll take it as personal offence if he refuses to sit with us!”
“Wouldn’t want to insult a fuckface like you,” said Percival and Newt didn’t even pretend to understand the relationship he had with his Senior Aurors.
Soon Percival was seated between Kilonski and Bariton, opposite Newt, and Ruppler flew away, having done her duty now that the table was “full of Senior Aurors and their guests”.
Slowly the noises of the hall grew in volume and the band began to play, even as there were still witches and wizards craning their necks to catch a glimpse of Director of Magical Security.
“Newt, you fascinate me,” Miss Ipston suddenly said.
Surprised, Newt looked at her smiling face. She had moved her chair closer to his. It made Newt a little uncomfortable. He began to trail a finger on the tablecloth patterns.
“I browsed your book. You are so very intellig-”
“It’s an interesting read indeed,” put in Percival from the other side of the table, cutting Miss Ipston off rather rudely. He was sitting with his back straight, palms against the table, almost like he might have been about to interrogate someone. “I have perused it several times now.”
Newt flashed him a quick smile. The praise warmed his heart, many times though Percival had said such things to him before. Percival had even offered to proofread any future books Newt might write.
A waiter, a polite elderly wizard came to take their orders – Rodilus insisted on ordering for everyone – and by the time he left, the Annual February Dueling Competition was finally about to start.
A black witch, dressed in a purple gown, walked in the center of the dueling area.
“Amanda Barnickle,” Miss Ipston whispered in Newt’s ear. “She’s been hosting the AFDC for ten years now.”
She leant back and giggled. Newt didn’t know what she found worth giggling, but Percival the sound seemed to exasperate quite a lot, judging from the dark look he gave her from his side of the table.
Newt heard Amanda Barnickle clearing her throat before she brought her wand up to her throat and muttered an amplifying spell.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!” her amplified voice greeted the crowd and the people fell quickly silent. The speedy tempo of the jazz turned into something slower, calmer, softer.
“Welcome to the Annual February Dueling Competition of 1929!”
A cheer went around the hall. Rodilus whooped and drummed the table with the hand he didn’t have around Newt’s shoulders, while Newt, Percival, Kilonski, Bartolomeus, Bariton and Miss Ipston clapped along politely.
"And aren’t we off to a good start already,” Barnickle said cheerfully. “The place is full, the atmosphere is through the roof – and even Director of Magical Security himself has honored us with his presence this year! Good evening, sir!”
The crowd cheered again. Percival gave the cheering people a bit of a wave.
Newt smiled proudly. It was nice that people liked Percival.
“This year the music you hear will be played by The Harlem Buffoons,” Barnickle went on. “Welcome, boys! Don’t turn your instruments into snakes, please – we wouldn’t want a repeat of the last year’s fiasco, would we.”
Even Bartolomeus laughed at that.
Giggling, Miss Ipston leant in and whispered to Newt, “There was just one snake and it slept until Kilonski managed to turn it back into a trumpet, but it did cause a bit of a chaos anyway, huge as it was.”
“Oh,” said Newt, but Barnickle was already speaking again and it looked like their whispering was distracting Percival from listening to her, or at least he was glaring at Miss Ipston over the table as if willing her to be quiet, and so Newt didn’t even attempt to say anything more as to not disturb him any further.
“Philippus Heppus is naturally here as well,” Barnickle was saying. “Yes, you know it: the three-time champion of the AFDC! He will duel anyone who wants to challenge him.”
Rodilus was quick to unwrap his arm around Newt’s shoulder in favor of taking his wand out of his pocket and putting it on the table in front of him.
“The winner of each duel is the witch or the wizard who first manages to disarm their opponent,” Barnickle continued. “There are no rules, although killing your opponent is not advised since that will disqualify you instantly – and you shouldn’t use any of the three Unforgivable Curses either, seeing as those are still illegal and there are many Aurors present. But apart from those minor exceptions, you are free to use whatever curses, hexes, spells, charms, et cetera you can come up with.”
She went on to explain how one could place bets, but Newt wasn’t planning on betting and he didn’t listen to her all that intently at all. Instead, he eyed Percival.
Percival had combed his hair as neatly as he always did when he was out in the public. He was wearing his long black cashmere coat, the one that emphasized his broad shoulders, his narrow waist, his straight back. His shirt was white, as always, and his tie dark blue like the night sky.
Newt wanted very much to kiss him.
He gulped down the rest of this drink, thoughts firmly on his dearest (friend).
His day dreams came to a halt when the crowd began to suddenly applaud.
Philippus Heppus had just stepped in the dueling area and he was now being greeted by his admirers. With both of his arms raised as if in memory of his past victories, he walked the dueling area from one end to the other, allowing people at the nearest tables to reach out to touch his silvery dueling attire as he walked pass by them, black shoes gleaming like he had charmed them to do so.
His hair was long and blonde, his blue eyes the shade of a pixie.
Perhaps it was because he had just been dreaming of tasting Percival on his lips or perhaps it was because of the alcohol, but for whatever reason, Newt now blurted out,
“What a beautiful man.”
The Senior Aurors at his table had been clapping their hands together, but hearing Newt’s words, they froze mid-movement, before slowly turning to look at him. Realizing what he had just said, Newt flushed and casted his gaze down.
The tablecloth was once again fascinating indeed.
“Uh, yes,” Rodilus said slowly. “Heppus is one handsome fella for sure, isn’t he.”
“Exactly your type, Mr. Scamander, if you don’t mind me saying so,” put in Bariton. “You’d make a handsome couple.”
Newt could feel Percival’s gaze on him, heavy like a solid hand had been lowered onto his shoulders.
The first person to got the chance to challenge Philippus Heppus was a young witch by the name of Olivia Turningale. Her hexes were quick, her aim precise. The duel lasted for a few minutes – up until Heppus shot her with something blue that had her gasping and dropping her wand.
Next up, a witch, grey and wrinkled, wanted her turn. She was an excellent dueler, as far as Newt could tell. She had Heppus backing up a few steps in defense every once in a while, but after he managed to catch her in the chest with a stunning spell, she slumped onto the floor, her frail body frozen, and he retrieved her wand with a simple “Accio”, thus winning the duel.
“I hope she wasn’t badly hurt.”
Newt wrung his hands when the old witch was carried away by the two Junior Aurors he had seen snogging at Jacob Gloomboot’s retirement party.
“I’m sure she wasn’t,” said Bariton. “She’s my aunt and she’s more durable than she looks like. By morning, she’ll be yelling at pigeons again.”
Despite of her assurances, Bariton hurried off after the Junior Aurors carrying her aunt and left the hall with them.
The next eight duels were all relatively short.
“Heppus is great at dueling, isn’t he,” Newt had to admit, speaking despite of the tightness of his throat.
“He should defend his left side better.” It sounded like the fact annoyed Percival greatly. “He seems to have a tendency to leave it open. He’s not that good. Average, I’d say.”
“From where I’m looking, he seems to be doing really well,” Newt mused – only to be on the receiving end of an exasperated look.
He blinked at Percival over the table, confused and a little hurt, but the wizard only offered him a false smile before turning to glare at Philippus Heppus like the man’s silvery outfit was grating on his keen sense of style.
Eventually it was Rodilus’ turn to duel against Heppus.
“You are perfectly capable of winning, Rod,” said Percival in a low voice to the suddenly nervously fidgeting Senior Auror. “You’ve fought wizards more capable than him. If you keep your mind clear and focus on what you’re doing, you’re the better fighter, I know it. Don’t try to show off, just fight.”
Rodilus exhaled shakily, giving Percival a nod, before grinning at Newt and the other Senior Aurors.
“Well, folks, wish me luck!”
With that, he walked in the dueling area.
The Aurors in the audience – Juniors and Seniors alike – cheered for one of their own, eager to see him succeed. Kilonski even took the cigarette from his mouth for long enough to let out a loud whistle.
“Show him what you’re made of, Hamsipood!” Miss Ipston called out.
“Bash his smug face in!” came Kilonski’s suggestion.
Newt wrung his hands. Hopefully no-one would get hurt, hopefully Rodilus wouldn’t get hurt. Why would anyone want to fight voluntarily, to seek to partake in violence?
Rodilus and Hoppus went to stand on the opposite ends of the dueling area. There were no barriers to border the area reserved for dueling, there was just the empty floor surrounded by the tables at which the audience was sitting like nothing more dangerous than a bit of dancing was about to take place, but this didn’t seem to bother either Rodilus or Heppus. They gave each other a slow bow, then took their fighting stances.
There was a flash of golden light – Barnickle marking the beginning of the duel – and the next instant the center of the hall was an explosion of lights of different kinds when Rodilus and Heppus dueled against each other, blocking and hexing and crying out their spells.
Rodilus sent something red towards Heppus, who raised his wand to block it before shooting Rodilus with a yellow hex. Rodilus barred, caught the hex and wielded it right back at its sender.
The wizards and witches in the audience were calling out encouragements, suggestions, insults. Miss Ipston was biting her nails, Kilonski winced and swore whenever a hex caught Rodilus a little too close for comfort. Percival and Bartolomeus observed the duel in silence, but Newt, for his part, found it hard to look at all the violence happening but yards from where they were sitting.
He wished it was over already.
Neither Rodilus nor Heppus seemed to be aware of their audience, so intent they were on their duel, on fighting each other. They were equal, it seemed, when it came to dueling, and their duel lasted for good fifteen minutes. It likely would have last for longer – hadn’t Heppus blocked one of Rodilus’ hexes in a manner that had it flying towards the audience rather than towards Rodilus.
As it happened, the hex came flying straight at Newt, who was trailing the embroidery pattern on the tablecloth with his finger, oblivious to any approaching hexes. It would have hit him straight in the face, likely in the left eye, hadn’t there suddenly been a solid body between him and the table, a bulk of a man shielding him from getting hexed.
Startled to suddenly have a warm body practically on his lap, between his thighs, Newt looked up at Percival’s tense back.
The hex let out a hiss when it was blocked by Percival’s raised wand. Red sparks flew all around them as the hex dissolved into itself.
Newt closed his eyes to blink – the warm weight disappeared from between him and the table, and when he opened his eyes, Percival was on the other side of the table, well in the dueling area, having apparated there. The duel had apparently come to a momentary halt.
“Do be more careful,” said Percival, gaze going from Rodilus to Heppus. “I strongly urge.”
“Sorry about that.” Rodilus sounded wary.
“You know how it is when people duel,” said Heppus. “Accidents happen.”
“Of course,” was Percival’s answer.
He was still holding the wand in one hand, flexing the fingers of the other.
“And seeing as I just needed to save Scamander from losing an eye to your burning hex,” Percival continued, “I am going to take it as a challenge and fight you both.”
The entire hall had fallen silent.
“Is that not against the rules?” Heppus asked, looking between Rodilus and Barnickle. He had begun to sweat.
“Not at all,” said Barnickle brightly, appearing eager to get Director of Magical Security involved in the dueling. “You both did challenge him when he needed to block a hex one of you created and the other sent his way. He is therefore allowed to join in your duel, if he so wishes.”
“I do so wish,” said Percival, voice emotionless.
"But-“ Heppus frowned. “But then it won’t be a duel anymore.”
Barnickle waved her hand in an impatient manner.
“We have had three-against-three fights before. They are not against the rules.”
“Uh, okay, then,” squeaked Rodilus. “But remember, Percival, that I’m your favorite Senior Auror in the entire existence, you love me, really. There is only one Rodilus Hamsipood and that is me, so you probably should let me live.”
The three of them bowed to each other. They took their fighting stances – the golden light flashed – and the fight began.
Rodilus and Heppus seemed to have joined their forces to unite against Percival – but Percival had them both on the floor before the fighting had properly even begun. Their wands flew to him and he picked them up from the air.
“Just one Rodilus Hamsipood in the existence, I said!” groaned Rodilus, arms around his midsection. “Fuck that hurt. Arsephone.”
“But I’m the champion,” said Philippus Heppus in his accented voice. “How could I have lost already?”
The crowd, stunned that the fight was already over, had been staring in silence, but now they jumped up to their feet to cheer and to applaud. Newt clapped along, unable to take his eyes off Percival, who was looking straight at him, intent.
“Percival Graves wins his first duel!” Barnickle announced. “Who wants to duel against him next?”
The hall seemed to erupt. Apparently there were many who wanted to have a chance to fight Director of Magical Security, to test their strength against such a powerful wizard. Even Bartolomeus had risen to his feet and was now waving his wand arm.
Newt saw Percival sighing.
Newt didn’t know how many hours it took in total, but by the time Percival had beaten the last of the witches and wizards who wanted to duel against him, it was past midnight. After he had been crowned the new champion and The Fortune Teller had interviewed him, Percival took Newt back to his office – and the Senior Aurors followed along, each in good spirits despite of sporting minor injuries for having dueled against Percival.
"Doesn't matter it wasn't me who beat Heppus," Rodilus was saying. "Boss did such a splendid job at it."
As soon as they reached the office, the Senior Aurors gathered around Percival’s liquor cabinet (it was a good thing they didn’t recognize powderlings for what they were, although they did voice their confusion for having found a box full of – what they thought was – sand among all the liquor) and were soon in the process of pouring each other drinks to celebrate.
“To the bossman!” they raised their glasses before downing the contents.
Percival, for his part, went to stand by the windows, leaning his back against the wall. With his sweaty hair plastered to his flushed skin, he breathed hard for having fought for several consecutive hours against people who had given him their very best. While he was mostly unharmed, there was a nick on the side of his throat where one of Kilonski’s curses had grazed him. It was bleeding sluggishly.
Newt went to him and studied the bleeding wound closely. It didn’t look deep, indeed just a nick.
He fished for a handkerchief in Percival’s breast pocket and pressed it against the wound on the man’s throat with one hand, the other hand coming up to rest on the rapidly rising and falling chest.
Gradually, Newt raised his eyes from the wound to meet Percival’s gaze. They looked each other in the eye for a long time, while Kilonski, Rodilus, Miss Ipston and Bartolomeus plundered the liquor cabinet.
“Still impressed with Heppus?” Percival’s voice was soft. His breath ghosted along Newt’s skin. “Silver isn’t his color, and I did say he should’ve defended his left side better.”
“He sure should have!” declared Kilonski, appearing by their side with a bottle of gin. “Say, boss, do you want a drink?”
“No, thank you,” Percival said tightly, still looking at Newt.
“What about you, Scamander?”
Newt shook his head.
“Yes,” hissed Percival, “we are sure.”
The Senior Aurors had by now left the liquor cabinet alone and were now surrounding Newt and Percival, each with a drink in hand.
“Congratulations, Persephone!” cheered Rodilus. “You were impressive today. Was he not, Newt?”
Newt blushed. Percival had been more than impressive – he had been breath-taking with his quick spells and fast reflexes and defensive shields.
“Say, Scamander,” said Kilonski, slurring a little, “how about you give the bossman a bit of a smooch? He’s earned one, that’s for sure, having fought hundreds of duels just to impress you.”
Percival tensed up. He detached himself from Newt and took a step aside to bring them apart. He touched his neck and the wound disappeared. Newt was left holding the bloody handkerchief.
“That’s not necessary.”
“Aww, come on now, we know you both want it,” Rodilus insisted. “And this would be the perfect moment for a bit of kissing, celebrations and all.”
“If you want there to be kissing, Hamsipood, you can take care of that without involving me.”
“Oh, sir, but you wouldn’t let me kiss Newt.”
“Newt can kiss whomever he likes to,” said Percival, folding his arms across his chest. “It’s none of my business. It’s not- Newt can kiss whomever he likes to. Doesn’t matter to me.”
“Does it not.”
Newt felt tears pricking his eyes.
“Does it not?” he repeated, demanded.
Everyone had fallen silent. Percival was looking at him, he could tell, but he stared stubbornly at his feet.
“Ah, well, Newt.” Percival sounded taken off guard. “I didn’t mean it like- Of course I- You know I only meant-”
Newt had had enough. Percival had rejected him so many times it hurt like an open wound.
“If it doesn’t matter to you,” he sniffed, holding back tears, “then what is stopping me from giving myself to someone else?”
Newt turned around, grasped the first Auror within reach by the lapels of their jacket – Kilonski, the Auror happened to be – and pulled Kilonski forcefully down to meet him. He pressed their lips together, kissed Kilonski, who let out a startled noise that sounded something between “what the fuck” and “oomph”. Kilonski tasted like cigarette ash and Percival’s gin – and Newt pulled himself off of him.
“Terribly sorry,” he mumbled to Kilonski.
He didn’t even glance at Percival, but addressed his next words to him nevertheless.
“Did that not matter to you? Can you honestly claim so? Do think about it.”
He didn’t wait for an answer, just mumbled another “terribly sorry” to Kilonski, threw the bloody handkerchief in Percival's general direction – and marched out of the office, leaving Percival and his gaping Aurors behind.
*sighs and shakes head*
Once again, please take this chapter by way of me thanking you for your comment&kudos!
(Also, I'm wondering where you're all from - if English is not your native language, please do leave a comment in your native language, if you want to. I can consult Google Translate. ;) )
Percival Graves was not a stupid man.
Yet, he felt like one staring at the handkerchief Newt had thrown at his feet before leaving. He wanted to run after Newt, wanted to call out after him – but instead he stood there rooted to the spot, eyes glued to the handkerchief with which Newt had been tending to him but a moment earlier.
Newt can kiss whomever he likes to. Doesn’t matter to me.
Why had he said that when Newt was there to hear, Newt whose first kiss he had been? What on earth had he been thinking saying something like that with Newt by his side?
Graves wanted to shake Kilonski and Rodilus for having put him in the situation, for having pressed the matter, for having driven him into a corner, but ultimately he knew it wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t their fault he had been cruel to Newt, once again. Their aim had been to bring him and Newt joy, not to hurt either one of them. It wasn’t their fault. It was his alone.
Graves’ intention was to keep Newt safe by keeping his distance, but by doing so he only ended up being the one to hurt Newt again and again and again. He had broken Newt’s heart, he now knew it, and the whole matter between the two of them was now a battle between Graves’ heart and his mind, a scale on which Newt’s safety and his happiness were weighed to see which weighed more.
It was a constant battle between his mind and his heart, a constant battle over what he should do regarding Newt. His feelings were not conflicting at all – he wanted Newt, he loved Newt, that he was well aware of and able to admit to himself. His heart was all for making Newt his, and while his head agreed that loving Newt was the logical outcome and could not have possibly been avoided, there was also the distressing knowledge that the minute Graves made him his, Newt would become the number one target to all the crooks in the American wizarding society, to all those who would want to get to “the untouchable Percival Graves” but were too cowardly to face him directly.
There were many of those, many who would pay to cause him pain, many who would smother Newt’s bright flame with pleasure just to see Graves’ darkness deepen.
Newt would be safe at Graves’ home, inside its defenses, but he was not a bird to be caged, he was not a flower to be pressed just so it wouldn’t wither and die. He was the summer breeze, warm and gentle, meant to dance freely. Graves wanted him to be happy and safe – but while he would give his all to make Newt happy, his presence would unavoidably put Newt in danger, turn Newt’s life into darkness, into shadows.
He wished Newt would understand that.
Graves wanted it all, but not everything could be had: If he made Newt happy, Newt would be put in danger. If he kept Newt safe, it would break Newt’s heart. It made Graves helpless – he didn’t know what to decide, what to do.
