The raid was over all a resounding success. Percival looked around the warehouse and winced. The smugglers were being apparated away, most of the cages were emptied already, the creatures safely stored in Newt’s suitcase. The magizologist was cautiously approaching the thunderbird chained in the corner. Percival took a moment to watch amazed as the man in the blue coat reached out a hand as he softly spoke to the beast. As if by magic (hah!) the giant bird lowered its head to nuzzle the outstretched palm. As the two built up a rapport Newt began to work on the chains and if Percival wasn’t mistaken then Pickett was also assisting. Soon enough the last of the chains fell away and the thunderbird wobbled forwards a few steps on unsteady legs. Newt no doubt kept up a steady stream of encouragements, hand on the neck of the beast.
“Look at that.” A voice from behind Percival piped up.
“Smug git.” Another piped up.
“Why does he have to show off like that? As if thunderbirds were such easy beasts to tame.”
Percival cast a glance behind him. Two of his aurors, Collins and Fontaine were the disgruntled culprits of the whispered conversations.
“He could do with being taken down a peg or two. Prank?” Collins continued. An evil smirk spreade over Fontaine’s face and before Percival could think the do anything the two apparated behind Newt. He followed but as he rematerialized he could only watch in horror.
“Scamander.” Collins tapped Newt on his shoulder and stepped away. On his other side Fontaine snuck up and yelled “boo” in his ear. The effect was immediate. Newt jumped in surprise but so did the thunderbird. It reared back with a screech and moved for Fontaine. There was no time for Percival to do anything as Newt forcefully shoved Fontaine out of the way. The thunderbird’s powerful beak closed around Newt’s forearm with a loud snap. Newt swallowed back a cry and wavered on his feet. Fontaine scrabbled back away from the scene as Newt reached up with his free hand. He stroked over the thunderbird’s beak and head gently.
“I need everyone to slowly back away.” his voice was steely soft. Percival dragged the two aurors away and listened as Newt soothed the panicked thunderbird. He didn’t want to think about the fact he could almost hear the grinding of broken bones in the creature’s beak. It took Newt a few minutes before his arm was released. Instead of immediately apparating away to get it seen to Percival was incredulous to watch Newt tuck his injured arm against his chest and continue tending to the thunderbird with one hand. Soon enough the bird hobbled into Newt’s case which he snapped shut with a click of finality. He took a moment to sit on the case and cradle his injured arm close to his chest while he caught his breath.
“Let’s get you to a healer.” Percival approached him. The two aurors were frozen in fear behind him. Newt looked up with a pained smile.
“Thunderbird magic.” he said as if it all made sense.
“Of course.” Percival agreed readily, completely out of his depth. “A healer will help you out though. Need me to escort you?”
Newt shook his head as he gathered his things.
“Fontaine, Collins. My office this instant.” Percival barked after Newt had apparated away.
Percival was half way through a berating tirade about field work, professionalism and keeping each other safe when his door creaked open. Newt timidly stuck his head in. Collins and Fontaine looked thankful for the interruption.
“Newt, come in.” Percival beckoned him. The magizoologist shuffled in. His arm was in a cast from bicep to wrist and his coat was awkwardly perched on his shoulder from where it kept trying to slip off. He looked pale and gaunt from the ordeal, small in a way Percival had never seen him before and he desperately wanted to just sweep the magizoologist up in his arms and never let him go. In the meantime Collins and Fontaine were falling over each other trying to pull up a chair for Newt and apologising for their badly timed and ill thought out practical joke. Hastily explaining that they'd seen Newt with Frank and thought handling a thunderbird was easy for him. Newt shouldered past them without a glance.
“I don’t have energy for you now.” he said simply. “If the Director is done with you then please leave.”
The two aurors stepped back as though they’d been slapped. Newt sank tiredly into a chair and closed his eyes. Percival made a shooing motion at the two idiots still gawking and walked round his desk. The door shut with a soft click and he locked it with a wave of his hand. He crouched down in front of Newt, his hands warm on the other’s knees.
