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Holding a half-empty champagne glass like a shield, Newt sneaks another glance at his pocketwatch, wondering if any time at all has passed since he's been standing here. It's only been half-an-hour, unfortunately, and he closes it again with a sigh.

It's hard to spot Tina in the crowd, even with knowing there's a stylised wolf-mask covering half her face, and with that and the potent disguise charms layered on them as soon as they entered the room, it's all a bit of a wash. Newt downs the rest of his glass and sets it on a passing table, his meandering steps taking him slowly but unerringly toward the outside door.

"Leaving already?"

Newt glances over to the man leaning indolently against the wall. His eyes are steady and grey from behind his panther - no, a wampus - mask, and it's the wry twist to his mouth and the comfort of anonymity that makes Newt say, "Well - if you don't mind me saying, you look like you're considering it, too."

"Yes," the man says, "but I'm sorry to say we're both out of luck. Madame President always has the external doors spelled to open at midnight."

"Midnight?" Newt repeats. "But that's..."

"Three-and-a-half hours away," says the man, as Newt opens his pocketwatch again and stares bleakly down at the time. "Yes, I know."

He sounds just as resigned as Newt doesn't want to feel. "Apparation?"

"Wards for security; they'd drop them in an emergency, but otherwise... Portkeys are out, too," the man adds, as Newt opens his mouth. "And the Floo's blocked."

Newt can't give up this quickly. "And - the windows?"

"Windows?" the man asks, a bemused quirk to his smile. "Don't tell me you've got a broom or a flying carpet in those pockets." He looks at Newt, a slow drag of his gaze that makes Newt feel warm and abruptly underdressed. Next's wearing black tie, tailored by Queenie herself, and even if he doesn't look as sharp in it as the man across from him he shouldn't feel like - well. He swallows and ducks his head.

"No, but - ah, I suppose just accioing some would probably be frowned upon."

"Stealing from MACUSA when every single Auror is in the building? You could try."

"Not now that I've lost the advantage of surprise," Newt says, offering a tentative smile, and the man laughs.

"It's my night off," he says dryly, "I'd let it slide."

The way he smiles makes Newt's face feel warm. Newt says, awkwardly, "I don't suppose there are windows. I - well, I've heard you keep some interesting things in requisitions - "

"Advocating a heist?"

The man's still smiling, despite the curious twist to his mouth, and Newt looks to the line of his broad shoulders as he straightens and steps forward, snagging two glasses of champagne from a passing house-elf. "Here, hold this," he says, passing one to Newt, and Newt does, bemusedly, as the man narrows his eyes at the glass he's holding and then downs it; Newt watches his throat work as he swallows, then vanishes the empty glass with a twist of his wrist. "All right," the man says, taking the second from Newt's hands, "try to convince me it's worthwhile."

"Well," Newt says, feeling like he needs that extra glass of champagne the man's staring into, "I - if there's really some - some sort of flying transportation tucked away in your basement - I mean, well, it's not like this is going to get any more exciting. Is it?"

"No," says the man, with the heaviness of someone who's been forced to these events too often to count. "No, it's not."

"So," Newt says, "getting out of this hall - " and out of this press of a crowd, Newt doesn't say, because that might just be him, "well. I've only been in this building a few times," he says, ducking his head and glancing at the man, whose gaze is now fixed on him, piercing, "and if there just happened to be an escape route..."

"And how could I resist giving a lovely hippogriff a tour?" The man's tone is sardonic. "And your friend?"

"My - oh, you mean," and Newt stumbles over Tina's name, caught by the spells over the room, manages, "T-the wolf?"

"Who took you for a spin on the floor, yes," the man says, and Newt can't read him at all.

"I," Newt says, confused, "that was - when we first came in."

The man steps forward, into Newt's space; they're the same height or close enough, but Newt shrinks a bit under his assessing stare. "If you don't know how striking you are," he says, and Newt exhales in a rush of surprise as the man curls his fingers under Newt's jaw, lifting his chin. "Perhaps I should be the first to tell you, little hippogriff. Shouldn't you be better at making eye contact?"

"I," Newt says, and meets his eyes for a moment, so focused on him it makes Newt feel light-headed. Newt wets his lips and looks away. "I - well, with hippogriffs, yes, but it isn't as though I picked this mask out myself."

"No," says the man, "someone with a sense of irony, I assume." He drops his hand and steps back only slightly, but it's enough that Newt can breathe again. "Well, you don't seem malicious about the stealing."

"That was an option?" Newt says, still feeling flustered. "I just thought..."

"Yes," says the man, thoughtfully swirling the remaining champagne in his glass. "You're good-hearted, aren't you? Except for the law-breaking."

"If laws aren't serving their purpose or - are stupidly restrictive," Newt protests, and then notices the man's wry smile. "Um. I mean."

"By all means," he says, "keep going if you like." He finishes the rest of his champagne, and deposits the glass on a passing tray as he straightens his waistcoat. "But I do believe you mentioned an escape."

"Really?" Newt blurts, and meets his gaze, startled; the man's smiling, looking nothing more than amused. "I - well. Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet," the man says, "come on, this way."

With his hand tucked into Newt's elbow, he guides them through the crowd. Newt keeps his eyes on his feet, and thus bumps into the man when he pauses alongside the edge of the crowd around the ballroom floor. "Not a dancer?" the man asks, his smile amused, and Newt flushes and looks away.

"I - don't mind it, really," he admits, "but the people - "

"Ah," says the man, "I see."

They wait for a while there, the man sending occasional glances toward the far wall, currently decked out in glittering magic curtains. The silence between them lingers, and Newt asks, hesitantly, "Why a wampus?"

"My house in Ilvermorny," the man says, and then looks mildly surprised. "Oh, that's not specific enough to trigger the charm?"

"Have you been testing it?" Newt wonders, and the man smiles at him, sly.

"Not every ball has a lovely hippogriff needing my help to fly away," he says, and Newt can feel his face flush as he bites his lip, looking away. "There's been not much else to do. Ah, the song's changing - let's go."

They don't quite make a run for it, but it's close. Newt struggles to keep his head down and not glance guiltily back at the party as the man lifts the magical curtain with a flick of his wand, pulling Newt behind it as it falls back to the floor, and then through the immediate door.

On this side, it's almost eerily quiet. There must be muffling charms all through the curtains that keep the ballroom apart, and Newt takes a moment to breathe the cooler air of the hall as the man flicks his wand, bringing light. "You look relieved," he says, and Newt, despite himself, laughs.

