Chapter 1: The Raid
Percival stared at the files scattered across the table in front of him with disgust. His head ached, and he felt like there had been no progress on this for too long. The original twelve aurors had always been important in American wizarding society, and that gave their descendants certain privileges. Percival had been on the receiving end of a lot of those himself, along with the expectations that came with being a Graves. He didn’t mind the fact that Charlotte Fischer had got promoted a little early, or that Thomas Fontaine had been allowed back to school after hexing a No-Maj who had bullied him. It was an irritation, a reminder that no matter how much he believed in equality he would never receive it. But that was all.
Rufus Grimsditch was an entirely different matter. The Grimsditch family were respected, of course they were, after Robert Grimsditch had laid down his life in the fight against the Scourers in an attempt to protect wizarding kind. It was just a shame that his descendants hadn’t followed his example. Percival looked at the photograph that faced him, anger bubbling inside him at how happy Rufus looked at a party, smartly dressed and wearing expensive tailored suits.
It was an open secret that Rufus Grimsditch and his sister Kathleen were dealing in trafficking. Not just the parts of magical creatures, that was sickening enough, but in humans. In squibs and No-Majs mostly, but the occasional wizard or witch that no one would miss. They treated their prisoners little better than the creatures that they cut up for parts. But there was no proof, and without proof they couldn’t make their move – especially with the family’s close ties to the New York Ghost. Make a mistake, accuse them with insufficient evidence, and it would be Percival’s aurors that would be punished.
He turned the photograph over, no longer able to look at the other man. He had been at Ilvermorny the same time as Percival, two years above him and in Thunderbird House. They had sat opposite each other at the dinners which were held for the Descendants. And Percival had had to listen to Rufus spouting off about blood purity. He’d been listening too much to the European wizarding lines, thought that the original twelve should be as inbred as the Sacred Twenty Eight. Even suggested that Percival woo Kathleen. Percival had despised the man then. He hated him now.
The evidence wasn’t quite enough. There were rumours, but that was all. A few rescued No-Majs with most of their memory obliterated, who flinched back when shown photographs of Rufus. Trades of animal parts when Kathleen was in town visiting friends, and a vast amount of money flowing into the family from no visible source. Nothing he could prove, but a certainty none the less.
Percival groaned softly, resting his head on his hands. Rufus was in New York for a business trip, was staying for the next two months if his wand permit was to be believed. This could be Percival’s chance to catch him in the act. But until he had evidence, he could do nothing, and before he did something he could not get the evidence he needed. He closed his eyes, willing all the files back into their folder, and looked up at a knock to his office door.
Goldstein stuck her head around the door before walking in. Percival was grateful that at least today she had remembered to knock. She looked almost bouncy, resembling her sister more at that moment than ever. Percival could recognise when the young woman had a lead on a case, she was just so exuberant about it.
“What is it Goldstein?”
“Gnarlack.” She smiled brightly. “He’s been to see me.”
“What about?” Percival prompted, sighing a little at how getting information from Goldstein at times could be like trying to get blood from a particularly reluctant and hyperactive stone.
“Sorry sir.” Goldstein seemed to catch herself, and flashed him an embarrassed smile. “He’s got a trade in unicorn blood going down in the Blind Pig tonight. He might not want a raid but he doesn’t want the deal to happen. Bad luck, you know?” She asked, and Percival nodded.
“And why are you quite so delighted?” He asked. It was good news, but that didn’t quite explain her demeanour.
“Because the deal is being carried out by Arnold.”
Arnold was a well known associate of the Grimsditchs. If they could catch the deal taking place, that would be reason enough to raid the Grimsditch premises.
“Get everyone together. We’re carrying out a raid tonight.”
Apparating into the Blind Pig was always an experience, and never a positive one – there were glimpses of other figures apparating out as they appeared, screams of ‘MACUSA’ rending the air. Curses went flying, but those were easy enough to block.
Percival saw Arnold and cast stupefy over him before he could escape, as his aurors dealt with the man he was with. Scarce able to believe his luck, Percival approached, and saw that Arnold had been holding a glass vial when he fell. It was filled with silver-blue liquid which seemed to shine. He turned to his aurors.
He left some of the rookies behind to deal with the two who had carried out the deal, while he organised the rest of the squad. This was a raid he had been planning for months, but had thought might never happen. The Grimsditch family were too well protected, but even their name couldn’t save you if you were handling a substance as restricted as this.
It took his best aurors nearly an hour to work through the wards which protected the warehouse which the Grimsditch family used. It was far away from their main property, and past evidence had led Percival to believe that this was where the illegal dealings took place.
He was first inside, in case there was some trap they had missed. The first thing he noticed was the stench of death. Whoever had been here had left in a rush. The building was near empty, but a unicorn’s body was lying on the floor, ripped open and with blood spilled on the nearby tiles. Percival looked away, knowing he could do nothing for that creature now. Hopefully it would provide the evidence needed to lock Rufus away for a long time, regardless of his family name.
He sent the signal to his aurors to come in. Goldstein gagged at the sight of the unicorn, walking closer to it and stroking a hand over the soft fur.
“Poor thing… she didn’t deserve this.”
“Remember, we’re looking for any evidence we can find.” Percival told them, and they spread out, wands drawn.
Percival was the one to find a dead woman, lying with her body curled up and her neck bent at a strange angle. She was painfully thin, burns and scars littering her body. Early thirties he would guess. She was wearing only a few rags and chains that were still around her wrists and throat. Magical brands spiralled across her arms and beneath her clothing. He couldn’t tell if she was magical or not. He leaned down, closing her eyes. He would make whoever had killed her pay.
“Director?” Davidson called out, and Percival scanned the room he was in briefly. There was nothing else here other than a couple of smashed potion jars. “I’ve got someone alive back here!”
Percival apparated towards the shout. If it was one of the victims, he needed to get them help, and if it was one of the perpetrators then he wanted to be the one to take the lead on the interrogation.
He walked into the room, and stood beside Davidson. It was only from where she was standing that you could make out the thin figure of a man, hiding between three large crates that had been left behind. He was too far back to see clearly, but Percival crouched down for a better look, and the man flinched back, staring at the floor.
The man was shivering, far too thin, his reddish-brown hair matted with blood. His brilliant blue eyes were darting around the room in fear.
“You’re safe now.” Percival told him, wishing he had had the sense to bring a healer on the raid. “Come out of there.”
The man didn’t move.
Percival waved Davidson back a little, crouching down so that he could be at the man’s eye level.
“Come out, it’s alright…” He kept his voice gentle, trying to soothe the other man. It was clear he was injured, and Percival didn’t want to frighten him any worse. He was wearing only rags, which were ripped to shreds, and he was curled up nervously.
“Come on…” Percival coaxed, hoping that the man he was faced with at least spoke English.
There was a pause, and then slowly the man started to move forwards, crawling on one hand and both knees, his other arm drawn against his chest. He got to the space between the crates and froze again, his shivering getting worse. He stayed in place.
Percival glanced up at Davidson.
“Get Kettering.” Although Kettering wasn’t a healer his five brothers all were, and he was skilled enough to provide emergency medical treatment. He’d saved the lives of several other aurors on missions, holding blood and vital organs into place until proper medical care could be arranged.
Davidson rushed away, and Percival tried to get a clearer look at the man. He was malnourished, covered in cuts, scars and burns. Around his wrists and throat there were rings of scars, metal chains around them. The manacles were engraved with symbols. Magical restraints of a type that Percival had encountered before on a particularly unpleasant case he had tackled while still a junior auror. They enabled the person who had taken a captive to limit where the captive could go, to hold them in place, to burn or choke at the ‘master’s’ whim. The pain they could inflict was enough that it had driven one of the prisoners irrevocably mad. There was something on the man’s left hip, peeking from under his ragged shirt, and another thing on his shoulder.
Kettering arrived a little breathless, and he cursed softly, crouching down and brushing blond hair from his eyes.
“Need to get a better look at him boss.”
“Can you come forwards a little more?” Percival asked softly, trying to prompt him forwards, and the man shuddered, holding in place for a few more seconds before he crawled out from the small space he had used as a hiding place.
Kettering reached towards him, and he flinched, cowering where he stood. He was biting his own lip, nearly drawing blood. Percival waved a hand, and moved closer. The man wasn’t shying from him quite as much as he was from Kettering, and Percival tried to see that as a positive.
It was clear the man needed a healer. It was a cold room, and without thinking Percival removed his coat, placing it gently around the man’s shoulders. The man closed his eyes for a moment, his lips moving in total silence, but Percival could recognise someone saying ‘thank you’ even without sound.
“It’s alright. You’re safe.” He repeated.
“Hey, boss?” Kettering was crouching by the crates. “There’s something back here.”
The prisoner startled, and tried to back away against the crates, but Kettering moved too fast, reaching in and pulling out whatever it was that the prisoner had been trying to hide. The prisoner flinched, reaching for the object, curling his body around it in a desperate attempt to keep it safe.
“No one’s going to hurt you now.” Percival said softly, wishing he had a little more idea about the man that he was dealing with, what he was concerned about. “Let me take a look.”
The prisoner cringed, but obediently he sat up a little, revealing a foal curled up beneath him. Its fur was brilliant gold, with lines of copper throughout. Its feet were wrapped in improvised bandages, the same colour as the prisoner’s shirt. There was no mane or tail, and its ribs were visible.
“What’s this?” He asked his assembled aurors. It was Goldstein who spoke – not a surprise given her sister’s penchant for romance novels.
“It’s a unicorn.”
“It doesn’t have a horn.” Davidson pointed out at the same time as Kettering spoke.
“I thought they only liked virgin girls. He ain’t either.”
Percival glared at Kettering, then noticed the blood and dried semen that were on the remains of the man’s pants. Goldstein paused for a moment before speaking, frowning as she tried to remember.
“Young unicorns don’t mind men. And their horns don’t grow in until they’re three.”
The prisoner shook his head, and held up four fingers.
Percival relaxed a little at the confirmation that the man spoke English.
“What happened to its feet?” Kettering asked, and Goldstein paused.
“They’re gold… I think… someone must have taken them. And that copper color? I think it’s bruising.”
The rescued prisoner shuddered, and stroked his uninjured hand gently along the unicorn’s side. It nuzzled against him, calmed by the contact, and the prisoner relaxed a little as well.
Percival took a deep breath, and gently put his hand on the man’s uninjured arm. His gaze flicked up towards him, terror evident, before he turned his attention back to the foal.
“My name is Percival Graves. I am the Director of Magical Security at MACUSA. You are safe now. You are going to come with us, so that we can get you to a healer.” Even if the man was a No-Maj, it was clear that he needed medical care and he had been exposed to magic previously.
The prisoner’s arms tightened slightly around the foal.
“She can come too.” Percival reassured him. “Does she have a name?”
The prisoner said nothing.
“Do you have a name?”
No reply was forthcoming, and Percival wondered for a moment if he was even capable of speech.
“Come with me…” He gently coaxed the prisoner closer, realising he wouldn’t stand up.
“Sir?” Goldstein interrupted.
“We don’t know what the manacles will do. We better not take him out until we know…”
“Alright.” Percival agreed, cursing his own stupidity for not realising that sooner. “Kettering, get Goldstein Junior and whichever healer is on duty that you trust most. Davidson, find where Fuller has wandered off to, I want you two working on these cuffs.”
His aurors apparated away, leaving him and Goldstein alone with the prisoner. Goldstein dug in a pocket, pulling out some candied orange. She handed it to him, and carefully Percival offered it to the prisoner.
The prisoner looked at him blankly, until he reached into the bag and removed a piece of the fruit, holding it out towards him.
The man darted forwards, wrapping his lips around the fruit, gaze still at the floor. He pulled back, ducking, and then coughed. Percival saw the chunk of orange fall to the floor in front of the foal, which snuffled up the food as the man feigned chewing.
Percival held out the second piece of candied fruit to the foal directly, and she licked his hand before eating it happily. The prisoner looked a little more relaxed at that, and when Percival gave him a second piece he did eat it.
“You like candied orange?” Percival asked the foal as he held out some more. “We’ll get you some proper food when we’re back, Spot.”
The man glanced at Graves, confusion and amusement on his face. After a second his expression returned to the terror that Percival was already beginning to think of as standard. Percival shrugged.
“I used to have a dog named Spot. If you’ve got another name from her, you can tell me.”
The prisoner said nothing, his gaze still fixed on the floor, but Percival was fairly sure that he was smiling.
Spot clearly had an appetite for candied orange. The human prisoner had accepted a few more pieces, before shaking his head and glancing towards the young foal. Percival could see he was asking for the beast to be fed instead of him.
Percival held out another piece to the foal, which ate it hungrily.
"I don't know what unicorns should eat. But I'm guessing you do?" He asked the man, and there was the tiniest of nods. Percival smiled as reassuringly as he could, the expression awkward on a face that was used to scowling. "If they're like horses, I guess they eat grass?" A nod, and Percival smiled. "Okay. Thank you. I'm guessing berries too?" Another nod. "Insects?" Percival asked, curious to see how the man reacted. For a few moments there was no response at all, before there was the slightest shake of a head. It was clear that ensuring Spot was given the correct food was important enough for the man to risk angering him.
"Okay. No insects. Sugar lumps? Only sometimes." He prompted, earning another nod. "Great work." He praised the other man, looking up as two of his aurors returned. "Thank you for your advice. I'm guessing you want to stay with Spot and see how she recovers?" Another nod, and the prisoner's arms tightened around Spot, guiding the unicorn into the soft fabric of Percival's coat.
Tina smiled sadly at the prisoner, watching him closely. Davidson and Fuller crouched down, and Percival took it upon himself to introduce them. "These are aurors Davidson and Fuller." The man twitched slightly at the word auror, but gave no other reaction. "They're going to be taking a look at your cuffs, because it's clear your arm is hurt and I want to get you out of here. You understand?"
The man clearly didn't feel that question was worth responding to, so he stayed silent and still. Davidson began to work on the cuffs around his wrists, and Fuller at the one around his throat. They worked in unison, quiet aside from the occasionally muttered spell.