Newt can kiss whomever he likes to. Doesn’t matter to me.
Yes, it fucking did, it did matter to him. It mattered to him more than he could even bring himself to confess. Newt giving his kisses, his affection, his love to someone else, someone who was not Graves – that made Graves feel small, filled him with pain like someone had caught him in the chest with a burning hex powerful enough to burn off the skin, to reach his lungs, his heart.
He was being unreasonable, Graves knew. He was being outright cruel to Newt, acting out of jealousy in one moment, letting Newt cradle his face the other – only to finish it all by declaring that Newt could kiss anyone he liked to because "none of it mattered to him".
Newt’s soft lips against his, Newt wanton but still shy beneath him, Newt looking at him like they were meant to be – that had been a paradise… If only they-
There was a weigh on his arm. Graves blinked at the hand unexpectedly touching him, trailed his gaze along the arm up to the face of one Rodilus Hamsipood.
“I’m sorry,” Rodilus said in a low voice when their gazes met. He looked like it too, brows furrowed, eyes shadowed. “We shouldn’t have pushed and put you two in such an uncomfortable situation. We went too far.”
“Yeah,” mumbled Kilonski, avoiding Graves’ gaze. “Sorry, boss. We crossed the line.”
The image of Newt pressing his lips against Kilonski’s, the two of them kissing each other like lovers, popped in Graves’ mind, unwelcomed, and suddenly he wanted very much to punch someone, preferably himself.
“I’m sure he’ll… calm down,” was Ipston’s attempt at reassurance, and perhaps it might have worked better, hadn’t Graves had had to watch her flirting with Newt the whole evening.
She had been all over Newt, touching him and playing with his hair, whispering who knew what kind of flirtatious suggestions in his ear – Graves had seen Newt smiling at her, whispering something in turn, and he had wanted to pull Newt to himself over the table. He had wanted to kiss Newt right there in front of everyone, he had wanted to fuck Newt in that dueling arena, to claim him his in public so no man nor a woman would try to take him from him ever again.
He hadn’t done any of those things. Instead, he had dueled against anyone who had stood up to challenge him, and after every duel he had turned to glare Newt down, fierce, possessive, out of his mind with yearning, with lust, with passion and love and jealousy. He had wanted Newt’s eyes on him, not on anyone else.
Newt can kiss whomever he likes to. Doesn’t matter to me.
There was no excuse. He had hurt Newt and there was no excuse.
Graves shrugged Rodilus’ hand off him and stalked towards Kilonski, who was holding his favorite bottle of gin in his hand. He really needed a drink.
Kilonski backed away – and kept on backing away, no matter how insistently Graves followed and tried to grab the bottle from his hold.
“Percival,” Rodilus was suddenly by his side, again holding onto his arm, although this time his grasp was firmer. “You need to calm down. It wasn’t Frank’s fault.”
Just then Kilonski’s back hit the wall with a thud – and Graves could finally grasp the gin bottle. He snatched it from Kilonski, who instantly let go.
“I didn't kiss him! He kissed me!”
Graves, the bottle already on his lips, came to a halt.
“By Merlin, Kilonski!” he then snapped, lowering the bottle down from his lips.
The volume of his voice was enough to make all four Senior Aurors flinch and for Rodilus to tighten his hold.
“I have eyes and I’m fully aware that you got to have Newt for a moment – is that not enough for you? Do you have to brag about it to my face?”
Suddenly Graves wanted to smash the gin bottle, to throw it against the wall, rather than to drink a drop. He snapped his fingers, sending the bottle back to its place in the liquor cabinet (right in front of the powderlings he had been feeding with cinnamon for several weeks now even though Newt thought he wasn’t even aware of their presence – Newt should have known better than to fly cinnamon rolls to them right under Graves’ nose).
He glared at Kilonski.
“I didn’t mean it like that, boss,” the man was half insisting, half pleading. “I wasn't bragging. I only meant- My aim was only to-”
Graves raised a hand to silence him and Kilonski shut his mouth with a wince.
Graves regarded the four Senior Aurors in silence. Ipston was biting her nails, looking from Kilonski to Graves with almost tangible worry. Bartolomeus had his hand near his wand pocket, discreetly, while Kilonski had crossed his arms on his chest and was now looking at Graves almost warily. Rodilus was still holding onto Graves as if attempting to keep him from assaulting Kilonski.
It hit Graves like a lightning: they were afraid of him.
They were afraid of him. They feared he would hurt Kilonski, one of his own.
First he chased Newt away and now his Senior Aurors were afraid of him.
“Fuck you all,” Graves said, suddenly exhausted, shrugging himself free from Rodilus’ hold. He picked up the bloody handkerchief from the floor, still feeling Newt’s gentle touch on his skin.
“Fuck you all. Get out of my office.”
And because he was still Director of Magical Security and he had a department to run, he added, “And be back by six. Sober.”
After a few silent minutes, the Senior Aurors turned to go, hesitantly, one after another.
“You, too, Hamsipood. Please go.”
A moment later, Rodilus closed the door after him, softly, and Percival was left alone.
He spent that night in Newt’s suitcase, tending to the creatures until exhaustion claimed him. He fell asleep with Pickett on his belly, the handkerchief still in his hold.
Rain drummed against the one window of Newt’s apartment. It was midday and the Sun should have been at its highest, but it was still dark, had been the whole morning, and it didn’t look like that would change any time soon. Clouds, more black than grey, loomed over New York City, and Newt sat by his window, leaning his forehead against the cool glass. His breaths fogged up the window and he wiped it clean with the back of his hand, watching the few lone drenched figures below him hurrying to their destinations in the deluge.
Like they, he, too, would soon go.
Newt hadn’t heard from Percival after having left his office the night before and the reality had finally sunk in: If Percival had changed his mind, he would have come to see Newt by now, the efficient man that he was. Since he hadn’t been by, it was clear nothing had changed and Newt wouldn’t have the man he wanted. He had done all he could about it – he had discussed, offered his body, given his heart, even kissed another man to bring Percival to realize the depth of their feelings, but nothing had worked and there was nothing more Newt could do about it.
The window had fogged up again. Newt touched it, trailed a finger along the cool surface. He drew a heart without quite meaning to, and when he realized what he had done, quickly wiped it away as if someone would have otherwise caught him from doing something terribly impudent.
When it came to Percival, there was nothing more he could do. They had both made their decisions, Newt and Percival, and he needed to come to accept that. It would break his heart, but he needed to respect Percival’s decisions, if he wanted to at least salvage their friendship. He would need to- he would need to let Percival be, he would need to keep his distance. No more kissing, no more hugging, no more leaning his head on Percival’s shoulder.
He needed to give Percival distance, even though it broke his heart – which was why he would need to leave New York, at least for a little while. He could- he could go to Alaska to study the local creatures, and when Jacob and Queenie would move to London, he could perhaps spend some time with them in England, showing them around, helping them to settle down. Newt had travelled the world far and wide before, he could continue living that life, the life he had been living before
Newt wouldn’t ever become Percival’s sweetheart. Just the thought of that was like physical pain in his chest, like someone had stabbed him there below his throat, like he was being strangled. He squeezed his eyes closed to prevent tears from flowing and bit his fist to stifle any sobs that might want to escape.
Several calming breaths, that’s what he took.
Sniffling a little, he hugged his knees, missing Percival – and his creatures. He regretted coming to his drafty, lonely apartment. He should have gone down into his suitcase where Pickett and his furbels and the Niffler and all his other creatures were, apart from the powderlings in Percival’s liquor cabinet. They would have now comforted him; he could have now cared for them and it would have given him comfort. He still had his creatures and his creatures still had him, even if Percival would no longer be in their lives as much as he would have liked.
How could Newt explain it all to Pickett, who had become so attached to Percival? Or to the Niffler with whom Percival had begun to play all kinds of hide and seek games all of which Newt likely wasn’t even aware of? Mubel would mourn the loss of his favorite carer, the man who always had the patience to throw him carrots.
Newt sighed. He would need to go get his suitcase from Percival’s office before he left. It was still technically confiscated and he hoped Percival wouldn’t try to prevent him from taking it, because Newt would take it, with or without permission, even if he rather went about things legally.
The sudden banging on the door had him almost falling off his wobbly chair.
Percival! the thought had his heart jumping and he sprung up to his feet.
“Mr. Scamander!” a voice called out to him from the other side of the door.
It was not Percival’s voice and the disappointment had Newt’s heart sinking.
“Mr. Scamander, please! It’s urgent!”
Tucking in his shirt to make himself a little more presentable, Newt went to the door and opened it. On the other side, there was a drenched Junior Auror, dressed in the dark blue uniform, panting like he had run the stairs all the way up to the eigth floor. His round face was flushed, his blonde hair wet despite of the hood covering it. He had been soaked in furbel drool, or so it seemed, and the rain had done little to wash it off him. The blue substance was all over him – on his trousers, boots, even on his face.
Newt was instantly alert.
“Whatever you do, sir, do not use magic!” he warned the Auror. “That blue substance on you is furbel drool. It’s extremely volatile – be careful, or you might explode.”
“I know, Mr. Scamander,” the Auror panted, nodding. “Director Graves, he warned us. I- You need to come quickly, Mr. Scamander – it’s Director Graves!”
“What about him? What has happened?”
The Junior Auror rested with his hands on his knees, breathing so hard he could barely speak. A few drops of the thick blue furbel drool dropped onto the floor along with water drops.
“There was- an- an ambush,” he managed – Newt froze. Dread, cold like ice, filled him.
“Creatures, giant creatures, Mr. Scamander, big like horses. I don’t know what they were or where they came from. They- they- the director is badly hurt. They attacked him! You must come soon, he’s been asking for- for you.”
“Apparate me to him!” Newt demanded, horrified, grasping the Auror desperately by the arm. “Quickly now, man. We can’t waste a moment!”
“We c-can’t apparent there, sir. The furbel drool! The place is full of it, and I can’t apparate, I might explode!”
“Ah, of course,” Newt instantly agreed, too worried to be embarrassed. “Of course not.”
“We’ll drive there on an auto mobile instead, a No-Maj vehicle, the same as I did coming here. We must drive to the director, Mr. Scamander, and we must hurry!”
Newt grabbed his coat from where it was hanging on a nail behind the door.
It took them but a few short minutes to get in the auto mobile. Newt, with his heart pounding, adrenaline pumping in his veins, didn’t even wonder the oddness of sitting in something resembling a movable sitting room the size of a shed, but took instead a firm hold of his seat. The vehicle let out a loud growling noise and jerked once forward before the Auror reined it in and began to drive.
Like in the eye of a storm, Newt had fallen in a state of calm: It was like he was observing the events taking place from above, detached, like his soul was running so fast that the shock hadn’t yet caught up with it. Percival had been “badly hurt”, the Junior Auror had told him – it felt unreal, he couldn’t quite believe it.
“Director Graves. How badly was he hurt?”
“He was pinned under a column – the creatures had it falling on him,” the Junior Auror said grimly, fists clenching the wheel he used for steering the vehicle. “There was… a lot of blood. A lot of it. We couldn’t use magic to lift the column off him because of all the furbel drool… He was in and out of consciousness, but managed to order me to bring you to him. Kept on saying your name. Pretty much pleading for you, sir, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
Newt closed his eyes. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real. It WAS NOT REAL.
Couldn’t be. Couldn’t.
“What can you tell me of the creatures that attacked him?”
“Not much. They were big – and fast.”
If there had been a lot of furbel drool at the scene, it was safe to assume that there was a furbel nesting place somewhere nearby. Nesting furbels with their hundreds of eggs, Newt had discovered, could attract predators, as possibly had happened this time, too. For instance biedeliks, giant flying eagle-like creatures, were particularly keen on furbel eggs. If someone got between a few hungry biedeliks and furbel eggs, it was safe to assume that the results weren’t pretty.
“Were the-“ Newt swallowed, opening his eyes, “were the creatures black? Did they have feathers and a yellow horn above their beak?”
“Yes, sir, they did! Although I didn’t see the beasts well. They took us completely off guard.”
A possible biedelik attack.
Newt dreaded to even think of what would be waiting for him when he would reach Percival.
They drove for closer to thirty minutes from Brooklyn to an area of the city Newt wasn’t familiar with. The buildings there were run-down, broken apartment windows had been fixed with wooden planks nailed over the glass. Muggle children threw cans at the auto mobile and then scattered away in the rain. Women, dressed in short dresses despite of the pouring rain, stood on the street under umbrellas, smiling hollowly at Newt as they drove by. Some of them waved with cigarettes in hand, beckoning for him to come closer.
Eventually the vehicle came to a halt in front of a two-storey brick building. Its windows looked like black eyes staring down at Newt.
“Boss is in the cellar,” the Junior Auror said shortly, getting out of the vehicle with the clear intention of opening the door for Newt – Newt beat him to it, jumping out of the auto mobile and running up the stairs to the front door of the building before the Auror had managed to take but a step to come around to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
Newt pulled the building’s unlocked front door open and stepped inside. The only lighting in the hallway was the cold street light pouring in from the windows and he couldn’t see much anything in the darkness.
The door closed behind him. The Auror picked up a lantern from the chair beside the door. With a strike of a match, the lantern was lit and flickering light filled the hallway.
Just as the Auror had told Newt, the place was covered in blue furbel drool. It was everywhere – on the wide plank floor, on the ceiling, on the crumbling mortar walls, on the chair beside the door, the only piece of furniture there was. The scent of furbels, similar to that of potatoes, was strong in the dank hallway, and even as they stood there, five furbels rolled slowly across the floor like blue cotton balls with tiny tails.
Newt had to change his initial assessment – there were no furbel nesting places nearby, the place itself was one.
Thank Merlin Percival had remembered that furbel drool could be volatile and explosive when it came into contact with magic! If someone had made even the most innocent of charms in a place as full of furbel drool as this apartment was, the entire block could have exploded and the resulting magic fire could have been nearly impossible to control.
“Where’s Percival? Where’s the cellar?”
“This way.” The Junior Auror stepped deeper into the building. “Follow me, please.”
Newt wrapped his arms around himself, but didn’t follow.
It was ominous that there were no other Aurors standing there in the hallway waiting for them, guarding the unlocked door. The whole building was a little too quiet for a place where a biedelik attack had taken place, for a place where Director of Magical Security had been seriously injured. Newt didn’t know much of law enforcement, but surely the place should have been swarming with Aurors.
Either Percival had been taken to The Sleeping Alicorn already, or… or…
or there was no longer any need for anyone to hurry on his behalf.
It was also possible, he thought, regarding the Auror in silence, that Percival hadn’t been hurt in the first place. It was possible that Newt had just fallen into a trap by trusting the word of someone wearing the Auror uniform, the uniform he had begun to trust due to Percival, Tina and the Senior Aurors. He had blindly followed this unfamiliar man – this man with the appearance of an Auror – his concern and fear for Percival stronger than any voice of doubt might have been, but now that he was there, he was suddenly overcome with doubt and trepidation.
Newt glanced at the closed door behind him and took a cautious step backwards. He looked at the Auror. The man returned the look, head tilted to the side. He had stopped walking and had turned back to face Newt.
“Mr. Scamander, we must hurry. The director is waiting.”
“Where is Senior Auror Hamsipood?” Newt’s voice was wary. “Or Kilonski, or- or whoever it is is in charge?”
Someone should have been at the door, guarding it, and the five furbels he had seen rolling across the floor had been far too calm had a biedelik – or any other beast – been recently around.
Newt took another step backwards towards the door.
The blue eyes watching him narrowed.
“Mr. Scamander,” the man said, “I would think that you, a notable magizoologist, are already aware that the blue substance all around us is in all actuality real furbel drool. It is volatile, it can explode when in contact with magic. Unless you want to kill everyone in the radius of five hundred yards, including yourself, I suggest that you won’t even attempt to use magic, not even to disapparate.”
With that, the man pointed a revolver at Newt. Newt stared at the gun, heart suddenly pounding in his chest.
“A good old Colt,” the man said humorlessly. “You wizards might consider this a crude weapon and I admit it’s a bit old-fashioned – it is 1929 already, after all – but I can assure you this works just fine, if you want to get someone killed quickly.”
“Are you a Muggle? A- a No-Maj?”
The man smiled bitterly.
“A Squib. In a family full of witches and wizards. I didn’t used to mind, much, but circumstances… change.”
He raised the revolver to point it at Newt’s head and took a step closer.
“The people in this neighborhood are used to the sound of shooting – don’t expect them to call for the No-Maj Aurors over any a shot that might or might not go through your skull. And seeing as you can’t use magic in this building without risking an explosion on a large scale, I should think that you are now, as they say, at my mercy, Mr. Scamander.”
Timid he might have been and shy he most certainly was, but Newt now grew angry rather than afraid. This man, this bastard had dared to use Percival to lure Newt into his trap!
“I’m going to assume that Percival Graves is not injured, that you only told me so to get me to agree to come here without much resistance.”
“Your assumption is correct,” the man confirmed.
Thank Merlin - Percival was alive and well!
The relief was immense. The weight in the pit of Newt's stomach disappeared and he no longer felt detached like he was in a dream. He almost smiled, despite of the revolver pointed at his head.
Newt didn’t smile, though, because he was now absolutely furious.
“Who are you?” was his next question. “What is it that you want?”
“Now, now, Mr. Scamander,” the man said, “all questions will be answered in time, but you must be patient. Now, be a good boy and put your wand down on the floor, or I will shoot you and come to take it myself. It’s not of importance to me whether you live or die, if I am to be frank, but I would assume that you’d rather live.”
Slowly, Newt took his wand out of his coat pocket. Holding the familiar weight of it in his hand, he looked at the man pointing the revolver at him.
One spell and the man would be on the floor, unconscious. Newt might not have been used to dueling, but even he would be able to take down a Squib only armed with a Muggle gun. One spell and the man wouldn’t be able to harm him in any way.
He felt the magic in his fingertips wanting the surge into the wand, wishing to come out and be of service.
One spell and the furbel drool would react to the magic, one spell and the whole block would explode. How many people would that kill, how many furbels, how many homes would be lost? The people in the area suffered enough already without anyone adding magic fires to their problems.
Newt put the wand down onto the floor, fingers lingering before he let go and stood up straight. He met the man’s eyes steadily, raising both of his hands to make it clear they were empty.
“If you wanted help with the furbels,” he said through gritted teeth, “you needn’t have gone through all this trouble. I’d have been glad to offer them a home, if you’d just asked.”
Oooh, what could possibly happen next? ;)
Blown away. I’m BLOWN AWAY, I tell you – you are literally from all over the world! It was really quite touching that so many people were encouraged to comment when they were asked to do it in their native language. It was like I truly got to glimpse your heart, your thoughts, when you wrote the comment (or a part of it) in the language you’re most comfortable with, in the language you use when you think. I also appreciated the effort some people put in their comment by writing it in their second language. Thank you to you all, it was a great experience! I was a little overwhelmed to get so many comments. I was expecting something like ten or fifteen.
I know some people don’t dare to comment on fics because they’re worried their English isn’t good enough. From now on, use whatever language you want to, if you ever feel like commenting on any of my fics again. :)
When Graves climbed out of the suitcase the following morning – unshaved, mud on his wrinkled clothes, lichen in his messy hair – he was met with a strong scent of coffee.