"I'm - uncomfortable around so many people," he admits, feeling self-conscious. But - this man doesn't know Newt Scamander, Hogwarts dropout, or Newt Scamander, awkward magizoologist. This man just knows someone in a hippogriff mask, Newt without associations, and Newt finds himself smiling without meaning to. "But you do, too."

This time, it's the other man who looks away. "Yes, I... tend to get irritated," he says. "It hasn't done me many favors."

"But you're so," Newt protests, and gets stuck on a word to describe him as the man's mouth turns increasingly amused. "You're lovely."

"You don't even know me," he says, "I doubt you'd say that if you did."

"Well," Newt says, feeling warm and emboldened, "it hasn't stopped you from being a - an incorrigible flirt."

The man huffs a laugh, says, "Oh, so you have noticed," and Newt can feel his face heat to his ears as he ducks his head. "I'd wondered. It's all very true," he says, taking a step closer, and Newt glances at the line of his jaw, the curve of his mouth, "but I can stop, if you prefer."

"Ah," Newt says, and looks at him through his eyelashes. "Well. It's not unwelcome."

The man's smile warms Newt from the inside out, a little surprised and too honest, and as though he realises it, he steps back and turns to the corridor. "I'll keep that in mind," he says, "but I believe you had an escape to plan."

"We," Newt says, and the man glances at him for a moment, something softening in his eyes.

"Yes," he says, "we."

The halls of MACUSA like this reminds Newt of stepping into a cave: the enduring quiet, broken only by the soft noise of badly-charmed paperwork animals still flitting from desk to desk like the way creatures would scurry away at his footsteps. The few times Newt's been here, after the whole initial mess, was following Tina around and dodging the endless scurry of people from place to place, desk to desk; now, here, the silence is almost comforting.

He mentions this to the man as he leads them down the stairs to the echoing basement below. "I never thought of it like that," the man says, thoughtfully. "It's quiet early in the morning, or very late at night, but there are always... indications of people, even without the crowds."

"Working late?" Newt teases, but the man gives him an inscrutable look and keeps heading on. Newt feels the urge to apologise and so he does, stumbling over his words, and the man shakes his head with a quirk of a smile.

"No," he says, "it's nothing. You don't even work here, do you?"

Bemused, Newt says, "No, not really."

As though to change the subject, the man says, "I believe you were going to talk my ear off about our 'stupidly restrictive' laws."

Newt can feel his face warm, and he protests, "I wasn't going to - just because - "

"Relax," the man says with a huff of a laugh. "I am curious."

So Newt, uncertain, starts to talk. It becomes quickly clear that the man's legal experience far outstrips Newt's own, but Newt's travelled far and wide and visited wizarding communities all around the world. He's startlingly clever, his tone almost endlessly dry, but he listens to Newt like Newt has things he wants to hear, like Newt - matters. Newt sneaks glances at him, and he's not always looking at Newt, but when he is his eyes are bright, his smile honest, and Newt feels another flush of lingering warmth.

They talk about the Statute, about the American laws about Muggles and magicals, about Quidditch and Quodpot and Newt somehow slips sideways into breeding laws, " - not that experimental breeding should be allowed everywhere, but for regular creatures - I heard you shut down an Appaloosa Puffskein breeder last year - "

"Regular breeding often ends up party to smugglers or worse."

"But then you should have - tighter regulations to catch them, not be punishing the breeders themselves. That you have - known bases of operations like the Blind Pig and don't stop them is why you," and Newt huffs a sigh. The man is smiling, fond, but makes an attempt at straightening his expression when Newt narrows his eyes at him.

"Oh, you're right," he says, "but having an informant is more useful than shutting him down, unfortunately. Our border protections aren't strong enough to stop everything coming in."

Newt makes a face, and tries to feel more affronted when the man muffles a laugh. He can't argue about that when he's personally taken advantage of it, but the way he's being watched makes him feel self-conscious, anticipatory, something tightly wound under his skin. "I suppose," he says with as much grace as he can manage, and the man's quirk of his mouth turns into a more genuine smile.

"You care a lot about breeding laws. No, I don't mean it badly," he says, when Newt flushes and ducks his head, "your enthusiasm is striking." He steps forward, the distance closing between them, and Newt stops, glancing at him through his eyelashes. The look in his eyes makes Newt's mouth go abruptly dry.

Newt wets his lips, and can't miss the way the man's gaze falls to his mouth. "I," Newt says, "I thought you found people irritating."

"In a package like you?" The man reaches out and, utterly gentle, traces the line of Newt's mask with his fingertips, all the way around to Newt's ear. His fingers stop there for a moment, warm against his skin, and Newt swallows, his gaze drawn to the man's lips. "I could hardly find your knowledge irritating, lovely hippogriff."

Newt, his face warm, immediately drops his gaze, but they're standing so close he's only staring at the line of his shoulder. "I," he says, "um. Thank you."

The man's smile is gentle when Newt chances a look at him again. "Perhaps more people should tell you that," he says, to Newt's embarrassed pleasure. Newt bites his lower lip and studies him, the line of his jaw and the soft, curious curve of his eyes, and he's caught by the look in them, something indescribably complicated before the man smiles and steps back, breaking their gaze. "Come on, we're here now."

And they are, steps away from the stacks of magical storage spaces stretching out in the dark. The man goes to the nearby desk, tapping his wand to a notebook there, and it flips rapidly through pages before it stops on one. Looking back at Newt, he says, "Have you ridden a carpet before?"

Newt tries to remember if they're legal here, and his expression must show it because the man laughs.

"I am helping you, remember," he says. "Can I assume you used one overseas?"

"Then," Newt says, smiling tentatively, "yes, I've taken one before."

The man summons it with a flourish of his wand, and the carpet flies down the aisles, shrinking as it comes. By the time it reaches them, it's the size of a pocket handkerchief, and he hands it to Newt with a raised eyebrow and a smile. "Please do return it," he says, "considering."

"Considering?" Newt asks, ducking his head and looking at him through his eyelashes, and holds the shrunken carpet for a moment before letting it float to the floor, tapping his wand to enlarge it again. "Would I just - bring it back here?"

"There's an intake tray," he says, looking curious as Newt settles cross-legged on the carpet. "You're not planning on - riding that?"

"It's quite a distance," Newt says, wheedling, "and there can't be windows in the basement. And everyone's in the ballroom, aren't they?"

