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A Bit of Bother and All That

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Despite later claims by Porpentina Goldstein, the first thing that Newt Scamander, illegal magizoologist, actually said to Graves was “Oh. I really didn’t think that there were two of those.”

Graves looked around quickly, wand cautiously raised. One of Grindelwald’s ‘silos’ of stored and mostly illegal paraphernalia had turned out to also include an acid-spitting two-legged ostrich-sized lizard, whose spit had dissolved, unfortunately, much of said illegal paraphernalia, a desk, several chairs, and Newt’s clothes. The lizard was asleep, bubbling gently beside the stairs, clutching the virulently pink flower bulb that Newt had thrown at it right before he’d been drenched.

“Where’s the other one?”

“No, no, I meant your coat,” Newt explained brightly. “I presume that you’re the real, ah, Director Graves, then. Tina did say that she was sending in some back-up, although I really should’ve remembered that the protective gel I rubbed on wouldn’t have transferred its efficacy to my clothes. Oh dear. I’m glad Pickett didn’t come along today.”

“What about my coat?” Graves said, a little bewildered by the torrent of semi-unrelated information. Tina had warned Graves about Newt’s ‘eccentricity’, and for the first time in her life, in Graves’ experience, she’d actually managed to completely understate the issue.

Newt smiled encouragingly at him, not in the least concerned that his clothes were still melting off him in handfuls. “It’s a very nice coat,” he said, sounding determined. When Graves merely stared, Newt deflated visibly. “This isn’t working, is it? I asked Ja… er, I asked a friend for tips on being more likeable, and he said, try to compliment something about them, and I thought, that does seem logical, but I’m afraid the results have been rather spotty.”

Graves bit down on a sigh, and put his wand away. “Did you bring your case of creatures?”

This got him a guilty look. “Maybe?” Newt hedged, when the blasted case was clearly in a corner of the room, behind the staircase, tied with string.

Graves gave up. “Just stash the Coatl in there and I’ll forget that this happened.”

Newt stared at him in surprise, even as his sleeves melted off. “You know what it is?”

“I went to university…?”

“Oh,” Newt said excitedly, “but you took the magizoology class. I mean. Care of Magical Creatures. Uh, the Ilvermorny equivalent.”

“What about it?” Graves asked suspiciously. A great deal of magical contraband, after all, was either crafted from magical beasts or were trafficked parts themselves, and Graves had chosen his final subjects and electives with the Auror program in mind. “I did very well, thank you. And by the way, if you don’t wash all that off with water in about five minutes, you’re going to develop a terrible rash, even with the gel.”

A quick Aguamenti and a hot air charm meant that although Newt was now acid-free, he was also extremely naked, freckles and all. A little reluctantly, Graves handed over his coat, which was a touch too short for Newt and far too broad at the shoulders. “This is a nice coat,” Newt told him, as they picked up the sleeping Coatl cautiously and manhandled it towards the case.

“Yes, you’ve told me. I expect it returned in one piece, if possible.”

“Of course. Ah. If I may ask. If you went to Ilvermorny… Professor Ah-ho-appa?” At Graves’ cautious nod, Newt smiled brightly. “She’s amazing. Without her collated knowledge from her people—”

“She didn’t like me,” Graves cut in bluntly. Ilvermorny was a long time ago, and not all of it kind. This managed to shut Newt up, all the way until they’d deposited the Coatl in Newt’s expanding suitcase, a type of device that Graves had never trusted and which always, also in his experience, tended to be used to transfer magical contraband. Of the highly illegal sort. Unfortunately, at first glance, Newt’s case was certainly not an exception.

Newt was rummaging in a set of crates. “I was very sure that I had a spare set of clothes around here,” he called, as Graves stared sourly at a huge Erumpent.

“What’s an Erumpent doing here? Don’t they tend to blow things up?”

“Only during the mating season. She’s recovering from a poaching injury. Almost well now. They’re dying out in Africa, did you know? First them, then the rhinoceroses will be next. And the elephants, too, eventually. People have this… hm, not this box… awful love of ivory. Never understood it. You might as well make a collection of toenails. Same stuff.”

“Human toenails don’t make things explode.” Graves paused, thinking this over. He’d seen his share of unusual explosions, working his way up MACUSA. “Normally.”

Of all things, this got a laugh from Newt, who stuck his head out of a small pile of boxes, grinning with delight. “I think you’re one of a very small number of wizards I’ve met who could’ve identified a Coatl and an Erumpent on sight.”

“Someone used Coatl acid to melt through a safe once,” Graves muttered, startled to find that he was disconcerted by Newt’s pleasure. Newt was… pretty like this, disheveled, dressed only in Graves’ coat, knee-deep in boxes and… Graves looked away, swallowing a sigh. “Give me back the coat whenever you’re next in New York,” he said, heading for the exit.

“Wait,” Newt yelped, and caught up with Graves at the ladder, grabbing at Graves’ elbow, and as Graves instinctively jerked away, they overbalanced against the wall, crashing against a stack of books. Graves swore, pushing books off his shoulders, as Newt froze on his lap, squeaking horrified apologies.

Graves pressed a hand over his face. “Get off, please.”

“Sorry, sorry.” Newt scrambled off, bright red. “Sorry. I just. Wanted to say. It’s been a… pleasure?” He said, cautiously.

Despite himself, Graves chuckled as he got to his feet, reluctantly charmed. “Surprisingly, yes. See you in New York, Scamander.”

“I’ll look after your coat!” Newt called up after him, as Graves made his way up the ladder.

Once outside, Tina arched an eyebrow. “Your ah… you’re missing your—”

“Don’t ask.”