Seraphina Picquery was sitting on his sofa with a coffee cup in hand. A smile tugged at her lips, but it disappeared the moment she took in his uncharacteristically unkempt appearances. Her eyebrows climbed and she eyed him slowly from head to toe like she wasn’t quite believing what she saw. His unkempt looks were only highlighted by her neat appearances – by her spotless dark green velvet gown, by her black turban-like headdress, by the golden bracelets gleaming on her wrists.
She put the coffee cup down on the side table and leant back, intertwining her slender finger in her lap.
“Director Graves,” she greeted him. “You have clearly had a wild night. Business or pleasure, if I may be so bold as to ask?”
“Aren’t they one and the same?”
Graves had always been determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but Picquery had been equally determined to get to know him personally, and that was why their relationship was one of tentative friendship. It amused her to tell everyone that they were “best of friends” at any given chance, while he said – if specifically asked – that their relationship was “professionally functional in all aspects”. Despite of her great amusement when it came to making Graves a little bit uncomfortable, she never demanded more and Graves could let her have her fun on his expense because of that. As long as nothing more was required, he could be content with the arrangement as it was.
He wasn’t, however, content to let her in on the misery he felt that morning and he most certainly wasn’t going to tell her what had occurred in his office the night before. It was private.
Rodilus and Bariton were standing at attention by the sofa, staring straight ahead like the two disciplined professionals they usually were. Their cloaks were clean, all eight buttons done like they should be, and Rodilus had – for once – taken off his fedora, holding it in his hand. His hair was neatly combed, hers braided behind her back. Both looked sober, despite of the amount of alcohol Rodilus had drunk the night before.
Graves had a feeling they were both particularly careful that morning to not get on his bad side.
When he stepped in front of them, he instantly received a sharp salute and a “Good morning, sir!” from them both.
His usual answer was a jovial “fuck off”, but this morning he couldn’t bring himself to say it. He couldn’t get past the fact that his Senior Aurors had been afraid of him when he had last seen them. They had flinched and worried and feared he would assault one of his own.
Were they often afraid of him? Were they afraid of him now? Surely not?
He would need to discuss this with his Senior Aurors, it was his duty to get to the bottom of it – all Aurors needed to be able to trust the head of the department. If they couldn’t do that, if they feared him so much it affected their performance at work – if he had created an unhealthy atmosphere of fear and distrust for his people to work in – he would have to consider resigning, personal preferences aside.
“Good morning,” Graves kept his voice polite and as non-threatening as possible, offering Rodilus and Bariton both a smile to make it clear that he was neither angry nor about to injure anyone.
This didn’t have the intended effect since Rodilus outright frowned at him, while Bariton looked confused, blinking fast. They looked at each other, visibly bewildered by the lack of the usual “fuck off”, before turning their gazes back to Graves. Rodilus opened his mouth – glanced at Picquery – and shut it again, his frown deepening.
“How is your aunt, Auror Bariton?” Graves addressed Bariton. “I hope she wasn’t too badly injured during her duel yesterday.”
“Uh, Aunt Margaret is fine, sir, thank you for asking,” she answered, eyes still blinking fast behind her round glasses. “She was chasing pigeons when I left for work.”
When Graves turned back to Picquery, Rodilus’ gaze was heavy on his back – they would talk later.
His words made Seraphina sigh, albeit fondly – she had asked him to call her Seraphina time and time again, but where it entertained her to tell people they were the closest of friends, it entertained him to exasperate her by insisting on addressing her formally.
The long-case clock took just that moment to begin to chime – it was seven o’clock – but he raised his voice, speaking over it.
“May I ask what it is that you are doing in my office at this hour?”
Seraphina studied her nails and waited for the chiming to come to an end.
“I’m just here to ask you one question,” she spoke when the clock had fallen silent. “Can we talk about Quidditch?”
Can we talk about Quidditch? was their code for a Surprise Secret Session, as Graves had begun to call them in his mind. They had needed the code words because Surprise Secret Sessions were never to be talked about under any circumstances and the Senior Aurors were sternly forbidden from discussing them even amongst themselves. The Sessions were to remain just that – a jealously guarded secret. The only people aware of the Sessions were the president, Director of Magical Security and the Senior Aurors. The idea was that a potential imposter wouldn’t know of the practice in advance, the idea was that they would be taken off guard by it.
The purpose of the Surprise Secret Sessions was to determine that no-one had assumed neither Seraphina nor Graves’ identity. The aim was to determine that they were who they said they were.
In practice, this meant that both Seraphina and Graves would be tied to a chair while the Senior Aurors took turns in guarding them. They would wait for thirteen hours, a little over the maximum time Polyjuice Potion’s effects could last, and Graves and Seraphina would not be allowed to drink or eat anything during that time. The bathroom they were allowed to use, but the Senior Aurors would accompany them there, too, and they would be stared at the entire time – during Surprise Secret Sessions, there was no privacy, that’s how Graves had demanded it to be.
If one of them was in all actuality a dark wizard who had assumed their identity, this would be revealed during a Surprise Secret Session – which was why the Senior Aurors needed to be armed and present, too, just in case someone needed to get restrained and arrested.
After he had returned to work after having been released from The Sleeping Unicorn after being abducted by Grindelwald for 145 days, Graves had been determined to ensure that no such thing could ever happen again, that no imposter could pretend to be him again. He had therefore convinced Seraphina to agree to make the Surprise Secret Sessions a part of the protocol and she had soon agreed. It was regretful that no such protocol had existed beforehand, or Grindelwald would have likely been found out about earlier.
No paperwork existed regarding the Sessions. Seraphina and Graves never told each other beforehand when a Surprise Secret Session was to take place since the idea was to take a potential imposter off guard, to surprise them. Instead, they both could decide any a day that it was the time to put the other one’s identity to a test. They then just appeared in the other one’s office, accompanied by a few Senior Aurors, and when they were asked what they wanted, the response was always the same, “Can we talk about Quidditch?”
Once they had waited for thirteen hours, Seraphina and Graves would be untied and everyone would go back to work, assuming no imposter had been revealed. The Sessions did prevent them for working for thirteen hours, but Graves was positive the practice was worth it.
Today, however, Graves couldn’t help but be exasperated by Seraphina’s timing, by her decision to have a Surprise Secret Session just that morning. While he did consider the Surprise Secret Sessions an important part of the protocol, this was the one day he was reluctant to participate in any a lengthy session: He had been planning on going to see Newt. He had hoped to set things right between the two of them, to apologize the first thing in the morning. Surprise Secret Sessions were never rescheduled, however, and participation was mandatory for all parties which was why Graves now had little other choice but to sigh and to run a hand through his hair.
“Of course,” he said, resigned, picking lichen from his hair. “We will go to the conference room A14 to talk about Quidditch.”
He spent that day tied to a chair with Seraphina Picquery. His Senior Aurors took turns reading them newspapers and books since nothing work-related – nothing of importance – was to be discussed during a Surprise Secret Session. Graves didn’t listen to any a story or article. The whole thirteen hours his thoughts were with one certain magizoologist who must have been waiting for him to come to see him, who must have been feeling abandoned.
When it had finally been determined that both Graves and Seraphina were who they claimed to be, it was past eight in the evening. After checking with Miss Pines that nothing of utmost importance had come up during his absence – and after using the bathroom and grabbing something to eat and to drink from the cafeteria – Graves went down into Newt’s suitcase, hoping the find Newt there. The creatures were all fine, some of them hurried to greet him, but if Newt had been there earlier, he certainly wasn’t there now.
Newt’s apartment was just as chaotic as it always was and Graves couldn’t help but cast a few organizing spells on the clutter that met him the moment he unlocked the door with the spare key Newt had given him some months earlier. While parchments hurried to pile themselves up and books jumped up to their places on the shelf, Graves noted, much to his disappointment, that Newt wasn’t at home. The blue coat wasn’t hanging in its usual place behind the door and the stove was cool to the touch. It was obvious that Newt hadn’t been there for at least a few hours.
Graves sighed. Newt must have gone to the Goldstein sisters. They were now likely discussing Graves and his cruel treatment of Newt. Tina would give him cool looks the whole day tomorrow like she always did when he and Newt got into an argument – not that he didn’t deserve it, of course, because he did.
He was just about to turn to leave, resigned to come back the next day, when a folded piece of parchment on the table caught his attention. It had his name written on it in Newt’s handwriting, with big letters like Newt had been intending for him to notice it for as soon as possible.
Graves unfolded the parchment. It was a message, left for him, signed by “N”.
“Dear Percival,” the message read.
“If you happen to be by while I’m not at home, please come to the address below. I have found the most MARVELOUS of FURBEL NESTING PLACES and you need to see it! DO NOT APPARATE HERE! The place is covered in furbel drool and it is EXPLOSIVE when in contact with magic. N”
Graves read the message twice. It didn’t sound like Newt was upset. It didn’t sound like he was angry or sad. He sounded surprisingly composed, much more so than Graves felt, but something about the message still put Graves on edge.
He looked at the address written neatly at the bottom of the message – and frowned, eyes narrowing.
The man took him down in the dark cellar where the smell of potatoes – furbels – was particularly strong. It was cold down there, cold and dank, and Newt shivered despite of his coat. His discomfort didn’t seem to be of any concern to his captor who simply snorted and shoved Newt’s shoulder hard enough for Newt to come stumbling down the last three steps.
A shooting pain in his knee where he hit it against the edge of a step had Newt gasping, but he gritted his teeth together, seething as he was.
“Get up,” was all the man said to him and Newt, with little other option, did so.
The man lowered the lantern down onto the table that stood in the middle of the cellar. In its light, Newt could study his surroundings even as he climbed up to his feet.
It was a relatively small, mainly empty room with no other exit but the door above the stairs they had just descended. If there had been a lot of furbel drool upstairs in the hallway, the cellar was now so full of it that it almost looked like someone had painted the cellar blue from the low ceiling to the stone floor. There were furbels in the corners, but they didn’t seem to be bothered by the presence of the humans, snoring peacefully as they were, and Newt had to assume that his captor had spent enough time in the building for the furbels to have become accustomed to him.
How big of an explosion would performing magic in this cellar cause? Newt was wary to even think of that.
“Sit your arse down onto the chair,” was the next order Newt was given. There was a chair by the table and the man gestured towards it with the revolver.
Sighing to himself, Newt slowly took his seat.
This was hardly the first time someone had forced him in a cellar or pointed a gun at him. He had, after all, spent most of his adult years smuggling creatures, occasionally stealing them from people who were mistreating them, and he had found himself in uncomfortable situations more than once. That didn’t, however, make the experience any more pleasant the umpteenth time around.
The man, still pointing the revolver at Newt, took a rope from the table.
“Hands behind your back, pretty boy. And no funny business.”
Newt put his hands behind his back obediently. He held his knuckles from both hands together and pulled his hands subtly towards his back so he created a gap between his wrists, making sure to keep his head down so he came across as docile and as meek as possible – he had learnt over the years that it was better to have his captors to underestimate the threat he could pose to them.
“This is nothing personal,” the man said as the rough rope bit into the skin of Newt’s wrists.
“Or perhaps a little personal,” he soon added, tightening the ropes.
Newt bit his lip and did his best to keep the gap between his wrists from closing – he didn’t want to give the man the chance to tie him up too tightly, after all, even though he had – for now – chosen to co-operate.
“Okay,” the man whispered in Newt’s ear, “I might as well admit that this is entirely personal.”
His captor left him alone in the dark cellar for many hours. Newt used that time to fight against his bindings, to try and call for the furbels to come to his aid. The furbels didn’t react to him in any way, but the bindings did feel a bit looser after the many hours he stubbornly worked on them, frustratingly firmly around his wrists though they still were.
Eventually the man came back, smelling like rain and coffee.
The light of his lantern momentarily blinded Newt, so bright it felt after his having spent hours in complete darkness, and he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. His hair was ruffled, not at all gently, the cool barrel of the revolver found its way under his chin, forcing his face up. Newt could feel the Squib studying him closely, the man’s breath on his cheek was a hot contrast to the cool metal barrel under his chin.
“I went to your apartment.”
“Who are you?” Newt tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice, the meek prisoner as he was supposed to be. “You may say this is personal, but I do not know you.”
“Oh, we have met, Mr. Scamander,” the man chuckled darkly. “I’m sure it’ll come to you sooner or later.”
It did come to Newt half an hour later when the man’s appearances began to gradually change. The blonde hair shortened in the flickering lantern light, the narrow shoulders broadened, the man grew taller, his muscles bulged – until gone was the round-faced Junior Auror now that the effects of the Polyjuice Potion no longer lasted. In his place, there stood a bald, bearded man in his forties, the same leering man who had called Newt “a fuckable budgie” the evening before.
Newt couldn’t help the wariness that now settled in the pit of his stomach. Surely the man hadn’t made this elaborate plan just to have his way with Newt, to- to sexually assault him?
“I watched you from a distance last night,” the man told him. “Up until you left with Graves. I watched and I learnt. It was easy enough to find out your name just by keeping my ears open. People talked about you, you know. About you and… Graves.”
The man shrugged off the dark blue Auror cloak, now too small for him, and turned his back to Newt to fold it. Newt, hollowness in his stomach, used the man’s momentary distraction and continue working on the ropes binding his hands together. While his wrists weren’t as tightly bound as they likely would have been had he not managed to create a bit of a gap between them, they were still tied fast enough.
“What do you want from me?” Newt dared to ask, mouth suddenly dry.
The man glanced at him over his shoulder.
“I’m not a rapist, Scamander,” it was stated as if he was reading Newt’s thoughts (although the leer on his face didn't make his words convincing in the slightest), “so that is not one of your concerns. I approached you yesterday before I realized who you were, but now you no longer need to bend over to be of service to me - there are better ways I can use you - so you just behave yourself and you’ll be fine.”
He was folding the cloak, surprisingly gently, carefully, even as he continued speaking almost as if to himself, “A Squib I may be, but with a family full of witches and wizards, I do have contacts. When you know the right people and when you’ve got the money, you can buy some Polyjuice Potion, among various other things. It’s not even difficult.”
Newt remained quiet, working on the ropes around his wrists, while the man put the carefully folded cloak down onto the table next to the lantern. Newt saw him running his hand along the fabric almost like he was caressing it.
“How did you find me?” he eventually had to ask. “How did you know where I live?”
The man had a smirk on his face when he turned back to Newt. He leant against the table with his arms folded across his chest, the revolver still in hand.
“It was impossibly easy,” he bragged. “You just mention it in... certain kind of company that you’ve got a bit of a furbel problem at your home.”
He used the revolver to make a general motion at the cellar in general.
“You say you’re planning on getting rid off them all – and sure enough, someone soon points me your way. ‘Let Scamander help you,’ they’ll say, trying to be helpful. ‘Scamander is good with creatures.’ Junior Auror Alpo Poverrus pretty much jumped at the opportunity to guide you to your beloved creatures – and me to you, as it happens.”
Alpo Poverrus, Miss Pines’ cousin, was always terribly nice to Newt. He was an eager reader of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and had been trying to help Newt to discover new creatures ever since he had first realized that the author of his favorite book was, in fact, the same wizard who spent so much time with his boss.
“Hannah,” the Squib’s voice suddenly had a bitter edge to it, “my big sister, Hannah used to work with Poverrus. It was easy enough to use that familiarity to make him trust me. He was almost as eager to help me as he was to aid you in finding more creature.”
Newt looked from the gently folded dark blue cloak to the man’s hunched form.
“What-“ he licked his lips, apprehensive, “what happened to you sister, Hannah?”
That was clearly the wrong thing to ask.
The man’s head whipped to him, his eyes suddenly filled with rage. He unfolded his arms, the revolver in his hand shaking, as he stalked to Newt. The sound of the slap across Newt’s face was sharp and loud in the otherwise silent cellar. Newt swallowed his gasp of pain.
There was a clicking sound – the man took the safety off – and the cold barrel of the revolver was pressed against Newt’s throat, right below his chin, so hard it forced his head to tilt up. Swallowing hurt.
“Don’t you speak of Hannah,” the man looming over him hissed. “Don’t you dare say her name. I don’t know if you take her murderer’s dick in your mouth or not, but in either case, don’t you dare use that mouth to speak of my sister.”
Graves recognized the address.
One of his Junior Aurors, Hannah Firmbait, had lived in that house with her brother, he remembered it clearly. Her home had been in a disreputable No-Maj area – a fact over which he had often heard Junior Aurors joking in a good-humored manner, Firmbait herself the loudest of all. The Firmbaits had lived in that same building for almost as long as the Graves had lived in their comfortable mansion and that was why Hannah had been reluctant to leave it, despite of the area’s bad reputation.
He had, by no means, known her well, but he did remember that her stunning spells had been particularly effective and that she had been a natural on a broom. She would have made an excellent Air Auror, given the time, and before Grindelwald had abducted him, Graves had been planning on making her a team leader.
She had never made it that far, sadly. Some time during his second month in charge of the department, Grindelwald had framed her for six murders. He had killed six No-Maj females in their twenties and had left the bodies at Firmbait’s home, in her cellar, where the No-Maj Aurors – the police – had found the bodies – as well as Firmbait, covered in the blood of the six No-Maj victims.
Bartolomeus had been the one to study her wand and it had been clear that the murders had indeed been committed with her wand. Grindelwald, disguised as Graves, had “personally investigated the case”. She had not been under the control of the Imperius Curse, Grindelwald had claimed, nor had she been obliviated or her mind altered by any a spell. At the time, Firmbait had had no explanation, no alibi, but when Graves had later demanded answers, Grindelwald had admitted to having obliviated her and her brother after “borrowing her wand for a bit”.
The whole department had been shocked, Junior Aurors devastated, but the murders had been so brutal, the bodies so torn apart, the evidence so damning, that no-one had questioned it when Grindelwald – Director Graves, everyone had believed – had had Hannah Firmbait quietly executed.
Grindelwald had looked proud when he had confessed all this to Graves. He had been smiling when he had told Graves that Hannah Firmbait had needed to die because “she was filthy”, because “her blood was filthy”, because “her brother was a fucking Squib”.
Graves had broken both of Grindelwald’s clavicles and cheekbones and had had his shoulders dislocated before he had handed the wizard – reluctantly, by order of Picquery – over to his British colleagues who had taken Grindelwald to Europe to answer for his crimes.
(Graves hadn’t used any a spell. It had been more satisfying to beat Grindelwald with his bare fists.)
Hannah Firmbait’s brother, Mathias had taken her sister’s death understandably hard. Graves had gone and told him in person what had happened to Hannah, but by the time he was finished, Mathias had twisted it all around in his head and had come to the conclusion that the one to be blamed for his sister’s murder was Percival Graves, not Gellert Grindelwald, blinded by his grief as he had been. Mathias had tried to kill Graves there and then with a table knife, but Graves had never told of that to anyone – as far as he was concerned, Mathias had suffered enough as it was.
Graves had assumed that Mathias would have seen the facts more clearly after he had been able to mourn in peace for some time, he had assumed that Mathias would come to understand in time that it had been Grindelwald who killed his sister, but judging from the fact that there now was a message in Graves’ hand, written seemingly by Newt, with the Firmbaits’ address on it, it was safe to say that that had not happened.
Graves cursed and with a flick of his wrist, the message disappeared – moved safely in the drawer of his office desk. The next instant, he had his wand in his hand. A silvery-white snow leopard, his guardian, shoot out of the tip of his wand and he sent the Patronus to his Senior Aurors to let them know that a hostage situation was going on at the Firmbaits’. He put Rodilus in charge and was careful to include a warning of potentially explosive furbel drool, forbidding anyone from using magic when in close proximity to the said substance.