The stillness was broken by a loud sob, and Percival turned to see Goldstein Junior stood in the doorway, trembling. One of the Healer Ketterings was beside her, and Auror Kettering on her other side.
It was the healer who approached, Goldstein keeping her distance. The healer crouched beside the prisoner, who had his eyes closed now, rocking a little where he sat. It was making Fuller's work more difficult, but the other man clearly disliked being crowded. Given everything that had happened, Percival could hardly be surprised.
"Goldstein. Here." He demanded, and the younger woman walked forwards, shaking a little. She swallowed, and crouched nearby, blinking back tears. "Can you get a reading off of him?"
"He's too afraid. He's just ... it's just fear. There's not words... you know when... if you wake up in the middle of the night, that split second when you're sure there's something watching you before you can rationalise what is happening? That's what his mind his like. Just terror."
The collar around the man's throat gave way, followed a second later by the cuffs, which clattered to the ground. The cuts and burns which covered much of his visible skin were far worse beneath the cuffs, which had clearly been points of agony for a long time, the skin there worn away and revealing open sores beneath.
"Can we get him to medical?" Healer Kettering asked. "His arm is shattered, and he's... he's malnourished, and some of these wounds are infected."
"Not yet." Percival said softly, and reached out to brush the man's shirt out of the way, revealing a dark brand which twisted across his shoulder in the shape of a Celtic knot.
The man moved away slightly, lifting his shirt with trembling fingers to reveal a similar brand at his hip.
Auror Goldstein stepped away, returning to the body of the woman that was still lying on the floor.
"Same on her sir."
"Alright. Davidson, take a look."
There was a momentary pause as the auror examined them, then pulled back with a curse. "Tracking spells and torture spells mostly. And... well, by the looks of it they've been used a lot. Whoever did this, they wanted to hurt him."
"Anything that stops us moving him?"
"No." Davidson answered. "They don't have a perimeter spell."
"Alright." Percival turned to the man who was still rocking with his eyes closed. "We're going to go back to MACUSA now. You will get medical treatment, and we'll see if your little friend needs anything, does that sound okay?"
In response the man's grip tightened around Spot, and Percival glanced at the healer and raised an eyebrow.
"Don't think he wants to let her go."
Kettering paused for a moment, and then nodded.
"I want to get him in. He's hurt pretty badly, and I think there might be more he's hiding. I'll be able to find out more once I've examined him, but I can only do that fully when we are in the medical wing. I've got a private room he can have, as long as he keeps that unicorn in a basket."
The man nodded in understanding.
"Goldstein, Goldstein, Healer Kettering and Davidson - take him to medical and get him settled. Fuller, I want you taking a look for any more objects with particularly vicious curses on. The rest of you, we need to gather evidence."
As his team went to fill their roles, Percival heard the pop of apparation behind him. He decided then and there that he would check on the man when they were done here for the day - but only then. This man might be another of Grimditch's victims, but that didn't mean that Percival could put his safety above gathering the evidence that could stop this from happening to anyone else.
The initial report from the raid on the warehouse made for depressing reading, even if you ignored the dead woman and dead unicorn that they had found. There were body parts of dozens of different creatures lined up in different boxes. Dried remains and pelts of various species hung at the back of the warehouse. There was far too much here for a non-expert to identify it all, so his aurors merely removed what they could.
The sun was peeking over the horizon by the time he dismissed the team, but they had evidence. Still nothing obvious to link this entire situation to Grimsditch. But if they could prove a link, they had enough to ensure that he was sent away for a very long time, if not get sent to the Death Cell.
Percival gave the warehouse one last sweeping look then apparated away. He hoped he had the evidence he needed to put the Grimsditchs away for good. He knew that this should feel like a success, but he couldn't stop thinking about the poor broken man that they had found, and the death that had filled that place. The impunity with which the Grimsditch family acted chilled him. This wasn't an attempt at subtlety. This was the action of someone who was convinced that they would get away with what they had done.
Killing a unicorn was one of the few taboos in wizarding society that even dark wizards would not cross unless they were forced to in order to save their own life. Percival didn't think he'd ever heard of it being done for economic gain.
Thinking about it more carefully, he doubted they were the ones to get their hands dirty. If they had been trafficking in people, it was likely they were the ones forced to be cursed. His blood boiled with hatred directed towards Rufus Grimsditch for what he had done, and for the image he painted of the Descendants. If he couldn’t find the right evidence, Grimsditch would get away with murder.
Percival knew he should rest, but he was too driven by anger to sleep. His aurors were resting, but he read over the initial records twice before jotting down his own account of events. When that was done, there was little he could do until he had his aurors' reports. But he wanted to feel that he was doing something, now that the case that had driven him for so long was within his grasp.
He swept out of his office to check on the prisoner. Hopefully the man would be up to being interviewed about what had happened, and even if he wasn't there might be something that could be learned.
He paused in the doorway to the hospital wing, questioning himself. He didn't want to frighten the man worse. He felt that he should bring something to help put the man at ease. He paused, then made his way to the canteen, picking up a couple of sugar cubes before returning to the hospital wing. He walked between the rows of beds, until he found the right room. The Goldstein sisters were sat side by side on chairs, leaning against each other in their sleep. A different healer was working on the man's wounds, and Davidson was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed.
Spot was still cuddled in the man’s lap, and he held onto her, running careful fingers over bruised skin. Percival smiled and held out a sugar cube, and the man's eyes lit up.
"Hey Spot..." Percival reached out, holding the sugar lump to the young foal. She ate hungrily, and the man was smiling.
"She's a sweetie, isn't she?" Percival asked, and the man nodded quickly. "So, her name is Spot. Do you have a name?"
The man looked away, and then held up his uninjured hand, three times with all the fingers raised and then dropping the last two for one final flash. Percival thought for a moment.
"Eighteen?" Percival asked, and was rewarded by a nod. Percival mentally steeled himself against the anger that bubbled inside at the thought this man's name had been stolen from him. "Do you have another name?" There was no response. Percival frowned. He couldn't bring himself to call another man by a number. He tried to appraise him - eighteen wasn't his age. He was a little older, in his mid twenties. He hoped that it wasn’t the age Grimsditch had first got him.
There was a knock on the door, and the youngest Healer Kettering walked in, carrying a bowl of thick tomato soup.
“Everyone other than the Director, out.” He ordered, as the Goldsteins blinked awake. The healer who had been bandaging the man’s arm finished their task, and they all left the room, Davidson going to guard outside the door.
The healer placed the bowl on a stand over the man's chest so that he could eat one handed.
"Here you go. Careful. It's hot."
The man nodded and took the soup, looking down at it uncertainly before picking up the spoon. His hands were shaking so badly that Percival worried he might drop the bowl and spill the steaming food down himself. He waved a hand, wordlessly stopping the soup from splashing out of there, and the man ate. Percival tried not to stare, but it was clear the man was hungry.
"How is he doing?" He asked Kettering, partially to give him something else to focus on. The healer motioned for him to step away a little, lowering his voice before he answered.
"Better than we could have expected." The healer sighed. "He's got some very nasty injuries mind you. Cuts and scrapes you can see, yes, but that arm is shattered. Skele-gro isn’t going to help until we’ve put the pieces back in order. He's malnourished, has the two branding spells you saw, used for administering torture curses, he's got cuts that are infected, he's... he has been assaulted, and he was chained for a long time. I'm guessing he's not been exercising much, judging by the muscle wastage." Percival tensed slightly at the report. There was nothing he didn't expect, but he was still consumed with anger at Rufus Grimsditch for doing this to another human, especially one as kind as this man.
That kindness was shown as despite his hunger, after a few spoonfuls the man held his spoon out towards Spot.
"Hey." The healer said, making him jump. "It's alright, I've got some food for her too..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag, which he cast engorgio on. It quickly grew to its full size, revealing a feed bag. "Mix of hay and oats in there, if that's okay with you?"
The man nodded, and reached for the bag, glancing inside before carefully guiding the bag to her face.
"You can just put the strap over?" The healer suggested, but the man paid no attention to him, focusing on encouraging Spot to eat. She seemed a little cautious at first, but soon ducked her head into the food. The man's soup stood forgotten as he focused on feeding the foal.
Eventually she had eaten her fill and he quickly finished his soup, smiling for a moment at the healer. The healer checked a few things and then walked away, saying he would return in an hour or so. He paused in the doorway.
"Be patient with him. He's pretty tired, he's not up to an interrogation right now."
"Understood." Percival watched the healer walk away and then looked back at the man who was now brushing his fingers through Spot's hair, grooming her.
He wanted to know who this man was. He would have a family who loved him somewhere, of course he would. He knew that losing someone could tear your family apart, one of his own friends having lost their brother on an expedition to Russia. He knew Theseus was haunted by his brother’s death, and by the knowledge that they had never found the body to bring it home.
There was a gentle knock on the door, pulling him from his thoughts. He looked up to see Auror Goldstein stood there, her arms clutching something to her chest.
"Goldstein?" He greeted her, standing. "What've you got there...?"
"A Den of Dragons." Goldstein murmured, walking forwards and holding it out. Percival stared down at the brightly coloured children's book, a large and brightly coloured dragon flapping across the front page. "I had it in the cupboard at home, and I thought...well, we don't know if he can read, but he likes Spot right? So maybe he likes other creatures, and it’s got pictures and -"
Percival held up his hand before she spewed forth further rambling explanation.
"That's very thoughtful of you Tina. Why don't you give it to him?"
"Thanks Director." She mumbled, stepping forwards. Percival was a little surprised to see her so nervous when she was normally fairly confident during cases. "Uh. Excuse me." The man looked up and she smiled. "I. Uh. I brought you a present-" She handed it over, and he took it curiously, then his face brightened as he saw what was on the cover. He started to flick through it, eyes shining, then looked up at her and beamed.
"You're welcome." Goldstein said quickly.
"Now..." Percival paused, and pulled a pen from his pocket. "You mind if he writes on that Goldstein?" She shook her head, so Percival continued. "The healers say you're not ready to be interviewed yet, and I respect that. But I'm going to give you a pen. And if you have anything you need to write down, you can, okay?"
He handed over the pen when the man nodded, and then sighed.
"Come on Goldstein. He needs a chance to rest, and so do you." She nodded and walked away beside him.
Percival glanced back from the doorway, and saw that the man was already writing some notes.
Percival didn't get back to check on the ex-prisoner that day, or the next morning. He was too exhausted, and aware of the amount of work that would be waiting if he didn't get a grip on it. He went home, and was back early the next morning to process the evidence.
This case was too valuable to allow anything to go wrong. He couldn't take any risks that might enable Grimsditch to get away with what he had done. He couldn't let the man slip through his fingers, not now.
Part of him wondered if his reluctance to continue the interview with the other man was fear of what he might find. Because despite what had been left, a lot of the warehouse had been cleared out. He wasn't looking forward to finding out what they had arrived too late to discover, whether there were others they had arrived too late to save. It was lunchtime before he walked back to the hospital wing, making his way to the man's room.
He pushed open the door carefully, to find the man sat up in bed, Spot at his side. He was looking at the book with a lot of concentration, pen in his hand. Percival watched as he scribbled down another note, then cleared his throat and knocked on the door.
The man startled slightly but remained quiet, ducking his head down. Percival reached out toward him.
"Could I take a look at that book of yours? I won't harm it, promise. And it's yours, I won't take it away. I'm just curious as to what you have written."
That seemed to satisfy the man, and he held the book out towards him. Percival took it carefully, aware that it meant a lot to the other man. He opened it and found on the first page Care Instructions for Spot written on the inside cover. Food and shelter needs were explained, as was the importance of helping her keep clean and making sure she didn't get bored. Percival read them over and then returned to flicking through the book.
'A Den of Dragons' was a popular children's book that he had read himself during his younger years. It was popular not so much for its text - short descriptions of creatures - but for its hypnotisingly beautiful illustrations. Elegant line drawings of different beasts cavorted across the pages. He paused when he saw the page on bowtruckles, finding that the man had carefully crossed out the word insects and written “LIVE woodlice” for the diet of the strange creatures.
He flicked on and found more corrections. Puffskeins could apparently feel pain, and he felt a twinge of guilt for kicking one when he was younger. He had crossed out comments about creatures being evil and written “You can’t impose your moral views on animals. Animals aren’t good or bad. They just are.” On the page of dragons he had crossed out the description of the beasts as greedy, and he had done the same on the page for nifflers. That page was stained slightly, and Percival realised the man had clearly been crying while editing it.
He handed it back, feeling guilty for looking at something so private. It was clear there was nothing there that would help him prosecute Grimsditch. He looked down at the young man, wishing he could have saved him earlier.
“Director Graves?” Asked one of the healers standing in the doorway, a younger man who Percival didn’t recognise. He had a southern voice and a gentle smile. “Is everything alright?”
“I wondered if your patient might be fit for interview yet?” There was no denying the man looked healthier – the bruises and cuts had been healed, and his arm had been placed in a sling. But his eyes were still filled by fear and pain.
“Not yet. He needs the opportunity to rest. And that means no visitors.” The healer told him firmly. “Hey,” The healer turned his attention to his patient. “You doing okay? I brought you a present…” He held out a photograph, which Percival couldn’t resist taking a look at. It was an image of a little girl, a fluffy pigmy puffskein in her arms. As he watched the photograph the creature jumped up from her arms and climbed onto her shoulder as she giggled. The patient smiled brightly, taking it from him.
“Director, you’re meant to be leaving.” The healer prompted.
“He likes creatures. And before you rant about the laws, she’s my niece and lives in Canada.”
“Thank you.” Percival murmured. He could tell that the photograph did help him. “Could I speak with you?”
The healer nodded, and followed him from the room.
“Have you been able to find out why he isn’t talking?”
“I can’t be sure.” The healer said, picking his words carefully.
