Credence Barebone typically had little time to himself, and what little he had was restricted mostly to a few hours’ sleep before another long day of feeding orphans and marching through city streets spreading the word and warning of the Lord according to his mother. But on a silent, late autumn night alone in his solitary bedroom flanked by his mother’s and sisters’, even knowing he would be tired the next morning, sleep was not his first priority.
He could not stop thinking about Percival Graves.
At first he had wondered if it was simply that Graves was his only source of touch. Most human contact he received was secondhand: strangers touching his leaflets but never his hands that offered them, his mother striking him with his belt rather than her own hands. However, Modesty was occasionally sweet, offering a reassuring hand to hold when she noticed him frustrated or upset and Credence had certainly never felt anything close to the same addictive feeling towards her. It was something potent in Graves’ masculinity-- which then made him wonder if it might be to do with fatherliness; his mother was unmarried and her children’s lives were full of other children but notably absent of adult men.
But it became apparent soon enough that his feelings were beyond the innocent affections of a child for a father, either.
He was by now familiar enough with the feel of the man’s hands, their warmth, breadth, and gentle firmness that healed his wounds, to vividly imagine them where he liked. With this on his mind he slid his own hands beneath the waistband of his pajamas and down to his cock which was, unsurprisingly, firm and nearly perpendicular to his pelvic bone.
There was no question about it; what he was about to do was absolutely sinful. However, ever since Graves had come into his life, he had found himself a little less preoccupied with sin. Avoiding sin, walking the strict straight and narrow as his mother demanded, even when he was fleetingly successful at it, had at best only given him some brief reprieve from pain—but the promises Graves had made to him had given him something more: hope, something close to actual happiness. Graves told him he was special, made him feel needed, made him feel as if there were somewhere he belonged in a way he had never felt in church or his mother’s family.
Credence wrapped his fingers around the shaft of his cock and began to gently stroke-- the ease with which he found the place and pace that pleased him so quickly made him wonder yet again what kind of deep sin he had been born with, the sin his mother was always seeing in him—and drift into deeper reverie. He thought back to their last meeting, when Graves had cradled the back of his head in his hand, fingers gently brushing against the close-cropped hair just above his neck and sending tingles shooting down his spine. He began to beat faster, suppressing what might become moans were he less inhibited by secrecy. At one point he realized the bed was shaking, old frame beginning to squeak as it rocked to and fro. He stopped, held his breath, and waited for the squeaking to cease again before taking up the rhythm again at a gentler pace.
He thought of the older man’s lips and the dark stubble that a morning shave never seemed to fully relieve him of, what it might feel like for those lips to press against his, his stubble to brush flesh. . . He rolled over onto his belly, hand still on his cock, to grind his hips forcefully against the sheets-- and suddenly the rickety headboard knocked against the wall, a sound as loud as a bomb in the silence of the house. He froze again, listening for the sound of disturbed sleep in the adjoining rooms and carefully sliding his hand out of his pants just in case.
He should have just stopped then, let them all think he had merely tossed in his sleep-- but the danger of it was all the more intoxicating, akin to the thrill he felt every time Graves appeared to him and he gathered up the rare courage to join him covertly in the alley. When no noise of waking met his ears, he reached back down and continued.
It was difficult, from his sanitized knowledge of the world, to imagine something so obscene as male nudity and fornication-- but he tried, patching together an idea of what Graves must look like under his coat and waistcoat, how his thick black hair would manifest on his body and below his belt. The bed gave another great squeak and the headboard tapped the wall again, but this time he barely paused, fixated on the image becoming more vivid in his mind: Graves, hard as Credence was, holding him, kissing him, wanting him, even though he was maybe a wizard, definitely a sinner, unspeakably filthy-- and he was close, so close . . .
“What are you doing, Credence?”
She couldn’t have waited another two seconds.
He lifted his head from the pillow, knowing full well how guilty he looked amongst the tousled sheets with his sweaty hair and flushed face. His mother stood in the doorway, arms crossed over her dressing-gown.