For once going against all protocols and rules, Graves didn’t wait for back-up, fearing that any time wasted could prove fatal to Newt. He apparated to a dark lane near the Firmbait’s two-storey brickhouse. With a glance around to make sure no No-Maj had seen him, he marched to his destination through the rain, ready to confront Mathias Firmbait who had gone and gotten Newt involved in business Newt would have been better to stay out of.
Someone entered the house. Newt could hear the front door opening and closing and the slow steps moving above them.
His captor heard it all too, judging from the way he grinned coldly, standing up straight, his stance turning into that of a fighter.
“Down here, Director Graves!” the man called out. It was enough to bring the steps above them to a halt. “We’re in the cellar.”
“Don’t come here, Percival!” Newt was instantly prompted to yell. “Don’t come here! He’s got a revolver! He’s armed! But I’ve got everything under control, so you stay away!”
Newt had almost managed to free his hands by now – he could soon be free. All he would have to do was to distract the man for long enough to break the lantern. In the darkness, he could hit the man with the chair, then run up the stairs and lock the door. The last thing he now needed was for Percival to come in the cellar to get pointed at with revolvers – Percival’s presence would ruin his plan.
“Do NOT come in here!” he therefore cried again – only to feel the sudden sting of a slap on his cheek, to have his ear ringing because of it.
“Shut the fuck up,” the man hissed, grasping him by the hair. “You might be a screamer, but this is the time for you to shut up. I'll be the one talking. You just look pretty and scared.”
The cellar door above the stairs was pulled open and Percival – damn it – stepped into the view.
“Go away, Percival,” Newt tried again, desperately, just as the hold in his hair turned painful and the cold barrel of the revolver was pressed against the soft skin between his throat and his breastbone.
“Director Graves,” his captor spoke from where he was standing flush by Newt’s side. Newt felt the fast rising and falling of his chest. “Don’t try to perform any magic. All the blue substance around us is extremely sensitive to magic and it will explode, if it comes into contact with magic. If you don’t want your little bird here to blow up, come down the stairs peacefully and refrain from casting any spells whatsoever.”
Percival’s face was expressionless. He regarded them from above, regal, untouchable. Wordlessly, he began to descend the stairs, each press of his boot against the stone steps like a chime of the Bell of Justice.
The atmosphere was tense, ominous.
With his lips pressed together, Newt increased his efforts to free his hands, no longer caring if his captor noticed or not, but the man didn’t pay him any mind, his eyes on Percival’s descending form even as he pressed the barrel of the revolver more firmly against Newt’s flesh.
Newt winced. It would bruise.
“This place will soon be full of Aurors,” Percival’s voice was calm like they were all just enjoying a cup of tea together, nothing more dangerous than that. “Aurors, Mathias. Hannah’s colleagues, the people she called her friends.”
“The friends who betrayed her!” the man, Mathias, shouted. “Betrayed her, you fucking murderer! Much friends they were, the people who let you kill her!”
Ah. Newt now knew why this Mathias had lured him into the trap: the plan had been to use him as a bait for Percival whom Mathias blamed for his sister's death. The dark blue cloak had likely belonged to Hannah, Mathias had likely been wearing his sister's old Auror uniform to make Newt trust him.
“Hannah Firmbait was a fine Auror with a promising future.” Percival sounded sad. “I did not kill her. It was Gellert Grindelwald who had her executed for crimes she did not commit.”
By now, Percival had reached the bottom of the stairs. He stood there in the flickering light of the lantern, seeming to take everything in from the furbel drool to the folded cloak on the table. His gaze came to rest on Newt.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, thank you,” said Newt, “although I would have appreciated it, if you hadn’t come in here. I had everything under control, Percival. This… complicates things.”
“Quite the contrary,” said Mathias, letting go of Newt’s hair, as he turned the revolver to point firmly at Percival. “This makes things very simple indeed: You can’t use magic here, neither one of you can. Magic is useless here. You are useless, Graves, no matter how powerful you usually are, no matter how fucking invinsible. I’m the one holding the gun. I’m the one in control, me, a Squib! You are both at my mercy.”
“The Aurors will soon be here, Mathias.” Percival eyed the revolver with a slight frown between his eyes. “There is no way around that. However, you haven’t done anything irreversible yet. You haven’t yet done anything that we couldn’t find a way out of. Put the gun down and let us talk. The situation can still be resolved peacefully. Nothing irreversible has occurred. You can still walk away.”
“I don’t want to walk away, you murderer. Finally there will be justice.”
“I did not kill your sister. It was Gellert Grindelwald who had her executed, not I – and certainly not Newt Scamander.”
“Lies!” hissed Mathias. “Lies, lies, lies! You lie, just like you did when you had Hannah taken away from me.”
“I do not lie. I did not kill your sister and I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“However that may be, surely you must at least agree that Mr. Scamander,” Percival gestured towards Newt, “has no part in this. He is innocent. He has done nothing to your sister. Let him go and I will stay here with you.”
Mathias took three steps closer to Percival, coming to stand between Newt and Percival, blocking them from each other’s view, but too far for Newt to kick him. Newt tugged at the rope around his wrists. His hands were almost free, he was almost free. If only he could just… just… a little more…
“Scamander will be going nowhere.” Mathias’ voice was steady and determined, a contrast to his trembling hands. “Nowhere! When you lie on the floor in a pool of your own warm blood, dying, helpless, unable to do anything about it, I will bring your Scamander next to you and I will fuck him till he’s bleeding and begging for me to stop. While you draw your last breaths, you will hear his screams, and when you are dead, I’ll continue fucking him right next to your cooling corpse.”
“That will not happen,” Percival continued speaking calmly, although Newt could hear a dangerous undertone in his voice, like the silence before a lightning strike. “I’m positive my Aurors are already surrounding the building.”
“I hope they are, too,” said Mathias. “I hope they fucking are. Because I will shoot you, Graves, and I will shoot to kill! And there is nothing you can do about that, unless you are willing to blow up your Scamander and the Aurors surrounding us.”
There was no reply. Percival didn’t answer. The room was quiet.
Newt finally got his hands free, the rope fell from around them – just as a deafeningly loud bang echoed in the cellar.
With his ears ringing, Newt sprung up to his feet – a little dizzy, not hearing anything but the ringing in his ears, not even the sound of his breathing which was terribly disorientating. He twirled around and grabbed the chair, blindly – and twirled again – to strike Mathias with the chair in the head as hard as he could, with all the strength tending to creatures over the years had built in his muscles.
The chair found its target, it hit something solid – and Mathias fell onto the floor. There was an open wound in his head, a large one, where Newt had hit him, and it gushed with blood. He was breathing, but he didn’t move, knocked unconscious.
With his heart pounding, adrenaline in his veins, the smell of burnt sulfur overpowering the potato-like smell of furbels, Newt threw the chair aside and knelt down by Mathias to take the revolver from his loose grasp. He put the safety on, the gun warm in his hand, and turned to look at Percival.
Who was lying on the floor, motionless, the front of the white shirt red with blood.
Newt stared at the sight before him, unable to comprehend it.
The bullet hit him in the chest. The pain was instant, but it vanished as quickly as it had come, leaving him numb and detached.
Graves felt Death caressing him. Death whispered in his ear, soothing him, promising him peace, even as he saw Newt hitting Mathias with a chair but a few yards from him.
He was dying, he knew, just as he knew that he could easily heal himself. He could heal himself. One thought and he would be whole again. He did have the power to do so.
But if he did, the furbel drool would react to his magic and they would all explode, Newt, Rodilus, his Aurors, the No-Maj people near the building… They would explode, he would kill them by healing himself.
Healing was therefore not an option. He wouldn’t take innocents with him to death.
Longing, Graves reached out a hand to Newt, but Death took a firm grip of his reaching hand and smiled at him gently. Percival shook his head – no, not yet, not yet, a moment longer, just a moment longer, the feel of Newt’s hand in his, Newt’s eyes, Merlin, he wanted to look into Newt’s eyes, please, not yet, not until he had-
But fate was cruel, as Graves had always known it to be, and it didn’t listen to his voiceless pleas. It gave him no mercy, just like he hadn’t given mercy to any of the criminals he had sent to their executions, and he was on the floor, on the cold unforgiving ground, long before Newt with his warm hands reached him.
This is not a death fic, just so you know, so no need to kill me. ;)
Thanks for your comments&kudos! I'm sorry I haven't answered to you all. I simply ran out of time. Nevertheless, comments make me write faster.
Where were the Aurors? Why were they not there yet?
“Help!” Newt cried, but even if someone had heard him, he didn’t hear their answer, ringing as his ears still were due to the deafening sound of the gunshot – he likely wouldn’t have now heard it had the entire Department of Magical Law Enforcement been jumping up and down right above him. “Help!”
Newt covered the bleeding hole in Percival’s chest with his hands. They only had moments left – seconds, minutes, who knew – and Percival would be long gone before Newt would manage to drag him upstairs and outside away from the furbel drool to perform any a healing spell, assuming all the dragging itself wouldn’t be enough to exhaust Percival’s abused body and to kill him, that was.
Newt glanced longingly over his shoulder at his wand sticking out of Mathias’ pocket. Mathias laid there unconscious on his belly, but the wand could easily be seen in the back pocket of his trousers – it was fortunate it hadn’t been broken when the man had fallen. Percival was beyond non-magic help and for a moment, for one terrible selfish moment, Newt considered taking his wand and apparating the two of them far away from there. He considered apparating despite of the explosion the act would cause, despite of the chaos he would leave behind by taking them somewhere where he could make Percival whole again, somewhere where Percival could be healed with but a few spells.
Newt got as far as crawling to Mathias’ side, taking his wand from the man’s pocket, returning back to Percival and taking him by the hand to apparate them away – only to find himself unable to perform any magic. He knelt there, frozen, as he looked down at the man he loved, the man Death was about to take away from him for forever – but he still found he couldn’t disapparate them, he couldn’t perform any magic with the knowledge that it would destroy countless of innocent lives.
Percival could have healed himself, Newt knew, but had chosen not to. He had chosen to not use magic so the furbel drool wouldn’t react to his spells, so it wouldn’t cause any an explosion and put people at risk. He had made his choice, he had chosen death rather than harming others in his expense. How could Newt now deny him his choice, possibly his last choice? Newt had the right to help, but if he saved Percival’s life at the cost of many others, neither one of them could ever forgive him, neither one of them would be able to move on and continue living. If he saved Percival’s life by killing others, by killing people and furbels who had done nothing to them, he wouldn’t be saving Percival, he would just be forcing him to live with the torment and the guilt and the consequences of Newt’s choice.
With that one act, he would save Percival’s life but destroy Percival. The body would live on, but the spirit, the heart, the soul – those would be dead, they would be gone. It wouldn’t be living, it would be worse than dying, and Newt couldn’t do that to Percival, just like he couldn’t bring himself to disapparate them while knowing what kind of consequences the act would have on all the living beings in and around the building. He loved Percival too much to force that on him, even though Percival’s death would cause him such pain that he would never recover.
“Love” was too soft a word for something that mauled and ripped and tore one’s heart, too soft and pretty a word for the all-encompassing determination that would have one knowingly exposing oneself to lifelong torment so someone else could find peace in death. It was a word to be whispered in someone’s ear while playing with their hair, but somehow it wasn’t nearly enough to express what Newt now felt, twining their fingers together while covering the hole in Percival’s chest with the other hand, the wand casted aside.
Blood seeped through his fingers, warm and fast and impossible to keep contained, impossible to control. The smell of iron, of Percival’s blood, mixed with the smell of burnt sulfur, and even as Newt was so thankful it hurt that Percival was still breathing, he hated to think that Percival had to breath the bitterness of it all in.
“HELP!” he tried again, his voice sounding muffled to his own ears, but no-one ran to them, no-one came to their help. He didn't even know whom he was calling for, someone, anyone, anyone who could-
Percival was deathly pale in the light of the lantern. His breaths were short and shallow. He was dying and there was nothing Newt could do about it.
“I love you,” Newt told the unconscious man even as he did his best to staunch the bleeding with his hands. “I love you, Percival. Please don’t go where I can’t follow.”
There was no response, not even a twitch of a muscle. The body under his hands remained limp.
If only he had had an alicorn with him, the desperate thought came to Newt, if only he had had an alicorn or a phoenix – or any one of the countless of other creatures capable of healing – there with him, he could have used them to heal Percival. Tears of a phoenix healed any a wound, alicorns were known for their healing powers – their magic would likely not have reacted to the furbel drool, stemming as it would have from the same natural wild magic furbels contained, and they could have helped Percival.
But Newt did not have an alicorn, not even in his suitcase, and he had only ever twice encountered a phoenix – which was not at all helpful in their current circumstances. The only creatures there in the cellar with them were the furbels and Newt hadn’t yet managed to study furbels thoroughly enough to know whether they had any kind of healing power in them.
”Hetty! Gulp!” he tried calling for Percival’s house elves, hoping the house elves could help their master where he couldn’t, but neither one answered his calls, likely not even hearing him.
Fighting against tears, Newt looked from Percival’s pale face to his own blood-smeared hands pressing against the warm chest. His wrists were bleeding where the ropes had broken the skin and had left it chipped and smarting, but he hardly noticed the physical pain from his internal turmoil.
He couldn’t move Percival. If he did, Percival would likely be dead before they reached the top of the cellar stairs. He couldn’t use magic, or he would be killing others and destroying Percival. He could have tried to run outside and to apparate to
but even if he managed to find something that could help, Percival would have been dead by the time he got back, so little time they now had.
The reality of their desperate situation sunk in: If Newt left, he would come back to a body. The only thing he could now do was to be there so Percival wouldn’t need to be alone when he died.
It was the time for farewells.
With a strangled sob, Newt leant his forehead against Percival’s. The skin against his was clammy like Death had already been caressing it. Tears ran down Newt’s cheeks and continued their way down Percival’s face.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” Newt whispered, his breath ghosting from Percival’s skin. “I’m sorry I can’t help you. I’m sorry I was used to lure you in here. I’m sorry we wasted so much time and-“
It hurt to speak, it tore his heart.
Percival’s lips were cold and dry when Newt kissed them.
“Goodbye, my darling.”
Drops of blue furbel drool were drippling from the ceiling down onto the side of Percival’s face. Newt wiped them away with the back of his hand, with the back of his wrist – to have Percival, ever so careful about his looks, stained like that when he was helpless to do anything about it, it felt like a crime.
The drool soaked the fabric of his sleeve, he felt the warm liquid on his right wrist – and suddenly the pain of his chipped skin disappeared, the smarting of his wrist disappeared. Frowning, Newt pulled his sleeve up – only to see that there were no longer any wounds on his wrist where furbel drool had touched him. The wounds had disappeared and in their place there was perfect smooth skin like he had never been fighting against any kinds of bindings.
His breath hitching, Newt was quick to roll up his other sleeve and to look at the left wrist. The wrist was chipped, the wounds clearly marking where his hands had been bound together. Swallowing hard, Newt touched his wrists together, spreading the furbel drool onto his bloody skin – only for the wounds to start closing, for the pain to disappear.
He stared at his healed wrist, wide-eyed, looking slowly from it to the hole in Percival’s chest. Furbel drool had immense healing powers? It certainly looked like it.
Newt shot up to his feet, ignoring the pain in his knee as he did so. He hurried to the wall and grabbed as many furbels as he could, arms full, running then back to Percival, all the while fearing that the man would no longer be breathing by the time he came back. Percival was, fortunately, still breathing when Newt got back to his side – although it was obvious that he would not for much longer.
The furbels were like cotton balls the size of a child’s fist, but with long blue tails and tiny legs. Drool was dribbling from their large, toothless mouths, and Newt regarded them carefully, desperately. He held the furbels above Percival’s chest and the furbels drooled into the gunshot wound beneath them.
Slowly, gradually, Percival’s breathing became steadier and his chest began to rise and fall like Death was no longer about to fly him away at any given moment. Newt was transfixed to the steady movement, he kept looking from Percival’s closed eyes to his rising, falling, rising, falling, rising chest and his heart beat fast, a newfound hope filling it.
“That’s it,” he said, holding the drooling furbels even closer to the bleeding wound, “that’s it, darling. Come back. Come back to me.”
A sudden weight on his shoulder had Newt giving a start – and Tina in her Auror uniform – black boots, dark blue robes – knelt down beside him, her worried gaze going from Newt to Percival and back again, even as her hand stayed there on Newt’s shoulder. He blinked at her. Where had she come from?
Never moving the furbels from above Percival’s chest, Newt looked around. The cellar was now swarming with Aurors. Rodilus was there along with at least nine Junior Aurors, but Newt, with his ears still ringing, hadn’t heard them running down the stairs. Rodilus was standing by Mathias’ unconscious form, gesturing sharply, and even though Newt couldn’t hear a word he was saying – shouting, from the looks of it – every line of his body language made it clear Rodilus was giving orders, commands, expecting to be obeyed.
Ipston was kneeling on the other side of Percival with two Junior Aurors, the three of them already giving him Muggle first aid, the expressions on their faces ones of grim concentration.
“Don’t use magic!” Newt warned them all and Ipston shot him a sharp look before her fair eyes went back to Percival. “The blue substance around us is furbel drool and it can explode if it comes into contact with magic! Percival’s got furbel drool all over him, and even though it stabilized him, we still can’t use magic to heal him further. He must be washed first – and even then we have to be cautious until there is no longer any furbel drool in his body.”
The hand on his shoulder moved to rest on his neck, the leather glove smooth against his skin. Newt looked at Tina. Frowning, she was gesturing from Percival to the furbels Newt was holding in his hands, her lips moving like she was asking him something.
“Furbel drool has healing powers,” he told her, not quite sure if he was answering what she had asked. “It can be volatile, but it also stabilized him. I don’t know why that is. I must research the drool further.”
She was saying something again, but Newt couldn’t make it out. He shook his head.
“I can’t hear anything. H-He,” Newt glanced over his shoulder at Mathias’ unconscious body the Aurors were now in a process of searching, “he shot Percival in the chest. He shot Percival in the chest and Percival almost… he almost… If it hadn’t been for the drool, Percival would have…”
Newt couldn’t bring himself to say “passed away” out loud, not now when Percival had only just returned from the brink of death, but Tina seemed to understand anyway, judging from how huge her eyes now were. She looked over his shoulder and said something, likely addressing Rodilus, or at least it was Rodilus who appeared on Newt’s other side.
Rodilus looked calm enough, professional, but his eyes were blazing with fury, with barely concealed rage. Three Junior Aurors were carrying an unconscious Mathias up the stairs and Rodilus now knelt by Newt’s side with a twirl of his robes. Taking in Percival’s still body, his face hardened.
“I can’t hear anything,” was Newt’s answer to whatever enquiry it was that Rodilus made. “Mathias s-shot Percival and I can’t hear anything.”
Tina and Rodilus exchanged a few words, their eyes going from Newt to Percival and back again. Despite of not hearing anything, Newt proceeded to tell them what had happened, all the while holding the furbels above Percival’s chest so the furbel drool could heal the gunshot wound. For once he had no trouble talking to Rodilus, his inner turmoil not leaving room for such things as shyness and feeling self-conscious.