“You okay there?”
“Fine. Just need a minute.” Newt mumbled, his hair falling over his eyes.
“Did the infirmary run out of skelegro or something?” Percival pressed.
“No. Thunderbird magic.” Newt shrugged and his coat slid off the slope of his shoulder again. Percival adjusted it for him. “Their magic is so powerful it bars all other forms of magic from interacting with things it’s affected. So I have to wait 6 weeks before the cast can come off. It’ll be fine.”
Newt’s reassurance sounded hollow even to his own ears. Percival frowned at what he’d just been told.
“Hang on. Does that mean that a pepper-up or numbing spells don’t work either?” he asked. Newt nodded miserably. No wonder he was curled in on himself. Percival had his fair share of broken bones and knew just how agonisingly painful they could be.
“It’s okay. I’ve dealt with worse before.” Newt’s hand brushed over his hair gently, a small smile turned the corners of his lips up.
“Why don’t I find that reassuring in any way?” Percival smiled back at him. “How are you going to cope with your case?”
Newt shrugged again.
“I’ll manage. Always have.”
“I’ll help where I can. But can I assign two idiots to you to help?” Percival offered, a plan forming in his mind.
“Sure. But I might fire them before they’ve served their time.” Newt laughed softly. Percival stood and walked to the door.
“Fontaine! Collins!” he bellowed. The two immediately rushed into the office in a panic.
“Sir?” they asked in unison.
“Seeing as you caused this mess, you’re clearing it up. Thanks to your little joke Newt is no longer able to care for his creatures by himself. Until he is able to you are now to assist him with anything he says. You’re relieved of your auror duties until further notice.”
The two aurors eyed him and Newt frantically.
“Is that clear?” Percival barked at them. They unfroze and jumped to attention.
“Yes Sir.” they confirmed.
“Dismissed.” Percival gestured to the door and the two idiots almost ran out of his office. With a sigh he waved his wand at the chair Newt was in. It transformed into a comfortable looking couch. He sank down onto it and pulled Newt round. The younger wizard swung his legs over his lap and tucked his head under his chin. Percival locked the door again and settled in for the afternoon. He quietly floated his paperwork towards him from his desk to read as he absently stroked Newt’s back. At some point he pulled his coat over Newt’s shivering form and cast a warming charm over him.
A soft knock at the door pulled him from the monotony of paperwork. He gestured for the door to open. Tina poked her head through the open door and took in the scene. She slowly approached them and began talking in a hushed voice.
“Fontaine and Collins have organised an evening meal, the whole department would like to take Newt out by way of an apology.”
Percival nodded at this. It seemed like a nice idea. Newt stirred in his arm and let out a low groan. He blinked sleepily at Percival and wiped the corner of his mouth before looking up at Tina. Percival tried not to grimace at the rapidly cooling patch of drool that had soaked the shoulder of his shirt. Tina fondly swept a stray curl from Newt’s forehead.
“How you feeling?” she asked.
“Better. Sore. But I’ll be okay.”
“Tina was just saying that the department wants to take you out for a meal. To say sorry.” Percival murmured to him.
“Oh you’re invited too Sir.” Tina piped in. Percival balked at that. While he was liked enough as a boss there was still a divide between him and the bullpen which meant he was rarely invited out to drinks. It usually put a dampener on their spirit if the boss was there.
“It would be nice if you came.” Newt wheedled as though he’d felt Percival’s imminent polite refusal.
“Indeed.” Tina the traitor put in.
“Sure. I’m certain it will be lovely. When and where?” he asked.
“Tonight at 7 and Arabella’s Steakhouse.”
Percival whistled. It was the best steakhouse in the area, Newt was bound to enjoy the food and probably even the company. The department had sort of adopted him as one of their own and now that they had caused him harm it was possible that they were over compensating just a little. Still, if it meant Newt got a good free meal then he was not going to discourage it.