The man shakes his head, smiling, and when he steps onto the carpet Newt lifts it, hovering, a few inches from the floor. Unbalanced, the man stumbles, and Newt grabs at his hands to steady him as he lowers himself to the woven rug. "I've never taken one of these before," he admits, sounding almost surprised, and Newt smiles, slightly mischevious, and leans forward.

"You might want to hold on tight."

There are tricks to magical carpets, and Newt knows them all; he'd picked up one in a bazaar in Turkey and it's better than a broom, for the way it lets him take his case without trouble, for the way he can doze off and trust it to keep going while he sleeps. It's intent, like all magic, and Newt keeps it low to the floor and urges it forward with a thought.

The hallways aren't all wide enough for a full-width carpet, and its sides fold down as Newt shifts closer to the man, their legs bumping. The man puts his hand on Newt's thigh, solid and warm, and Newt glances at him to see him smiling. "Left up here," he says, and Newt tears his gaze away to turn the carpet down the hall.

He gives Newt directions like that, the warmth of him seeping through to Newt's bones and making him feel strange, almost jittery. "And here," he says, and Newt slows the carpet to a stop, lowering to the ground; it's only then that the man removes his hand, only to offer it to Newt when he stands.

Newt slides their palms together, looks up to the man's gentle smile, and finds he's smiling, too.

Stuffing the carpet back into his pocket, shrunken now, they walk down the darkened corridor, past rows and rows of nameplated doors. It's quiet, only the sound of their footsteps muffled by the carpet, and Newt sneaks glances at the man from below his eyelashes, sees that he's watching Newt, too. "I," Newt says, and pauses, uncertain. "Thank you, for the help."

"It's hardly a chore," he says, "and technically wasn't even illegal."

Newt laughs a bit, says, "Even so." The man's gaze on him makes him feel strange, oddly warm, and he takes a step closer to him, their elbows brushing.

"It isn't a problem," the man says quietly, his voice intent, and when Newt glances at him his gaze is fixed and piercing, his smile soft and slightly wry. "You saved me from an evening of boredom, lovely hippogriff, don't think in those circles," and Newt ducks his head, flushing.

"Am I - so transparent?" he asks, but the man's light laugh and brilliant smile eases Newt's nerves.

"Only in the best of ways."

The corridor stretches long, and soon the man pulls out his wand, flicking a spell that glows a soft red at each door. The last, one near the end, glows green, and the unlocked door opens smoothly to let them in. It's an office with glass windows and high ceilings, large and spacious and dark, and Newt takes a step further in. The man doesn't follow.

"The one on the top right isn't warded," he says, "if I remember."

Hesitantly, Newt says, "I suppose we should," and turns on his heel, trailing off at the man's expression, something soft in his smile.

"Thank you, for the evening," he says. "It really was... far better than I expected this night to be."

"You say that as though - " Newt stops. "You're not - coming with me?"

"As much as I'd love to," he says, "I do, unfortunately, have responsibilities later this night." His hands are in his pockets. "But it was a pleasure, lovely hippogriff."

"You can't just - keep saying things like that," Newt says, stepping forward, "and then - "

"And then?" he says, voice low. The look in his eyes, the curve of his smile is almost expectant, and Newt exhales and stops close, leaving barely an inch between them.

"And then," Newt says, hesitant but smiling, "just not follow through."

The man is smiling when Newt kisses him. It starts chaste and careful, until Newt grasps the back of his neck and pulls him closer, and then the man's hands are on Newt's hips, his mouth hot and wet and demanding against Newt's own. Newt breathes shakily into it and kisses him back, insistent for the curl of arousal under his skin rapidly spinning into sparks of sensation, and still finds himself being slowly herded back. The desk hits the back of Newt's thighs and Newt drags the man close, kisses him again and again until he's half-hard and dizzy with want. Breathless, Newt says, "Oh - was this really your plan all along?"

"I can't say I didn't think about it," he says, exhaling amusement alongside Newt's jaw, and Newt tips his head back and enjoys the frisson of pleasure from his kisses down Newt's neck, the spark of wandless magic that has Newt's tie and waistcoat and shirt undone. His hands run up Newt's bare skin, startlingly warm, and Newt grabs his collar and kisses him, tasting him, aching. When they break apart the man's eyes are dark, his smile hungry, and Newt presses his face into his shoulder and tries to breathe.

"I thought about it," the man says again, his voice gravelly and breath hot against Newt's ear. "Pressing you back on this desk, going to my knees as I undo your pants - " and his hands drop lower, one slipping into Newt's trousers, and Newt can't stop the noise he makes, needy. "The sounds you'd make," he murmurs against Newt's shoulder, "with my mouth on your cock."

"That - can't be hygienic," Newt gasps, and the man laughs into Newt's skin, taps a pattern on the curve of Newt's now-bare hip that sends sparks of magic and pleasure up his spine.

"Magic," he says, and Newt huffs and twists his fingers in his collar, pulling him back into a kiss.

His body is pressed lean and hot against Newt's, and he presses fluttering kisses to the edge of Newt's mouth, to the curve of his jaw. "Please," Newt says, gaze sliding past the edge of his mask to his mouth, shining wet in the diffuse streetlight, to his eyes, grey and glinting; Newt tugs him forward between his parted legs, until he can feel the line of his cock, hard and warm and covered in too much fabric against his own. "Please."

"Well," he says, "how could I say no?"

Newt wets his lips, is almost surprised at the way the man's gaze follows his tongue, as though he can't drag his gaze away. He presses a kiss to Newt's mouth, Newt's ear as he drops the rest of Newt's clothing to the floor and then follows it, falling to his knees and Newt's attempt at a protest fails when he mouths at Newt's cock, Newt's breath lost on a small, stuttered, "Oh - "

He drags his tongue along the length of it, the feeling hot and strange. Newt's fingers clench on the edge of the desk as he kisses the head and then drops his mouth further, his mouth a rush of wet, lingering warmth along the length of Newt's aching cock. Newt makes an involuntary sound, his breath catching, and the man pulls back with a regretful sigh. "If only we had the time," he says, and then: "Turn around."