Percival was taken to The Sleeping Alicorn. Newt made sure that everyone was careful to not cast any a spell on him due to the furbel drool, but as soon as Percival had been laid down on a bed and the healers began to give him Muggle medical care, Tina and Rodilus were guiding Newt to the waiting room so the healers could work in peace. Kilonski stayed outside the operation room, guarding its door, guarding Percival.
Tina sat Newt down on a chair and Rodilus brought him a basin full of water. Newt stared at the water, unsure of what he was supposed to do with it, but then Tina was taking a hold of his shaking hands - he couldn't stop shaking - putting them in the warm water, rubbing some flowery soap on his skin. It wasn’t until he saw the clear water turning into a rusty shade or red-brown that he realized his hands were covered in Percival’s dried blood and that Tina was now washing it gently off of him.
His tears made her look blurry.
Percival didn’t die, but he remained unconscious. Doctor Frederick was hesitant to use any spells, wanting to wait until there was no more furbel drool anywhere in his body, and so there was little to do but to wait for Percival to wake up on his own or for the furbel drool to leave the body naturally, whichever would happen first.
Newt’s hearing returned with a little help from the healers and someone took care of his knee. He began to divide his time between tending to his creatures in the suitcase and sitting by Percival’s bedside, waiting for him to open his eyes. There was always a Senior Auror outside guarding the door – Rodilus, Kilonski, Bariton, Ipston and Bartolomeus had taken Newt’s abduction and Percival getting gravely wounded very personally indeed. They refused to tell Newt what had happened to Mathias, only saying that he was conscious and aware and that he “had been questioned”, but that was all they said, telling Newt to not worry about a thing, they would take care of everything, they said.
"You just stay with the bossman."
Tina and Queenie came by regularly, often just sitting quietly next to Newt, offering him their silent support. Jacob always sent him something sweet and delicious to eat, but he didn’t come in person, Queenie wouldn’t let him, wary as she was of all the Aurors around.
Apart from Tina, Queenie and Newt, the only other guest the Senior Aurors allowed in was President Picquery. President Picquery came to see Percival on his second day in The Sleeping Alicorn. She sat there with Newt for many hours after Tina and Queenie had left, talking about this and that, sighing occasionally, looking sad and tired and worried as she regarded Percival who remained unconscious.
“I like to tease him,” she told Newt with a sigh, playing with her sapphire earring. “I used to believe he didn’t mind, that it was a part of our friendship, that he understood I did it all fondly.”
This time her sigh was heavy and the look she gave Newt almost hesitant.
“I do wonder,” she cleared her throat, “if he has said anything about that to you. I don’t mean to intrude or put you in an uncomfortable position, but I would very much appreciate it, if you could tell me if I have insulted him somehow.”
Newt blinked at her from where he was holding Percival’s hand, rubbing circles on the back of it.
“Why would you think you have insulted him?”
She evaded his gaze, looking uncomfortable, crossing her arms on her chest.
“I had thought we were friends,” she said, voice tight, “but clearly something must have happened, seeing as he hasn’t even told me you two have gotten engaged.”
Face reddening, Newt quickly casted his gaze down, looking everywhere but at her. He focused his look on the hand he was holding, caressing the dark hair on the back of it. It wasn’t coarse at all. Surprisingly soft, if anything.
“W-We’re not engaged, Madam,” he managed after quite a lot of swallowing.
He felt her gaze suddenly sharp against his skin and heard more so than saw her unfolding her arms and leaning forward, closer.
“You’re not?” was said rather skeptically.
Newt hurried to shake his head, his blush deepening.
“But I would have thought,” she sounded earnestly bewildered, “the way he looks at you… You two are always… I was sure that you had for months already-”
Coughing softly, she fell quiet.
They sat in silence for long enough for Newt’s skin to cool down, for his blush to gradually disappear, even as he couldn't get it out of his mind: he and Percival, engaged.
“In that case,” Picquery finally broke the silence, sounding determined, “I do expect to be invited to the engagement party. Do make sure Percival is aware of this when he wakes up.”
And Newt’s blush came back, tenfold.
A week after he had been shot, the furbel drool had finally left Percival’s body and Doctor Frederick began to heal him with magic. It only took some hours after that for Percival to open his eyes and only six days for him to be back at work like nothing had ever happened. Newt was there the whole time, right by Percival’s side, but not once did they discuss anything of importance, the air between them heavy with tension.
Newt wanted Percival to be completely healthy again before they would Talk.
Percival didn’t want to talk, insisting he was busy.
“I’m not going to force you,” Newt eventually said. "You do what best suits you. I do what I have to do."
And when Percival came back from his meeting with Picquery, Newt's suitcase was no longer under the sofa and a letter on the desk informed him that Newt had left - with the intention of staying away, too.
I hope you liked the chapter!
As a writer, I'm not entirely satisfied how this chapter turned out, but I had to nevertheless update now so I wouldn't get stuck with the fic for who knows how long. It has taken me a while to write because my boss has asked me to work longer days (better pay so I accepted). I now work about 25% more than I used to which obviously affects my writing schedule somewhat. I'll nevertheless continue writing this fic - and I'm already considering a possible sequel, too, because I've enjoyed writing these Gramander fics so much.
Thanks for the comments&kudos - and for your patience!
Chapter 14: Newt: Alaska
This is the second chapter I post today so be sure to read chapter 13 before this one, if you haven't yet done so. :)
Green Northern Lights danced in the starry sky, high above, and Newt sat in silence below them on his resting place made of spruce branches, listening to their sounds. It almost sounded like the Lights were whispering and had he not been hearing similar noises for four consecutive nights by now, he would have been mystified, unaware that Northern Lights let out any kind of sounds in the first place.
The snow blankets all around muffled noises, but the forest was still anything but silent. Trees creaked in the wind, snow fell down from somewhere with a soft thumping noise when one bird or another came to rest on a branch.
Newt sighed and adjusted his thumb inside his furry mitten. Silent it might not have been, but he couldn’t help but feel lonely even if he had his suitcase of creatures with him, tucked carefully under a blanket and various kinds of warming charms to keep the locks from freezing in the Alaskan night.
It had now been two months since he had left New York and all his friends behind, two months since he had last seen Percival, and while the Alaskan fauna was more than enough to keep him busy and distracted most of the time, the loneliness always managed to find him when he least expected it to.
The truth was, he missed his friends. The life he had had before he had found true friends - before Tina and Queenie and Jacob and- and Percival - it no longer felt quite the same, he was no longer content with it. While it had been wonderful to find a real ice gurbler down in an ice cave just that morning and while he was positive there were snowlers somewhere nearby, based on the round tracks he had seen on the snow, the joy he felt over all the discoveries was dimmed when there was no-one there he could share it with, no-one he could tell about the creatures.
Sometimes Newt thought he saw his friends from the corner of his eyes, but when he turned to look, there was only a snow-covered boulder or – on two occasions – a moose.
Sighing again, Newt lit up a lantern, took his mittens off and reached out for his journal to write about all the creatures he had discovered that day.
So immersed he was in his writing that he didn’t hear the soft cracking noise coming from nearby. He only looked up, frowning, when he heard someone swearing, very unexpected as that was when one was supposedly all alone in the middle of an Alaskan forest.
Much to his surprise, Percival was now standing waist-deep in the snow some ten yards from where Newt was sitting, fumbling around before he managed to climb up and cast a few carrying spells on himself to keep his body from sinking into the deep snow again. As Newt stared, Percival smoothed down his thick winter coat and adjusted his scarf like he was wearing a suit and a tie for an important meeting.
Percival looked – fine. Not at all like someone who had been shot in the chest. Newt breathed more easily noting that, although he also noted the dark circles under Percival’s eyes, the tired lines around his mouth, the haunted slump of his shoulders.
When he looked up and met Newt’s gaze, Percival’s eyes widened as if he only just noticed Newt. They stared at each other – until Newt looked down at his journal, heart beating fast.
What on earth was Percival doing there? Had he come looking for Newt?
Newt bit his lip. When he had left New York, he hadn’t expected anyone to come after him. He had left letters to all his friends, telling them to not worry, and for whatever reason Percival was now there, Newt just knew he would need to ask the man to leave, as reluctant as he was to do that.
Two months apart had done nothing to change Newt’s feelings. Even now, after months away from each other, the pull to go to Percival was so strong Newt had to clench the pen in his hand to not get up, to not give in.
His heart simply couldn’t take it, if Percival was to reject him one more time.
In his letter to Percival, Newt had explained that he had decided to respect Percival’s wishes, that he would do what he had to do, that he would leave New York to put distance between the two of them because that was what they had needed, if they were to remain friends. Yet, now Percival stood there, blatantly ignoring the sacrifice Newt had done on both of their behalf.
Percival cleared his throat.
“Good evening, Newton.”
The snow crunched under his boots when he stepped closer.
“Good evening,” Newt answered mildly, heart beating fast even as he wished in equal measures that Percival would both disapparate and be the one for once to close the distance between the two of them.
It was quiet for long enough for Newt to glance up to see if Percival was still there. He was. Percival was standing stiff and straight like a pine tree, staring at Newt with a guarded – albeit relieved – look on his face. Newt was quick to lean over his journal again. He scribbled down a few words about ice gurblers, not even quite aware he was doing so.
“You weren’t in England,” Percival spoke suddenly, fast, almost like he had just blurted it out. “You weren’t in England. You weren’t where you were supposed to be. I asked. No-one knew where you were.”
Newt added a paragraph about ice gurblers’ preferred nesting places.
“I thought- perhaps some Grindelwald supporter- that you might be-“
“I’m fine,” Newt said, flashing Percival a joyless smile. “I’m fine and doing what I love the most, studying creatures. I did leave you a letter, did I not. You needn’t have worried.”
Percival took off his gloves and dropped them down onto the snowy ground. He put his hand in his coat pocket and withdrew the piece of folded parchment Newt had left on his desk two months ago. He was holding it gently, but it looked wrinkled and torn like Percival had been taking it out of his pocket often enough for the parchment to have become brittle.
“You did,” Percival said softly, eyes fixed on the parchment before they moved to Newt like he was unable to look away for long. “I know this letter by heart by now. I have read it many times. I hoped it might contain some clues to your whereabouts. I sent owls, but with no address to give, they couldn’t find you and only brought my letters back.”
Newt hadn’t left an address, that was true, not even to Tina. He hadn’t wanted to be found.
“How did you find me?”
“I searched for you everywhere. I tried charms. I questioned No-Maj people. This is not the first place I’ve looked for you.”
“How long have you been looking for me?”
Percival stepped closer like Newt was a fire he was drawn to. There was now but five yards between them. The Northern Lights whispered above, their slow dance casting green light on the whole snowy scenery beneath.
“Ever since I first realized you had left,” came Percival’s quiet admission. “I couldn’t bear to- I had to… I had to see you.”
Percival looked helpless. He was holding Newt’s letter with both of his hands like he was afraid the wind might steal it from his grasp.
“I just had to,” he eventually said, softly. His voice broke when he added, “Could you please come back home?”
Newt sighed and casted his gaze down, worrying the edge of his leather journal. He wanted very much to say yes.
“You have broken my heart,” he stated instead. There was a sharp inhale of breath, but Newt continued, not looking up, “I honestly couldn’t bear it, if you were to reject me one more time. Before Mathias kidnapped me, I had already decided that I would need to leave. It became apparent to me when I kissed Kilonski and you didn’t even c… I’m not saying any of this to hurt you, Percival, or to make you feel guilty. My intention is to make you understand – although I did write all this in the letter, did I not.”
“You did,” Percival’s voice was barely a whisper.
“Yes, so,” Newt went on, eyes fixed firmly on his journal. “I told you in the letter that you are very important to me and that I value your friendship more than I could possibly put into words, that losing you would kill me. When Mathias shot you, when I thought you would d-die… I have never felt that kind of horror before. I can never be just a friend to you, Percival, that is clear to me, but perhaps if I’ll stay away for long enough, I can learn to control my feelings for you better. If you want to keep me as a friend, you will need to let me stay away. I will need time.”
“We can make some kind of an arrangement,” Percival sounded panicked enough for Newt to look up. The dark eyes staring at him were wide and wild, they were filled with…
Could it be? Newt sat up straighter, eyes narrowing, the journal and the pen forgotten in his lap.
The eyes were filled with… fear.
“Some kind of an arrangement,” Percival was saying, desperately, making a wide gesture with the hand that wasn’t holding the letter. “So you wouldn’t need to leave, so you could stay. Perhaps- perhaps I could give my hair for you to use in Polyjuice Potion? You could ask your partner to drink it, to make them look like me for a little while, and you could fill the physical needs you have for me without us having to be in a relationship? We would need to be careful with that, but it might work with someone loyal, someone trustworthy – Hamsipood, for instance, you like him, don’t you, or… or Ipston. Or Kilonski. They like you too, I’ve seen. They wouldn’t object, I’m sure.”
Newt could only stare, insulted.
Percival looked pained, face twisting into a grimace. He came closer still, slumping down in the snow in front of Newt. He reached out, the letter vanishing from his grasp – presumably back into his pocket with wandless magic – and took a hold of Newt’s hands.
His fingers were cold. Frowning, Newt brought them up to his lips and blew warmth on them. The dark eyes closed with something that sounded half a sigh, half a sob.
“I can’t take it,” Percival’s voice was broken. “I can’t bear not knowing where you are. It was torment, not knowing, when you disappeared like that. I searched everywhere.”
“Then make me yours,” Newt said, once again. “I have no reason to leave, if I can have you. Make me yours and I’ll stay with you.”
Percival opened his eyes and the look in them was almost hollow.
“I can’t,” he whispered. “Newt… I can’t.”
Newt studied Percival’s face closely.
“You are afraid,” he said softly, gently.
“I’m not,” Percival immediately denied.
“Then why do you shake so? Surely you are not that cold.”
Percival was shaking, trembling, but he didn’t answer, just kept on looking in Newt’s eyes. The desperation, the fear in him was almost palpable.
Newt twined their fingers together.
“It’s okay,” he promised. “It’s okay, my dear.”
“It’s not. How could it be?”
“We have each other,” Newt reminded him. “It’s okay because we have each other. Neither one of us is alone.”
Percival was shaking his head even as Newt was still speaking.
“It’s not okay,” he insisted. “I have tried to protect you, but no matter how hard I try, you still end up with a broken heart. Even my best efforts are rotten when it comes to protecting you. Don’t you see, Newt? When Grindelwald abducted me, no-one noticed. I was gone for months and no-one noticed, not Rodilus, not Seraphina, no-one. If we had been together then, I hate to even think how he would have treated you, how he would have touched you. He could have locked you somewhere, claiming you had gone on one of your expeditions, and he could have done anything to you and you would have thought he was me the whole time – you would have grown to hate me. He would have tortured you. I was gone for months and no-one noticed.”
It sounded like Percival had thought of it a lot. Newt let go of his hands in order to smooth down the woolly scarf around Percival’s neck.
“You are not quite right,” Newt said and Percival swallowed hard. “You are forgetting something.”
He leant closer, holding onto the scarf, and whispered in Percival’s ear, “I noticed. I noticed Grindelwald wasn’t you. We hadn’t yet even met, but I still knew in the end that Grindelwald was not you. If we had been together, I would have known instantly – I would have told your Aurors and we would have done our all to save you. Don’t you see, Percival? We are stronger together.”
He pulled back.
This time it was Percival who had tears in his eyes. When he blinked, one rolled down his cheek.
“I’m scared, Newt,” he admitted, looking away as if ashamed to admit as much.
Newt wiped the tear away.
“I don’t want to lose you.” Percival’s eyes shined with the unshed tears. “I hated it when you left. It drove me mad. But how could I allow you to become mine when I know I wouldn’t be able to protect you from all the people who would seek to harm you because of me. From people like Grindelwald, like Mathias Firmbait. They are everywhere.”
“I’ve played poker with vampires at midnight.”
Judging from the look Percival gave him, that was not something he had expected to hear, not right then.
“I’ve played poker with vampires,” Newt repeated, wiping another rolling tear away. “I won which is good because we were playing for my blood and had I lost, they would have torn my throat open. Well, they did try that anyway, but I was… prepared. I have also put my arm up a Hungarian Horntail’s vagina when she couldn’t get her egg out otherwise. She wasn’t appreciative at all and tried to stamp me, then roast me. And one time I was possessed by an ihtir, the spirit of a vengeful dead child, and merpeople have tried to drown me on a few occasions. You might not believe it, but I’ve once even been stabbed by a wounded unicorn. Oh, and once I fought against Grindelwald and basically won.”
Percival was staring at him.
“My point is,” Newt went on, “that danger is not unfamiliar to me. I am shy, but that doesn’t make me weak. I have a kind heart, but that does not make weak. I am not weak, Percival, and you need to remember that. I have had my fair share of fights. While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t need you protecting me. I can look after myself just fine. I need you to trust me to take care of myself.”
With that, sighing, he pulled Percival to him, hugging him close, and Percival’s head came to rest against his chest.
“If Grindelwald would take you again, I would know,” Newt promised, whispering. “I would know.”
Hands grasped him by the front of his coat, tight, desperately, and Percival’s shoulders shook. Newt caressed the shaking shoulders, let his hand sneak its way under the winter hat to run his hand through the hair, and all the while Percival wept against his chest silently, never once letting out a sound.
It was good of him to let some of his anguish out.
The Northern Lights danced above them, silent once more.
Percival had to feel tired. Newt kissed his temple.
They stayed like that for a long time, for long enough for the Northern Lights to fade away, for long enough for the Northern Lights to come back, this time red. If it hadn't been for all the warming charms around them, they would have been freezing by now.
Eventually Percival pulled back with a shaky sigh. He had tear tracks on his face and Newt wiped them away the best he could.
“It’s possible,” Percival said, clearing his throat, “that I have been a bit foolish in some aspects.”
“Perhaps a little,” Newt said, “although whether I agree with what you mean depends entirely on what these aspects might be.”
Percival took a deep breath, looking up at the sky, then at Newt.
“You are not weak and I have never thought you to be,” he declared. “I have never met anyone as strong as you are. That doesn’t change it, however, that you would become a target, if I agreed to have a romantic relationship with you.”
“You might not have noticed, but many people think that we already are romantically involved, Seraphina Picquery among them. Whether you choose to make that a reality or not is at this point arguably irrelevant, seeing as I am already a target as made obvious by Mathias Firmbait.”
Percival looked horrified. Newt smiled gently, unable to resist the urge to rub their cold noses together.
"I already told you that I can look after myself, my dear. Don't be scared for me. I don't want you for protection. I want you because of you. You have endured much, you have faced unimaginable horrors, you do so daily, you are so very brave, but the thing is, it is not always you who has to be strong. You are allowed to feel less than strong, too, you know. Sometimes I can be strong for the both of us. That's what friends do, that's what sweethearts do, that's what I want to do for you. So don't feel guilty for being the light of my life, the love of my life, and don't deny us happiness. You don't need to carry us both because we'll carry each other."
Percival exhaled slowly, shakily, his hands coming to rest on Newt's thighs.
Sunday. Ahh. I've missed writing so much. I just couldn't stop. Which resulted in the second update today.
Would be awesome to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for comments&kudos!
”Rules!” declared Percival with a decisive nod of his head. ”There needs to be rules, if we are to even consider entering a romantic relationship.”