“We’ll be there.” Newt forced a wider smile. Tina grinned openly back at them and left.
“Sorry I fell asleep on you.” Newt mumbled into Percival’s shoulder as he straightened up and sat on the couch properly. He winced as he spotted a transparent wet patch on the other man’s shoulder. A wave of his hand partially dried it but it was his non-dominant hand and he’d never quite mastered ambidextrous spell casting.
“Are you okay?” Percival asked as he took his coat back. He stood and the couch morphed back into a chair around Newt.
“Are you lying?”
“Of course.” Newt smiled bitterly. Percival rolled his eyes fondly.
“My arm’s throbbing, it hurts to move. I don’t know what you were expecting really.” Newt groused.
“I just want you to be okay.” came the quiet admission.
“I will be.” The smile he directed at Percival was more free this time. “I’ll meet you at Arabella’s tonight I guess. I don’t want to be a bother but I don’t think I can do anything else here today so I’ll head home for a bit.”
Percival nodded and walked to magizoologist to the door. He leant against the doorframe and watched his retreating back until the man disappeared out into the stairwell. Satisfied that he was on his way home Percival settled behind his desk for the rest of the afternoon.
It shouldn’t have surprised Percival that he surfaced from his work with half an hour to get ready for the meal. A fair few of the aurors were still in the bullpen working on their reports, Tina was amongst them. They left as a group, Percival hanging to the back of the group where Tina sidled up to him.
“Ready to let your hair down Sir?” she smirked. Percival glared at her blankly.
"My hair is perfectly stylized and it will stay that way.” he said flatly and got a light laugh in return.
"Of course Sir. Your hair is always perfect.” she patted him on the arm as they got to the apparition point.
“See you in there.” Tina winked playfully and disappeared in a swirl. Percival rolled his eyes at that as nobody was around to witness it. Ever since the Grindelwald fiasco Tina and her sister Queenie had sort of adopted him much to his resistance. While she was still his subordinate she took the time to actually get to know him, she became his friend. It was an almost novel concept, to have a friend. It wasn’t something he’d really had since school. He’d had acquaintances, lovers and informants but none of them were really what he’d call friends. His mind drew back to the current situation as he apparated close to Arabella’s. Tina linked arms with him as they marched into the building.
A large table had been set up in the corner for their group. Newt was just placing his coat on the back of a chair when Percival slid into the chair next to him and Tina took the one on the other side. Newt smiled at them shyly. The chatter around the table was raucous. Collins and Fontaine were sat next to Tina and they were busy trying to win their way back into Newt’s good graces by talking over each other about who knew what about which magical beast. A waiter appeared at the table and began to take orders. Fontaine had somehow convinced Newt to let her order for him as she’d been there before and knew what the best bits on the menu were. Percival tried not to roll his eyes in derision. Normally if he and Newt were out together Newt would tell Percival what he wanted but the matter of ordering fell to Percival. It was almost routine by now and it grated to not do it this time. Still, it was Newt’s evening so he wasn’t going to say anything.
Newt for his part was quite bewildered by the whole evening. He’d seen aurors get injured before but they never had an impromptu department wide dinner thrown for them. It was mildly entertaining how much Collins and Fontaine were trying to suck up to him, it wasn’t something he’d ever want a repeat of but the novelty still kept him mildly amused. A hand squeezed his shoulder as Percival stood up.
“Nature calls.” he muttered in his ear as he left. Newt tuned out the conversations going on around him and let the noise wash over him. Tina had thankfully redirected the conversation to some case or another that the aurors near them were involved in. The food came surprisingly quickly. Plates were being handed round as people got their orders. A plate landed in front of Newt. It smelt mouth-wateringly good. The steak was juicy with a small line of fat running along the top of it. The chips on the side were thick and hinted with salt while the salad looked fresh and crunchy. There was one slight problem though, Newt realised as he picked up his fork. The others must have noticed at the same time as an awkward silence fell round the table. Newt eyed up his steak and wondered about the etiquette of spearing it with his fork and taking a bite out of it. A heart-felt sigh from his right interrupted his thoughts.