"It's clear he's been through a lot of trauma. He can comprehend English, and as you saw he can read and write, but he isn't speaking. We've tried to have a legilimens check him over but they can't get anything clear from him. And we're fairly sure that there are spells blocking him from his memories, but to unpick them we need a starting point."
Percival considered for a moment and sighed.
"And you don't have a starting point without knowing who he is."
"We don't even know what country he's from. Ask him about animals and he can supply information, but anything personal and it triggers the mental blocks." The healer explained. "He is still resting. We're hoping to finish healing his arm later. For now, the best thing you can do is try and find some clue to his identity. If we make any progress, or if he speaks, we'll let you know."
"Thank you." Percival walked away, reminding himself that for now the best thing he could do was make sure this didn't happen to anyone else. He returned to his desk. Just because they had disrupted Grimsditch's smuggling, it didn't mean that there weren't other issues that needed his team to work on.
He was halfway through reading a particularly boring report about puffskein breeding when there was an urgent knock on the door.
"Come in?" He called, and it was Davidson who hurried into the room.
"There's a break in happening at Jonker's. It's triggered their security spells."
Relieved to be pulled away from the most boring case on the books, he quickly gathered a small team and apparated into the wand shop. Boxes had been pulled from the shelves and the till had been smashed. Johannes Jonker the Third rushed out to greet them. Grey haired and using a stick to get about, his eyes still sparkled with the same brightness that they had when he had first helped Percival choose his wand.
"Thank you for coming so quickly, all of you." He murmured. "I've got them in the basement-"
"Lead the way." Percival signaled for Goldstein to check the door while Davidson and Kettering-The-Auror followed him.
In the basement were three very miserable looking men, one of whom Percival recognised as Aderson - a petty criminal who had been arrested for theft multiple times before. The other two were unknown to him, although he was sure he had seen the older in Gnarlack's bar previously. They were all imprisoned by the brachiabindo spell, limbs pinned to their sides by invisible strings.
Kettering began the process of arresting the suspects, freeing them from the curse and replacing it with one of his own.
"That's strange..." Jonker murmured. "I can only see three people..."
"Why would that be strange?" Percival asked.
"The report that called for you told me that there were four. The basement is sealed, no one would have got out."
"You heard the man Davidson." Percival drew his wand, beginning to walk between the rows of crates, searching for any sign of the fourth person.
"Director? I think I might have found something. Just not sure what." Davidson called out, and Percival rushed to him, expecting to be faced with a fourth wizard. Instead what he found was at first glance a wilted stick.
"Emancipare." He said as he picked the stick up, examining it. It was still breathing. The two leaves at its head were part crushed, ragged at the edges and yellowing, and its entire body was marked with flecks of black. The creature cowered as Percival examined it, leaves quivering in terror. "A bowtruckle." He turned to Goldstein. "Go outside and catch some pillbugs."
"Do it." He ordered, and she walked out.
Percival stared at the creature. In cases like this, a bowtruckle could be valuable evidence, and would often be pickled in order to preserve its body for the trial - or else it would be handed to a foreign country who would be able to release it. Percival felt uncomfortable at the idea of killing a creature that had clearly been through so much already.
Goldstein returned with three pillbugs, which she handed over with a wrinkle of her nose. Percival held one out to the creature and it grabbed it with shaking hands, and devoured it in two bites. They repeated this process with the other two bugs.
"What are you going to do with that boss?" Kettering asked. "Looks like its been in a duel with one of the twelve."
Percival smiled a little.
"I know exactly where this little fellow should go." He answered, before placing the bowtruckle into his top pocket. It cuddled up against his body heat, and Percival couldn't resist the urge to gently brush a finger across one of its leaves. "It's alright little guy." Percival told it. "Goldstein, take Jonker's statement. You two take those three to the cells, I'll be along to help with the interrogations soon."
"Sir." They agreed, Davidson and Kettering apparating away with the prisoners as Goldstein took Jonker for an interview.
Percival headed back to the medical wing, and knocked on the ex-prisoner's door before pushing it open, realising the other man was hardly going to be able to call him into the room. The man was sitting up, fingers stroking Spot's side as she lay in his lap - the basket she was meant to be in discarded to one side.
"I know you're resting." He told him. "Don't worry. No more questions. I just found something and thought you should have it."
A quizzical expression passed over the man's face as Percival reached into his pocket, trying to tempt the bowtruckle out.
"Ouch." He muttered as the creature nipped at his fingers, but carefully he guided it out. The bowtruckle stared up at Percival with cloudy eyes, trembling again.
"I can't look after you." Percival reasoned, mentally cursing himself for trying to reason with a bowtruckle. "But this is my friend, and he's good with creatures. He'll help you..." He tried to guide the bowtruckle away from him. "I've fed it three woodlice."
The man nodded, and reached out for the bowtruckle. The bowtruckle looked at the other man curiously, then jumped forwards, wrapping his long arms around the man's wrist and clinging. The man brought his hand back to his face, nuzzling against the creature and patting it on the leaves.
Percival watched with some amazement. He had always regarded magical creatures as either useful or a nuisance, but it was clear that this man saw them as something different. He remembered how Theseus had told him about his brother, regarding creatures as friends. Theseus had said his brother kept a bowtruckle in his pocket and travelled with a case full of rare creatures. Theseus had said a lot in the first few weeks when his brother had gone missing, leading the search. As months turned into two years Theseus’s brother had become an unspoken space between them.
Theseus's brother, whose body had never been found.
Theseus's brother who had the same reddish brown hair as the English auror.
He stared at the man in shock, then cleared his throat.
The man looked up.
“Newt…” Percival murmured softly. Theseus would be amazed to know his brother was still alive, but would also be deeply unhappy about the state that he was in. Had they known Newt was still alive, they would not have stopped searching for him. As it was, it felt like they had failed him. He cleared his throat, trying to work out what to say. “Newt.” He repeated, already working out what would be the next steps. He would have to get Theseus over to make a formal identification, report it, liaise with the Russian aurors – Newt’s last known location had been somewhere in a remote region of Russia – and discover where Newt had been the last two years.
Newt tilted his head, looking at Percival curiously before seeming to decide he was more concerned about the bowtruckle. Percival watched as he carefully removed a few small threads from the sling around his arm, and carefully wrapped it around the bowtruckle’s arm, forming a support for it. The bowtruckle held onto him tightly.
Percival sat down in the chair, reaching out to stroke Spot’s fur, gazing at Newt carefully. Here was Theseus’s little brother, and he was injured and frightened and unable to speak, but he was alive.
“I know that you said they eat pill bugs, I’ll get more for him. You need to rest, I shouldn’t be in here. But I’ll go now, and be back this evening. How many pill bugs does a bowtruckle need a day?”
Newt frowned a little, biting his lip, clearly unsure about being spoken to quite so directly. Percival couldn’t be sure what the other man had been doing over this time – caring for creatures clearly, but he wasn’t sure if he had been meant to or not. From what he knew of the man, he doubted that Newt would have willingly cooperated with the animal smuggling that had been happening.
Newt raised a hand, and held up five fingers. There was uncertainty in his eyes, as though he expected to be refused.
“Five. Okay, we can do that. I’m guessing because that one’s injured he might need a little bit more?” Percival asked, and Newt nodded silently. The relief across his face was obvious. Percival didn’t let himself consider what Newt would be willing to do to keep creatures safe – it was too unpleasant a path to stray down and he feared what he might learn. That was for the legilimens to discover. Percival’s job was to keep this from happening to anyone else.
“I’ll be back later with some pill bugs. You get some rest, I’m still wanting an interview when you are up to it.”
With that, Percival walked away, leaving Newt to look after the bowtruckle. He hoped that it pulled through. It would be too horrible if the creature didn’t make it. Already he was planning to bring any other creature he discovered on jobs to Newt, let him care for them and nurse them back to health. It might help him to rehabilitate. It was clear that Newt needed more good in his life, and this might be a way to provide at least a little of it.
He made his way to his office, and locked the door. He knew he could merely send a memo, but this was the kind of news he thought Theseus deserved to hear face to face. He paused in front of the fireplace, trying to work out how to break the news to his friend. He didn’t want to build up too much hope. Newt still hadn’t confirmed his identity, and he was clearly deeply traumatised.
He threw a pinch of powder into the fire, watching as the flames turned a vivid emerald green. Whilst the American and British Floo networks were separate, limited communication was allowed between the two ministries, and so he would be able to speak to Theseus. However, while fire calls were possible, full travel was not and so Theseus would need to use a portkey to travel across the Atlantic.
“Theseus Scamander.” He said clearly before sticking his head forwards into the flames.
The world swirled around him, and he only just managed to fight down the urge to be sick. Everything solidified and he found himself in Theseus’s oak-walled office. His friend was staring down at some paperwork with a look of anger on his face. Feeling rather awkward as a disembodied head in the fireplace, Percival coughed.
Theseus jumped slightly, his quill spitting out a blob of ink which Theseus banished with a wave of his hand. He looked over at the fireplace.
“Director.” Theseus walked forwards, and sat cross-legged in front of the fire, leaning in towards him. “I didn’t know we had a call scheduled today. One of my memos must have eaten the reminder. You know how it is. You miss the deadline on one report and the thing turns feral.”
Percival normally would have smiled at that comment, but today he was quiet, and shook his head.
“Unscheduled call I’m afraid.”
“What’s wrong?” Theseus asked, suddenly all business. “Has something happened?”
“I need you to come to America as soon as possible.” Percival said firmly.
“I can’t just-“ Theseus began to object, before pausing and then nodding sharply. “Is it about Newt?”
“I think so. But please don’t get your hopes up, I can’t be certain.”
“I’ll get a portkey sorted for tonight, if that’s alright with you?”
“Thank you.” Percival closed his eyes for a second then looked up. “If I’m right, please don’t… don’t expect things to be instantly okay.”
Theseus looked at him, eyes cold, but he nodded his head a little. The situation with Newt would be hard to put into words, especially across such a great distance.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can be.” Theseus said, before leaving the room. Feeling nauseous, Percival pulled his head back out from the fireplace and started to write up the earlier break in at Jonker’s.
It was an hour or two later that Auror Goldstein stuck her head around the door.
“Sir, I’m checking on the man from the raid. Is there anything I should know?”
“Not yet, but I might be able to get a confirmation of his identity this evening.” Percival told her. “I would like a photograph of him and the bowtruckle, if you can provide that?”
“Yes sir.” She said quickly before slipping back out of the room.
Percival gazed at the report, trying to remember the word Theseus used for Newt’s choice of profession. Eventually he remembered, adding ‘placed into the care of a magizoologist’ to his notes. Even if the man wasn’t Newt, it was an accurate description.
Report written up, he sent it down to the Records Department and made his way to the President’s office, knocking smartly on the door.
“Come in Director.” She called out, and he stepped inside.
“I hear you rescued someone in the raid two days ago.”
“Yes. I believe him to be the missing brother of a British auror, and therefore I have requested that the brother comes over here in order to confirm the identification.”
“Auror Davidson informed me that you suspect Grimsditch is linked.”
“I do Madam President.” Percival replied. “But I won’t be certain until I have been able to interview the man we found, and so far he has been unable to answer our questions. He is extremely traumatised. He will be working with a legilimens but so far they have not been able to get anything from him.”
“Don’t rush in throwing around accusations.” Picquery said firmly. “I understand your rivalry with Grimsditch goes back a long way, and I want to capture the person responsible for this as much as you do. But we have to have proof or they’ll tear us apart.”
“Yes Madam President.”
“Be careful okay?” She said, her voice softer now. This was Seraphina talking to him, an old school friend. “I know how much you want to hurt whoever did this but we have to be able to make it stick.”
“Thank you.” Percival nodded. “Scamander should be arriving soon, I want to be there to greet him.”
She nodded smartly.
“You are dismissed. But I want to be informed when you know his identity.”
Percival returned to his desk to find that Goldstein had left the photograph he had requested there. The young man was sat in bed, deep in silent conversation with the bowtruckle, barely seeming to realise that his image was being taken. He slipped the photograph into his pocket, then headed down to the office that foreign portkeys landed in.
He didn’t have long to wait. The air in the middle of the room spun, and the standard British mailbag appeared in the centre of the room, Theseus Scamander stood beside it. The man looked exhausted, his eyes shadowed. The always smiling man from the war had lost his light when he lost his brother. Theseus stumbled slightly before managing to catch himself, walking to Percival and embraced him tightly.
“I missed you.” Theseus murmured, and Percival couldn’t help a smile.
“Well I’m here now. We’d best go to my office.”
“I want to see him.”
“Not until you’ve made an identification from a photograph. The man we are dealing with has severe gaps in his memory and isn’t speaking. I can’t risk him getting frightened.” Percival said strictly. He understood why Theseus wanted to see his brother, but he couldn’t rush into it.
Reluctantly, Theseus nodded. Percival returned to his office and closed the door, before reaching into his pocket for the photograph.
“I’m sorry if I’ve called you over for nothing.”
“I know you wouldn’t have meant to.” Theseus swallowed. “Let me see him.”
Percival passed over the photograph, and Theseus tensed, gazing at the image. Percival could see that the man in the photograph was looking down, his head bowed, but Theseus tilted the photograph and the man looked up.
Theseus was silent for a moment longer, before clearing his throat and turning to Percival.
Sorry for the slight delay - been very busy but things are calming down now
The confirmation was everything Percival had hoped for and dreaded. The man that was sitting in their hospital wing had a name, had a family who cared about him. It would have been terrible to never be able to identify him.
In a way, knowing was worse. To find out that the man who had been so badly hurt when discovered was Theseus’s brother. Percival nodded sharply.
“Alright. Like I said, he isn’t speaking, and he doesn’t seem to know who he is. He understands English. I’d guess that there’s some kind of charm blocking him from speaking. Maybe from his memories as well. But we didn’t want to rush in – the medics said they needed something to act as a scaffolding for the memories if they are going to bring any back.