Newt does, his feet sliding on the carpet, his arms now on the desk and he looks over his shoulder as the man presses a gentle kiss to the top of his thigh. He wouldn't - "You're not," Newt starts, but he is, hands on Newt's arse and tongue sliding up and up and -

Newt makes a noise, choked and high-pitched, and doesn't know if he wants to pull away or press closer in surprise. "You," Newt manages, as the man drags the broad flat of his tongue against his hole and then again, and Newt can't stop his legs falling further open, sparks of pleasure like magic at each lave of his tongue, "oh, oh, fuck - "

"That's it," the man murmurs, and then kisses Newt there, hot and chaste and then wet and sloppy, obscene in the sound of it as he flicks his tongue against Newt's rim and then deeper inside. Newt can't think past the press of a tongue inside him, fucking him gentle and slow, past the way he can't stop rocking back into it, aching for more even as his nerves feel like fireworks sparking under his skin. Newt thinks he's making a noise, a sharp high-pitched keen of a sound but he can't hear over the rush of blood in his ears, over the hard, desperate want making his muscles tremble, over the feeling of that mouth, that tongue, hot and wet and overwhelming.

"Please," Newt says, desperate, "please, fuck - "

"I could do this for hours," the man says, pulling back and sliding his thumb along the wet rim of Newt's arse, and Newt makes a high-pitched whine of a noise and pushes back, aching for more. "You and your beautiful ass, I'd eat you out until you came and keep going, until you were crying and begging but never wanting me to stop - "

Newt feels like crying and begging now. "Please, please, just - fuck me already - "

The man laughs, a soft puff of breath against Newt's overstimulated skin that makes his muscles jump, his breath catch; Newt swears when he presses his mouth to Newt's arse again but he's rising now, hands on Newt's hips as he trails a line of kisses that make Newt's skin shiver all the way up his spine. "Patience, patience."

"That's easy - for you to say," Newt manages.

"Is it?" he murmurs, voice low, and Newt's breath hitches on a soft noise when he presses himself along Newt's back, his cock sliding blood-hot and leaking against Newt's balls. "You're so beautiful," he says, his tone shading to wonder, and Newt squirms, impatient and aching with want.

"Then," Newt says, "please," and the man pulls back just enough, the blunt head of his cock against Newt's arse. Newt presses into it, a whine building in his throat, says again, "please - "

Smiling against Newt's shoulder, the man pushes in, tortuously slow. Newt tries to relax, for all that his muscles feel nearly boneless; the stretch of it is indescribable, pleasure bordering on pain, filling him with heat and an aching desire. "You're so tight, so perfect," the man says, his voice nearly hoarse, and Newt rocks back, taking him in until he can feel the brush of his cock inside him sending tiny sparks of pleasure up his spine.

Then, finally, he moves. His cock drags hot and thick inside Newt, the stretch and fullness slowly turning to indescribable pleasure, and Newt curves his spine, shifts his feet until every thrust makes him gasp, overwhelming sensation buzzing along every nerve under his skin. "More," Newt breathes, "please," and he picks up the pace until Newt feels nothing but the thrust of his cock inside him making him see sparks, until Newt feels nothing but the way his balls are tightening, the way his own cock, hard and flushed and leaking, aches when every movement makes it brush the desk in front of him, never quite enough. Newt's arms are under his head, his cheek pressed against cold wood, and his breath is hitching in shorter and shorter gasps, a whine building in his throat. The man's murmuring into his skin, a rush of words Newt can barely understand for the dizziness of pleasure growing almost too much, and then he reaches around and closes his hand over Newt's cock and Newt's - gone.

Newt's vision whites out for a moment when he comes. He's boneless and can only breathe through the man's thrusts against his oversensitised nerves and then the man stills and there's a rush of heat spilling inside him. "Fuck," the man mumbles into the curve of Newt's spine, and Newt, exhausted, laughs.

The man's smiling, too, when Newt musters up the energy to turn around and kiss him. His softened cock slips from Newt, leaving him feeling bereft and empty, and Newt can feel the trickle of drying come down his thighs. Maybe it should be strange, maybe it should be awkward, but the man's smile is still the same, and he kisses Newt back without hesitation. Newt kisses him languidly, dragging his teeth gently over his lower lip, pressing fluttering kisses against the corners of his mouth, the curve of his jaw, enjoying the way it's - less urgent, the way his heartbeat is starting to slow. "So," the man says, smile crooked, and Newt has to muffle his breathless laugh into his shoulder.

"I," Newt says, "don't - usually do this, you know."

"What, and you think I do?" He smiles into Newt's kiss, sliding his hand through Newt's hair, and Newt just - wants to keep him there. Perhaps he says this out loud, half a mumble, because the man sighs and pulls back. "I do have to get back to the ballroom by midnight."

"Well," Newt says, "what's the time now? We have - more than an hour, don't we?"

The curve of the man's mouth is making Newt want to kiss him again, so he does, chaste, before he pulls back to pick his clothes from the floor. "What are you thinking?" the man murmurs, and Newt ducks his head and looks up at him through his eyelashes, his smile verging on mischevious.

"Come with me," Newt says. "We, we don't have to go far, just to the roof, maybe - have you been up there? It's really quite lovely." He pulls on his shirt, and the man steps forward and starts helping him with the buttons. Newt watches the dark fall of his hair, the edge of his ear, and says, quiet, "Please?"

"I can't say no to you when you smile like that," the man says, voice low and eyelids at half-mast, and Newt distracts himself from the urge to kiss him again by pulling on his waistcoat and jacket and tie.

"Well," Newt says, feeling flushed and warm, "that window, you said? Let's go."

The man casts a wordless cleaning charm over the room before he steps onto the carpet Newt unfolds from his pocket, as Newt drops to his knees with a slight wince. The man puts a hand on Newt's lower back, magic warm and tingling starting to coalesce at his fingers, and Newt reaches out to pull his hand away. "It's all right," he says, directing the carpet upward, "I'm quite fine." It's a reminder, Newt thinks but doesn't say, that this wasn't all a dream - but perhaps he doesn't need to say it, for the way the man's eyes go liquid in the dark.

He spells the window with a languid wave of his hand, and their carpet flies through as though it wasn't even there. "The things you do to me," he murmurs, and Newt glances at him sideways, unable to repress his smile.

The carpet soars upward, and Newt's layered with a warming charm before he even starts to feel the chill of the air. New York, like this, is something entirely unique, electric lights stretching out for miles, reflections wavering in the river. They go up and step off near the very top of the building, where there's a small ledge and a thick stone balcony. Newt sits on the edge of it, legs swinging into air, and looks out across the city, patches of lights and flecks of brightness from unmelted snow; after a moment, the man joins him there, too, a notice-me-not settling around them.

"It's beautiful," Newt says, "isn't it?" A different sort of beauty to those Newt's used to, the heavy morning dew in an empty forest, the sunrise over a desert expanse, the utter stillness of caves where the stalactites glitter like gems. But there are creatures that live in cities, too; doxies and ashwinders, and even nifflers prefer burrows in populated areas, all the better to collect items for their nests.