“I was—“ he started, but she already knew exactly what he was doing and there was no defending it.
She didn’t even need to speak the command; with a defeated sigh he rose from the bed and reached for the belt that lay circled atop his clothes. He was unable to look her in the eye as he passed to it her, erection heavy within his pajamas as he shuffled to stand square in front of her.
“Take it off,” she ordered. Usually this command referred to his belt, but it was already in her hand. Credence looked down at what little he was wearing, just a thin pair of cotton pajama trousers.
“Ma, please,” he whispered. She hadn’t spanked him on the bare since he was Modesty’s age. She had said herself it was inappropriate for a boy of his age to be unclothed in front of a woman—and now more than ever it was obvious why.
“Credence.” Her gaze was steely and unmoved.
Turning away from her so he felt less obscene, his hands shook furiously as he fumbled with the drawstring on his pants before stepping out of them and setting them with his other clothes, praying that his sisters in the room next door would miraculously sleep through the next few minutes.
He knelt beside the bed not unlike he did to pray, gingerly leaning over the edge with his fists clenched in the bedclothes, painfully aware of how the position exposed private features to the cold air and his mother’s view. She stepped behind him, squaring up her target with the belt looped in her fist.
He started crying as soon as the first lash hit. Part of it was instinct of self-preservation; maybe he was fooling himself, but he always felt like she was easier on him if he wept. But most of it was simply the unbearable shame sinking in, the reality that he was being-- still being, at his age-- whipped bare-bottomed by his mother and there was no way Modesty and Chastity couldn’t hear-- and unless their imaginations were too pure to fathom it, really only one possible explanation for why their brother otherwise safe and sound at home would require a whipping in the middle of the night.
Each stripe laid across his buttocks and thighs was meant as a brutal taste of the hellfire such sin would condemn him to, and as the hot sting intensified he squirmed and muffled his whimpers into the covers. But worse was that with every stroke he jerked forward into the bed, his erection forced against the rough sheets. It did not heighten his pleasure but did not subdue it either, twisting what he had been doing moments before into something grotesque.
She did not go easy on him, either. When the buckle of his belt sliced into his already brutalized flesh and he managed to scrounge up words out of his pained yelps-- please, please stop, I’m sorry, please-- she silenced him: “Stop that whining and bear your punishment. You’re hardly a child.”
For the duration Credence could not comprehend much of anything beyond the intimate world of the pain, but a gentle cloud of relief washed over him when the buckle of the belt tinkling as she placed it back on the chair indicated it was finally over. Nevertheless, it took several minutes for him to bring himself to stand, his legs a combination of numb and shaking he didn’t trust to support his weight until he could feel them properly again. His mother remained behind him, waiting and patiently surveying her handiwork.
He scrambled to pull back on his pajama bottoms as modestly as he had removed them, cringing as he scraped the waistband against the fresh welts while pulling the front over his erection-- which was not much less pronounced than before and now leaking. His mother made aloof observation of the small stain that appeared on the front of his pants.
“Bring your pajamas to me in the morning to be washed,” she said, almost sweetly, though the real meaning was clear: I’ll know if you do anything more about that.
She would not depart until he had slid gingerly back into bed, placing his hands over the outside of the neatly-straightened covers to her approval; he could see the wheels turning in her head and expected that by the following night she would concoct a more creative way to prevent him turning to sin again. Lying on his stomach would be preferable given the state of his backside but remained impossible with his erection tenting the bedclothes and aching in denial. He was nearly nauseous with the bizarre combination of physical stimulation as the familiar parade of resentment and self-abuse buzzing in his agitated mind: how disgusting he was, how sinful and wrong, how lacking in self-control, how stupid to let himself be caught. How much he hated his mother’s punishments, even his mother herself-- and how horrible he was to think that, as well as weak and pathetic in his inability to resist her, no more now than when he had been a child.