He was speaking like they had just come to an agreement over some lucrative business deal and were now just honing down the details, but his husky voice and his hands rubbing up and down Newt's thighs in a rather sensual manner were a stark contrast to this words.
Newt bent his head to hide a smile in his Hufflepuff scarf, the scent of autumn leaves on it filling his nostrils.
It might not have been all that romantic to begin a relationship by talking about rules, but rules were as important to Percival as creatures were to Newt, so of course Percival would want to talk about rules in a moment like this. He wouldn't have been Percival otherwise.
”Of course,” Newt therefore said, unable to keep the amusement out of his voice. The scarf was tickling his nose which only added to his mirth.
”I'm being serious,” and the look Percival gave him was, too, quite serious. ”If we are to enter a romantic relationship, I insist there must be rules.”
”Naturally,” Newt agreed easily enough, reaching out to smooth down the frown that had formed on Percival's forehead.
He was ready to come up with an entire rule book, if that was what it would take to get Percival to become his sweetheart.
”Have you thought of something already?”
Percival was quick to come up with rules, it turned out, which didn't particularly surprise either one of them.
”If ever either one of us notices that my darkness begins to corrupt your life, the relationship must end immediately,” was one of his first suggestions.
It made Newt give a slow shake of his head – if they were to have a relationship, he wouldn't agree to end it that easily after having fought for it for so hard. He tried to suggest a compromise.
”If ever either one of us notices that the stress of your work is starting to affect our relationship,” he said, ”you will take a vacation and we will work on our relationship.”
The word ”vacation” had Percival's eyes widening and he was frantically shaking his head before Newt could even finish the sentence.
”No vacations!” was stated like Newt had just threatened to release all his creatures on New York. ”I couldn't possibly leave work for a vacation, of all things. You didn't really think your suggestion through, Newt, did you? How could I work, if I was on a vacation!”
Percival loved rules as much as he loved working.
Despite of Percival's horror over the suggestion that he should occasionally take a vacation, they gradually managed to agree on several rules, all of which Newt wrote down in his journal, if only to please Percival who tended to like paperwork nearly as much as he enjoyed rules and disliked vacations. Unsurprisingly, Percival observed Newt's scribbling pen with approval – it warmed Newt's heart, knowing Percival was pleased with him.
”We have now agreed,” Newt read from the journal, ”that the well-being of us both, physical and mental alike, must be a pivotal part of our relationship. If something in the relationship was to compromise the well-being of either one of us, we have agreed that the situation must be solved immediately by whatever means necessary – very, very, very last of which is separation. To prevent such things from occuring, we have agreed to put emphasis on communication because that is usually a weakness for the both of us. If there is something troubling us, we must learn to talk about it.”
”With the exception of my work,” put in Percival. ”I will not give you any details of my cases. That would just put you at further risk.”
Newt glanced at him from under his lashes. Percival's eyes were dark. They were focused on Newt's lips.
”If there is a case that is causing you distress,” Newt said softly, looking back down at his journal, ”surely you can tell me that you're feeling bad because of work, can you not, without giving away details?”
”I can,” agreed – promised – Percival and so it was added in the journal.
They discussed various aspects of the relationship, writing down the rules they could both agree on: They agreed to improve their communication skills, they agreed to talk, they both promised to let the other know if something was weighing them down. They both promised to avoid unnecessary risks, to do their best to keep themselves whole and healthy. Newt agreed that he would let one of Percival's Senior Aurors – or Percival himself, is possible – to accompany him, if his search for creatures would take him in the shadier parts of the world, while Percival promised that he wouldn't take the entire world on his shoulders again.
Newt didn't know how romantic relationships usually began, but even if his wrist was starting to tire from all the writing, he didn't particularly mind beginning his romance by coming up with a set of rules – for as long as he could get the relationship he wanted as a result.
”Is there something else you'd like to discuss?” he asked after putting the last dot in its place.
The hands still rubbing his thighs came to a halt.
Percival's eyes gleamed in the red light of the Northern Lights.
”Yes, there is,” he said, huskily, a smile tugging at his lips.
”What would you like to talk about?”
The hands on Newt's thighs tightened their hold. It wasn't painful, just on this side of being possessive.
”I'd like to talk about sex.”
It was a statement, said in a matter of fact tone, neutrally, but it was still enough to startle the pen into dropping from Newt's hold. Feeling all of a sudden quite hot despite of the snowy forest around them, Newt hastened to pick up the dropped pen from where it had found its way in the thick of the spruce branches under him. He put a cap on it with shaking hands.
The thing was, while he might have once allowed Percival to have his way with him on a desk, while he might have kissed Percival, while he might have tasted Percival's semen, whatever courage he then had had, it seemed he was now completely missing it.
This natural setting, the snowy forest around them, the red Northern Lights dancing slowly above, the spruce branches beneath him, their scent fresh and sweet, the peacefulness of it all... If there had before been lust and passion and not a little bit of desperation and hurry when they had last been physical with each other, now there was something deeper between them, something like a secret to be shared. It was love, and it made Newt feel
Newt swallowed hard, blinking fast, not quite knowing where to look – at the journal in his lap, at the pen in his hold, at the strong hands on thighs. He couldn't find it in himself to raise his gaze to meet Percival's eyes, so shy he suddenly felt, even if it was just Percival and there shouldn't have been anything to feel self-conscious about when with Percival.
”W-What about i-it?” he managed, albeit not quite without a bit of a stutter.
Percival shifted a little closer. Newt kept his gaze still lowered, cheeks reddening, even as their knees were now touching.
Percival was kneeling in the snow. He wasn't wearing his usual fine trousers, thankfully, but something thicker made of thick tweed, something suitable for the cold, and while there must have been warming charms involved, it still likely would have been more comfortable for him to have been sitting on the spruce branches by Newt's side.
Only, Newt couldn't find his voice to ask Percival to sit down next to him, even if he did glance at the empty space between himself and his suitcase. There would have been just enough room there for the man.
”Sex,” Percival repeated, voice half-amused, half-aroused like Newt having gotten flustered was turning him on quite a bit. ”We should discuss how we like it. For instance, do you have preferences?”
The hands on Newt's thighs moved up closer to his groin, the thumbs came to rest on the inside leg seam of his trousers.
Newt swallowed hard, clutching the journal against his chest, unable to look away from the thumbs caressing his inner thighs.
”Yes,” Percival said slowly, patiently. ”Preferences. As in, for example, do you prefer to penetrate or to be the one to be penetrated?”
Newt's breath hitched.
He knew the answer to that question instantly, had known it since his third year at Hogwarts when he had been watching a Quidditch game with Leta, and Gregory Holmsworth, a bulky – terribly handsome – sixth-year Slytherin, sitting next to Newt, had muttered to his friends about some player or another, saying, ”I'll fuck that tiny arse raw, if she won't OPEN HER EYES AND CATCH THAT SNICTH DAMN NEXT TO YOUR HEAD, CLASSWILLE!” which had made it impossible for Newt, for the rest of the game, to focus on anything but his own arse and the thought of Gregory Holmsworth doing things to the said arse.
At the time, Newt's wildest, most daring fantasy about Holmsworth ”doing things” to his arse had been Holmsworth laying a hand down on one fully-clothed buttock (which had never happened, Gregory Holmswoth hadn't even seem to know third-year Hufflepuffs existed, especially not the ever so shy, timid and awkward Newton Scamander), but since then the fantasies had become more elaborate – although Holmsworth no longer was a part of them (the last Newt had heard, Holmsworth had been a fanatic Grindelwald supporter and he couldn't fathom what he had ever seen in the wizard, even as a boy).
Despite of knowing the answer, Newt's throat was now tight, his mouth dry, and he couldn't quite form the words to answer. He swallowed several times, while the body in front of him began to shift a little like the continued silence was putting Percival at unease.
”I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable,” Percival said after a while, voice both reassuring and apologetic. The thumbs were no longer caressing Newt's inner thighs and the hands had come to rest on Newt's knees, a safe distant away from the groin.
”Penetration is not the only form of sex there is, after all, and don't feel like you must choose either two, if you are not interested in the act itself. I assure you I wouldn't pressure-”
”Being,” Newt blurted out, cutting off whatever it was Percival might have wanted to say, hugging the journal even closer to his chest, daring to raise his gaze up to the grey cashmere scarf in front of him, but not above it. There was dark stubble on Percival's neck, he noted, instantly wishing to touch it with his lips.
Somewhere nearby there was a sudden flutter of wings and a thud of snow falling off a tree branch when one bird or another took flight. Neither man paid it any mind.
”I beg your pardon?”
”Being,” Newt repeated, voice but a whisper, barely audible even in the stillness of the night. ”The one to be... p-penetrated.”
It took Percival a moment to answer. When he did, his voice was heavy with something Newt couldn't quite put a name to.
”That would be your preference? To be penetrated? By my dick?”
Newt hurried to nod his head, his face reddening.
”You'd like to be the one to be penetrated,” Percival said as if to make sure, and Newt gave yet another nod.
”Very much so.”
”Well,” Percival exhaled slowly, ”that makes us compatible. As it happens, I prefer to be the one to do the penetrating. I like to be in charge and that goes for the bedroom activities too. I wonder how pliant you might be, if I was to take charge.”
”Quite,” Newt said in a low voice. There was something churning deep in his belly, pleasantly.
The hands let go off Newt's knees only to take a hold of his arms still clutching the journal to his chest. Percival gave his arms a bit of a tug like he was trying to get Newt to relax, to stop hugging himself quite so tightly. Newt allowed for his arm to be moved, to be brought by his sides. He put the journal and the pen aside on the branches next to him, attention now entirely on the man before him, even if he still couldn't meet the intent gaze and had to settle for watching the scarf and the stubbly neck.
His heart was pounding in his chest. What would happen next? Would- would Percival finally kiss him?
”Newt.” Where Percival's touch was gentle, his voice was gruff. ”Newt. You know what to do next, do you not?”
Nodding once, Newt closed his eyes and tilted his face closer, ready to be kissed.
”Yes,” he breathed. ”Yes.”
There was a sound of the cap being taken off the pen.
Frowning, Newt opened one eye to peer at Percival – who was holding out the disregarded pen to him, looking rather expectant.
”You must write it all down, Newt. Eleven paragraphs, to start off, that should do it.”
Newt opened his other eye to stare at the man in disbelief.
”We can describe more specific sex acts later when it comes down to it,” Percival was musing as if to himself, ”but we'll now start off by putting down our very basic preferences.”
It seemed like there was not going to be kissing. Instead, Percival wanted Newt to make notes on their sexual preferences? That went a little too far even for someone who loved rules and paperwork.
Smiling stiffly, Newt snatched the offered item and put the cap back on it, dropping the pen then unceremoniously down to his side. Giving Percival a bit of a glare, he pulled his mittens on before grasping a hand full of snow. Without any further ado, Newt proceeded to smash the snow in the handsome face before him, rubbing it all around, startling a grunt out of Percival who was quick to pull back from his freezing touch.
”Merlin's balls, Newt,” Percival gasped, shoulders tensed up. ”What? What came over you? Why would you do that?”
Newt wiped most of the snow away with the back of his mittens before finishing the work with the help of the wand he took out of his pocket.
”Terribly sorry,” he said when Percival's face was dry again, placing the wand on top of his journal, ”but please don't go ruining the mood again like that. I'd quite appreciate it. I was ready to be kissed then, you know.”
And blinked again.
Then he tilted his head to the side, eyes raking Newt's body slowly up and down, and the calculating look soon caught a predatory edge to it. It made Newt shiver – which only seemed to encourage Percival, based on the way he suggested, ”How about I amend my mistake? I failed to read you right, I failed to act on the signs. How about I kiss you now?”
He leant closer, eyes now fixed firmly on Newt's lips. Newt shifted backwards to put some distance between the two of them.
”It's not going to be quite that easy again, I'm afraid,” he decided, and the dark eyes shot instantly up to lock with his. Percival looked a little startled like he fully expected Newt to reject him, just like he had rejected Newt time and time again – as if that would happen now that Percival was almost in his grasp, almost his to keep.
”You've broken my heart,” Newt nevertheless reminded the man gently, causing Percival's face to fall. The man looked guilty and opened his mouth to say something. By putting a finger on Percival's lips to silence whatever it was he might have wanted to say, Newt went on.
”It's almost like you've been playing with my feelings, although I know you never meant it like that. I was prepared to be kissed just then, but you didn't seize the moment. Instead, you once again prompted me to be the one to act. You say you want to be the one in charge, yet it's constantly been me who makes the first move – I now find myself quite wishing you had to work a little harder to get a kiss.”
Newt withdrew his finger from Percival's lips and took his wand from where it was on top of the journal.
”Therefore, my dear,” he said, ”catch me, if you can.”
And with that, he apparated some ten yards away, in the cover of spruce trees, far enough to stay out of the immediate reach, but close enough to hear the startled sound Percival let out.
After two months of searching for Newt, the man likely instantly believed Newt had escaped him again, that Newt had disapparated further somewhere far, far away, even if the suitcase was still there on the spruce branches and Newt wouldn't have left it there under such circumstances.
”Catch me, if you can!” Newt cried again, grasping some snow from a branch next to his face, sending it flying in the back of Percival's head with the help of a spell. The snowball hitting him in the head had Percival jumping up to his feet, twirling around, wand in hand. Newt saw his gaze raking the trees like he was trying to locate his attacker, Newt. He looked ready for a fight.
It was an arousing sight.
Newt was reminded of all the duels Percival had fought at the Annual February Dueling Competition – had he really been trying to impress Newt back then?
”Catch me and you'll get a kiss!” Newt called out, the churning feeling in his belly intensifying. ”Fail and you'll get nothing.”
Percival let out a growl. It echoed in the night, sending shivers down Newt's spine. Newt saw Percival's fingers tightening their hold on his black wand.
Newt disapparated but a heartbeat before Percival apparated next to the spot where he had been just a second before.
”If you want me to be pliant in bed, you must first prove that you can take charge!” Newt called out from where he was now standing by his suitcase.
There was the cracking sound of an apparition – and both Newt and Percival again found each other standing in different spots with Percival now standing by the suitcase while Newt was sitting on a treetop, hugging the snowy trunk.
Percival was an extremely powerful wizard – but Newt had always had a talent for slipping away, for avoiding capture, and having spent all his adult years by smuggling creatures, by stealing mistreated creatures, had really honed his talents. For every step Percival now took forward, Newt took two steps backwards, thus managing to keep distance between the two of them. A few times Percival came close enough for Newt to feel his breath on his skin, but Newt still managed to slip away right before any a halting spell could embrace him.
They were no longer speaking, Newt was no longer calling out. They kept on apparating and disapparating, circleing each other for who knew how long, and what had begun as something playful had turned into a hunt, it felt like, every time Newt caught a glimpse of the predatory look in Percival's eyes, the determined set of Percival's face in the fire-like light of the Northern Lights.
Percival chasing after him was intimidating which made it all the more arousing. Newt felt like he was being hunted by the wizard, and while his heart beat fast, he couldn't tell whether he wanted to get caught or not, whether he wanted to enjoy the exhilarating chase for longer, or whether he wanted to get caught and be kissed.
Newt was now hiding under a spruce tree, hidden from sight by the branches that spread over him like a snow-covered roof of a tent. It was pitch-black in the cover of the branches, but by feel he could tell that there wasn't much snow under the tree, only ankle-deep, perhaps. The scents of resin and spruce were powerful, and Newt laid on his belly as still as he could, trying to catch his breath, trying to not pant out loud as to not give away his hiding place.
He didn't know where Percival was. Trees were creaking in the mild wind, twelve high-pitched notes repeated frequently from somewhere distant signaled the presence of a boreal owl, but he couldn't hear Percival's steps, couldn't hear the cracking sounds of apparating, no matter how hard he tried to prick up his ears.
Newt was just about to get up from the ground, to sit up, when a cold hand took a hold of his neck, finding its way to the bare skin despite of the Hufflepuff scarf, and Newt was forced back down, cheek pressed against the snow beneath him.
How long had Percival been there under the spruce with him? Newt couldn't tell. He certainly hadn't noticed the man, pitch-black as it was.
The hand in his neck moved up to grasp him by the hair, casting Newt's woolly hat carelessly aside. The weight of a bulk of a man came to rest on Newt, prompting a gasp out of him, as Percival climbed on top of him, pinning him efficiently to the cold ground.
”Hello, dear,” Newt managed, breath hitching, partly due to the heavy weight on him, partly due to his arousal.
There was the scratch of coarse stubble against his skin and Newt couldn't help but rub their cheeks together, eliciting a pleased rumble from somewhere deep within Percival's chest.
”You are not an easy wizard to catch, Newt Scamander,” Percival said in his ear. He sounded impressed. ”That was quite a thrilling chase. We should try something similar some time again.”
”Indeed,” said Newt – and hit Percival over his shoulder with a levitating spell, managing to get the man off of him for just long enough to disapparate without taking him with him.
Newt found himself lying some three yards from his suitcase, having apparated there from under the spruce tree, but this time Percival was hot on his heel. Newt had barely managed to climb up to his feet and to take in his surroundings before he was already tackled on the ground, his fall softened by the snow.
He couldn't help the burst of laughter that escaped him, so joyful he felt, as the two of them wrestled playfully in the snow like two school boys, both of them trying to get the upper hand. By the time Percival managed to pin Newt's wrist above his head, bringing him firmly down on his back on the snowy ground, Newt was laughing so hard his entire body was shaking with it. Percival's eyes were crinkled up in the corners and his gaze was full of mirth, full of delight.
They laughed together, Percival sitting on top of Newt's belly, keeping Newt's wrists pinned down, their laughter forming clouds that rose up and evaporated long before they reached the Northern Lights dancing their slow dance above.
Slowly their laughter quietened down. Their smiles melted away. They breathed each other's air, eyes locked, chests rising and falling together almost as one.
Percival's pupils were large, possibly due to the darkness but more likely because of the tense air between them. He wasn't wearing his gloves, the hold of his bare fingers tight on Newt's mitten-clad hands. His thighs around either side of Newt's waist were strong, preventing Newt's body from moving from between them.
Newt was loving it.
”I must apologize to you, Newt,” Percival said, voice gravely like each word was weighing him down. ”I am truly sorry for hurting you. I can never apologize enough for breaking your heart. I have been cruel to you. I never meant to play with your feelings, but ended up doing so nevertheless. I am sorry, very much so.”
Warmth filled Newt's heart, something broken in him clicked back to its place, and it must have lit his eyes up with some internal light, or at least Percival swallowed hard, his expression shifting, as he touched the corner of Newt's eye with a gentle fingertip.
”You are forgiven,” Newt said, promised. ”I forgive you.”
”You are far too generous with your forgiveness,” Percival's voice was hoarse. ”I can't find it in me to forgive myself. I nevertheless swear to you that I will do my best to not hurt you like that again.”
With a soft sigh, Newt moved his gaze up from Percival's eyes, up to the sky above them. He gazed at the countless of twinkling starts, at the dancing lights, and Percival let go off him, trailing his hands along Newt's arms until they reached Newt's collar and the Hufflepuff scarf. The scarf was untied and Percival bent down, his hair tickled Newt's chin.
”Where's your hat?”
”No idea, but I can't bring myself to care about that right now.”
Newt raised his hands to run them through the dark hair. Soft lips touched his throat, pecking, just the hint of a touch, and Newt gazed up at the sky, at Cassiopeia right above them.