“Here.” Percival pulled his plate in front of him as he settled back in his seat and began cutting up the steak into bite sized pieces. “You take him out to apologise for breaking his arm and proceed to order him something he can’t easily eat.” He chastised and looked at Fontaine and Collins as he continued to cut Newt’s steak. “Sometimes I wonder how you ever made it through auror training.”
The embarrassed blushes on the aurors’ was answer enough. Once he was done Percival pushed the plate back in front of Newt and passed him the pepper. It was gratefully accepted and Newt happily tucked in to the now easy to eat food. It was as delicious as it looked and the table fell silent as everybody ate.
The evening wound down and the group filtered out of the restaurant in a happy bundle. While they ate the temperature had dropped to a surprising chill. They ambled towards a nearby quiet alley but it was still a good ten minute walk. Percival noticed Newt’s struggle to keep his coat on his shoulder. His good hand kept his collar clinched around his throat but the bulk of his cast meant that the coat couldn’t close around him. Slight tremors ran through him as he tried to combat the cold. Percival took pity on him and pulled him to a stop.
“Here.” he said and shrugged out of his own coat. Taking Newt’s coat from him he instead helped Newt into his black coat. As he was broader than Newt the buttons just about reached round the bulk of the cast and kept the chill out. Once again he cast a warming charm inside the coat to keep the cold at bay. As for himself he slipped into Newt’s coat with ease. It sat all wrong on him compared to what he was used to but it wasn’t uncomfortable. His aurors stared at them until a frown had them scuttling back towards the alley. Newt linked his arm with Percival’s with a happy smile.
“Thank you.” he said and pulled Percival close.
“Anything for you.” came the fond reply.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Not beta read.
Don't own the characters, only the typos and mistakes.
The next morning Newt dragged himself into MACUSA early. Percival had promised him that the two aurors who had tried to prank him will be there to help feed and care for his creatures. The doorman thankfully held the door open for Newt as he shuffled into the building which was almost empty save for the few night workers milling about. He immediately spotted Collins and Fontaine in the foyers, looking half asleep and dead on their feet each clutching a big steaming mug as though their lives depended on it.
“Morning.” Newt greeted them cheerfully and got a less than enthusiastic mumble back. Perhaps not everybody enjoyed waking up at dawn but he had responsibility for his creatures. And these two made him unable to easily keep up with it so, as Percival had said, they will atone for their mistakes. Newt struggled to carry his case to the elevator, his broken arm pulled uncomfortably as he tried to counterbalance the weight. The third time he had to stop to readjust his grip with a huff Fontaine eyed him with a frown.
“Shall I take it for you?” she finally offered. Newt thankfully passed the case to her and adjusted his coat firmly. They were to head to Percival’s office which had somehow morphed into their little sanctuary. He’d been given the keys to it the previous night while they worked in the case and strict instructions to use the office as much as he needed to and that Percival would be along when time allowed. The two aurors trailed after him in wonder as they piled into the office.
“Right. If we set the case in that corner there and we’ll get started.” Newt smiled reassuringly at them. He did have to wonder though whether they were really going to help him in their auror uniform. The leather jackets would only get in the way if not actually shredded by various cratures as bedding. Their suits were pressed into sharp, clean lines and their shirts impeccably white. Perhaps they were very handy with cleaning charms and wanted to look smart. Newt wasn’t one to judge. The case was plonked in the indicated corner and Newt crouched to fiddle it open. It was perhaps the first time he was grateful for the dodgy lock that popped open without his assistance. Once open Newt gracefully hopped in and led the way into his shed. The other two followed him like ducklings and proceeded to stare in wonder.