But as always there was nowhere for the shame and rage and resentment to go, alone as he was in a dark attic bedroom of a humble chapel most of the city preferred to pass without noticing and without a clue of where Graves might be at that moment. He could do nothing but wait until he became calm—which he never did, only drifting into a fitful sleep full of strange dreams of bursting through walls and flying through the streets of New York.
Gellert Grindelwald, cloaked in the dark-haired and heavy-browed guise of Percival Graves by carefully-maintained Polyjuice administered once an hour, stood pondering a deep, ragged trench in the middle of the brick road. The non-magical newspapers said it was a rupture of subterranean pipes, but he knew better. However, when he spotted the slump-shouldered boy with his leaflets lumbering listlessly through the throngs of hurried passersby, he ceased his survey and signaled to him immediately.
“I was wondering when I would see you again,” remarked Credence when they were in the dark privacy of the alley, face bright and as close to smiling as the somber boy ever got.
Graves’ impatience got the best of him. “Have you seen something?” he asked, breathless as he pulled the boy by the shoulder deeper into the shadow of the buildings, away from the noise of the main street. “Have you found the child?”
Credence’s face fell—a clear indication he had not—and flinched back from him as if now undeserving of his attention. “No,” he admitted. “I don’t—I still don’t understand what exactly I’m looking for.”
Graves suppressed a sigh of disappointment. “I’ve told you: anything out of the ordinary. Signs of magical ability. Outbursts of anger preceding one of the attacks-- you’ve been keeping track of the attacks, haven’t you?” They had been over this before, but he also knew the boy was at a disadvantage; he didn’t seem to have so much as a whiff of magic in him and couldn’t possibly detect it as Graves could, but he was the source closest to the Barebone woman as he could get—and he was eager to please.
“I’m doing my best.” It was less assurance than a plea: for Graves to forgive him, to still want his help, to need him as much as he needed him.
Graves indulged his need for approval, extending a gentle hand of forgiveness to cup the boy’s cheek. He was still ill at ease in this new form, somewhat repulsed by the heady scent of Graves’ sweat with its base note of corn so plentiful in his American diet-- though he did appreciate the man’s youth—but Credence was intoxicated by it, leaning against his hand and practically sniffing it, seeming to relax above the neck despite the stiffness with which he carried himself.
“She hurt you again,” Graves observed, knowing the boy’s tells when he had suffered a recent beating. He reached for his hands with a sense of entitlement; at this point the ritual was familiar to both of them, and the boy seemed to respond to his possessiveness as if it were a promise of protection. However, when he turned them over Credence’s hands were soft and unblemished.
“She didn’t hit me there.”
“Where did she hurt you? You know I can heal you anywhere, Credence,” he reminded him, urging him to remember why he needed him.
Credence hesitated, a faint pink rising in his pale cheeks, eyes flitting away from Graves’.
“Credence,” Graves repeated, this time more sternly. Any time the boy even considered defying or denying him was a concern-- but thanks to his mother a firm tone was all it took to push him back into compliance.
“I—I can’t show you,” he admitted, eyes darting towards the street at the mouth of the alley.
“Of course you can,” replied Graves, returning to a kinder voice at the boy’s compliance. He relished the astonishment in his eyes as he waved his wand to envelop them in a bubble that spanned the width of the alley and for a moment gleamed gold at the edges. He had been prudent about displays of magic in front of him at first when he feared the influence of his religion and his mother might overtake his curiosity and drive him away, but the longer Credence proved his loyalty the more open he became, wielding magic like a flame to keep his moth hovering close.
“A concealment charm,” he explained. “To everyone who passes, this is but an empty alley.”
Graves looked back at Credence in expectation, who in turn shifted his weight from foot to foot and averted his eyes as if hoping the reason for their concealment had been forgotten. His reluctance was all the more reason Graves needed him to do it: to prove he would do anything for him, no matter his own discomfort.
“You’re helping me, Credence,” Graves pointed out gently. “Why won’t you let me help you?”