“A scaffold?” Theseus asked, shifting a little in his seat impatiently. “You mean you need to know – look, Perce, that’s my baby brother. If anyone is going to get through to him it’s me, and I need to see him. You can’t stop that-“
“I don’t want to.” Percival answered. “But like I said, we can’t be certain he’ll know you. He might not recognise you. If your presence makes him more agitated, we will both leave.”
Theseus hesitated for a moment and then nodded.
“I don’t suppose a case was found with him?”
“No. All that we found of any relevance was a dead woman who had also been hurt, a murdered unicorn, and the unicorn foal that he’s been looking after. Why?”
“Newt would never let go of that case if he could help it.” Theseus answered after a moment. “I need to know what’s happened. I want to know how long he was here under MACUSA’s nose.”
“We are investigating.” Percival said, careful not to sound too unkind or angry at Theseus’s words. Theseus was hurting, and Percival made an easy target. After a few seconds Theseus turned away slightly.
Theseus stared down at the photograph and frowned, lifting it up to his face for a closer look.
“So where did you get Pickett?”
“The bowtruckle. Newt got him to help open locks. Because he picks it.”
“That’s terrible.” Percival replied automatically then frowned. “You sure it’s the same one?”
“He is. The leaf pattern-“ Theseus shrugged. “You listen to enough of Newt’s letters, and you get very sure about things like that.”
“Oh.” Percival nodded. “There was an attempted robbery at the premises of one of the wand makers. We found him there.” He paused for a moment, balancing out his options before speaking. “Are there any other creatures we should be looking for?”
“A few. But you’d have to ask Newt who was there when… when it happened.” Theseus paused, staring at the photograph a little longer before pushing it into his pocket and standing up.
“I want to see him.”
“He might not know you.”
“I don’t care.” Theseus said firmly. “I need to see my baby brother. Now take me to where he is.”
“Take this.” Percival pulled a copy of ‘The Monster Book of Monsters’ out from one of the shelves, where it was securely tied closed with two leather belts. “He likes creatures, it might pass as a peace offering.”
Theseus hesitated for a moment and then nodded, holding the book to his chest as he walked with Percival to the medical wing.
“He hasn’t spoken to you about what’s happened?”
“He hasn’t said a word.” Percival reminded him. They walked into the room where Newt was sat up in bed, the bowtruckle perched on his shoulder and Spot cuddled up in his lap.
Newt looked up, eyes wide with fear, before he looked at Percival and relaxed a little.
Percival reached out to stop Theseus rushing over, but his hand closed on empty air as Theseus rushed forwards to his brother’s side.
“Hello Newt…” Theseus greeted him, before pulling Newt into a tight hug. Newt didn’t respond, staying still, his gaze focused somewhere far away. Percival could feel his heart ache as he walked over towards him, guiding Theseus away.
“Why don’t you show him your gift?” Percival prompted, able to see Theseus was too busy staring at his brother in wonder to do anything productive. Newt meanwhile was curled up on himself, shaking a little.
Theseus nodded, placing the book on the sheet beside Newt, and then reaching out for the copy of ‘A Den of Dragons’.
“You always used to complain about this…” He murmured, half to himself. “You used to say they cared more about rhyming than about the creatures…”
Percival smiled a little at the recollection, before gazing more closely at Newt. Newt hadn’t reacted to the story at all. But he picked up the Monster Book of Monsters, and ran his fingers along its spine before smiling triumphantly as he undid the belts and it fell open on his lap.
Newt was busy looking through the book, but the bowtruckle had moved from observing Newt to observing Theseus with some confusion. Percival tried not to give it too much thought, but he couldn’t help wondering if somehow the bowtruckle understood what had happened. It wouldn’t matter anyway – a creature couldn’t give evidence in court.
Theseus placed his hand out towards Pickett, and the bowtruckle jumped forwards onto his hand. Theseus lifted him up carefully.
“He doesn’t normally look like this. Newt takes… Newt takes good care of them.”
Percival was startled when that comment was met by the tiny bowtruckle blowing a raspberry and hopping back onto Newt.
“Lot of personality in that one.” He murmured, and Theseus managed a faint laugh.
“There is.” He agreed, leaning in again, waving his hand in front of Newt’s face.
Newt looked up at him, eyes wide with terror. There was no sign of recognition, and Theseus flinched away. Percival rested his hand on Theseus’s shoulder.
Theseus swallowed dryly.
“I want him to see your best legilimens. And I want…I don’t care about America’s laws Perce, he needs to stay with that unicorn for now.”
“I have no intention of separating them.” Percival said firmly. “I can see about getting him talking to the legilimens, but…There’s always a risk that … that he won’t still be in there.” It was painful to admit it, but he couldn’t let Theseus hope only to find that hope shattered.
“He’s in there. He still knows the creatures.” Theseus answered, and then took a deep breath. “I… I think I should be there when the legilimens interviews him.”
“It’s your choice.” Percival answered. “But you might find it easier to see him after? The woman we have working with him, she’s the best that MACUSA has got. Sister of one of my junior aurors. He’ll be safe with her and I don’t want him to feel crowded.”
For a moment, he thought that Theseus would argue, but instead he nodded. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a faded grey and yellow scarf, which he charmed to full size. He leaned in and placed it around Newt’s neck. Newt reached up, touching the fabric and smiling a little. Theseus stepped away and walked from the room, not glancing back. When Percival caught up with him, he was desperately blinking back tears.
“Promise me. Whoever did this to him, you’re going to make them pay.” Theseus muttered, his voice edged with anger far sharper than anything Percival had heard from his friend before. He paused only a moment before he nodded.
“I will make sure they don’t do this to anyone else.” Percival sighed. “Did you get permission to stay?”
“Not for long.” Theseus muttered. “I don’t want to go back but I’m lucky to have been granted permission at such short notice.”
“I’ll make up a guest room for you at mine. That way if you can stay for longer you don’t need to worry about a hotel-“
“Thank you.” The pain and sadness in Theseus’s eyes was obvious. But he still managed a smile. “You brought my baby brother back to me. Thank you.”
“I should see about getting the legilimens to speak to him.” Percival said after a moment. “Healer Bernard Kettering is the one in charge of this case, if you want to talk to someone about how he was found. But I have to warn you, it wasn’t pleasant.”
“Nor are the thoughts that have stopped me sleeping peacefully for two years.” Theseus answered after a moment. “I would rather know than not.” Once Theseus had gone to speak to the Healer, Percival sent a note to summon Goldstein Junior.
She arrived quickly, her eyes a little damp.
“Are you alright?” He asked her, a little startled that she had turned up crying.
“Oh, I’m fine, I just…I passed this man on the way here, and he’s worried about his brother, it was all… well, the important thing is that I’m here now, and you think I can help.”
“Goldstein.” Percival reprimanded her. “You’re not meant to be reading my mind. The man is Newt, bowtruckle is Pickett, his brother is Theseus. Theseus is one of the top British aurors, and Newt worked with dragons in the war and studies creatures. He was a Hufflepuff. Will that be enough for a scaffolding?”
“I’ll try my best sir. But he is very damaged.” Goldstein Junior answered, before heading in. She smiled so brightly Percival almost missed her flinch of pain.
“Hello there Pickett.” She began, addressing the creature. That seemed to be sufficient to encourage Newt to glance up towards her. “Hello Newt. My name is Queenie, and I need to see if I can help you. I’m a legilimens. With your permission Newt, I would like to look inside your mind and see what I can do to help.”
There was a pause, during which Percival thought he would get no response, before finally the man nodded and closed his eyes.
“Thank you.” Goldstein Junior smiled and sat down in the chair beside him, reaching for his hand.
Percival went to guard the door.
(This one makes some pretty tough reading, as we look inside Newt's mind - but progress is being made)
“It’s okay sweetie…” Queenie murmured, leaning in towards Newt. She knew that they were safe. Director Graves was guarding the door. There was nothing to worry about, but the fear she could feel radiating from the young man was almost overwhelming. She reached out for his hand, wrapping her fingers over his palm. She closed her eyes, and focused on the thoughts.
The first thing she realised was a sense of the warmth of her own skin. Her perfume was slightly scented with apple, - she saw a floating red apple going through the air, followed by it being crunched – and then it rotted in front of her eyes, going dark, tasting bitter – there was blood on the floor, screaming, terror – there was a pile of white hair on the ground – a caged creature screamed – the man was sobbing – pain lanced through her shoulders, she saw marks branding her skin, and then everything went black as she managed to wrench herself away. Newt turned away, looking towards the basket where Spot was curled up, sleeping.
She looked at Newt again, saw that his skin was pale, that he was clammy. She got him some water, holding the cup to his lips because his hands were shaking so much that he couldn't hold it himself. He glanced towards Spot's basket, seeming to relax a little at the sight of it.
She reached out, stroking his hair, and he leaned into the touch. He needed affection, that much was clear, and she wanted to provide that. She took another deep breath.
"It's okay sweetie. We'll find out a way of doing this. It's okay, lots of people have problems keeping their thoughts in order, especially if they've been through a lot, we can use a scaffold to help if that would be okay?"
Newt nodded after a moment, his hand curling up into a fist. He was trying to make himself strong, even with all of his fear. But his fear would block that idea. His fear would stop her from being able to understand what he remembered. Normally a scaffold would be a positive memory, or a discussion that they could branch out of. Anything that they could focus on. But Newt wouldn’t talk, and had no memory to build on, other than those fears. The fears, and the bowtruckle that was sat on his shoulder, watching her with an intense and rather angry glare. The creatures were clearly the only memory that Newt had to hang on to. Perhaps those could be the scaffold.
"Here..." She reached for 'A Den of Dragons' and handing it to him. "Teenie gave you this right?" She asked, and Newt nodded. "Teenie's my sister, we had this book when we were little..."
Newt smiled then, his eyes brightening a little. Just for a moment, she could see the man he would have once been.
"We're going to flick through this book okay? You can help me by pointing out any creatures that you want to think about, and you can think about them. Does that sound good?"
Carefully, Newt nodded, his forehead creasing. He held the book carefully, flicking through the pages and starting off with the pictures of the bowtruckles. He held out his hand for hers.
There was sunlight, and a handful of small sticks climbing up a tree. One of them stepped forwards onto his hand, and the others followed close behind. The creatures grew stronger. Pickett settled on his hand and then on his shoulder. The sticks were grabbed, shaken. Pickett was brought back by the Director, sick and weakened. A goblin smirked, gripping one of the bowtruckles. She heard Newt’s voice, cracking as he tried to speak. She could feel the bruises that were blooming across his body, the fear that crawled beneath his skin as he tried desperately to save those he could.
"They pick locks. They can help. They can ... criminals will pay a lot of money. Please..." He was panicking and he took another breath, and she felt the cruciatus. He cut off that memory, panting. She squeezed his hand gently.
"That was good. Take a few moments if you need to pumpkin. There's no rush, no rush at all." She swallowed, and turned to the director.
"There were other bowtruckles. He managed to persuade someone, a goblin, to take them to sell them on to criminals. He saved some." She explained, and just for a moment she saw the faint ghost of a smile on Newt's face.
Newt nodded slowly, his attention back on the book. He paused by the dragon page. The air was full of the smell of smoke and gunpowder, and a dragon roared, its face just a few feet from her own, but she could tell Newt wasn't afraid. There was a sense of pride. The memory fragmented before she could get more of a grasp of it, but she scribbled down a few notes.
He saw the picture of a dugbog, a large creature like a giant axolotl or a submerged piece of wood. He turned the page away, shuddering in fear to keep that page away. She jotted down that fear. She was far from an expert on these creatures, but she knew they were nothing exceptional. Nothing he should worry about.
He turned a page. 'If wizardkind do not act now, then the graphorn will be extinct before 1930.' Some large creatures lumbered into view, tentacles dripping from their faces, their young close. She could hear Newt's voice, more confident than with the bowtruckle. "They're the only ones left. Please. They're worth so much to the world..." There was laughter, and then she felt a flood of relief. It was only then that her gaze was drawn to the large carcass of a rhinocerous-like creature, lying on its side, blood pooling on the ground. There was a pile of broken eggs with silver shells beside the corpse.
She opened her eyes to see tears were rolling down Newt's face.
"Oh pumpkin..." She murmured. "It wasn't your fault. You did so well. Were there any others you saved?"
He turned forwards another few pages, showing her the picture of a niffler. He frowned a little and shrugged, and she considered. He wasn't sure if it would have lasted. It was too playful, didn't listen to what it was meant to - but he was hoping that somehow, the niffler had escaped. It was scurrying through the mixture of environments, and had stolen his keys. He was chasing after it and she could hear him laughing.
"How is it going Goldstein?" The Director's voice broke through, and she flashed a smile.
“A happy memory."
"Good. How's he doing?" The director asked.
"I don't know." She said softly. "I've never tried to deal with something... something like this before. But he's strong." She could tell that. She was sure he was fighting. Whoever he had been, it was someone who wouldn't surrender without a fight.
He turned to the unicorn page, and then pointed at Spot, and opened to his care instructions. He'd written out pages of notes. Piles of parchment, all carefully written out by hand. Hours of work. A sense of hope. Something he had dreamed of for as long as he could remember. She gasped as flames consumed them. He reached for the water, and she gave him a few moments.
"We don't have to carry on right now if you aren't ready." She told him. "If you need more time, we can leave it. We want to help you, if we can..." She tried to keep her voice gentle, to soothe him. The fear was still there. She didn't know how to soothe that terror.
He was staring at a page with an image of a centaur, and then reached for her pen. She relinquished it, and he started correcting it carefully. He wrote 'Centaurs are intelligent. They have a strong belief system. They are capable of great kindness, and they choose to keep their distance from humans. They deserve respect.'
"You knew centaurs?" She asked, and he shrugged a little. She could hear the sound of hooves in the shadow. He wasn't meant to be here. He had snuck out of bed, past the smell of pastry, and made his way towards a darkness. She couldn't remember. He couldn't remember more. She wrote down a few more notes.