Percival pulled back from Newt's throat. They studied each other in silence.
”Snowflakes.” Percival cleared his throat. ”You've got snowflakes on your lashes.”
Newt looked at the man from under the said lashes.
Swallowing, Percival leant a little closer.
”Yes, you do, and... I do believe that you were earlier promising that I would get a kiss, if I managed to catch you. I did catch you, did I not. Does that not mean that you owe me a kiss?”
It was a reward Newt was happy to give, happy to receive.
Above them, the Northern Lights danced to the rhythm of their kissing, to the rhythm of their bodies slowly grinding together, giving the entire landscape a red shade, red like passion and blood and love.
”Does this mean,” Newt's heart was thudding so fast he could barely hear the whisper of his voice above it, ”does this mean that we are sweethearts now?”
Percival kissed his cheek, letting his lips rest there for a moment, warm and pleasant against Newt's cool skin.
”I suppose it does,” he eventually spoke. ”If you still want that, even after everything.”
”I do,” Newt said quickly, arms finding their way around Percival's neck. ”Of course I still do.”
Percival raised his head enough for their eyes to lock. They were, for once, filled with happiness, Newt noted. Percival's eyes were happy and relieved and so, so very soft when they gazed down at Newt.
”Come back home,” Percival asked, voice as soft as the look he was giving Newt. ”Come back home with me.”
”I already am at home,” Newt said with a smile, feeling like his heart could burst with happiness. ”My home is with you, my dear. Whenever I'm with you, I am at home.”
With a shaky exhale, Percival pressed his face in the crook of Newt's neck.
”I am at home, too,” he admitted softly, adding in a whisper, ”Newt, my... love.”
They spent that night cuddled up together on the spruce branches, kissing until they fell asleep, warmed and protected by all the charms casted around them.
One more chapter left. It's been so much fun writing this fic, especially so since it's been delighting you people!
I'm now considering two new possible Gramander fics. Please, if you've got the time, let me know, if you'd like to read one of the following:
One would be a sequel to this fic. In it, Newt and Percival would be going steady, but then some sleazy character at MACUSA will start harassing Newt, stalking him, taking a particular interest, and Newt refuses to tell Percival because he wants to take care of it himself.
The second one would be going to the whole Persephone theme I've had occasionally popping up in my fics. In that, Percival would be Hades who'd end up kidnapping Newt a.k.a. Persephone down to his Underworld to live there as his bride.
If people are interested enough, I might write one of the two. :)
Thanks for all the comments&kudos!
They stepped into the entrance hall of Percival’s mansion at around nine in the morning, and the moment the front door closed behind them, there was a sudden whirl of white sheets when Hetty threw herself down to the marble floor, proceeding to hug Newt and Percival’s legs, causing them both to stumble a little before they managed to find their balance again.
“Master Percival has brought Master Newt home!” Hetty was wailing, as she hugged their legs tightly with her frail arms, her feet tangled in the long white sheet she was wearing. “Master Percival and Master Newt have come home! Hetty feared they would never come back, but they have!”
She began to give Percival’s winter boots loud pecks, screeching with joy the whole time. Her loud noises startled awake several portraits and soon Alexander Graves’ voice echoed in the entrance hall.
“Look, look!” Alexander was calling out from his portrait where he was now standing and pointing a finger at Newt and Percival. “The lady of the house is back – Percival has finally brought her home!”
“Shut the fuck up, boy, or I’ll turn you into a color smudge!” was Jester Graves’ immediate answer. “You will not drive Percival’s golden one away.”
“I wasn’t driving her away, great-nephew,” argued Alexander right back, yawning and stretching. “Did you not hear that I was welcoming her?”
“Scamander is male,” put in Elizabeth Graves drily, wiping her monocle clean with a white handkerchief. “You should refer to him as such, brother.”
“Have you seen his penis, Lizzie?” enquired Alexander – which was more than enough to make Newt blush. “Because I haven’t, and she sure is pretty enough to be a lady.”
“Do be quiet, the lot of you,” commanded Percival, although there was no heat in his voice – he sounded amused and fond, if anything. The portraits fell silent, each eyeing Newt and Percival from the walls equally fondly.
“Uh, hello,” Newt greeted them all, rather flushed. “And yes, I- I am male.”
Alexander Graves waved a dismissing hand before running the said hand through his shiny hair.
“Semantics,” Newt heard him muttering. “Passes easily for a lady.”
Hetty’s hold on Newt’s leg was still firm and Newt bent over – the best he could with Percival’s arm curled possessively around his waist – to smile down at her.
“Hello, Hetty, dear,” he said. “It is nice to see you too.”
A pair of large blue eyes looked up at him.
“Nice to see Hetty?” Hetty’s voice was full of awe. “Master Newt thinks it is nice to see Hetty? Master Newt calls Hetty ‘dear’? Oh, Master Newt has made Hetty so happy! Hetty likes Master Newt so very much!”
“Yes,” said Percival in a somewhat haughty manner, his hold around Newt’s waist tightening, “of course you would like Newt, Hetty. What is there to not like – Newt is as close to perfect as a wizard can get and my household needs to remember that.”
He seemed to be addressing the portraits, Hetty, Gulp (who was sleeping by the wall like usual, old as he was), the building itself, and an excited murmur went around the hall, as the portraits expressed their approval.
“There is a reason why Percival is my favorite!” Jester Graves boomed and he smiled at Newt proudly. “You are fortunate to have him in your life, young Scamander. Percival is the apple of my eye. That boy has never once disappointed me – could not do so even if he tried – and I love him so dearly the sentimentality of it all would disgust me if it wasn’t overruled by my utmost fondness.“
“Thank you, Uncle Jester,” Percival said with a solemn nod. “Your good opinion means a great deal to me.”
Jester Graves preened and seemed to stand taller in his portrait.
Percival didn’t remove his arm from Newt’s waist even as he took off his black leather gloves and sent them up on the hat stand with a snap of his fingers. With another snap, their winter coats found their places on the coat stand and Newt’s woolly hat flew to hang itself on the hat stand. Newt put his hand on the arm curled around his waist, enjoying the feel of it, smiling at his feet – to think that he was allowed to do this, to touch Percival like this at his own home in front of his household! He dared to lean against Percival a little and Percival pulled him even closer.
“I trust nothing of immediate concern has happened to my household during my absence,” Percival stated more so than asked, although he gave both Hetty and the portraits an enquiring look. “Status reports, please.”
It turned out that each Graves portrayed in the entrance hall had a second or a third portrait elsewhere in the mansion. They travelled between their portraits, each guarding their own sector of the building, and they now proceeded to give Percival precise status reports. Thankfully, everything seemed to be well and in order, apart from one cupboard behind the kitchen in the first floor.
“The wards in the broom cupboard need to be renewed,” Annabelle Graves informed them. “If you don’t do it in the next seven days, grand-nephew, the brooms will begin to gather dust.”
All the Graves in the portraits shivered and Percival, too, gave a wince like just the idea of a dusty brooms was cause for alarm.
Neat, precise and organized as they were, Newt suspected Percival’s relatives wouldn’t have much approved of his somewhat disorganized manners or the barely contained chaos of his private study in his suitcase. Suddenly self-conscious, he tightened his hold on the suitcase’s handle.
“Thank you, grand-aunt,” Percival was saying. “I will see to that.”
Annabelle looked satisfied with the answer and Jester Graves nodded with approval, informing everyone that Percival was his “favorite for a reason”.
“Everything has been most calm, Master,” Hetty said, climbing up to her feet having let go off Percival and Newt. “Hetty hasn’t had to hit any burglars with a sauce pan this time and the ghost of Master Philip has remained in the attic.”
“Master Philip” was Percival’s great uncle, Newt knew, a large wizard almost as wide as he was tall. He had died in the attic defending it from dark wizards who had tried to gain entry via the roof, and while he usually was quite an easy a ghost to get along with, he sometimes seemed to forget that he had died and had therefore a tendency to ascend from the attic to continue with whatever business it was that had been left unfinished, often demanding to speak with “the No-Maj president, Lincoln” for reasons unclear to Newt. Philip could get quite aggravated and angry, occasionally even violent, if his requests weren’t fulfilled, and Percival therefore preferred it when Philip stayed up in the attic.
Now that it had been confirmed that Philip wasn’t wondering around the mansion, causing chaos and breaking things, and that everything was as it should be in The Most Dutiful and Honorable House of Graves, Percival and Newt climbed up the stairs to take Newt’s suitcase to the sitting room.
After they had tended to the creatures down in the suitcase, they came back to the sitting room and ended up lying on a sofa. Percival settled himself between Newt’s thighs and Newt was delighted to wrap his legs around Percival’s waist. While Percival played with the buttons of Newt’s shirt, Newt trailed the unshaved jaw with his mouth, enjoying the contrast of the coarse stubble to his soft lips. The scent of spruce trees lingered on Percival’s clothes, on his skin. Newt touched the skin with the tip of his nose, breathing Percival’s scents in.
“I wish we could stay like this for forever.”
“If I was to spend an eternity with someone, your company would be favorable indeed,” Percival murmured, turning his head slightly to bring his lips to Newt’s to give Newt a gentle, lingering kiss. “Although I do suspect I would get the most terrible of cramps in my lower back after a decade or so, if I wasn’t allowed to stretch every once in a while.”
“I’m sure we would manage,” Newt said playfully, sinking his fingers in the dark hair, licking Percival’s lips. They tasted faintly like black coffee, like Percival, and while Newt usually didn’t much care for coffee, he didn’t mind the taste of it on the soft lips at all. “I would rub your back with my heels to ease the pain.”
Unable to resist the sudden urge, he did so, too, rubbing Percival’s back with his calves, Percival’s sides with his thighs. Percival swallowed hard and brought his hands down to Newt’s knees, fastening the legs around his waist more firmly. His gaze was flickering between Newt’s eyes and his lips, and it made Newt quite hot under the collar indeed.
“I have to go to work soon,” Percival sounded reluctant like he, for once, would have preferred to avoid his pressing responsibilities in order to stay there on the sofa with Newt. “I’ve been away for two months, and I left a bit… abruptly, admittedly. Rodilus and the others have been sending me reports by owl regularly, but I do need to go to the department in person now that I’m back in New York, it’s unavoidable. Picquery will with no doubt call me in to her office the minute she realizes I’m back. So you see, I have to go to work even if we just came back.”
“I understand,” and Newt did.
“Perhaps we could dine together this evening?”
“Sure. When you leave from work, you could come to my apartment to eat. I’d cook us something.”
Percival’s eyes had a teasing glint to them.
“To eat…” he murmured, giving Newt another lingering kiss. “Might I be as bold as to ask whether I might have you for dessert?”
A startled burst of laughter escaped Newt’s lips.
“Dessert? Surely I should be the main course, don’t you think."
“Not at all. Sweet as you are, you would most certainly be the dessert.”
“Well,” Newt drawled, twining his arms around Percival’s neck, “come by later and we’ll see how the evening will go.”
Percival unbuckled their belts with efficient movements and Newt let him put his hands wherever he wanted, moaning his orgasm in the crook of his neck.
Seraphina Picquery didn’t even know where to begin.
She stared at the Auror standing at attention in front of her desk and rapped her immaculately manicured nails against the gleaming surface of her desk. It wasn’t often that she found herself speechless, but this was one of those rare times: Percival Graves – Percival Graves – had abruptly and completely unexpectedly taken a leave of absence, a vacation, and had been gone for two months, two whole months, on “personal business”, and now he was back like nothing had happened.
It was unheard of.
Her rapping fingers coming to a halt as she fixed him with a frown.
“You disappeared for two months, Director Graves. You disappeared for two months and only left me a note.”
“I took a leave of absence,” he had the gall to correct her, “and I did leave you a notification document 32A on your desk, not a mere ‘note’. I have never before taken a leave and therefore I have thousands of off days accumulated. I was entitled for a leave of absence, and before I left, I put Senior Auror Bartolomeus in charge. I would not risk my department or my personnel. I remained in regular contact with all my Senior Aurors during my absence, I had an international portkey with me – I could have been summoned back at any time. My Senior Aurors are more than capable-“
Seraphina raised a hand to silence him and his mouth snapped shut. While his words might have been somewhat defensive, she didn’t fail to note the way his eyes were shining like someone had lit a lantern in him, the way he stood straight like he felt taller than ever, the way he was constantly fighting against a smile like he was so happy he barely could contain himself.
“Nevertheless,” she said slowly, perplexed, “you can’t just take a ‘leave of absence’ on a whim. Had you asked for a vacation, I would have eagerly granted you one – you certainly have earned one and I have for years asked, pleaded, begged you to go on a holiday. But herein lies our problem: you did not ask for a vacation, you simply took one. From my point of view, you did disappear with only a note. That is not how Department of Magical Law Enforcement can be run, that is not behavior expected of Director of Magical Security. It was unacceptable and there must be consequences.”
Percival was staring over her head with a faraway look in his eyes almost like he had tuned her out – tuned her out! – like a pleasant memory of some kind had him so thoroughly in its grasp that he hadn’t been able to resist it and had just given in. He was smiling to himself in a rather tender manner and Seraphina was hit with a sudden uncomfortable feeling that she was intruding on a private moment, despite of it being her office.
She cleared her throat once – twice – three times – four times – five times – and coughed once – twice – three times – before she managed to bring Percival back from wherever it was that he had gone to. He blinked, seeming to come back to himself, but didn’t look apologetic at all. It was like he hadn’t even noticed his rare show of unprofessional behavior.
“I am going to put a reprimand in your file,” Seraphina told him, studying him closely, “and for the next eighteen months, I will cut your pay to a third of what you have usually been paid. You can’t just disappear from work, Percival, and there must be consequences.”
“Of course,” he said in a dismissive manner, looking again a bit distracted – he was still smiling. “I accept whatever punishment you deem suitable.”
Percival was known for loving rules, for his utmost professionalism, and his behavior was now therefore completely out of character.
Seraphina was not one to be fooled twice. She hadn’t forgiven herself for not noticing Gellert Grindelwald had been pretending to be one of her employees, one of her friends, and she was positive she never would either. She often found it impossible to sleep when her failure began to haunt her, when she was reminded of how Grindelwald had sometimes been playing with a match box during their meetings, spinning it between his fingers while smiling at Seraphina with Percival’s face – the same fucking match box in which Percival had been imprisoned at the time, the whole time. Grindelwald had been toying with the match box, Percival’s prison, right under her nose for months, no doubt finding great pleasure in her obliviousness.
She had never forgiven herself. She never would, either.
It was a small mercy that Percival had been unconscious the three months he had been imprisoned in the matchbox and that Grindelwald hadn’t been physically torturing him, having charmed his body to stay unchanged, having charmed him to sleep, knowing Percival would have been beyond difficult to have been kept imprisoned otherwise.
Seraphina often wondered if Grindelwald had ever been able to abduct him in the first place had Percival not been considerably drunk at the time of his capture, drunk due to a rare night of celebrations with his Senior Aurors, due to an even rarer moment of letting his guard down. Just like she had never forgiven herself for letting Percival down, she knew the Senior Aurors had never forgiven themselves for having let Percival leave by himself that night, for not seeing him home in his intoxicated state. According to the Aurors, Percival had told them that evening, slurring quite a bit, that he could get home by himself just fine, but Seraphina was well aware that Auror Hamsipood, in particular, had taken it hard when it had been revealed that Percival had been abducted by Grindelwald that night partly because there had been no-one there to have his back.
Seraphina couldn’t fathom how Percival was able to look her or any of his Aurors in the eye after the tremendous, unforgivable way they had let him down. She couldn’t fathom how Percival had been able to move on with seemingly such ease – but Percival Graves was unquestionably one damnably strong, stubborn, durable and adaptable man. He had also been smart enough to keep on seeing Doctor Frederick regularly after being released from The Sleeping Alicorn which must have been good for his mental state.
Seraphina was not one to be fooled twice: The abrupt leave of absence was out of character when it came to Percival. That was why, the moment a wizard wearing Percival’s face had come to the department that morning, some six hours ago, Seraphina had arranged for him to be taken to an empty interrogation room where various wizards and witches had performed tests to make sure this man was in all actuality Percival Graves, Director of Magical Security and Seraphina’s personal friend. All tests had come back positive. The wizard was Percival Graves, he was under no charms or curses, he was in charge of himself and had behaved – was behaving – consciously of his own free will.
“According to this report,” Seraphina now said, pushing the thoughts of Gellert Grindelwald to the back of her mind, placing a hand on top of the said paper, “you are in fact who you claim you are.”
Percival raised his eyebrows, but didn’t otherwise comment.
Seraphina frowned and began to rap her fingers against the table again, eyeing the man before her. Percival looked calm, close to blissful, not at all like he should have looked like when summoned to Seraphina’s office to get reprimanded.
Since there were no curses or charms or potions involved, there was only one other possible explanation Seraphina could think of for his odd behavior.
“How is Mr. Scamander?” she asked carefully and the blissed look in Percival’s eyes seemed to intensify, a broad smile brightened up his face and his whole being seemed suddenly somehow lighter.
“Brilliant,” came Percival’s answer. “He’s amazing.”
Percival’s reaction confirmed her suspicions and all concern she had felt now vanished, leaving her relieved and amused – whatever the reason for Percival’s disappearance had been, it had had something to do with Newt Scamander and the outcome had been favorable to Percival’s state of mind.
Soon after, Seraphina dismissed him from her office, and as soon as the door closed behind Percival, she allowed herself to chuckle.
She never got around to writing that reprimand or reducing Percival’s pay, partly out of guilt for having let him down in the past, partly because she decided he didn’t need a punishment after all his dedication, after all the sacrifices he had made for the department, for the wizarding community. Instead, she simply granted him the vacation he had already taken and then moved on to the meeting she had scheduled with the ambassador of Gambia.
Graves had all his Senior Aurors gathered to a meeting that afternoon. After they had updated him on various situations and cases, Graves closed his notebook with a sigh and folded his hands on the table in front of him.
“There is another issue we must discuss,” he let his Senior Aurors know. “It has to do with trust.”
Clearing his throat, aware of the questioning looks he was being given by five attentive Aurors, Graves reminded them of the way they had been afraid of him after the Annual February Dueling Competition, after Newt had kissed Kilonski. He told them that he needed to know, if he had created an unhealthy atmosphere for his employees to work in, an atmosphere of fear and distrust.
“You should be able to trust me,” he emphasized. “If I have failed you in that aspect, I must resign. It’s putting the lives of the personnel in danger, if you can’t trust the conduct of this department.”
By the time he had said all that needed to be said, Graves looked around the table at each Auror in turn to gauge their reactions, their thoughts. Like the two of them only ever did when they were distressed, Kilonski was chewing at the end of his cigarette while Ipston was biting her nails. Bariton’s mouth was hanging open, there was a deep frown on Bartolomeus’ forehead. Rodilus – whose opinion was particularly important to Graves – was staring at him like he had just declared that he wanted all of his Aurors to change their practical boots into ballet shoes because he preferred pink to black.
Graves frowned down at his folded hands. He clearly should have dealt with this matter long ago and would have definitely done so too had there not have been more pressing matters to deal with, mainly getting shot and searching for Newt. In any case, there was no excuse – this was clearly one aspect in which he had failed as the head of the department.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Rodilus found his voice. “We don’t- This isn’t- What?”
Bariton cleared her throat.
