Curtis Weiss, a young Auror without much experience or impressing duelling skills, decided to start the career in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement only because family connections would make it convenient and not the very demanding path for him to follow. His ancestors managed to make a name for him and he didn't need to fight for the right to remain in Auror division. Because of that Weiss wasn't even trying to take part in the capture of Grindelwald and instead, he let himself fade into the background observing the whole scene.
"Check this station for courses," said Graves' deputy and Aurors split up to follow his command.
Weiss wandered toward tracks. The youth's body, Credence's, if he's heard right, was still laying next to the wall. He's already raised the wand to freeze the corpse but stopped at the last moment with the incantation almost falling from his lips. Weiss furrowed brows and taken a few steps closer. Now he was able to see how obscurial's chest lifted and fell in barely discernible motion. Credence Barebone was still alive.
Weiss turned to inform adequate person. It'd be better to avoid spreading news just yet.
Criminals rarely occupied white ascetic cells that have been maintained in MACUSA headquarters for longer periods of time. This time they've held a single detainee. Weiss would've thought the place was completely empty as he passed the eerily silent corridor if he wasn't the Auror who personally attended installing Barebone there.
He stopped in front of the last cell. The young wizard was easily visible trough bars.
"Stand up, turn around and cross your arms behind your back."
Barebone slowly did as he was told and Weiss magically bonded his hands. Then he opened the cell's door and waved him to walk out.
Interrogation room that Weiss chosen was around the corner - as were Aurors offices. He took a seat behind the desk and busied himself with preparing self-typing typewriter. "I need to ask you some questions," he said without raising his head. "Are you ready to answer them?"
"Yes, sir." Barebone's voice so low that Weiss almost missed it.
Auror tapped typewriter with a tip of his wand and settled back in his seat. "Great. We can start then. State your name."
"Credence Barebone." He was examining the room they were in. It was small, confined space with barely anything to look at. There were no windows, no portraits to make walls not so naked and even not a single bookcase present to keep documentation or tin with coffee. Everything was hidden in desk's drawers.
"We don't have any papers on you," said Weiss with displeasure and summoned a blank piece of parchment. He untidily scribbled down his prisoner's name. "Do you have any formal education?"
"No, sir." Credence was sitting hunched in his chair. Weiss doubted it was a position he would take if he wasn't forced to do otherwise. With his wrists bonded tightly behind his back and straight seat back he needed to slouch to avoid pain.
"Who taught you then?" Weiss plotted rickety "NO" next to "Ilvermorny" and raised his head to look at Barebone. Young man's expression was closed and his features remained fixed into mask of politeness.
"Do you mean magic, sir?"
Barebone answered after a moment of hesitation "I've never been taught." It was sort of breathless confession that wasn't supposed to reveal how much he was hurt by discussed matter, how a possibility of harnessing his power made him feel wonder and awe.
Weiss tapped fingers and then opened the nearest drawer. He pulled out a wand from there and threw it on the desktop. "Do you recognise it?"
"Yes, sir," said Barebone dutifully and it was the end of his answer.
Weiss could only give a sigh. "I want to see your wand permit." He fixed his gaze on the young man on the opposite side of the desk and waited expectantly.
"I don't have anything like that." There was a specific brand of carefulness in his tone, weariness on his face. This compelled interviewing Auror to follow this lead.
"Too bad," said Weiss with the admonition "it's obligatory for every wizard to possess one."
Barebone grew tense. "I don't own a wand, though."
"Yes, this one surely isn't yours and yet I found it close to your body. Have you nicked it from some wizard?"
"No, of course not… I'm not a thief!" Barebone leant forward and looked Auror straight in the eyes, silently begging to believe him. He would've crumpled his sleeves, was he not bound.
"Are you not? Why can't you tell me then where have you seen this wand? We would like to return it to this's rightful owner and you seem unwilling to help."
"I saw Mister Graves using this one," said Barebone quietly.
"I think you're a liar, Mr Barebone," ascertained Auror lifting his chin so he looked down at the interrogated young man. When he hasn't got any answer to that, he continued "Do you know why? An untrained wizard wouldn't have an opportunity to meet Mister Graves as you call him."