He was trying to remember. He saw the puffskein page and smiled a little. There was a fire, a home, not like the one that had destroyed his notes. There was a tree, a surprisingly tall tree for inside the house, and she realised at that moment that this was a memory from childhood. There were parents, and she couldn't see the faces, but what she could see was the small ball of fluff sat in his lap, a blue ribbon wrapped around it. Another child, one slightly taller, leans in and grabs the puffskein, cuddling them close She saw soft red hair and a brilliant smile.
"Is that Theseus?" She asked softly, and she saw Newt mouthing the word, still silent. He nodded, and closed his eyes. She could feel how exhausted he was. "I think that's enough for now pumpkin, you did so well, I'm really proud of you..." She wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and stroked his hair. "You did so well."
The fear wasn't gone. But there was a certainty that wasn't there before, and he smiled a little, one hand resting on the children's book.
Percival kept standing in the doorway, making sure that no one came in to bother the two of them. Newt looked utterly shattered, his eyes closing in exhaustion. Spot woke up and clambered into bed beside him, and was cradled to Newt’s chest. Goldstein Junior stayed beside him until he drifted asleep, her fingers brushing through his hair. She added what she could to the notes, and only once she was sure he was resting did she stand.
“Director-“ She held out the notes.
Percival took it from her and smiled.
“Thank you.” He flicked through the pages, seeing what she had said. The focus was on the creatures, twisting from one creature to another, memories from childhood tied to more recent flashes. “An information about what happened to him?”
“He can only look at those memories for now. He’s hurting a lot.” She sighed. “He’s being so brave.”
“Do you think you could do more with him?”
“Yes. But not right now. He needs to rest.” Goldstein Junior said, and for a moment Percival could see her sister’s fires shining through her eyes.
“He does. Don’t worry Goldstein, I won’t push him too hard.”
“You want a success with this case.” She pointed out.
“A success is keeping every one of their prisoners alive.” Percival argued. “I’d like to have a meeting with you and Goldstein later. Theseus Scamander too.”
“He should be there too.” Goldstein Junior insisted, glancing at the sleeping man. “I don’t want decisions being made for him.”
“I don’t want that either.” Percival sighed. “If we’re done here, I’d best go and talk to his brother and then I have to get on with my job. This is only one case-“ He smiled sadly. He wanted to prioritise helping Newt, but he couldn’t just abandon the rest of his work. Too many people were relying on him.
Percival stared down at his notes - reports from all the aurors who had been involved in the raid on the warehouse. It was his job to look through, to spot any inconsistencies or potential leads which he could flag up before passing them along to the administrative section.
Reading how Newt was found didn't get easier, no matter how many sets of notes he looked at. He had become an auror to help people, and he had been promoted up the ranks because he was good at it. For Newt, it hadn't been enough, and he couldn't help wondering how long he had been in the US. He scribbled down a reminder to speak to Theseus about Newt's apparent fear of dugbogs, before turning to another case - a suspected puffskein breeder on the West Coast who apparently had a sideline in phoenix and fwooper chicks.
He organised a few aurors in the vicinity to investigate further, before pausing as he looked back at the notes Goldstein Junior had left. He added another few sentences at the end of the letter.
"If any creatures are found that are not to be considered dangerous, I want them transferred to the main office. This is particularly true of any graphorn, bowtruckles or nifflers. We have found someone who apparently is quite good at treating creatures, which in turn might mean we no longer need to kill them to use them as evidence." Note complete he got on with the rest of his work.
A few hours later, he was writing a letter for MACUSA as a whole.
"If anyone finds a magical creature that is in need of containment, treatment or removal, contact the Director of Magical Security." That done he got on with his job, and didn't let his mind drift over to Newt until considerably later in the evening.
He headed to the room that was set aside for meetings with families - smaller than the main room, an intimate space used for interviewing witnesses and victims of magical crimes. Goldsteins (both auror and junior) were sitting side by side on a soft red couch, and on the floor in front of them was Newt, Spot leaning her head on his shoulder.
Theseus Scamander was sat on the other chair, leaning in towards them; his face a mask of concentration. Whatever else was going on in the room, no one could mistake that Theseus's priority was his brother.
"Hello." Percival greeted the four of them. "Thank you for coming. Now, I believe we are all up to date with the latest news: Ms Goldstein did a wonderful job of unlocking some of your memories Newt..."
Newt didn't respond. Percival hadn't expected him to.
"But there is still a lot more work to be done." Percival continued. "I don't believe you like being in the medical wing?"
Newt shook his head.
"And you like the Goldsteins?" He asked, pointing out towards the sisters. Newt twisted to look at them for a moment before nodding.
"I think that perhaps he should stay with you for a little while." He told the two sisters. "If that's alright. The department is more than willing to pay for any expense incurred-"
"He's my brother." Theseus pointed out, and Percival nodded.
"He is. But I think Ms. Goldstein can help. "
"You can visit him every day. More than that if you want to sir?" Goldstein Junior stepped in, and the atmosphere relaxed a little, some of the tension dripping away and leaving the five of them sitting quietly.
"I do hope to interview him soon." Percival admitted. "But not until he has recovered..." He paused and then turned to Newt. "I've asked for injured creatures to be brought here. You probably won't get any you know, but I thought if you wanted to you could help care for them?"
Newt nodded enthusiastically.
"You can go with the sisters once you've persuaded the healers that you can be released without putting yourself in further danger." Percival explained, and Newt had the decency to look a little ashamed.
"Theseus told me so much about you when we were younger." Percival admitted, smiling a little. "About how much you smiled. And we're going to support you to get back-"
Newt nodded, pulling his book out from where he had placed it behind him, and bringing out a pen as well. He started to doodle - the niffler and bowtruckles first, then a large lumbering beast with tendrils, then another one that looked like some kind of bird. He was frowning in concentration as he did it, and eventually he put the book down, writing "Saved above it.
The meeting continued.
Newt suddenly cried out, reaching for the book and flicking through the book until he found a blank page. He started scribbling on the paper, round and round in circles, a dark stain on the page. Queenie raced back to him, reaching for his hand and squeezing gently.
“Newt, Newt, it’s okay, let me see…” She gasped, and Percival walked over towards him, watching as Newt continued scribbling before writing two words beneath.
Save him He held it up towards Percival, his hands shaking.
“There’s…” Queenie froze and swallowed slightly. “I think… I think that they’ve got an obscurial.”
The knowledge that an obscurial could be caught up in the smuggling plot drove Percival onwards with renewed determination. There were two main things that this revealed: First that the Grimsditch family were able to cause a lot more destruction than initially believed - if they unleashed an obscurus, all hell could break loose. Secondly, and more worryingly for Percival, it showed that they had no problem with hurting children.
The thought that there was a child somewhere suffering drove him onwards. He searched through the records they had, organised a surveillance detail for Rufus Grimsditch at a distance. He kept searching for any evidence that would enable him to confront the man.
He was reading over one of the statements taken from a rescued no-maj from another case that Rufus's sticky fingerprints had been all over when Auror Goldstein walked in.
"Director. Sorry, I know you're probably busy-"
"So I'm assuming you have a reason to be here."
"Yes sir. That is... well, as you know Newt is at home now. Queenie is helping him a lot, we're trying to get him to make sense of the memories, and we've got a tree for Pickett, and-"
Percival raised an eyebrow, gently prompting her to get to the point. Luckily she caught on fairly soon.
"You saw that he liked doodling sir. He draws a lot - in a way I think it's easier than writing. Queenie says most of his thoughts are pictures, so he's only recording what he is thinking..."
Tina paused for breath, then reached into her pocket, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper. The first thing Percival saw was two words. "Save Them." Beneath those shakily written words there were two figures, little more than doodles really. There was a tall thin figure with his hair styled strangely, shadows creeping out across his skin. By his side there was a little girl, wearing a dress and pigtails. The most detailed part of the two pictures was the flower embroidered on the little girl's pocket. It had been picked out carefully, as though the artist had been concerned with showing what he had seen, and wanted people to focus on the flower.
There was something about the two faces that felt familiar.
"Who are they?"
"These... these are the No-Maj children linked to the Second Salem Society sir. The ones I got demoted for last year. The boy is named Credence, and the girl is Modesty." Her voice shook slightly. "Their mother beats them."
Percival raised a hand to rub at the bridge of his nose and stave off the headache which was threatening.
"I want your sister to investigate. See if that woman knows where they are. Or why they left." He didn't want to consider the possibility that the children had been sold. But it wasn't unheard of - for families to try and earn money from children they saw as useless by letting factory owners put them to work. Newt had been kidnapped. He could only hope it was the same for these two.
"As you wish. And sir? Queenie asks if you might come around for dinner tomorrow night. You can interview him after a meal. She thinks that eating together might help him to relax a little bit."
"Alright Goldstein. Thank you." He dismissed her with a wave of his hand, and turned to his plans for the day. He was waiting to hear back about some of this. But he would liaise with other aurors across America, in case anyone happened to have information that they weren't sharing about obscurial attacks.
Logically, Percival knew that there couldn't be obscurial attacks. America hadn't had an obscurial for two hundred years. But there was no denying that Newt knew his creatures. He reached for the forms that auror Goldstein had filled in when she had initially interfered with the Barebone children, wondering how he had missed something like this. His head ached, and he felt he deserved a drink.
He walked into a bar, the sketches of the two children foremost in his mind. He felt strangely responsible for them. It seemed to him he should have interfered, should have listened. If he had they might have been safe now. He ordered himself a glass of firewhiskey, taking a slow drink when a familiar and unwelcome voice spoke from behind him.
"If it isn't MACUSA's attack dog. Really, Percival, do you not have a city to be saving? Lives to be interfering in?"
He turned around and was met by the sharp suit of Rufus Grimsditch. He smirked, taking a seat on a stool beside him. While Grimsditch was a couple of years older than Percival, he was still relatively fit, a side effect of a passion for fencing.
"I'm just having a drink." Percival murmured. He didn't demand Grimsditch leave, knowing that there was nothing he would be able to do to enforce it.
"You really should be out there working." Grimsditch smirked at him. "You know, not only did my warehouse get broken into the other day, but my stock was replaced. And MACUSA has been entirely unhelpful."
Percival thought of the "stock" that had been there - a dead woman, a dead unicorn. Newt sheltering a foal. The body parts of a dozen different rare species. He swallowed back his initial cursing and waited to see what else Grimsditch might reveal.
"I do hope you aren't getting any silly ideas about investigating me?"
"I investigate crimes fairly Grimsditch." Percival said firmly.
"You care more about the law than the treatment of purebloods." Grimsditch spat, managing to make a compliment sound like an insult. Percival didn’t bother to answer. “Be careful. The New York Ghost knows you sell a lot of papers.”
Percival drained his glass in one swallow and apparated home. That Grimsditch could challenge him in such a public place showed him how very unafraid he was, and how untouchable he thought himself.
He continued at work the next day, trying to push the anger beneath his skin out of the way. Being angry wouldn't solve anything. If he wanted to solve what had happened, then the best thing that he could do would be to stay calm and wait for Grimsditch to slip up. Feeling angry was a distraction he couldn't afford. Rufus knew that. That was why he had done it. Being able to rationalise the man's actions didn't really make them any simpler to ignore. Luckily a meeting with Picquery took up half of the afternoon, and soon Auror Goldstein was knocking on his door, a shy smile on her face.
"Is dinner still alright?" He asked softly, ready for her to say no. In a way it would be easier than having to face Newt, to tell him that they had found no cracks in Grimsditch's story yet. She smiled and nodded, and he reached out for her, letting her side-along him to her home.
"I’m afraid we’ll have to be quiet sir." She explained, her voice barely above a whisper. "There is a strict no men policy here. And I don't want to anger my landlady if I can possibly avoid it."
Percival frowned and cast a quick silencing charm, making Auror Goldstein blush. He smiled at her for a moment, only to really look around where they were. The apartment was small but comfortable, a wizarding household, with the living area as one large space. In the corner, Goldstein Junior was waving her wand around and preparing dinner. Sitting beside her, his head in a book as always, was Newt.
"Hello Newt." Percival called, and approached. Newt looked up at him and smiled for a moment, folding over the corner of the page he was on and putting it to one side. "Thank you for your drawings of the obscurial. It was very helpful. Don't worry. We'll find her."
Newt paused for a moment and then nodded.
"Do you think you might be up for a quick interview after dinner?" Percival asked, seeing how Newt's eyes flicked over to Tina and Queenie. "They can be there too. We can do it wherever you’re comfortable."
Hesitantly, Newt nodded, as Pickett waved a greeting.
"Hello Pickett!" Percival greeted the bowtruckle, and saw Newt's face light up at that moment. There was no way that he could ignore how much it brought Newt joy to have the creatures treated well. Someone inside there was a good person, a sweet person who loved creatures and wanted to help people. Percival was grateful for that. For seeing the man that was inside there, even if just in snatches. There was the man there that Theseus adored, the man that traveled fearlessly around the world. Percival leaned in and saw that the bowtruckle did indeed have a tree. A tree that he appeared to be extremely comfortable in.
"Food's ready!" Queenie called, dishing up the meal and floating four plates across to the table, following them a moment later with a small saucer with a handful of woodlice scattered across it.
"Thank you." Percival nodded. "This... looks wonderful." He meant that. Meals for him were normally snatched, eaten as he read reports. A sit down meal with friends was an unusual treat, and one that he was determined to make the most of.
Newt's hands rose, cupped against his chest and making a heart shape with his fingers.
"Oh thank you sweetie!" Queenie beamed, leaning over to brush her fingers through Newt's hair. Newt giggled silently in response. The four of them ate, Queenie gossiping about work. It was a constant background ramble of noise. Percival could see how much it seemed to relax Newt.
He finished the food on his plate, and smiled sadly towards Newt. Newt’s returning smile was happy. Queenie cleared her throat.
"We're going to have some cherry pie for dessert." Queenie explained. "With decorations in the shape of magical creatures - Newt helped me to make some of them earlier."
"That sounds wonderful." Percival nodded, glancing over at Newt and smiling fondly. "You did great." It was heartbreaking in a way, to see how Newt responded to every praise, how he seemed to flourish with a few kind words and gentle touches. But it reassured him. "Your brother told me to give you this." Percival reached into his pocket, pulling out a feather.