“There has clearly been a misunderstanding, sir,” she claimed. “We are not afraid of you. Our working environment is excellent, the atmosphere is healthy, motivating and encouraging. You are very capable, we respect you. We do trust you.”
“I would appreciate honesty,” Graves sighed, meeting her gaze. She was blinking fast like she wasn’t quite believing that they were having such a conversation. “If you can’t talk about this to me in person, you can go to President Picquery, or file an anonymous report. I won’t think any less of you.”
“Didn’t you hear what she just said, Percival?” Rodilus sounded – angry, furious, even. “How can you even consider the possibility that we might fear you, that I might fear you? For fuck’s sake! We’re friends, aren’t we, you and I. If there was a problem with trust, I would have already talked about it with you, not only as an Auror but as your friend. I’m honestly insulted that you would believe that I’m afraid of you.”
“I saw fear in you,” Graves stated, knowing that to be true. “I saw fear in you that night when Newt…” He coughed, the memory unpleasant for more than one reason. “I saw fear in you the night after the AFDC.”
“So you did,” Rodilus said with a huff, folding his arms across his chest, “but it wasn’t fear of you. It was fear for you. We weren’t afraid of you, but for you.”
“We were worried for you, sir,” came Ipston’s confirmation and the other Senior Aurors murmured their agreements. Bartolomeus nodded once, solemn and serious. “We thought we had just taken something good from you, that we were the reason you would be crushed, that we had gone too far with devastating consequences. It was a terrible thought, I feared I had partaken in destroying your chances for happiness. But I did not fear you, not once.”
“We thought you would break, boss, I was prepared to see you grumble,” Kilonski muttered, staring down at the table. “It was terrifying, we were terrified – not of you but for you. We talked about it afterwards. We decided we had gone too far, that we needed to stop.”
“We love and respect you,” said Rodilus firmly, “and we do trust you. We are sorry, if we ever led you to think otherwise.”
The Senior Aurors – apart from Bartolomeus who remained stoic and silent like usually – began to talk at once, all of them saying words like “jealous” and “pretend”, but what really caught Graves’ attention was the frequency in which they kept on saying Newt’s name.
“What has Newt got to do with anything?” he demanded, voice booming above all the other voices.
The Aurors fell instantly silent. Graves saw them exchanging looks. They all looked uncomfortable.
“Okay,” Rodilus said slowly. “Um. First of all, keep in mind that I’m the best Rodilus Hamsipood you have ever met and that you love me as much as you love your sofa.”
“Hardly,” snorted Graves – he loved Rodilus more, obviously – they both knew it very well – but he would rather have had the said sofa torn to pieces than admit such a thing. “I would happily let the entire department sit on you.”
“You love me as much as you love your gramophone, then,” Rodilus corrected himself without missing a beat, “and you like the rest of our sorry lot well enough, too, so please do keep that in mind. Second of all, I’m going to demonstrate how much we trust you – that we do not fear you – by telling you about something that might infuriate you, even though I assure you that our intentions were good.”
With that, Rodilus took a deep breath and let Graves in on what the Senior Aurors referred to as “Plan G”.
Two weeks after they had come back from Alaska, Newt found himself lying on Percival’s king-size bed on his bare belly, waiting for the man to come home from work, petting Niffler’s tummy absent-mindedly while proofreading the article he had written about furbel drool. His skin was still flushed from the bath he had taken in Percival’s luxurious bathing tub, his hair was still damp. He had washed every part of him as carefully as he could, in particular between his buttocks, and had brushed his teeth with minty toothpaste, had cut his toenails and made sure his fingernails were neat and not sharp at all.
During the two weeks they had been together – together, sweethearts, how lovely was the sound of that – Percival had been taking things slowly with him, but this evening Newt wanted to do it all the way. While it was pleasurable indeed to have Percival wrapping his lips or his hand around Newt’s dick, or to have Percival’s sperm running down his buttocks, down his face, hot and thick and salty, this evening Newt was hoping for Percival to find his release in Newt’s arse.
Percival didn’t yet know it, but Newt didn’t think the man would much oppose since they had talked about it, about penetrative sex, quite a many times. Percival had told Newt he liked it, Newt had said that he wanted it too even though he hadn’t ever tried it before. Percival had been hesitant, voicing his doubts as to whether Newt was ready to give up unicorns and “whatever other creatures might have preferred it” if he remained a virgin. Newt had been horrified to realize how lacking Percival’s knowledge about such matters was – unicorns hardly preferred virgins, he had told him, it was merely a rumor originating from the Middle Ages intended to keep the youth from having premarital sex. The following lecture had been enough to make Percival hard – apparently he quite liked it when Newt got passionate about something – and while Newt didn’t know how much Percival had actually learnt about unicorns, at least they had shared quite some heated moments against the window but a moment later.
The bedroom door was pulled open and Percival stepped in. With his suit jacket on one arm, he was already undoing the buttons of his midnight blue vest, seemingly ready to get comfortable now that he was at home, but seeing Newt lying naked on his bed, he came to an abrupt halt. Newt looked at him over his shoulder, smiling from behind his damp hair despite of the shyness he suddenly felt.
“Hello,” he said and Niffler nudged his hand to get him to pet it again – Newt had apparently come to a halt, just like Percival. He continued with the petting and Niffler purred with content, its eyes falling closed.
“Hello, Newton,” Percival’s voice was gruff, and Newt was very much conscious of the way the dark eyes were slowly dragging over his body, lingering on his slightly parted thighs, on his bare buttocks.
They were quiet for a while, Percival simply standing there watching while Newt rest his head on a pillow, petting Niffler.
“This is a lovely sight to come home to,” Percival eventually said, voice husky, and the bedroom door closed softy. “May I assume that I would be welcome to join you?”
“You are expected to join me,” said Newt, glancing at the man over his shoulder.
Percival had undone the buttons of his vest and was now in a process of unbuckling his black leather belt. His suit jacket had found its place in the wardrobe, flown there by wandless magic, and the laces of the shining black shoes untied themselves as Newt watched.
“I’m going to take a quick bath before I join you. Don’t go anywhere before I come back.”
“But I thought you liked chasing me,” Newt teased him, and Percival licked his lips, never once looking away from Newt.
“I do,” he said, “but not tonight. Just… wait until I’ve washed my job off me, okay?”
“Okay,” Newt agreed easily enough, smiling.
It took but five minutes for Percival to come back with a white towel wrapped around his waist, hair wet and plastered to his forehead, water drops running down his skin. He lifted Niffler gently from the bed and carried it by the windows where he laid it down into a coin box they kept in the bedroom just for the exact purpose. Niffler was content to make itself comfortable in it, crawling deeper until only the tip of its snout was visible from beneath all the golden coins. Pickett was sleeping on the bedside table and Percival left it there, only giving it a glance as if to make sure that all was well with it.
The Sun was setting and its orange rays poured through the windows like they were eager to touch Percival’s skin, to give it a golden gleam. The bedroom was in the third floor and they never drew the curtains – it would have been unnecessary, charmed as the glass was so that no-one could see inside even if they had been flying on a broom right outside the windows.
Newt rolled onto his back, when Percival climbed into bed.
“How was your day, dear?”
“Successful,” said Percival, the white towel unwrapping itself from around him and flying back to the bathing room, leaving him completely naked. “Caught a few crooks, managed to finish a satisfying amount of paperwork. Had a few relatively important meetings.”
They met in a kiss, Newt stroked the hairy chest – there was no longer even a scar to mark the spot where the bullet had pierced the flesh. He palmed the pecks, while Percival’s hands came to caress his sides, fingertips running up and down gently, tenderly. Their lips glided against each other, slowly, with no rush. Percival tasted like himself, like mint – Newt wasn’t the only one to have brushed their teeth – and Newt could have gotten drunk from the taste alone.
They kept on kissing, until the hot, wet mouth moved from Newt’s lips down to his throat and the hands running up and down his sides took a firmer hold of his flesh, kneading. Newt tilted his head to the side to give the hungry mouth a better access, stroking the wet shoulders, the arms, the biceps flexing beneath his touch.
“I thought about you today.”
“Yes,” came Percival’s grunt of an answer, rough. “Kept on thinking about kissing you when I ate lunch with Kilonski. Decided then and there that that bastard will never get to have a taste of you again, he’ll never get you on your knees for him again. I will not allow it.”
Suddenly possessive more so than gentle, Percival kissed down Newt’s chest, mouthing the flat belly. Newt cried out when Percival’s clever tongue found his right nipple, when Percival sucked on it, his fingers brushing the crook between Newt’s dick and the flesh of his thigh.
“Thought of you when I saw Ipston training her Juniors – she’ll never take you on a date again.”
“Again?” Newt wondered out loud, but Percival didn’t give him a chance to continue.
“Thought of you when Bartolomeus handed over his latest report – rest assured that he will never again be allowed to serenade you or to bring you flowers.”
Newt moaned when Percival bent down to kiss his lower belly. His tongue trailed around Newt’s bellybutton before he turned his attention down to the hair between Newt’s legs.
“And if Hamsipood ever wants to buy you a pastry, it better not have a message on it, or I’ll bend you over his desk and claim you right there where everyone can see.”
He wrapped his hand around Newt’s dick, took the top of it in his mouth. Inhaling sharply, Newt squirmed on the bed, fisted the sheets under him.
“Y-Yes,” he gasped and wiped the wet hair from Percival’s forehead, smoothed it back to its place. “Yes, that is very good indeed, b-but can w-we-”
He hissed when Percival hummed around his member. A hand came to rest on Newt’s knee, another on his chest like Percival wanted to feel the fast rise and fall of it. Newt’s skin from his face all the way down his chest had grown flushed, and Percival found a faster rhythm, taking the dick fully in, and Newt couldn’t help his moans. His mouth fell open, he was gasping, head thrown back, and his hand stroked Percival’s hair, his cheek. He felt his own dick through the skin, the bulge of it in the wet warmth of Percival’s mouth, and Percival glanced up at him, eyes sparkling – but also hungry, possessive, “You are mine,” they seemed to say, “and I want everyone to remember it.”
Newt hadn’t meant for it to happen, but he came, with a cry, one hand clutching the sheet under him, the other sunk in Percival’s wet strands.
When he came back to himself, Percival was lying beside him, petting his hair, hand running through Newt’s curls, untangling the mess of it with his quick fingers, with wandless magic, his dark eyes simultaneously impossibly gentle – and smoldering with lust.
Newt smiled at him lazily, rolling to his side so they came face to face. Percival returned the smile, his hardened penis a demanding pressure against Newt’s thigh.
“As I was trying to say earlier before you successfully distracted me,” Newt said when he had fully gained his breath, “I was wondering whether we could… I mean, can we… that is, can you and I…” He swallowed hard. “Could we perhaps… you know, do it all the way this time?”
The fingers running through his curls came to a halt and Percival frowned, giving him a searching look, eyes narrowing. He was quiet for long enough for Newt to grow a little nervous, hesitant, and he bit his lip from saying anything he might later regret, instead giving Percival all the time he needed to form an answer.
“Are you sure about that?” Percival eventually asked, voice hoarse. “That you want it?”
Newt was and he nodded, hiding his blush in his pillow, but Percival wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily, it seemed, he wasn’t going to leave any room for misunderstandings.
“You want my dick in your ass?” was asked by way of confirmation, not by way of dirty talk, and Newt nodded again, making a point of meeting Percival’s eyes despite of his sudden shyness, despite of his furious blushing.
“I do,” he whispered. “I do, Percival.”
Percival looked at him for a minute longer, then –
“Very well,” he said. “I will do my best to make it good.”
Newt shivered in anticipation, as Percival pushed him onto his back and leant over to dot his torso with kisses.
“I love your scent,” was murmured against his skin. “I love your freckles.”
“And I love you,” Newt said with a smile, the words coming easily, pouring to his lips straight from his heart. He felt Percival’s answering smile against his skin.
Happiness, love, the sun setting outside while they learnt each other in the safety of the bed – it was perfection.
A hand found its way between his thighs and Newt spread them, urged by Percival’s touch.
“Accio lube,” Percival muttered, as he rolled in between Newt’s thighs, taking a hold of them and spreading them even further apart. As Newt watched, he raised a hand and snatched a glass bottle from the air as it flew to him from the dressing table at the back of the bedroom. Percival never once looked away from the V of Newt’s spread thighs – not, that was, until he popped the cork of the bottle open and slicked three fingers, then raising his eyes to Newt’s face with a slightly feverish look in them.
“Tell me to stop at any time, and I will,” he said.
Percival waited until Newt nodded, then lifted Newt’s legs over his shoulders one after another. He ran a hand down one leg, kissed the calf – and eased a finger inside Newt, which had Newt gasping, his body going tense, his hands grasping the sheets under him.
“You need to relax,” Percival said, rubbing a hand on Newt's belly in a soothing manner. “Try to relax, love.”
“Isn’t there a spell for this?” Newt asked through gritted teeth, the finger in him feeling foreign and invasive. “Isn’t there a spell for p-preparation?”
“There are,” confirmed Percival, “plenty, all of which I would gladly try on you some time, but I would rather go about this manually the first time, if that is all the same with you. I quite like the process itself, you see, and when you relax a little, you might find that you quite like it too.”
“Sorry, it’s just… I’m not used to- That is to say, this is very n-new to me.”
“No need to apologize whatsoever,” Percival murmured, pulling the digit slowly out and then pushing it back in again, beginning a steady slow pumping rhythm.
Eventually Newt managed to relax enough for the second finger to join the first. Newt bit his lip, conscious of Percival’s hungry eyes flickering between his face and the fingers preparing his arsehole. By the time the third finger was eased inside him, Newt had come to the conclusion that he really quite enjoyed being fingered. He let Percival know as much – which prompted the man to grasp his own genitalia with a groan, his eyes squeezing tightly closed.
“Merlin, Newt,” Percival groaned when he opened his eyes, watching Newt from above. “This will be over sooner than either one of us wants, if you say such things. Do you not have any idea how arousing you look right now, biting your lip like that, all flushed, about to be fucked? I’m only a human. Have some mercy.”
Newt wasn’t entirely certain how he possibly could have given Percival mercy, he decided to ask about that later.
“You are loose enough,” Percival said after a while, voice low and hoarse, pulling his fingers out much to Newt’s disappointment.
“Normally,” he continued, “I would like to now flip you onto your belly so I could take you from behind, but since it’s your first time, I rather think I will let you discover your own pace.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m going to lie on my back and you’re going to sit on my dick. It will be easier for you that way, believe me. You’ll ride my dick just the way you like it, I’ll get to watch. I want it to be more controllable to you, the first time - you can stop the instant it gets too much.”
Newt let Percival pull him up to his knees. Slightly bewildered, he watched on as the wizard arranged the pillows to his liking before lying down on them, urging Newt to come to sit on him, guiding Newt’s thighs to either sides of his waist, positioning Newt right above his dick. Newt swallowed, the dick was slick and very erect and it looked even bigger now that it was to go inside.
Percival’s hands came to rest on Newt’s waist, the thumbs caressed his skin. Apart from the fast rise and fall of Percival’s chest, his blown pupils and his hot length brushing against Newt’s inner thigh, he looked perfectly relaxed lying on his back on the pillows.
“If you please,” he said, encouraged. “At your own pace, love.”
Newt swallowed, then nodded, determined, curious, aroused. He reached out under him and took a hold of the hot, slick member, guiding it to his hole, prompting a groan out of Percival. A pair of dark eyes was intent on his face when he pushed down, when he forced himself open. Newt bit his lip during the initial intrusion, but then something gave and his arse practically sucked the dick in.
“Oh,” he managed, leaning his hands against Percival’s heaving chest for balance. “Oh. This is quite… quite… Oh my…”
He hadn’t ever been filled like this, he was suddenly aware of places in his body he hadn’t before acknowledged, spots he hadn’t even known existed, let alone thought about. He closed his eyes, focusing on the feel of it all, and eagerly moved down, down, down, seething Percival fully, which was enough for the hands on his waist to tighten their hold and for Percival to let out a grunt and something that might have been a swear, might have not.
Leaning on Percival’s chest with his hands, Newt began to move, slowly up, up, up, then slowly down, down, down, steadily up, steadily down, up, down, up, down, until it became easier and he could pick up a pace he liked - which just happened to be a fast one. Head thrown back, he gasped, moaned, loving the feel of a dick – Percival’s dick – inside him. With his torso undulating, he worked on Percival’s penis, aware of the man under him groaning, grunting, swearing, praising him, aware of the hands moving from his waist to his thighs, to his penis, once more erect, to stroke it.
“I – ah, ah, ah – love this!” he cried, wishing for Percival to know it. “I love this!”
“And I-“ Percival gritted out, “I love you.”
“I’m going to-“ Newt gasped, “oh, oh, oh, Percival, I’m going to- !“
Newt cried out, tensing as his orgasm shot out of him, spurting his release over his chest, on Percival, too.
Percival grasped Newt by the waist, pulling him down with one slick, sharp movement to seethe his dick fully, and Newt was dimly aware of seed spilling inside him. Seeing stars, panting, he slumped down, resting his cheek against Percival’s sweaty chest, the frantic beating of Percival’s heart loud in his ear. They stayed like that, catching their breaths, Percival’s arms soon finding their way around Newt, pulling him closer, even as his dick slowly softened inside Newt.
Reluctantly, Newt eventually pulled himself off of the lovely dick, lying down next to Percival whose hand was quick to find its way to Newt’s curls again.
“That was quite amazing,” Newt said shyly, placing a hand on the hairy chest before him, letting it rest there.
“You were,” Percival agreed, kissing Newt’s temple. “You are.”
Sleep came fast after that.
Rodilus Hamsipood couldn’t believe his ears. He stared at the wizard at the desk, mouth opening and closing wordlessly, shaking his head slowly in disbelief.
“But-“ he began, looking helplessly down at the report in his grasp, “but it was just one tiny typo, boss. Just one tiny typo. I’ve already rewritten all thirty pages four times. Four times. Surely it’s not necessary to rewrite this report for the fifth time because of one tiny typo on page sixteen?”
He casted a hopeful look at Percival Graves – who wasn’t even looking at him but was frowning down at an open case file on his desk.
“Learn to proofread your reports," Percival said in a distracted manner, turning a page, "and you will only ever need to write them once."
Rodilus narrowed his eyes, studying the bruise peeking from under Percival’s white collar rather sourly – it was clearly a love mark, the bossman was getting some at home: Plan G had been a success in bringing Percival and Newt together.
But the unfortunate side effect was that it had made Percival even more efficient, more demanding at work than he had been before - where Rodilus had needed to rewrite his reports three times before, he now had to do it four times.
“Besides," Percival went on, "if you have the time to meddle with my love life, surely you have the time to rewrite a few reports.”
“Arsephone,” sighed Rodilus, resigning himself to having to rewrite the report for the fifth time.
“Go fuck yourself, dick face,” came the jovial reply. “And start saving up your money for a fine suit. You'll need it, one day, as my best man.”
That's it. The end. I can hardly believe we're finally here.
Thank you so much to everyone who commented along the way! If it wasn't for your encouraging words, this fic would've remained unfinished for who knows how long. You kept me motivated, you gave me a reason to keep on writing. So yeah, thanks, sincerely.
Just like Rodilus, I didn't proofread. It's really late and I have an early morning - forgive me. I'll try to do that tomorrow afternoon.