"Yes," says the man, but when Newt slides a glance his way his eyes aren't on the city, but on Newt. His body is a warm press along Newt's side, from their arms to their thighs, and he leans over to kiss Newt, his mouth warm and gentle, his eyes liquid and soft. "You're beautiful."

Newt buries his warming face in the curve of his shoulder. "Please," Newt says, quietly. "I'm sure you could do - better than me."

The man sighs, quiet, into Newt's hair. "I would have thought so, once," he says, "but now... you're unique, did you know? There's an innate purity to you, and it shines through your eyes."

"I'm hardly - pure," Newt protests, weakly, his heart pounding in his chest; the man muffles a soft laugh into Newt's hair.

"You're good," he says, simply. "And in this world, that's..."

Newt pulls back to look at him, the haunted distance in his eyes fading to something soft and warm, the curl of his mouth into a smile. "Anyone can be good," Newt says, and shifts on the balcony, swinging his legs over the other side so he can straddle the man's lap. "Anyone," Newt repeats, as the man shakes his head. "You just have to want to."

"It's hardly that easy," he says, and Newt bends his head and presses his lips to his pitch-dark mask.

"That's why we try."

Newt can't take the look in his eyes, something bright and beautiful that makes his chest ache, and so he leans forward and kisses him, their noses bumping as the man smiles. "You're distracting me," he says against Newt's lips, and Newt bites down gently in response, licks his way inside his mouth until they're kissing, slow and languid, like they have all the time in the world.

They don't, and it makes Newt's throat hurt. "You don't know anything about me," he says, "You can't just say things - "

"What should I know?" the man asks, and tugs Newt back to kiss him. His mouth slides from Newt's mouth to his jaw. "Will you tell me? What's your favourite colour? Mine's blue," he adds, as though that makes the non-sequitur any better, "the blue of the sky in the morning after rain."

"I - don't have one," Newt says, bemused, but exhales a little in surprise when the man bites reprovingly at his jawline. "I suppose - I like blue, too, but darker, like... the colour of the ocean on the horizon, or of a newborn occamy's scales."

"There," the man says, "I know something about you. I can compliment you however much I like."

"I'd hardly be able to stop you," Newt says, smiling, and he still is when he's pulled down again. Their mouths slide together, warm and relaxed, the slow growing heat of arousal not pressing at all. His hands are on Newt's hips as he flutters kisses along Newt's lips, tasting him like he wants nothing more, like he's trying to burn the shape of him into his memory. Newt shifts closer, his fingers tangling in his hair, and kisses him again and again.

Then, the man asks, "Siblings?"

Newt stills. "I - I'm sorry?"

"I'm an only child."

"I - I have a brother, older than me. He's, well," but Newt's stuttering confusion is lost between their mouths, the slow, careful slide of his kiss. "What are you - "

"I want to know you," the man says, and Newt meets his eyes. There's something there, Newt thinks, that echoes the quiet longing in his own chest, and Newt exhales and closes his eyes, leaning their foreheads together.

"You know," Newt says, and the man shakes his head slightly, pressing a quick, chaste kiss to the corner of Newt's mouth.

"What do you do in your spare time?"

And he keeps it up, question after question, answer after answer. Some things Newt can't say, his words caught by a spell, and the man kisses him gently as a wordless apology; some things he can't answer himself, and Newt tangles his fingers in his hair and licks into his mouth until he's smiling again. He's still asking when he starts rocking into Newt, when Newt presses back, questions deeper and stranger: "What spell do you use most?" he asks, and Newt mimes a flick of an accio with the hand he has at his hip, muffles a laugh into his shoulder when he murmurs, "Mine's probably the paperwork-folding spell."

"Please," Newt says, and the man kisses him again until he's breathless. "You've - made your point."

"Your Patronus?"

"A hippogriff," Newt says, and kisses him just behind his ear. "Really?"

"A wampus," he murmurs, exhaling when Newt grinds down with more intent. "That's oddly fitting, isn't it?"

"Really?" Newt repeats, and he muffles his laugh into Newt's shoulder, the sound turning into a groan when Newt rolls his hips again, fabric and friction and heat.

"Fine," he says, "you've made your point," and he doesn't object at all when Newt pulls him into a kiss.

Still, they keep it slow; the warmth building in Newt's gut not only arousal but something harder to name, something like the look in the man's eyes. It's something like the languid slide of his tongue against Newt's, the fingers he clenches tight into Newt's hair; something like the gentleness in his smile when Newt presses kisses down his neck. It's something like the warmth Newt feels at his bitten-off sighs, the slow build of sensation at the friction between them, the way he's pulled back for a deep, slow kiss. Newt closes his eyes, lets himself fall into the slow, intimate pleasure of it, until it builds and builds, magic like a curtain between them and the world and sending tiny jolts of pleasure every time they kiss.

Newt swallows the man's groan between them as he grinds down again in his lap, as the man pulls him close, closer as though he wants Newt to be there, the mark of him forever on his skin and when Newt finally comes, he buries his sigh in the man's shoulder and rides it out, slow and steady. The man kisses him, their mouths sliding together, and when Newt rolls his hips again he's the one who stills, breath stolen from his chest, until Newt leans forward and kisses him again.

"You," the man says, his voice hoarse, and Newt smiles against his skin.

"Thank you," Newt says, quietly, "for staying."

"No," the man says, "thank you."

His eyes are dark when Newt meets them, colour swallowed by his pupils blown wide; his hair is in disarray, his mask slightly askew, and Newt reaches out and straightens it, fingertips lingering on the ties. "You can," the man says, "if you like."

Newt's hands still. "I - I don't know," he says, feeling overwhelmed; it's too much, too sudden, and he swallows down the jittery rush of anxiousness, his hands falling back to his sides.

The man smiles, a soft, wry thing that makes Newt's chest ache. "It's all right," he says, and lifts a hand to trace the line of Newt's jaw. "But if I find you... would you want to see me again?"

"I," Newt says, "yes," and forces himself to meet his gaze. "Yes," Newt repeats, stronger. "I would - like that."

"But not tonight," the man says, with a sigh. His fingers catch on the tie of Newt's mask, stuck in his hair, and then drop to trace the line of Newt's ear. "I understand."

He kisses Newt there again, under the stars. It tastes like a goodbye.

