Mary Lou Barebone paced around the room as her adoptive son, Credence, packed what little belongings he had on a tiny, worn, leather suitcase.
“I can’t wait to get rid of you. I knew you were a lost cause as soon as I took you in, but I thought the Good Lord would show me the way…It’s obvious now that even He has given up on your wretched soul.” A cruel half-smile marred her thin lips. “Well, it seems fitting though…don’t you think? That a…a wicked creature like you would end up as someone’s whore?”
Credence didn’t reply right away, taking the time to look at the woman he once called his mother with an almost child-like innocence, so unlikely on someone who’s had their trust broken so many times. “W-what do you...a w-whore?” he stuttered out.
“Yes, Credence…a whore. Someone to be used. To satisfy someone else’s pleasures of the flesh…To be honest, what that man ever saw of appealing in you I will keep wondering until the day I’m finally laid to rest. But oh well, a lifetime of forced sodomy seems like a fair punishment doesn’t it…” Mary Lou took a few steps towards Credence, resting her hand on his cheek with mock affection, “…my dear boy?”. Credence flinched as her icy voice rang through his ears. Of course he knew what his mother meant by pleasures of the flesh. He was familiar with the warm coil in his stomach whenever he shamefully caved into temptation to the thought of gentle caresses, his own hand pressed against his clothed groin.
A loud honking noise was heard outside, bringing Credence back from his thoughts. It was soon followed by a loud knock on their church door. Credence grabbed his suitcase and made way towards the entry where Mary Lou stood, greeting a man. He was tall and elegantly dressed in a way that wasn’t too flashy. The man had a handsome if wrinkled face and a full head of completely silver hair styled back. Credence flinched at the similarities between this man and Mr. Graves.
“Ah, Credence, my boy. We need to hurry up, I’m sure the Scamanders are already at the office. Usually we would apparate there but…” Mr. Graves senior looked quickly in Mary Lou’s direction “…given the circumstances, it’s better to travel the No-Maj way. Come on, follow me!” he continued as he walked back outside, Credence and Mary Lou following him close behind as a lean, elderly man waited for them near a car.
The ride wasn’t very long but Credence was fascinated by how things seemed to fly past them. It looked different from when he flew as an Obscurial. There was no destruction, just trees and people passing by very fast. The journey had helped him calm his nerves but everything came back as soon as he stepped foot out of the car, New York’s chilly wind causing him to shiver.
In front of them stood a normal building, like many others in New York, nothing spectacular or grand about it. Credence thought Mr. Graves senior looked extremely out of place next to such a mundane place until they walked into it. It somehow looked bigger on the inside than it did on the outside. Credence didn’t understand much about decoration or fancy things but even he could tell the entrance was richly and elegantly decorated – oil paintings on the wall, surrounded by gold frames (were the pictures moving?),smooth, flowy white curtains covered the windows and an enormous crystal chandelier stood in the middle of the room.
Mr. Graves senior was amused at the awed expression the boy had, curious eyes wandering around the room and his mouth a little open. Mr. and Mrs. Scamander and their son Newt stood next to the staircase, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.
Credence remembered Newt, the nice man who had tried to help him. It made him feel a little less nervous to have him around. He tried nodding in his direction and was met with a pleasant smile, quickly overshadowed by his parents moving in front of him to greet Mr. Graves senior.
Mary Lou made sure to stand back, avoiding have to shake hands with those people. She might be pleased with selling Credence, but the less contact she had with those wicked things, the better. She almost expected them to attack her at any minute, but it never happened. Instead they were all lead by Mr. Graves into his office where they were to discuss the arrangement for the marriage.
“Everyone, please sit down. Percival will be here shortly. I think there was something to be taken care of at MACUSA but he shouldn’t take long now.” Mr. Graves explained as he sat on the chair that stood at the top of the long table. On his right stood Mr. Scamander, followed by Mrs. Scamander and, finally, Newt. On his left sat a very uptight Mary Lou with a very uncomfortable Credence on her side. Credence’s shoulder seemed to be slumped more than usual, as if he was trying to make himself invisible.