“It’s . . . she . . . “
The boy struggled to put a name to his pain, even the anatomy it afflicted, but Graves already suspected what he was concealing. The words came easily to him: “Your mother hurts and humiliates you to suppress the threat she sees in you—that the world sees in you. Why should you be ashamed of how she oppresses you? You know I don’t see you the way she does. You know I know better.”
They were words of immense comfort to most of his devotees who nursed wounds of loneliness and bitterness in having to hide their power from a hateful word—and with the boy hoping so desperately for Graves to initiate him into his secret fold, they had the desired effect. Credence blushed, turning away from Graves, but he undid his belt and, with a shuddering sigh akin to a sob, pulled his trousers down to his knees.
Graves was presented with a vivid testament to a severe belt whipping. Some welts were still crimson while others had already deepened into dark purple bruises. The bulk of the stripes crisscrossed his buttocks but some spanned halfway down his thighs, a few curving partway around his legs. There were a handful of particularly vicious bruises Graves assumed were from the buckle end.
Graves didn’t touch him—not yet—but allowed him to stew in this vulnerable position for a moment.
“What was this one for?” he asked. In truth he didn’t care what his mother considered wrong in the eyes of the supposed magical being she worshipped while simultaneously trying to stamp out everyone else’s magic-- but Credence liked to be asked, liked to feel Graves cared enough to be interested.
“I was—“ he choked a little, stuck on the shame he had been taught for it, “--touching myself.”
Graves almost laughed; of course. At his age, with his mother like she was—of course.
However, he was startled when Credence continued, his voice now rough and gravelly and strangely confident in his confession: “I was thinking about you.”
Gellert Grindelwald, blond and ruddy-cheeked in the flush of youth in the summer of 1899, bent intently over a potion in the privacy of a run-down shed on his great-aunt’s property.
Neither he nor Albus were particular devotees of potions, both preferring the speed and agility of charms, transfiguration, and dueling, but both were also ardent pursuers of mastery in all things. This was a throwaway potion, one he was merely brewing to see if he could. When it came to manipulation Gellert was far more interested in the efficiency and totality of the Imperius Curse, though there were obstacles to practicing that under the nanny gaze of the International Statute of Secrecy. When he was done he figured he’d maybe try out the potion on Aberforth, see if he could get him to fall in love with one of Bathilda’s farm animals; it’d be good for a laugh if nothing else.
Not unexpectedly, Albus came in as he was working, clearly curious about what would unfold this particular day, yet another long summer day which so far had been as fruitful as the whole of his Hogwarts education—two companions pushing each other farther in their magical abilities and deeper into their research and intense discussions on magical/non-magical relations and the culture of hiding that stifled and oppressed them as if they were permanent children. Gellert knew Albus’s routine; his morning was a regular struggle with Ariana to get her out of bed, dressed, groomed, and fed—and he had likely left Aberforth to finish with her as soon as he had noticed signs of life at the Bagshot homestead, seeking out the respite of their companionship that lifted his mind far from the tedium of domestic drudgery.
Gellert was in the thick of several complex steps of the potion to be completed in quick succession, but he also needed some herbs from his aunt’s garden. However, he knew he couldn’t simply order Albus to fetch them for him as if he were a shop clerk. At school, Gellert had been accustomed to hero-worship, a charming and attractive young man with obsequious peers who fell over themselves to earn his favor and professors who regarded him as a prodigy, even if a troubled one. But Albus, like Gellert himself, was equally brilliant and fully aware of himself as such, with his own quiet charm in his thoughtful, playful speech and sparkling eyes. He would never stoop to excessive flattery of his friend and balked at even the slightest hint of being patronized or spoken down to. Like Gellert, he had a guarded stance on authority and demanded respect be earned and given in return. Gellert couldn’t deny his own respect for one who, like himself, knew his brilliance and power and was unapologetic for either-- though sometimes it irritated him to lack the lackeys he had found so readily at school, having to genuinely persuade instead of merely charm.
Instead, he turned to his usual tactic of drawing his friend in, colluding with him to encourage him to accept his agenda as his own.