When he shifts again Newt pulls away, letting him rise to his feet, and after the wash of a cleaning charm over them both he spends a moment looking out over the lights of the city, sprawling for miles. When he sighs Newt hears it, nearly feels an echo in his own chest, and the man takes a few steps to the side and then says, wry: "Ah, I might need a hand with this carpet."

Smiling despite himself, Newt rises to his feet and stands beside him; the man reaches for his hand and Newt interlaces their fingers as he pulls him down to the carpet, with a thought sending them flying into the air.

It's an easy flight back, falling through the air and back into the building, and Newt stops the carpet a few feet from the floor. The man squeezes his hand and reluctantly steps away. There, on solid ground, he looks up at Newt, stationary in mid-air, and says, "I just wanted to tell you - "

"No," Newt says. He can't look at him; he can't look away.

"If I don't see you again," the man continues, relentlessly, "I want you to know this has been one of the best nights of my life - I've never met someone quite like you - "

"You can't - say things like that," Newt says, weakly. "Please."

"Well," the man says, and he's smiling. "You know." And he reaches up - or Newt reaches down, and they share a kiss, quick and chaste and gone. "Thank you. And do return the carpet."

"Yes," Newt says, quietly, "I will."

Newt stays there until the man's gone from the doorway, the light of his wand no longer reflecting down the hall, and then he takes the carpet back outside, into the chilled night air. He takes it up, and up, and up, until the city's a glimmering carpet of light, until all the buildings but the tallest are indistinguishable, until the rivers are dark winding roads across the landscape, and he stays there until the roar of fireworks begins to sound, colour sparkling bright in the air.

Then, Newt grips the edge of the carpet and flies it carefully home.



The next day, Newt's occamies fail at their wake-up call and Newt has to sort out a scuffle between Dougal and a Hinkypunk before he realises he's running rather late. He stumbles into Jacob's bakery - closed, but not for friends, and it gives Newt a warm feeling whenever he thinks of it - nearly an hour after he was supposed to, to Tina and Queenie and Jacob's amused stares.

"I'm very sorry," Newt says, "but there was a fight over those biscuits Dougal likes - "

"Say no more," Jacob says, grinning, and slides a lovely golden-brown pastry on a plate toward Newt as he takes the empty chair. "And I picked up a new tea for you, too, maybe this one'll be the winner."

"Ah," Newt says, and tries not to wince as Queenie floats the pot over, tea gently pouring into his cup. It smells - well. Newt takes a tentative sip and struggles to smile. "It's - better than the last one?"

Jacob deflates slightly. Queenie says, "Maybe next time, honey," and he sighs.

"So where were you, Newt?" Tina asks, leaning forward slightly as he picks up the pastry occamy and tries not to hold it like a shield. "I didn't see you last night, or once the doors opened - I mean, I was worried you didn't get home."

"Oh," Newt says, "no, I was fine. I'm fine." He takes a bite of the occamy's head. Best to get it over with, he's always thought, though it looks even sadder with only its wings and a tail. "I - left."

"When the wards dropped?" Tina says, and Newt quickly nods and takes a hurried bite of the pastry occamy. Too hurried, for the way it crumbles, and Newt winces and rises to his feet, brushing off his waistcoat and twisting to reach his wand in his coat and -

"Newt!" Queenie gasps, and Newt spins to see her staring at him - no, not him, at - and Newt brings a hand to the bruise just hidden by the collar of his shirt, flushing miserably. "Oh, don't be like that," Queenie says, "but I bet you had some fun at the masquerade ball, huh?"

"You," Tina says, startled, "Newt!"

Newt mumbles something incoherent and sinks back into the chair, tucking his chin to his chest. "Um."

"Huh," Jacob says, "so that's why we didn't see you around."

At that, Newt startles a little, sitting upright. "You didn't - take him?" he says, and Queenie winks at him.

"Who's gonna tell he's a No-Maj when we're all disguised?" She smiles at Jacob, and he smiles back. "We might've had some fun, too."

"I'm not hearing this," Tina says miserably, sinking down in her chair. "Queenie..."

"Tina," Queenie says implacably, and they stare at each other for a moment over the table. Newt swallows down more of his occamy, rich and buttery and covered in jam, and tries not to wonder too much about when he might have gotten that bruise - he hadn't thought -

Queenie's eyebrows are rising as she glances at him, and Newt immediately tries to think of anything else. "Uh," Queenie says, sounding on the verge of laughter, "well, not quite that much fun."

Now Jacob's staring at him. "What in the world did you get up to?"

Newt can feel his face is red to his ears. "Can we - not talk about this?"

"Yes," Tina says. "Let's not talk about you bringing a No-Maj to a magical ball run by MACUSA, Queenie, how could you - and you!" She turns to Newt, who shrinks under her stare. "Sure, I took you there to meet new people - but do you even know who she was?"

"He," Queenie corrects her, and Newt tries very hard not to think of it, the moment when he had his hands on the edge of the man's mask, when he knew that if he took it off the man would say - and he swallows when Queenie's expression falls to outright dismay. "Oh," she says, "oh, Newt, I'm sorry," and she reaches out, biting her lip, and brushes her fingers against his arm.

"Yes," Newt says, "well."

Jacob looks confused but sympathetic, Tina still slightly annoyed, her arms crossed over her chest. "Well, you can always find him again, can't you?" Jacob offers, and refills Newt's half-empty cup of tea. "Even if you can't remember, sometimes you just... know."

Queenie smiles at him, startled and sweet.

"And sometimes you don't," Tina says, grumpily. "If you hadn't been - kissing in corners, you could've stopped Jacob from being in - real danger from Obliviation, I can't believe you - "

"Oh," Newt says, a little wild-eyed, "Jacob, you said you were working on a thunderbird pastry, weren't you? You really have to tell me about it, I want to make sure you've captured the proper essence of its magic, you know, in the flap of its wings, I can tell you all about Frank's new habitat in Arizona now that I've been there."

"Yeah," Jacob says. He's smiling with amusement, but takes Newt's change of subject like the olive branch it is. "Yeah, I'll show you my sketches for it, I was thinking of making some up today..."

Tina shakes her head and sighs when Newt glances at her again. "I suppose it worked out all right," she says, grudgingly. "Was it someone who works at our office? I was going to bring you in this week to look at some of our items in storage, anyway."

"Oh," Newt says, surprised, and stares at her for a moment, only catching himself when Queenie giggles. "Um. Thank you."

Tina's smile is wry. "We're friends, aren't we?"