"But I did. He approached me and asked for my help," explained Credence with bowed head.
Weiss raised his hand to his face so he could inspect his nails. "Could you tell me more about that?" For a moment he pretended to be preoccupied with sight and when he decided to end a farce and averted his gaze, he saw that Barebone was observing him.
"He attended a few sermons. Once he remained after and asked to speak with me about my Ma's cause. He told me there was some child that needed help in the church. I was supposed to find them and Mister Graves would save them."
"Well, I don't think I can't believe you. As I know Mister Graves he doesn't deal with rescuing no-maj children," provoked Weiss.
"Mister Graves supposed it was a magical child."
"That's a load of rubbish, Barebone. How can you expect me to believe you when you say fairy tales like that? Every young magical receives the Ilvermorny letter so they can learn how to harness their power. There is no need for us to search for them and using so underhanded methods to that!"
Credence pressed lips together. "I've never got my letter."
"Then maybe you are a squib," said Weiss cruelly.
Credence raised head in sharp motion and something dark and hurt flashed across his face.
Weiss noticed this fleeting expression and used this with indifference crafting line of questioning that could take advantage of this heedlessly exposed weakness. "So you said Mister Graves contacted you. What next? Have you met him later?"
"How many times?"
"I don't know. A few. We've kept contact for a half year if no longer."
"Where have you been meeting?"
"In alleys mainly. There was not one particular place."
Weiss played with Graves' wand whole time. "So how have you known where to go?"
"He was always the one to approach me," answered Credence dispassionately. "I only needed to follow him."
Somewhere outside resounded slam of the door and quick steps. The sound waned in few seconds. Weiss leant forward and propped himself up with elbows on the desk. "I will reveal something to you. This wand" he lifted a piece of wood so Credence could clearly see it "hasn't belonged to Mister Graves. But I'm sure you already know this." Where was no outward reaction his words so he went on. "He duelled us with another one."
Credence winced and blinked rapidly. "Why would he duel you?"
"Ah, you don't remember."
"No, sir," denied Credence steadily. "I don't know what happened or why I am here. If you could tell me..."
Weiss cut him off. "Well, we can try some more questions tomorrow. Maybe I will even tell you what happened to Mr Graves if you answer my questions readily enough." He got up.
"What happened to...?" mouthed Credence.
"How is it going?" Deputy stopped Weiss before the Auror managed to leave their department's wing.
"Slowly," said Weiss. He followed his superior to his office and came to a stop close to the door. "Would you like to know something specific or...?"
Deputy sipped his coffee ponderously. "Have you already asked if he was consciously aiding Grindelwald cause?"
"No. I will get to that soon." Weiss looked at him impassively, silently wondering if this man was going to be promoted in the following days. That progression of the events would be very inopportune for him.
He truly preferred Grindelwald-Graves as his superior. These days though the man was kept in the high-security cell and president Piquery was still considering the possibility of shipping him beck to Europe to let the most aggrieved punish him.
"Hurry up. I've let you play with him but it'll end if you prove yourself ineffective. A dose of veritaserum would allow us to gather everything he knows in an hour or so."
Veritaserum dosage wasn't even close to the group of dependable means of interrogation. It was expensive, difficult to acquire, quickly exhausting subject to the point where they couldn't answer any longer and prone to manipulation. Deputy seemed to be fond of that method nonetheless.
"Of course, Deputy", said Weiss hunching his shoulders a bit and unblinkingly keeping eye contact.
"Don't hinder the investigation." Deputy pinched his nose.
Weiss offered him only close-lipped smile. He was going to gather what he didn't know firstly.
Weiss started the second interrogation without much preamble. "Tell me what happened the day before yesterday."
"I don't remember very much," said Credence after a while.
"What should I remind you, Barebone? Is murder of your foster mother or destruction of substantial part of New York so inconsequential that they can slip your memory?"
Credence looked down. "I'm… unable to explain what happened," he uttered in the end.
"It will be enough if you tell what you remember. Not explanation required."
"I don't think it was me who destroyed anything."
Weiss knitted his eyebrows. "Why do you think so?"