"This is from a hippogriff." Percival explained. Newt nodded, and reached out for it.
He brushed his fingers along the feather. "Do you remember hippogriffs? Maybe think about them, and Queenie can say what you're thinking about?"
Newt nodded, and Queenie started to speak after a few moments as Percival set an enchanted pen to record what was said.
"It's dark. It's been raining, but it's warm... we're small, children still, but the hippogriffs are there and they are safe. I was called names at school today, but I know it's okay because I have a family and the hippogriffs care. There's a cat... no, not a cat, but something like a cat... a kneazle, there's a kneazle on our lap...It's warm, and it's safe, and I'm home. My brother's in the doorway, looking down at me and shaking his head-" Newt nodded in response to her words, and Percival listened.
"Do you think you can manage a little more about what happened?" He asked. "Maybe about the dugbog?"
"Cold. But not a safe cold." Queenie said quickly. "He was hunting somewhere-" Newt seemed to glare, and Queenie muffled a giggle. "He was searching. He doesn't like me calling it hunting." Newt nodded, his gaze still focused on the feather.
"He was searching, and he felt hopeful. He'd found a little dugbog, and thought that there would be larger ones, and then something knocked him out. The rest of the memories... they hurt him a lot. He can remember a few moments. He doesn't like thinking about them, but he remembers. And he knows the faces of the people who were there-"
"Could you identify them?" Percival asked Newt. "Tomorrow afternoon, Tina and you can come into the office, and you can pick out pictures?"
Newt nodded, and Queenie sighed.
"He had to make deals with people, to persuade them to let him help the creatures. He tried to save them, but he couldn't save them all... some of them got protected, and he would work... he... He tried to look after the creatures, and the obscurial children-"
"A boy and a girl." Queenie said quickly. "But they made him pay for it..."
Percival frowned, noticing that Newt was crying.
"Okay, thank you Newt, that'll be enough for today. Maybe we could have the pie now?"
Queenie nodded, floating it to the table, as Tina gently wrapped an arm around Newt's shoulder. He leaned against her, and a moment later Pickett was climbing up his arm and bouncing.
Newt seemed to brighten as he focused on the bowtruckle.
Taking his notes to the office the next day, Percival arranged for a set of photographs of various witches and wizards from New York. Rufus and Kathleen Grimsditch were both among them, as were Arnold and a few other associates of Rufus's. But there were also other uninvolved criminals, and even some of the aurors. If Newt was able to pick out the relevant ones from this, it would be something. The fact that they couldn't interview him in the traditional way was a problem, but one that Percival was determined to work around. It wouldn't be right if Rufus got away with what he had done just because Newt couldn't speak.
He looked up when there was a knock on the door, and Auror Grimblehawk was standing there, a bag in her arms. The bag was squirming.
"What've you got there?"
"A niffler." She answered. "Got a call in from one of the local criminal gangs-"
"They called you?"
"This one has been stealing all of their treasures, and disappearing back into a hole in the wall. Apparently they bought it to help them, and he's been taking most of their money."
"Can you tell me which?"
"I can't." She said softly. "It was agreed that I wouldn't. That isn't to say I won't be able to contact them in future, just using nothing I'd learned today."
"Alright." Percival disliked it when aurors made their own deals, but he understood the importance of aurors. Grimblehawk had an obsession with dragons, and this wouldn't be the first time she had managed to get contacted because a creature was causing trouble. He smiled a little and nodded at her response, not letting her see any disapproval flicker across his face.
"So?" She asked. "Is this going to be of any use for you?"
"Yes." Percival nodded, and went to open the bag.
"Be careful sir." Grimblehawk mumbled. "He's a bit of a lively fellow."
Percival arched an eyebrow, and opened the bag, only for the niffler to shoot straight out. Initially it made a beeline to the door, but Percival closed it with a wave of his hand. The niffler paused for a moment, before seeming to notice the rather shiny things that were there. There were cases of confiscated objects lining Percival's office walls, and it seemed to have drawn the creature's attention. It stared at them, pressing its snout against the glass. Percival sighed slightly in relief, before launching forwards to grab the creature and shove it back into the bag it had come out of. Grimblehawk looked down and laughed.
"I told you that there was a problem. It is quite lively." She said, a faint smirk on her lips. Percival nodded.
"Thank you." He said softly. "This is very kind of you, and I think that it might make all the difference..." He stared at the bag, and then knotted the top and put it under his desk. He watched the bag squiggling across the floor.
"Report on my desk as soon as possible Grimblehawk." He told her. She nodded and walked away, leaving the two of them alone. Percival wondered what a suitable name for a niffler would be. He supposed that Newt would know.
He was just finishing his lunch when the door opened, and Newt walked in with Tina beside him. Tina smiled and Newt waved. Pickett was on Newt's shoulder as always, and bounced up to the top of his head. Percival chuckled slightly.
"Is he always like this?"
"I found the photographs for you." Percival explained, holding them out. "I thought that you could take a look, see if these are... if any of these look familiar."
Newt nodded, and looked down at the photographs. Without faltering, his hands reached out, and he pulled out Rufus's picture. He placed it face down on the table in front of them then looked through again. He picked out a couple of other images as well, including Arnold, then shook his head.
"No more?" Percival asked, and Newt nodded.
"Okay. Thank you for your help." Percival said softly, before pushing his lips together and sighing. "Now, there is one more thing. I don't suppose you'd be willing to do some work for us?"
Newt tilted his head.
"There's a creature that we've got that's been causing a few issues. It really needs someone to look after it, try and stop it from getting into our wallets-" He pulled the wiggling bag out from under his desk, and opened it up.
The niffler looked around, its eyes wide, before launching itself straight at Newt. Newt reached out and wrapped his arms around it, laughing silently, tears shining in his eyes. He rubbed his fingers over the creature's fur, then tipped it upsidedown and tickled it. Percival's pocket watch fell out onto the floor.
Percival blinked, and quickly accioed his watch to him.
Newt cuddled the creature, and gently tapped it on the snout, before looking up at Percival. He swallowed, licking his lips a couple of times before speaking softly.
"Thank you." Newt whispered. His voice was so quiet it was barely audible, but he had spoken.
"You're welcome." Percival answered, glancing at Tina to check that she had heard it too.
Tina smiled back at Percival. It was clear he hadn't imagined it - Newt had spoken, even if just a couple of words. He turned towards him, considering his options - he didn't want to put too much pressure on Newt. He was scared of speaking, and Percival didn't aim to discourage him after that.
"So, this guy..." He pointed at the niffler which was cuddled up against Newt's chest. "He knows you?"
Newt nodded, rubbing a gentle hand over the niffler's head.
"That's good... apparently the little guy's been robbing some thieves. Caused enough chaos that they asked us to take him out of the way."
Newt smiled a little, his face brushing against the top of the niffler's head.
"He got a name?" Percival asked. "I can find a pen and some paper, if you want to write it down. Or you could just tell me, if it'd be easier.."
Newt hesitated for a moment.
"Nick." He mumbled.
"Alright." Percival smiled. "So we have Nick and Pickett, and we have Spot. I think you might be better at naming creatures than me, what do you think?"
Newt hesitated, but a slight smile twisted at the edge of his lips, and Percival felt it was a victory.
"Do you need to put Nick back in his bag? Or maybe a box? A cage?" Percival suggested, and Newt flinched and shook his head rapidly.
"Alright." Percival agreed after a moment. "However you want to do it is fine by me. Thank you for your help with the photographs. Now, the people who did this, they are bad people. They've hurt a lot of innocent people and a lot of creatures, and I don't want them to get away with it ever again. So what I'd like to do is... I want to bring a case against them. I have some evidence, and I plan to find more. But would you be willing to testify against them?"
Newt hesitated, glancing to where the photographs were resting. He frowned a little, his hands clutching tightly to the niffler. He patted his fingers through the dark fur, seeming to find the touch calming.
"You don't have to." Percival said softly. "I will find enough evidence to stop them, no matter what you do. This will be hard, and I don't want to put you through it if you don't want to do it. Whatever you do, I am going to stop them. I am going to do everything I can to help ensure that no one else gets hurt by them. But if you want to testify, it might help." He picked his words carefully, not wanting to ask too much from him, to feel that he had forced him into it.
Newt reached for the photographs, looking at them in turn. He froze at the sight of Rufus Grimsditch, watching as he looked from side to side. Newt was clearly worried to look at the image, almost hypnotised by the sight of it. He took a few deep breaths, still cuddling Nick against him. He closed his eyes, and breathed slowly for a few seconds before he looked up at Percival, seeming to want guidance.
"If we can convict him then we can make sure that he never hurts anyone else again. We will protect the creatures as well, regardless. I know you're an expert, and I hope that with your knowledge we are going to take positive steps for creatures in the US. That's regardless of if you testify or not. Even if we can't convict him, I would like your help with creatures. You are the best we've got." He smiled a little, and Newt mirrored that, glancing back down at the photographs that were resting on the desk in front of him.
"I want to testify." Newt said softly, glancing up at Tina. She squeezed his shoulder and nodded.
"We're all going to support you, every step of the way." She promised, and that seemed to soothe him.
"You are very brave." Percival told him gently, hoping to reassure him, to stop him from worrying. "And it will help. All being well, we are going to get this sorted soon."
Newt nodded. His fear was obvious, his eyes sparkling with concern, but he was determined. Percival could see that strength in the way that he squared his shoulders, looking up at Percival for a moment and then looking away.
"It's going to be alright Newt, I promise you that." Percival swore.
Newt hesitated, then reached for a pen, writing a single word.
"We will do what we can to save the children." Percival promised, and Newt smiled up at him. A warmth settled in Percival's chest at that tender look.
"I'm going to try and sort this as quickly as possible. Thank you both for coming in. Auror Goldstein, if you can take Mister Scamander home and let him rest. I will update you if there is any progress, but for today I believe you should take some time to relax. Maybe help Miss Goldstein with her cooking, and see if you can keep Nick out of trouble..."
Newt flashed a smile at him as he left, and there was such confidence and hope in his eyes that Percival felt that he was going to be able to succeed. That Grimsditch would be taken out of the picture, that the children would be rescued, that Newt would recover. It was with that confidence driving him that he made his way along the corridor to the President's office.
He knocked smartly on the door before pushing it open, nodding formally at the woman behind the desk. She looked up at him.
"You look like you've had a good day."
"Scamander is speaking." Percival explained. "And he is willing to testify."
"He identified his photograph, and Arnold's, without prompting from a mixture of images including aurors. No hesitation. He grabbed them straight away, and he didn't want to take a look at it any more. I believe him."
"Are you convinced?"
"I'm convinced." Percival agreed. "And I want your permission to raid his properties."
"Evidence?" She asked with a faint smile.
"I believe he has an obscurial. Possibly two. And they need us to save them before they lose control. That is evidence enough to hurry up the raid. We've got eyewitness testimony from a wizard. We won't have a better opportunity than this."
"Then, Director, bring me results."
Being granted permission to carry out the raid thrilled Percival. For years he had dreamed of this opportunity, driven by his hatred of Grimsditch and unspoken fury at the impunity with which he acted. He was being given a chance to make sure that what had happened to Newt and his creatures would never happen to anyone else.
He called in his aurors – sending notes scuttling across the streets for those who were currently absent. Only Tina was excused, as she was caring for Newt and it was clear that the Brit needed her. The rest of the aurors would be needed, if he was to carry out raids on several different properties simultaneously. They could not afford to mess this up. When everyone was assembled, he split them into four teams, arranging for his most trusted aurors to lead each team. Two official properties linked to Grimsditch, a third that Percival had strong suspicions about, and the Grimsditch household itself.
Each team was given a photograph of Newt, and told to show it to any children that they found, to promise that Newt was safe and they would see him soon. Percival couldn’t help worrying over how the obscurials would react – an obscurial loose in the city would be a disaster and could expose everything that they had worked so hard to hide.
The teams would assemble around their properties, far enough from the building that they wouldn’t be seen as they cast anti-apparition wards. Those wards would be put up as the sky darkened, but before the sun set. Once those were in place, the real fun would start.
Percival was heading the fourth team, targeting the house where Rufus Grimsditch would most likely be found. Giving the signal to head out, Percival lead his team to the vast estate that Rufus called home. He had read about the glamorous parties held on the sprawling land but had always refused an invite. Therefore, he couldn’t avoid being impressed by the sight of the building. It made the Graves’ ancestral home look modest.
“All of you.” He turned to the five aurors who were standing beside him. “The anti-apparition wards are vital. Cast those, when you have completed your section and you are confident that it will hold return here. When we are all together, we will start to make a gap in his own wards and go from there. Any questions?”
The aurors shook their heads, fanning out around the vast estate. Percival waited until they were all in place before starting to fire out the wards. Temporary wards like this wouldn’t necessarily last for more than a couple of hours, and a team of strong wizards would be able to bring them down. But they had the element of surprise on their side. Rufus wouldn’t be able to bring down wards that he was unaware of.
Slowly, a faint glowing light approached from each side, his own wards meeting those of the aurors either side, knitting together to encircle the property before arching up above it, twisting together and trapping the building beneath a dome. The air shimmered a little, and then turned back to its normal colour. It was still possible to escape the building, but you would have to do so by foot or on broomstick, rather than apparating away. It would slow an escape.
The other aurors returned slowly, slotting into place beside him until all six of them were standing there.
“Remember to consider your own safety.” He warned, directing his words to a couple of the younger aurors who had been known to become a little enthusiastic during duelling. When everyone had nodded their agreement he moved forwards, casting spells to highlight any wards that they faced. The first was little more than a tripwire, easy to move around, but the second was a defensive wall around the side of the building. He signalled and the aurors fanned out, wands all aimed at the same spot. The second a spell hit it their presence would be discovered.
Percival counted down, hand held up so that the aurors could see. As he curled his last finger into place, six spells shot out, slamming into the same spot of wall with a resounding crunch.