A couple of minutes went by as Mr. Graves senior explained the contract and what it entailed. Newt and Credence were to be Percival Graves’s husbands and were expected to live together. Both men’s surnames were to be changed to Graves, which allowed them access to all the perks and advantages of the name. In turn, they were expected to obey Percival and not tarnish the Graves family name. A sum would be given to both the Scamanders and Mary Lou Barebone for compensation for the loss of a male child capable of continuing the name line. Mary Lou gave Credence a cold smile. The older man was interrupted then by a curt knock. Without waiting for approval, Percival entered the room, looking as serious and stoic as ever. Credence couldn’t help staring at the man, so similar to the man he knew and yet…there was something different.
“Good afternoon. I believe my father has already explained most of the arrangement, yes? Newt and Credence are to move out of their parents’ house today in preparation for the wedding which will take place tomorrow. There won’t be a big celebration for security reasons, but a small banquet will take place at the Graves’ manor. I know you probably weren’t expecting it to be this soon, but I believe it’s better to get it done right away.” Percival said in a stern tone. He approached his father’s seat and signed his name on the contract, passing it along to the Scamanders. He bid his goodbyes and left, revealing that he was still needed at MACUSA.
Once everything was dealt with, Mr. Graves senior wrapped up the meeting. He led Mary Lou and the Scamanders outside as Newt and Credence remained in the office.
“Boys, you will be travelling by Floo to the manor. I believe you are familiar with it, Mr.Scamander?” Mr. Graves said towards Newt and Credence as he continued to the door. Newt barely nodded as he looked around the room, searching for a fireplace.
“Come on Credence, into the fireplace.” Newt said with a warm smile, getting only a confused look as a reply. “Just stand next to me, don’t worry…hold onto my arm if it makes you feel safer.” Credence grabbed Newt’s arm with an iron grip and looked incredulously as the other picked up some dust and threw it in the fireplace where they were standing. He heard Newt shout something but he couldn’t quite understand what as everything started moving. He felt his stomach churning as he kept moving: up, down, left, up again. He had to try his hardest not to let go of Newt’s arm and his suitcase as he started to cough. Why was wizarding travelling so uncomfortable?
Credence finally dared to open his eyes as he felt their journey come to a halt. Newt was standing next to him, dusting off his usual blue coat.
“Not so bad, right?” Newt said gently as he dusted Credence’s shoulders as well. Credence looked down, a small blush tinting his prominent cheekbones. They looked around noticing the room they were in. It reminded them of Mr. Graves’s office, there was an air of elegance and good-taste to it. Credence imagined they were at the manor and, somehow, that made his stomach even heavier than before. Being there made it real. He really was going to get married. He was going to be hurt – again. But at least Newt wouldn’t hurt him, would he?
Right at that moment there was a little cough and he nearly jumped when he saw the little creature that stood near the door. It had really big eyes, pointy ears and a big, crooked nose. Credence had never seen an animal like that. Newt, on the other hand, didn’t seem very surprised to see it.
“Oh hi – hello, good afternoon. My name is Newt Scamander. What’s yours?” Newt said as he lowered himself until he was eye level with the creature.
“I’m Gertrude. Master Graves told me to lead Master Credence and Master Newt to their bedroom for the night. Gertrude also changed some of the decoration. Hopefully it will be to the Masters’ liking.” The short creature – Gertrude – squeaked as she turned around, motioning for them to follow her. Gertrude showed them the way to an airy, well-lit bedroom and stopped, expectantly waiting for them to see it.
“You were very kind to change the decoration for us. It looks lovely.” Newt said with a kind smile, Credence shyly nodding his agreement.
“No need for such words Master Newt. Gertrude is happy you like it. Get settled in and Gertrude will call you when it’s time for dinner!” she said as she disappeared.
Credence looked around the spacious room, way bigger than his own bedroom, and suddenly felt smaller than usual. His shoulders sank and he lowered his head, looking even more crumpled than before.
“Hey, everything will be alright Credence. We’ll be fine, you’ll see!” Newt tried, Credence thought he sounded uncertain but still hoped Newt was right.