"Mr Garves said I'm not a wizard. How would I do so much damage without magic?"
"Maybe he lied to you," said Weiss slowly. "Once or more times… We won't know if you are going to keep information to yourself."
Credence blinked slowly. A few strands plastered to his clammy forehead. "He said that and I get very angry… Nothing was clear after that moment. I just remember darkness and shouts. Maybe something collapsed on me..."
Weiss leant forward and pressed his hand to the desktop "Now we are getting to something. Do you remember what these shouts were about?"
Credence gulped, clearly distressed, but answered without delay "My name and I think they wanted someone to stop doing something..."
"Excellent, Barebone." Weiss smiled to him and leant back. "Has your foster mother also angered you?"
Credence clenched his jaw and said nothing to this.
"We are in MACUSA headquarters," revealed Weiss.
"You doing great, Barebone. I would like to know if you were aware what happens when you are mad?"
Credence was observing him silently. He opened his mouth a few times only to close them. "No, sir."
"Yesterday you wondered why you are here. It's because you has been seen and found at the crime scene."
Credence furrowed his brows and looked at him with confusion. "It doesn't sound serious enough to keep me prisoner."
Weiss nodded. "No, it doesn't." He smoothed his robe. "We believe you to be Grindelwald follower," said Weiss very slowly, giving himself time to observe every minuscule change of expression on Barebone's face. But there was only incomprehension.
"Who is that?"
"We even have evidence, Barebone." Weiss opened one of his drawers and took a medium sized box out. He placed it between them. "And you don't seem to be bothered by what you did."
"I didn't do anything," said Credence with rising panic.
"I told you about the death of Mary Lou Barebone… Shouldn't it impress you somehow? Don't you think so?" When his words brought only bitterness on his subject face, Weiss opened the box. The simple pendant was only thing inside. He lifted it by the chain so the symbol was visible swaying in the air. "It's funny how you passed from one extremist group to another."
Falling asleep in prison cell wasn't much harder than in his so called home. A pallet that wizard placed there was so far the most comfortable bed he ever slept in.
The faintest sound of movement was enough to wake him up. Credence slowly opened his eyes. It was the dead of night but it wasn't dark with surfaces charmed to gleam. Aurors would easily see him if any of them decided to check on him.
He turned on his side to see the passage from his pallet.
The man stopped in front of his cell. Credence recognised his upright posture, the shape of his wide shoulders and even hairstyle. Only the face remained unfamiliar. Sharp lines and almost invisible eyebrows weren't the features he used to know.
"Credence," said man. He heard this voice many times. "It's time to go."
Credence decided to not pretend to sleep. He sat up and as his feet touched the floor, he asked "Who are you?" to confirm his suspicion.
The man raised a wand to his face. Before Credence's eyes, the wizard's featured twisted and morphed. Mr Graves held his gaze through the bars.
Credence got to his feet and drew near the man. "I am of no use to you any longer," said Credence and crossed his arms. With hunched posture, he didn't seem tall at all.
"You are, Credence. You were a great help to me and there is no need for you to doubt your worth." Graves held his hand out for Credence to reach for.
"For how long?" This was barely a whisper.
"I made a mistake, Credence. My temper got the better of me and I said things that should never be uttered," he said gravely, convincingly. "But now I am ready to fulfil my promises. You can accompany me and I will teach you magic. You can become a part of the community consisting of people like you and me."
Credence clenched fingers on his shirt. "Grindelwald," said. The eyes of the wizard in front of him widened in surprise and his eyebrows rose. "Is that how you are called?"
"Yes, Credence. Have they told you about me? About how I want every wizard to take their rightful place?"
"They didn't. And you also never told me… Mr Graves".
Graves shook his head. There was no trace of shame or regret on his face. "No. It was to come yet. And now we don't have time to discuss it properly. It's your decision to make if you want to go with me or if you would rather stay here."
"I will go," said Credence unhappily. There was truly no better alternative for him. MACUSA would surely execute him as every other serious criminal. If he was wrong and they decided to release him, only life on the streets waited outside for him.
Grindelwald opened his cell.