The shields that had been put up around the house were not eager to break. They were strong; Grimsditch had hired the best when it came to warding his properties. But they weren't there right now. Percival planted his feet, braced himself, and directed all of his strength into cracking those walls, knowing that his aurors were doing the same.
The wards held for a few more moments, and Percival heard one of the aurors gasp in pain, his own breath coming in short gasps as he forced his focus to remain. It worked. When the wards started to crumble he staggered forwards, catching himself before he could fall forwards onto the ground. He raced towards the mansion. Now that the main wards were down, the others posed little difficulty - it had never been expected that anyone would get that far. Grimsditch had been confident that his name alone would protect him from what was about to happen.
Percival was looking forwards to proving him wrong.
The aurors surrounded the building, and it was Percival who made his way in first, through the front door. The other entrances were covered by the aurors. He raced forwards, to find Rufus Grimsditch sitting in an armchair. He was frowning, a glass of whisky in his hand. He took another sip, and arched an eyebrow.
"Hello Percival. I do hope you have a warrant if you are going to burst in at this kind of time of the evening. You could have knocked."
"We have a warrant."
"Would you like some whisky while we wait for your aurors to finish their search?"
"No." Percival had his wand pointed towards the man. "Stand up."
"Whatever you think I'm hiding, I'm hardly going to be sitting on it." Grimsditch snarled, but he stood. "I do hope you know I will be letting the Ghost know about this little charade. Just because the President isn't very popular at the moment is hardly a reason to arrange raids on innocent men. I thought we'd outgrown such childish rivalries."
"Kettering?" Percival called over one of the other aurors. "Hold him, and make sure he doesn't escape. I'm going to see what we can find. Feel free to silencio him if he gets too much of a problem for you."
"Gladly sir." Kettering walked over with a smirk, wand drawn, casting the silencing spell. Percival had wanted to arrest Grimsditch for a long time, but at this moment that couldn't be his focus. His priority would be on finding the children and getting the evidence that they needed in order to make sure no one else got hurt. He had promised Newt that. He wouldn't fail him.
"Sir, a little help?" Davidson called out from across the corridor, and Percival raced to them to discover what was wrong. What they were met with startled him. A man stood in the middle of the room. He was wearing black pants, which were ripped, and his hair fell to his shoulders. The most noticeable thing about him was the pitch smoke which was pouring off of him. He was glaring, his teeth bared in animal rage. Behind him was a small girl, her blond hair in pigtails. She had her knees drawn to her chest, and was wearing the remains of a dress. She was crying in fear.
"Hello." Percival greeted the boy. "You must be... Credence Barebone?"
The boy snarled, but some of the smoke wavered.
Percival pulled out the picture of Newt from his pocket and held it out.
"Newt is with us. Newt is with us, and he wants to see you."
The boy stayed still, staring at him, his eyes tainted with white which swirled across his pupils.
"Newt has been asking us to help you. He wants to check that both of you are safe. Please, come with us..."
The boy nodded, concentrating as the smoke was absorbed back into his body. He fell, crashing to his knees. There were cuts across his back, some still bleeding, and he reached out. The little girl nervously made her way forwards and wrapped her hand around his. Percival smiled at both of them.
"Come with me, I'll take you to Newt..." He reached out for the boy's hand, helping him to his feet. "Davidson, help Kettering take that man to the cells. I'll be along to check on him once I've got these two back to Newt." After so long, this mattered far more than arresting Grimsditch.
The first problem was that as they reached the door, the little girl started to scream, clinging to the boy's hand and refusing to move. Percival mentally cursed the fact he had ignored Tina's concern over the Barebone children.
His first instinct would have been to put the girl to sleep with a wave of his wand, but he knew that with the obscurial there, doing that could backfire horrifically. He crouched down beside the girl, holding out the photograph.
Her screaming stopped as she gazed at it curiously.
"Oh... yes, No-Maj pictures don't move, do they?" He handed it over to her. "This is Newt. He's safe now. He's staying with two of my friends. They are both lovely women, one of them is an expert at making pretty dresses..."
The girl stared down at her own ruined dress, swaying from side to side. The obscurial frowned a little, but looked at the picture in turn. The two children whispered to each other, and then the boy nodded, his eyes turning back to their normal colours. As he calmed, the celtic knot tattooed on his shoulder faded into view, the same as Newt had been branded with. The boy's wrists were ringed with scars, but the little girl's weren't. Percival couldn't help hoping that meant she hadn't been chained - she was frightened enough as it was, and she was only a child.
"It's only a few blocks." Percival told them. "We can walk, or we can apparate?"
"The spinning?" The little girl asked, and Percival nodded. The boy quickly shook his head and the little girl continued. "Please can we walk?"
"Of course." Percival answered. He smiled at the little girl. "Would you like me to carry you?"
She nodded, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and clinging, then waving one hand towards her brother. Credence squeezed her hand, walking beside the two of them.
"Do you have a name?" Percival asked her softly. She nodded, burrowing her face into his shoulder.
"Well, come on then Modesty..." He carried her to the Goldstein's apartment, Credence still gripping the little girl's hand.
Percival could see the injuries on the boy's back, and the girl's face was bruised. She whimpered, but cuddled closer.
"When we get there, we're going to need to cast a couple of spells over you - we need to record the injuries, and then when we've got that, we can heal them..."
"You can stop her hurting?" Credence asked, the first words he had spoken since Percival had found them. His voice didn't sound human. There was a darkness to it that made Percival's skin crawl, but he smiled a little and nodded.
"We can. It's alright, just here-" He led them to the apartment.
The door swung open as he approached, and Queenie rushed out, holding her arms out towards Modesty.
"Let me..." She asked, cradling the girl as Percival handed her over. Credence frowned, and Percival reached out to him to calm him.
"This is Queenie... She isn't going to hurt her. I promise."
"Oh you poor dear, you're so hungry..." Queenie cooed. "There's going to be food soon, I promise..." She waved her wand. Credence tensed at the movement, but soon the food was floating through the air, and both children watched, hypnotised.
Percival cast the diagnostic spells quickly, trying to make this as painless as possible for both of them. He turned to Credence.
"May I cast the healing spells on you first? Then you can see what they are like?"
There was a moment of tension, before Credence nodded. Percival drew his wand, careful to broadcast every movement. He focused on healing every injury, a little sickened by what the diagnostic spells had shown. They had both been hurt a lot. The boy had several broken ribs, alongside the whipping marks, and he had been burned and scalded. The girl's injuries were similar. But she barely noticed the healing, too busy watching Queenie.
Percival was healing the last of the injuries when the door to the kitchen swung open. Newt stood there, wearing a pair of pyjamas, the niffler cuddled to his chest and the bowtruckle in his hair. Spot the unicorn was at his side as always. He smiled when he saw the other two, walking towards them.
Modesty saw first, wiggling out of Queenie's grip to run to Newt. She hugged him tightly, and Newt picked her up, pressing a kiss to his forehead. Newt was blinking back tears. Credence walked over.
"Newt?" He whispered softly.
"Credence..." Newt reached out, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Credence whimpered as tears started to run down his face. He held onto Newt, his fingers clutched in his shirt. The smoke was back, pouring off of the boy like water.
"It's alright" Newt mumbled, and Credence nodded, shivering in his grasp. "You can do this... you're safe. You're safe now..." Newt's voice was quiet, but there was certainty in his words. Percival met Newt's eyes and nodded, honored that Newt trusted him.
"Do you guys want to eat?" Queenie called out. "I've made quite a lot..."
Credence glanced at Newt, who nodded, and reached down for Modesty.
Modesty was distracted by Spot, who was nuzzling her hair. The young unicorn was looking a lot healthier than before.
"She likes you." Newt murmured, and Modesty smiled brightly, then skipped along to the table where Queenie had placed out the food. She squirmed slightly on the spot.
"'scuse me?" She whispered, and Queenie leaned in.
"What is it princess?"
"The man with a nice coat said you can make me a dress..." She mumbled. Queenie's eyes lit up and she nodded, turning to Percival.
“He does have a pretty coat, doesn’t he? Director, can you spin around so we can see your coat?”
Percival frowned, looking between Queenie and the little girl, and then sighed and spun on the spot. The girl giggled in delight, and he saw Newt smiling at him.
Queenie patted the girl’s hair.
"I can make you a dress. Now, what colours do you like, let's see, pink? Well pink is my favourite..."
Modesty giggled a little, squeaking as fabric wrapped around her. Credence watched, not touching his food, until Modesty was dressed and resumed her seat at the table.
Newt glanced towards Percival as the two children finally began to eat.
"Did you find him?"
"He's in custody." He tried not to notice how relieved Newt looked at that. Both children were eating hungrily, and Percival wondered when they had last been fed. He had known that Grimsditch was a monster, but he hadn't realised how bad he had been - what Newt had been through was hell, but the thought that he had starved children was somehow more sickening.
Newt turned to the children, gently resting a hand on Credence's shoulder. The boy leaned into the touch, sniffling a little, as though it was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
"Did Modesty turn?"
Credence shook his head, looking down.
"A few broken glasses and cracked plates. She made one of his cushions explode. But no."
Newt sighed in relief, ruffling Modesty's hair.
"I remembered what you tol' me Mister Newt." She mumbled. "Magic isn't a bad thing. Ma was wrong..."
"Good girl." Newt whispered. He turned to Percival. "He's wanted her to be an obscurial. Her sister ...her sister was."
"He killed her." Credence whispered. "He killed her because she... she got angry and she tried to save us and..."
"Credence." Newt's hand squeezed Credence's shoulder. "Chastity loved you. She tried to free you." He passed the niffler over, and it snuggled into Credence's lap. Credence patted the creature's fur carefully, fingers smoothing it out.
Credence nodded, and continued eating in silence. Soon both children had empty plates before them. Credence smiled, and Modesty's eyelids were beginning to close, her head lolling forwards from exhaustion. Queenie smiled at Modesty, addressing her next words to her.
"So, we need to work out where everyone is going to sleep... Do you three want to stay together?"
"I think that might be best. That way if they need anyone, I'll be right there."
"Okay sweetie. Mister Graves, they're all so tired-"
"They can rest." Percival agreed. The washing up was dealt with by a wave of Percival's wand, and he turned his attention to the two children.
"We'll make the couch a little larger." He decided. "That way the three of you can sleep there. In the morning Goldstein can bring you into MACUSA for an interview-" Seeing the fear in Credence's expression he smiled. "None of you are in trouble, I promise."
He stood up to leave, only for Queenie to clear her throat.
"Director Graves? Could you stay maybe?"
"Stay." She said more firmly, her gaze drifting towards where Newt was curled up on the couch. "I think Newt would like you to stay."
Newt nodded, and Percival smiled.
"Well then, I'll stay." He transfigured a chair to make it more comfortable, settling down in it as the sisters headed to their room. Newt, the creatures and the children curled up together on the sofa in a tangle of limbs. Percival stayed awake, ready to wake them if any nightmares struck.
He didn't have long to wait, fear trailing out from Credence in thick curtains of black smoke, as beneath him Newt trembled. Percival called out to wake the boy and he pulled back down into himself, eyes white and terrified.
Newt glanced up at Percival and seemed to relax a little, some of the tension leaving his shoulders as he watched him. Percival nodded his approval, and Newt hummed softly to the children, settling them down to sleep.
Percival was just starting to drift off when Modesty screamed.
Hearing the girl scream was worrying, even though he knew it was a nightmare. Percival jumped slightly as one of the windows shattered, and both Newt and Credence were shaking her gently.
Modesty gradually opened her eyes, blinking up at them in confusion.
"Sorry." She whispered.
"You don't need to be sorry." Percival told her firmly. He found himself worrying though. Because at the moment they were working on the idea that she would be able to prevent turning. If she became an obscurial, things would be far harder. As far as he knew, no obscurial had ever lived past ten - Credence was the only exception, and he was far from healthy.
Newt smiled over at him sleepily, guiding Modesty against his chest and stroking her hair. It seemed to calm her, and she fell silent after a few moments, cuddled up in his arms. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, and then settled down as well.
That time, no more nightmares were forthcoming for a few hours, and Percival was able to grab a little rest. He woke to the smell of bacon, and found Newt sitting up on the sofa, Credence leaning against him on one side and Modesty on the other. Spot the unicorn was resting on Modesty's leg, while the niffler was curled up on Credence. Pickett was in his usual spot in Newt's hair, gazing out at the world.
All three of the ex-prisoners were watching Queenie cook. She was exaggerating her movements, trying to make a show of it to draw them in. It was working. None of them looked afraid. They were smiling, and Graves felt hope blossom in his chest. They would get better. Maybe not immediately, but in time. He would be able to interview them today.
"Now, you all need to eat up." Queenie said clearly, a bright smile on her face. If Percival hadn't known better, he would have suspected that she was saying what she had merely to prevent him from asking questions. But he understood that these people had all been through a lot, that every one of them deserved patience and kindness in the interview.
Queenie floated four plates over - three to the sofa and the other to Percival. He watched the children eating, saw the smiles on their faces and how the two of them kept looking at Newt for reassurance which Newt gave merely by being beside them.
Once breakfast was eaten, he turned to the three of them.
"We need to work out how the interviews will happen. Now, you can bring in one of the creatures if it would help-" Percival explained. "And Newt can sit in with you if you want, but he won't be able to say anything."
"What about Cre?" Modesty asked, her gaze down at the floor and her voice a little shaky.
"Credence needs to be spoken to separately from you." Percival answered. "We'll keep him safe, I promise. When you've both answered our questions, you can see each other again."
Modesty nodded, but the look that passed across her face troubled Percival. He couldn't help thinking of everything Grimsditch had done, wondering if he was just repeating a familiar threat.
"Now, Mister Graves, I don't have work today. So if you want, I can come along with these three to the office, and you can talk to one of them with Newt and I'll look after the other one?" She smiled at the children. Percival could see the relief that passed across Credence's face at her offer.
"I think that would be good. Who wants to be interviewed first?"