"Yes," Newt says, and smiles tentatively. "I suppose we are."

Still, it's a few days before Newt manages to make it back to the Woolworth Building, by which time he's unsure he remembers how any of that night actually happened at all. Pickett chirps in his pocket, and Newt makes himself not think of it; worry's pointless, after all.

Tina shows him around again, her new desk almost a familiar place by now, the number of people who work here less so. Newt's job in the Ministry was in a quiet, tucked-away place, and nothing here is quite like that, the endless bustle of people, the dozen names Newt tries to fix to faces. But there's something about the offices they're walking past - Tina's waylaid by a man waving papers from a case, and Newt glances down the row of doors to the end, and then realises where he remembers it from. He forces his mind back to the conversation. " - could be anything," Tina's coworker is saying, looking a bit wild in the eyes. "The Director'll have my head if we don't have anything tomorrow."

"Oh, all right," Tina sighs, taking the casefile from him and flicking through the pages; Newt peers over her shoulder, curious, and winces at the small, empty cage, the spray of blood on the walls, the wizard with a heavy set of gouges across his chest and a small red mark on his neck.

"Goodness," Newt says, "you didn't - kill it, did you?"

"Kill what?" says Tina's coworker, blankly, and Newt worries his lower lip in thought.

"If you promise you won't kill it - it's not dangerous, really - "

"Someone's dead," Tina says, though her tone is compassionate. "We'll do what we can."

Newt looks at her and looks away. "If you were locked up like that, wouldn't you lash out, too?" He swallows. "Um. It's a manticore. Do you know where it is?"

"A manticore," Tina's coworker repeats, looking horrified. "Merlin, how are we going to track a manticore?"

"If you don't hurt it," Newt starts, and Tina sighs.

"You'll go after it even if I say no, won't you?" she says. "Lopez, maybe you should send a team to Gnarlak, see what he has to say, and then we can handle - tracking the manticore down. Yes, without extermination if we can, Newt," she adds when Newt opens his mouth, and he presses his lips together and looks at her hopefully.

"I can be there?"

"You're a civilian," Tina says, looking pained. "And it's classified, Merlin knows you shouldn't have seen it anyway - I don't know," she says, wilting under Newt's expectant look. "I guess if you asked the President, or Director Graves..."

"You called, Goldstein?"

"Director Graves, sir!" Tina exclaims, startled. "Um. Hello. I wanted to talk to you about - this case?"

Newt looks over to him, stopped in the middle of the hallway. They've met, once, after Graves's rescue; he'd been worn down from Grindelwald's torture, haggard and gaunt, but there was a resilience to him Newt had to admire. Now, he looks practically identical to the man Grindelwald had pretended to be, except for that familiar, stubborn spark in his eyes, and Newt meets them for a moment to find Graves is watching him. Newt, his face warming, quickly looks away.

"Hello," Graves says, voice dry. "Would you like to take this to my office instead of having this conversation in the hallway?"

"Oh," Tina says, "yes, of course, sir. Come on." She snags Newt's elbow and Newt lets himself be led, down the hall and to a stop in front of a too-familiar door; of course it has to be the office Newt is rather intimately familiar with. Newt, worrying his lower lip between his teeth, can see the nameplate on it now: Percival Graves.

Graves opens it with a lazy wave of his hand, and Newt keeps his eyes firmly on the carpet when they step inside. Tina drops Newt's arm and stands at attention when Graves leans back, half-seated on his desk, and says, "So?"

Tina glances at Newt, and he offers her a twitch of a shrug.

"Right, yes, sir," she says, "I've been asked to work with Lopez on his current case, but I believe we could use a consultant to catch the - um, perpetrator. This is Mr. Scamander, sir, he's a - magizoologist."

"It's nice to meet you," Newt says, and drags his gaze up to meet Graves's eyes for a moment. He's looking at Newt, eyebrows slightly furrowed, and Newt focuses on the windows, the spread of the city outside.

"So the suspect is a magical creature of some kind?"

"Yes, sir, Newt - Mr. Scamander believes it's a manticore."

"You can track manticores, Mr. Scamander?"

Newt startles a little and blinks at him, then ducks his head, trying not to flush. "Um, yes, Mr. Graves. I've had some experience with them in Greece - they have a whole community there, a pride. They're really not dangerous at all, they can be easily reasoned with," he says, intent overcoming his embarrassment, "and the - the crime scene, well, it's not uncommon for manticores to be smuggled for the removal of the aculeus - the stinger, that is. Or live, for their hearts."

There's something to the curve of Graves's mouth, almost amused, that makes Newt's face feel warm, and he drops his gaze again to his feet. "I suppose you'd like dispensation to bring the manticore in."

"Well," Newt says, "I'd like to think - it seems a fairly clear-cut case of self-defence."

"Newt," Tina says, a little warningly, but Newt presses his lips together and looks at Graves, who's studying him thoughtfully.

"If you can bring the manticore in," he says, "without any further injuries - it will be considered, Mr. Scamander." Graves's gaze shifts to Tina. "I'm sure you understand that any complications will be placed against your record, Goldstein."

"Yes, sir," Tina says, her expression firm. "There won't be, sir."

Graves taps his fingers on the desk behind him, and Newt tries to - not wonder if he happened to knock anything askew. If Graves might have noticed. "Very well," Graves says. "Was that all? Mr. Scamander?"

Tina says, "Yes, sir," as Newt stammers, "Er, it's very - very good to see you well again, Mr. Graves," and he gives her a desperate glance as she tries and fails to hide her smile; Graves, too, looks amused.

"Thank you," Graves says, eyebrows rising pointedly, and Newt's rather thankful when Tina drags him away.

She apologises to him on the way back to her desk. "He's - well, he takes some getting used to," she says, "though the last few days - he's been nicer? Maybe?"

"Merlin," Newt says, heartfelt, and she laughs and then looks guilty for it.

"He's a good boss," she says stoutly, flipping through the rest of the papers she'd received from Lopez. "Hey, I should probably meet back up with Lopez so we can put a team together."

"I - manticore tracking is best started at dusk," Newt offers, and she smiles.

"That's fine," she says, and pushes a page forward. "Here, they apparently picked up some stuff they just chucked down in requisitions - and, well, if you just happen to find anything else down there..."

"Oh, thank you," Newt says, relieved.

"Hey," Tina says, more gently, "not everything has to be challenging, you know? Sometimes people are just nice because they like you."

Newt ducks his head, smiling. "You say, while relying on me to track down your main suspect - " and he dodges away from the swat she aims at his head with a laugh. "I - I suppose you might be right."