“What do you think?” Gellert asked him, gently wafting the potion towards him with a single lazy hand so that the characteristic spirals dissipated. “Smell good?”
Albus’s nostrils flared as he examined it, expression brightening as he recognized it. “What is this, some variation on Polyjuice? How did you get it to smell so exactly like you?”
“It’s Amortentia, Albus.”
Albus froze, the color in his face rivaling his hair.
“I knew you were impressed with me, but not that impressed.” Gellert felt the edges of his mouth curling upward in spite of himself.
“I’m not—“ Albus started to protest, before he recognized there was no denying what he had just admitted to—and perhaps he didn’t care to—but his usual eloquence fell flat. “Gell, actually, I—I think—“
Gellert was no stranger to crushes; at school he had been the target of numerous awkward propositions from both sexes: from girls as openly as their particular standards of modesty allowed (which for some, allowed for a lot), and boys, more furtively. He had found their devotion flattering and oddly entertaining—as well as frequently useful—though he had never returned the sentiment. And now Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, two years older than him and a full graduate, the only young wizard Gellert had ever considered even remotely his equal, was fumbling over romantic confessions and blushing like a schoolgirl over him. It was absurd; it was laughable.
However, Gellert Grindelwald was too clever to laugh, not when Albus was such a brilliant and powerful ally-- and not when this new development could be used to keep him as such. He could feel the telltale prodding of Albus’s unspoken Legilimens against his mind, trying to search for what Gellert’s motives had been in brewing the potion, hope that the Amortentia was some proof Albus was not alone in his feelings. He had been practicing his Legilimency diligently, but Gellert had also been practicing the counterpoint. Rather than allow him access, he spoke, tossing a deliberately careless glance at the potion.
“Well then, if I don’t have to use it on you . . . “
Gellert leaned meaningfully towards his friend, eyes locking onto his. Albus’s own eyes widened in question, in hope-- both answered when Gellert confidently took his chin in hand and placed his lips softly on top of his companion’s.
Albus’s mouth was wet and warm. He seemed to melt into the kiss, as if it released something long pent up inside. His tongue prodded tentatively against Gellert’s lips and gained confidence when he responded in kind. Gellert carefully opened his eyes to observe the fascinating phenomenon: whatever was happening to Albus’s body was not happening to his own, but Albus was too preoccupied to notice.
When Albus seemed to be in the peak of his enjoyment Gellert pulled back. Just as he hoped, Albus clung to the kiss, practically falling forward, unready for it to be over.
Gellert licked his bottom lip, in truth trying to remove the taste of his companion’s saliva from his mouth, but the sight of it made Albus flush again. Gellert said nothing and leaned back over the potion, feeing how Albus’s gaze remained transfixed on him, thirsting over how his trousers stretched tight over his lean rear and his blond curls fell into his face as he worked.
“Albus,” he started, ever the scientist ready to test if his spell had worked, “I could use more rose thorns. Fetch some for me?”
When his friend departed helpfully for the garden without so much of a trace of indignation for being ordered about, he smiled to himself. Magic as powerful as Amortentia or even Imperius without so much of a flick of a wand.
Clearly Graves ought to use wandless magic this time.
Credence flinched when he felt the unexpected touch of flesh against his own, so much more accustomed to the feel of his belt in his mother’s hands, but just as any time Graves touched him he sagged in to the warmth of his grasp, silently pleading for more even in places where it hurt. Graves curved his hand around the contour of his rear, squeezing firmly for a moment just to see the boy squirm from the pain of it, but then allowed the spell to work its way in. Credence sighed as the pain dissipated and left only the gentle touch of the man whose imagined touch had gotten him punished in the first place.