"Me." Credence answered. He was protecting his sister. Percival couldn't argue with that, knew that sometimes looking after the person you cared about was far more important than your own safety. Credence had relied on being able to protect Modesty for so long, he wasn't intending to take that from either of them now. He nodded smartly.
"That sounds good. We'll head in when you're ready - don't worry, we can walk."
Modesty squirmed a little where she sat, fidgeting with the sleeve of her pink dress as she took a few shaky breaths.
"Yes?" He asked, crouching down to her level.
"I wanna hold Credence's hand when we walk in." She told him. "He gets scared sometimes and so do I. Is ... is that allowed?"
"That's allowed." Percival promised her, fighting the urge to embrace her. He didn't know if that would make things worse.
Breakfast finished, Percival lead the small group of them to MACUSA. Modesty ducked behind her brother's leg, clutching his hand as she stared around in wide-eyed awe. Queenie was standing close beside her, and reached out to squeeze her shoulder.
"It's pretty, isn't it?"
"It's so big..." Modesty answered, stepping out from her hiding place so that she could gain a better view. "That mop's moving-and that mouse, it's paper..."
"How about I take Miss Modesty here to see the owls?" Queenie asked. "And the three of you can go and talk."
Percival nodded, leading them through to the interrogation rooms - he had chosen a comfortable one for their discussion, but one that could be secured.
The information that Credence, and then Modesty, imparted was sickening. Both of them had been tortured, and Credence had been raped in an attempt to turn them from abandoned magical children to obscurials. Rufus Grimsditch had hoped to use them as bodyguards, and when that had failed had planned on selling them.
Newt stayed silent, holding the children close. At the end of each interview, Percival gave the same reassurance.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens to another person for as long as I am able to stop it."
Credence nodded. Modesty, who had been crying for half of the interview, got to her feet and cuddled him tightly. Newt nodded and smiled, reaching across the table. Percival placed his hand on Newt's own.
The two children clung to each other as though they had been separated for months. Percival smiled a little to see them so happy, before turning to Newt.
"Are you willing to testify?"
"Like you said. I don't want it to happen again."
Percival leaned in and shook his hand.
"You are a brave man Mister Scamander."
"My brother's the brave one." Newt answered. "I'm just stubborn." For a moment, his smile faltered. He was trying to take care of the children, but it was exhausting him to keep a brave face on.
"Stubborn is sometimes a useful thing to be." Percival answered. "Now, Queenie, can you take these two to the tea room and let them pick their choice of cakes, Mister Scamander and I need to clear up a few points."
"Of course..." Queenie reached down and took Modesty's hand. The little girl grasped Credence's hand with the other, and the three of them trailed off down the corridor together. Percival watched them retreat then turned to Newt.
Newt was blinking back tears, and he guided him to a quiet room. Pickett poked his head out from a pocket, and Percival gestured for him to move across Newt's arm, to rest on his wrist. The bowtruckle being there seemed to calm him.
"What's wrong?" Percival asked, trying to keep his voice kind.
Newt swallowed, his head down, and for a moment Percival thought Newt was going to stop talking once more. But eventually he whispered a single word.
"Doesn't stop you being brave." Percival answered, stepping in and wrapping his arms around Newt. After a moment Newt held him in return, shaking. "Being willing to stop him when you're this scared, that's real bravery."
"There's a lot I don't remember." Newt mumbled into Percival's shoulder. "I remember about creatures, but not...not all of it. And I don't... he burned my papers."
"My notes." Newt explained. "I had a library of books about creatures, and all the information I had gathered and he... he burned it."
"You'll rewrite it." Percival said. "It'll be hard, but you will do it. And while you do, you can stay at MACUSA. We have a few books, and I think that your expertise could make a real difference to our work. What do you think?"
Newt looked up, wiping his hand over his eyes to stop his tears.
"I think that would be good." He said softly. "But we've got to stop him."
"We will." Percival promised.
"Don't let Theseus attend the trial." Newt begged. Percival was about to point out all the problems with this, but seeing the desperation on Newt's face, he nodded instead.
"Alright. I'm going to be using you as the main witness so that the other two talk less. But Pickett can accompany you onto the stand."
Newt nodded again. His eyes were still a little shadowed, but as the children returned the mask slipped back into place, and he reached to squeeze Percival's hand, silently nodding his thanks.
Percival stepped out to greet the children, to give Newt a few more moments to gather his thoughts.
Newt spent a lot of time with the children, teaching Modesty to care for creatures and helping Credence to remain in his human form. Percival could see the strength he was using to stay calm, to not let any of the children see the pain he was in. It was exhausting him.
Away from the children, Newt was worried, but he fought to hide it. Percival did what he could to give Newt some time to think. The niffler and Pickett were both loyal to him, and Spot the unicorn trailed after Modesty. It seemed to reassure the younger man to know that Modesty wasn't alone.
As the trial loomed, Newt seemed more anxious than ever. He would glance around the rooms, always careful to sit with his back against a wall so that he couldn't be crept up upon. It was behaviour Percival had seen before with his aurors after they'd been through bad cases.
Percival opened the door to the Goldstein residence one evening to be met by Modesty. The little girl's hair was braided with flowers, and Spot was standing by her side.
"Hello Mister Graves."
"Hello Modesty!" He crouched slightly to greet her. "Your hair looks very nice."
"Queenie helped me." Modesty told him honestly, then frowned. "I think Newt needs to sleep, but he seems scared. Could you give him a hug? I've tried to hug him but... I think you're better at it."
Percival enfolded the little girl in his arms, and nodded.
"I'll try, but you give good hugs. How's your brother?"
"He's helping Queenie cook dinner." Modesty answered.
"Modesty, could you come and help?" Queenie called out from the kitchen in response to Percival's mental plea to be allowed some time to talk to Newt. The girl skipped off, and Percival walked through to the bedroom, knocking before allowing himself in.
Newt was sitting on the bed, staring blankly at the wall, petting the niffler with one hand. His eyes looked dead, and it reminded Percival of when they first met.
"Newt?" Percival called out, keeping his voice gentle. "Newt, can you look at me?"
It took a few moments for Newt to focus, but slowly he did. He smiled slightly when he saw Percival.
"Hello." Newt replied politely.
"I got you a present." Percival informed him, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a leather journal. The pages were thin, and he had wrapped a strand of leather around it.
"Well, you've done well with correcting my books." Percival teased. "But you should be keeping your own records. You're a genius. You said he destroyed your files. I think you are able to make more. Prove me right."
Newt smiled softly, and unbound the notebook, laughing as he opened it. On the first page there was a doodle of a niffler, and beneath it was written 'Niffler. Steals watches. Makes a good replacement hot water bottle.'
"Thought I'd give you a head start."
"Thank you." Newt traced the doodle with a fingertip. "I appreciate it."
"I know it's not what you lost. But I believe in you. And what you know could make a difference to creatures, and to wizardkind."
The smile Newt gave him was genuine, and Percival couldn't help smiling back.
Percival watched as Newt took the stand. The thin British man looked utterly terrified, glancing around the room until he saw where Tina and Queenie were standing. Credence and Modesty were elsewhere in case they needed to testify later, being looked after by Theseus. Theseus wasn't happy that he couldn't accompany his brother, but looking after the children meant that he at least had a reason for not being present.
Newt cleared his throat, squirming at the eyes of the court upon him, Pickett climbing up onto his hair. Pickett looked over at where Grimsditch waited next to his attorney, and stuck his little green tongue out. Percival smiled at that, not bothering to try and hide his amusement.
One of Grimsditch's lawyers walked forwards, staring at Newt.
"So. Scamander, I understand that you were thrown out of school."
"I was." Newt answered. "I worked on. Studied creatures. Traveled."
"You were a failure who got thrown out of school for threatening other students." The lawyer repeated. "Simply answer yes or no."
"Yes." Newt stood still.
Grimsditch smirked at him from where he stood.
"During your time in Hogwarts, your closest friend was a member of the Le Strange family, a group known for dark wizardry and black magic? Again, yes or no will suffice."
"Yes." Newt answered, looking down. Newt was nervous. He looked frightened. That fear was obvious, and it made him look weak. It made him look like he was lying, and that was a concern.
"Let me give you another explanation Mister Scamander." The lawyer walked forwards. "You travelled for a little while, until you were running short on money. When you claim this happened, in Russia, you were almost at the end of the funding Augustus Worme gave you. You found my client, and you recognised the family name. He offered you a role helping with his unicorn pet. You seduced him."
Newt paled, his eyes widening. He shook his head.
"I'm not finished yet." The lawyer answered. "You seduced my client, used your knowledge of creatures to organise a trading ring beneath his nose. You kidnapped the children that will testify later. You brainwashed them, and cast yourself as a victim so that you could frame him. And in doing so you worked with some of my client's friends. To make him look bad. To try and ruin his reputation and shatter the family name."
"No!" Newt cried out, glancing towards the judges. Percival met Newt's eyes, and tried to reassure him.
"What can you say in your defense Mister Scamander. Because I have plenty of people willing to testify that you should be the one in the defendant’s seat. The fact you've been seducing the Director of the aurors since then says enough about your character."
In one breath Newt went from pale to pink with embarrassment.
"So, what do you say in response to my explanation of the facts?" The lawyer waited, and Newt took a few deep breaths.
"You can veritaserum me." Newt said. "Or have a legilimens look at my thoughts. You can find out the truth that way..." He shuddered. "But keep the children out of it."
There was a brief debate between the legal teams, until one of them brought out a small vial of the truth-serum. Newt drank it quickly.
The next two hours were some of the most painful of Percival's life - and that wasn't something which he said easily. It was hard to hear all of what Newt had gone through repeated again, with no sensitivity from the questions. At the end, when he was finally allowed to step down from the stand, he was visibly shaking.
Yet Percival could see that the witches and wizards of the jury had been swayed. Grimsditch was not going to escape a sentence - even if his family name saved him from the death chamber, he was going to be sentenced to a long time in prison. His sister would be investigated.
Newt barely made it out of the court, but Percival was waiting for him. He wrapped his arms gently around Newt's shoulders, as Queenie ran in tearfully.
"You did so well." Percival promised. "Let's get you back home. Your brother is waiting for you."
"I think... that in a way it helped. Some memories that I had forgotten returned to me."
"Good." Percival answered, squeezing his hand. "You were brave today. And your family will be waiting for you." He walked Newt home, taking care of the children so that Theseus and Newt could reunite.
Queenie arrived, tearful and shaking, but she managed to smile at Modesty and Credence.
"We should go out and get some cake." She told them. "We can bring some home for Newt."
The children nodded. Percvial walked with them to a cafe, allowing them to buy whatever they wanted.
The trial dragged on, but after that first day it was clear that Percival had sealed Grimsditch's fate. There was no gratitude there though, only relief that he was not going to hurt another person. He was too angry at what had happened to Newt and to the children to celebrate the man's fall. He couldn't stop himself wondering if there was something that he could have done earlier.
Queenie attended the trial every day, and as it began to close she took Percival aside.
"There was nothing you could do."
He nodded, but said nothing more.
The sentence, when it came, was life imprisonment.
He made his way home, approaching Newt and the children where they were sat on the couch, reading together.
"Hello. He can’t hurt anyone ever again." He told them. The look on Newt's face was one of absolute relief.
Newt and the other two remained with the Goldstein sisters. It was clear that they were recovering with the two of them, and neither Percival nor Theseus wanted to tear the five of them apart. They were a family together.
Percival visited most evenings, in awe of how Newt seemed to be growing in confidence every day. Theseus seemed to be getting on rather well with Tina. Percival was happy for his friend and his auror. Newt would often spend time with him, showing him the notes that he had made, the progress he was making through the journal. Percival had heard so much from him that he suspected he would do rather well if he found himself alone with a creature.
Two weeks after the trial was finished, Percival got a message from the aurors in Texas, letting him know that they had found some kind of creatures. Director Graves. We found a cellar containing four of these creatures. They are violent and seem to be angry with us, snarling. Spells have no effect on them. They have tentacles on their faces. We've worked out that they eat meat, but we cannot get them to allow us close. The message had luckily contained a sketched image of the beasts - something large, with tentacles on the face and the stubs of horns which had been cut off.
He brought the note to Newt. Newt's eyes lit up brightly, a faint smile resting on his lips.
"Graphorns." He murmured. "I can calm them. Please. Let me see them?"
"I'll arrange for a portkey." Percival managed to organise it for within a couple of hours.
He held Newt's hand as the two of them grasped the journal. The air spun around them, and after a few moments everything calmed. Percival found himself faced with a dozen rather nervous looking aurors.
"Where are they?" Newt asked.
"Just down those stairs." Auror Fraye answered. "Though they're quite fierce, one of us should go first-"
"I'll be fine." Newt answered, making his way down into the cellar. Percival trailed behind, a little apprehensive. He half expected Newt to see the creatures and panic. Instead Newt walked forwards, his hands raised.
"Hello..." Newt said softly. "You're still all alive, you poor things... this is such a tiny room, it's horrible..." He patted each of the beasts, their tendrils running across his face and arms. He cooed at them, affection obvious. "You found them..." He looked up at Auror Fraye, who was lingering nervously at the top of the stairs. "You saved them. And now they are... these are the last ones left. If you hadn't..."
"You did well." Percival praised Newt, then paused. "How do we get them out of there?"
"With great difficulty, a ramp or an extension charm." Newt answered.
Percival smirked a little at that.
"Alright." He turned to the aurors. "Let's get these creatures out of here. And Newt?"
"Yes?" Newt looked up. His fear had faded now. He wasn't the terrified man that Rufus Grimsditch had hurt. He was the man that Theseus adored, the genius who loved creatures and would fight to protect them.
"Would you like a job?"
Newt looked up at him.
"At least while you finish the book. We need a creature consultant."
"Then yes." Newt smiled, arms full as he cuddled the smallest graphorn. "Now, do you think Queenie will like these?"
While this is the end of this fic, I'm definitely planning to do more in this universe! I want to write both a prequel and a sequel.