"We will depart to Europe coming morning," said Grindelwald after he apparated them to a dark flat. It was a nice place, with floors covered with thick carpets, furniture made to last and wallpapers that looked still new. There was also no one apart from them.
Grindelwald pocketed his wand and moved to the living room. Credence noticed how the man passed the mirror and checked his reflection without a shadow of confusion appearing on his face. "How long were you pretending to be Mr Graves, sir?"
Grindelwald turned to look at him. Corners of his lips turned upward in no-yet-smile. "You've never met him if that's what bother you. It's been me since the beginning."
Credence shuffled his feet trying to see more details of the room in the semi-darkness. Grindelwald's had to switch on a light yet. The gleam from the streets was thankfully helping them to see anything. "Is there real Mr Graves somewhere, sir?"
Grindelwald took a seat in the closest armchair. "I took an identity of the real man, yes," said Grindelwald. "It'd be for the best if you went to bed now. There is bedroom upstairs that you can use and surely you will be able to take care of your needs without my assistance."
Credence blinked slowly. "What about you, sir? Don't you need to rest?"
"There is a reason as to why we will leave this place in the span of a few hours and not now. I need to attend a few matters." Grindelwald rubbed his chin. "Go, Credence. I'll fetch you when the time comes."
The steps were cracking under his feet. Credence concluded that the place was rarely and shortly visited because there was a palpable smell of dust in the air. A long time passed since rooms were aired.
The bedroom was clean and as posh as the living room. It was only one in the flat and Credence wondered if he was taking Grindelwald's bed.
At the first light, Credence walked down. A big cauldron was taking the central place in the living room where recently a table stood. Grindelwald was half-lying in the nearest armchair, close enough to reach and stir boiling goo but not so close as to let steam wet the newspaper he was reading. New York Ghost was its title.
Credence mumbled his greeting and was promptly sent to the kitchen to prepare for them something to eat.
"Can you imagine waking up in the coffin?" asked Grindelwald with malicious pleasure easily discernible in his voice. "Would you doubt your existence, Credence, wonder, if you are truly alive? Or maybe would you panic and destroy your confinement...?"
These questions made him cold and uneasy. Credence wrung his hands and forced himself to answer the inquiry. "I would be scared I think, frozen in place and praying to God to wake up soon."
"It would be a waste for you to die waiting, Credence. You are a wizard with a great potential and I'd hope for you to try to claw your way out of there," said Grindelwald softly, in the way he did many times before, convincing Credence he was worthy and there was a better life for him. Then, the moment ended and sorcerer twisted his lips into the unpleasant smile. "I'd love to see how Graves will react when the potion goes off."
It made Credence to freeze in the course of buttering bread. He wanted to ask why, confirm if real Graves was alive and get to know if he behaved the same way Grindelwald showed him. Then he snapped out of this and continued with his task, while Grindelwald stirred the potion he was preparing and then he put out the fire.
After breakfast warlock stretched and stood up. "Come here," he said and pointed his wand at the cauldron. When Credence approached he ordered him to turn around so the young man would face cauldron.
"If you don't mind telling me..." started saying Credence uneasily, but Grindelwald shushed him and placed a hand on the young man's neck. With carefully measured pressure he forced him to bend.
Credence could see his reflection on the bobble-gum pink surface of the potion. He looked scared with wide eyes and tightly clasped lips.
"Well, I need you to drown your head in that. Preferably only your hair, but I don't believe it's manageable," said Grindelwald and forced Credence's head lower, under the surface.
He closed his eyelids and held his breath. It was only a moment and he was able to breathe again. Grindelwald let him unbend. Pulling his wet strands out of cauldron took more time than he expected - his hair was significantly longer now.
"What is that for, sir?" he asked.
"Before afternoon every newspaper will show our photos. I can't have you walking around exactly like you were when your haircut attracts so much attention. It's not easy to forget something as horrible like that," said Grindelwald twisting his hair and forcing him o straighten up. The potion was dripping everywhere, wetting his clothes and getting into eyes. "Don't move."
Grindelwald with a single flick of wand got him dry. Then he conjured a pair of scissors and sat down. The tool started to cut long strands of hair off without his direct participation. "Don't look at me like that, boy. It's only for your own good."