"Go save some creatures already," she says, "I'll send you a memo when we need your 'expertise'."

Newt hasn't memorised the path down in the basement, but judicious application of direction spells help him find his way. It's less crowded than the Auror office the further he gets from the main passageways, and the space they use for storage is empty, as far as Newt can tell - which makes it quite simple for him to discreetly slip a shrunken magic carpet from his pocket to the intake box, once he wrestles it from Pickett's grabby fingers. "That's not yours," Newt tells him, as Pickett makes a sad-sounding chirrup, and the bowtruckle eyes him for a moment before slipping back into his pocket, pulling the fabric closed.

"No, don't be like that, Pickett," Newt says, as he flips through the rest of the box. "I can get you one of your own, if you like - a bowtruckle-sized one, how about that?" The items from the manticore raid are still there, unsorted, and he makes a face at a vial of manticore blood, and then: "Goodness, is that a chimaera egg?" Newt glances around, a little guiltily, and shoves it in his free pocket.

Pickett perks up a bit as Newt starts heading down the aisles of stasis boxes, a delicate charm for detecting animal life shining at the tip of his wand. "Do you think anything's down here?" Newt asks, keeping his voice quiet, and Pickett chirps just as his wand starts to glow slightly red.

Newt follows the glow of his wand and Pickett's urging, and finds two occamy eggs and a fwooper egg that he carefully extracts and settles into his space-expanded pocket with a warming charm. There was another glow back along another aisle, and he opens that box to a requisitioned satchel. When he pulls it out of stasis, something seems to stir.

Opening the flap gently, Newt shakes off the thin notice-me-not charm still embedded in the fabric and peers inside. "Oh," he breathes, and Pickett chirps as the tiny mimis shift, their iridescent skin gaining life as the stasis charm falls. "Hello."

Pickett peeks into the bag and makes a hilarious squeak of a sound when one of the mimis pulls on his leaves; Newt says, "Oh dear, you'll be a handful, won't you?" as they start to look up at him, their tiny faces curious to a fault. They're like pixies, or so Newt's found; surprisingly dangerouns when pressed, but Newt would never. "Hello," he repeats, keeping his voice steady and calm. "I'm afraid some people lost you, but I've got you, now. I can set up a place for you, a home, until I get back to Australia - would you like to come with me?"

Their voices sound like tiny bells, and one of them flits up, spindly limbs on Newt's hand as it stares Pickett down. Pickett retreats slightly under its stare, and the mimi turns back to the satchel. "Would you like to stay in the satchel for now?" Newt suggests, catching on, and they chime a sound that might be agreement. "I promise I'll get you home again."

Of course, it's only once he's closed the satchel and recast the environmental and cushioning charms on it that he looks up and realises he has an audience. Percival Graves is leaning against the opposite row of stasis boxes, eyebrows raised, and Newt feels that same sense of - familiarity as he rises to his feet.

"Mr. Scamander," Graves says, "are you stealing those?"

"It's - it's not stealing if you've been mishandling live creatures," Newt says, and takes a step forward to put himself between him and the satchel. He gives it a worried glance. "If they've been - the effect of long-term stasis on many magical creatures is still unknown, and it's not right that you've stored them here like this - you can't take them back, not when you don't have habitats, or food, or a proper way of keeping them."

"Do you believe they were mishandled in sorting?" Graves asks, not unfriendly, and Newt exhales, defensiveness leaking away.

"Yes," he says, and glances at Graves through his eyelashes. "If - well, there are charms that can be used, though they're a little finicky, to see if there's anything living before you put things away."

Graves sighs. "I don't have direct authority over the process, but I'll see what I can do. It hasn't come up before, but..." Newt looks at him, startled, and Graves's mouth twitches into a smile, wry. "You're right, we should have better standards."

"Oh," Newt says, "well. Thank you." He bites his lip, sneaks another glance at Graves, and adds, "And if you're considering changes, I have to say the way you handle smuggling operations in this country is really - very - "

Newt's voice hitches as Graves takes a step toward him, then two. He's physically larger than Newt, for all that they're near the same height; broad across his shoulders in his well-tailored coat, and, Newt remembers, absurdly competent in wandless magic. But Newt feels - a strange sort of anticipation, a heady directionless longing, and he wonders if he's actually -

Graves says, "I do believe you've mentioned it at some length," and Newt can feel his face warm as he ducks his head.

"Ah," Newt says, uselessly, "well, you really - should look into it - "

Graves kisses him.

This, Newt knows. It's an hour spent kissing under the moonlight and stars, the frantic rushed intimacy before; it's saying goodbye and hello and I like you (I love you) and Newt winds his fingers in Graves's collar and keeps him there.

Well, keeps him there until Pickett makes a protesting sound from his coat pocket. Newt pulls away with a startle, pats his pockets until he spots Pickett's head poking out from his waistcoat, and sighs. "Pickett," Newt says reprovingly, and Pickett blows a raspberry at him, ducking his head away.

Graves is smiling, soft and far too fond. "As soon as I saw you," he says, "I thought, there's a man with very strong opinions on animal smuggling regulations."

"They're not - strong opinions," Newt protests, but he can't stop smiling. "They're normal opinions. Everyone should have them."

Graves brings his hand up, tracing the line of Newt's hair. "Everyone should," he agrees, quietly. "You really are beautiful."

"Honestly," Newt says, his face warm, and kisses him again, quick and sweet. "I'm sorry, Pickett really will complain again, and I should get those mimis back to my case - "

"Have dinner with me," Graves says, catching his arm. "Tonight. A date."

"I," Newt says, "I'd love to, but - you just assigned me to a case, Mr. Graves."

Graves closes his eyes for a moment. "After that."

"Well, I mean, if I do end up finding the manticore you said you wanted it brought back for questioning - and I'll have to organise a trip to Greece - " Newt cuts himself off at Graves's look, quietly amused, and says, hesitantly, "Tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow," Graves says. "And call me Percival."

"Percival," Newt repeats, warmed all the way through by the depth of his smile. "Then, please, call me Newt."

Percival kisses him then, until Newt is breathless and Pickett is beating tiny green fists against Newt's coat. "Sorry, sorry," Newt says when he pulls away, but Percival's still smiling.

"It's all right," Percival says. "I'll get used to it."

The warmth of him has sunk right down to Newt's bones, something frightening and amazing, terrifying and wonderful.

Newt says, quietly, "I hope you do."