The welts and bruises were deep, and Graves could feel hard scar tissue beneath the surface testament to previous beatings. He drifted his hands over the battered flesh which became smooth and pale again beneath his fingers. Limp from weakness and exhaustion—the boy was always so weak and exhausted-- Credence leaned forward to steady himself with his hands against the brick; the position spread his cheeks, revealing his most private orifice, and Graves toyed with the idea of forcing a finger inside. The thought gave him pleasure only so far as he knew how it would hurt him; he could picture him whimpering at the painful intrusion, writhing in the shame of what was definitely had to be sin in his mother’s oppressive world. But even the faint brush of Graves’ fingers where his buttocks began to curve inward agitated Credence and Graves could detect it was as much in pleasure as dread or discomfort. By the time he was fully healed, the boy was practically bent double as if he might drop to all fours.
“Shh,” Graves soothed him, breathing the syllable into his neck as he wrapped an arm around his waist to keep him from descending to his knees. Credence shuddered, going slack against him. He would fall right over without his support at this point, so Graves allowed him to lean back into him, tucking his shoulder under his chin.
From this vantage point he could see how hard the boy had become, erection stiff and swollen far above where his trousers and underwear had fallen around his skinny ankles. Credence turned his face into Graves’ neck, breathing in his skin; close as he was, Graves could feel his pulse, seeking the answer to his aching question of trust—whether he could abandon the artifice he had clung to out of necessary safety in his mother’s home and finally embrace what Graves had told him he truly was, what by now he wanted to be. Graves validated everything about him he had been taught was sinful and evil, made him feel pleasure and specialness in his possession of all that he believed God and man would hate. The more Graves wrenched open this divide between him and the world the more Credence would need him—would need Graves to need him, and do anything in order to keep him.
Graves gently slipped his hand down to gently grasp the boy’s cock. At first he seized up as stiff as a board, practically whimpering, and Graves paused for a moment, wondering if he had gone too far. However, he was gratified when the boy moaned a desperate please.
He continued, finding it easy to navigate the route to Credence’s satisfaction in response to his unabashed sighs and moans. With nothing to occupy them the boys hands flailed, clenching and unclenching and grasping randomly at Graves behind him until finally one settled on Graves’ wrist and the other clenched in Graves’ shirt.
“Good,” Graves cooed into his ear praise his mother never offered. “Just like that. Just exactly as you are.”
It didn’t take long to reach the point of the boy’s climax; Graves concluded he didn’t often have the opportunity for such release. However, before he cleared the brink, Graves slowed his pace and commanded him: “Open your eyes, Credence.”
With Graves behind him all there was to see was the brick of the buildings flanking the empty alley with the bustle of the busy street beyond and no visual trace of the charm that concealed them-- and that was what Graves intended: a terrifying jolt of awareness at what he was doing, exposed in contrast to the world that would condemn and hate it.
Credence gasped, shuddering in terror at the perceived exposure, but he also felt Graves’ hands upon him, holding him, steadying him—and came, allowing himself the unchecked cry of pleasure he’d been incapable of in the secrecy of his little bedroom with the creaky old bed.
Graves held him until he finished and beyond, allowing the boy to believe he would hold him forever if he desired. However, it was only a few moments of calm before Credence’s heart rate jumped and his eyes became dull and withdrawn again; he pulled himself upright and began to urgently mop up the white fluid spilled over his legs and belly with his worn-out handkerchief. Meanwhile, Graves neatly Scourgified the boy’s leavings from his own hand.
By the time Credence had gotten himself straightened out, belt buckled back in place, Graves was waiting to place his leaflets back into his hand. “You had better deliver the rest of these,” he reminded him. “Your mother will be expecting you home on time.”
Credence’s face fell as he plunged back into the reality that he was still accountable to his mother, still imprisoned in the tyranny of her home, still trapped in a world where all that he had just found pleasurable was unspeakable shame met only with pain.
“I’ll see you again soon?” he asked, though it was really more of a plea: please, now more than ever.
“We both have work to do. Keep an eye out for that child,” Graves reminded him. “I’ll be back to check on you soon.”
Credence was reassured by the promise, however vague. Graves smiled as he watched the boy depart, slightly less slump-shouldered than usual, back to the main street with his leaflets.
Magic without so much of a flick of a wand.