“So,” Newt began pulling things out of drawers, “one of you will need to cut this into slabs.”
Collins paled at the sight of the butcher’s knife Newt was handing Fontaine as he indicated the carcass of what was probably a pig once up on a time.
“As for you,” Newt pointed at him and Collins swallowed hard, “I’ll need you to squeeze the swooping evil. Be gentle but firm.” And with that a green cocoon was unceremoniously left in his trembling hands alongside a test tube. “Bungs are in the top draw on your left.”
Newt wrote them a list of things to do in the shed and pointed out various things they’ll need for it. Some were simple such as measuring out feeds from large sacks, others seemed pointless like compiling a list of what was running low in jars. Secretly Collins thought Newt just hated doing inventory of his own shed and now had some other poor schmuck to do it for him. Truth be told, he was right.
“I’ll get started with the bedding of the smaller creatures. When you are done with it all then just call quietly out the door, I’ll hear you and come back. Please don’t approach any of my creatures.” Without another word or waiting for acknowledgement Newt was off out the door. Collins and Fontaine exchanged a look before settling in for the deeply uncomfortable tasks that lay ahead of them.
“Newt.” Collins’ voice rang through the case.
“Coming.” Newt called back and hefted a sack of hay over his shoulder. Wheelbarrows were out of the question without the use of two arms and his left handed spell casting just wasn’t up to scratch. His arm throbbed in the cast as he stumbled over a root. Jacob had been kind enough to give him some muggle pain killers which helped dull the roar of the pain down to an ebb of discomfort. He had another dose securely in his pocket and found himself counting down the hours until he could take it.
Fontaine and Collins were standing bug eyed in the door of the shed, staring out into the vast expanse of the habitats.
“You called?” he huffed as the sack crashed to the ground.
“I think we’ve got everything you asked for.” Fontaine tore her eyes from their surroundings.
“Oh good. Feeding time then and you can help me clean out some of the habitats. Bring the food. You’ve made up the morning and evening feeds so only bring half of what was on the list. There’s a wheelbarrow just the other side of the shed.”
“Wheelbarrow?” Collins asked. “Why don’t we just levitate them?”
Newt scoffed and looked affronted.
“How will you explain to the creatures that you’re using your magic for good? Most of them came from smuggling camps, severely abused by the very thing you want to use on their food. Do you really think they will eat it? They trust me and even I can’t use magic around most of them. You get the wheelbarrow and do it properly now.”
“Should you be lifting that sack?” Fontaine asked as Newt reached for it again. Newt shrugged and hoisted it over his shoulder again, only staggering slightly.
“Let me take it.” She suggested as Collins moved for the wheelbarrow. Newt was mildly entertained at the fact that both aurors had shed their coats and their sleeves were rolled up. Served them right for all the trouble they caused. The new thunderbird was safely ensconce in Frank’s old habitat and settled. After the incident she still trusted him enough to let him tend to her wounds. After a heated discussion the previous evening Percival had declared that Ethel was a terrible name for her and he was going to think of a more fitting name by this evening. Until then Newt firmly called her Ethel in his mind. He turned to lead the way round and expected the other two to follow. Collins pushed the laden wheelbarrow while Fontaine went to grab the sack. She let out a surprised yelp and staggered when she tried to lift it up like she’d seen Newt do it.
“Stick to the path please. And don’t look anything in the eye unless I tell you to.” Newt ignored their huffing and puffing and set a reasonable pace. He called out which food needed to go where as he checked over his creatures while the other two did the hard work. It was quite nice except half the time once they’d done something Newt had to go back and do it properly. Whether it was adjusting the angle of the bedding or rearranging the food bowl – Dougal was very particular about the layering of his fruits – it was still a drag. Newt found his temper slowly getting the better of him.
“You know what?” he finally snapped, “you feed the occamy chicks, mind your fingers. I’ll sort their bed out.”
He thrust a small bottle of cockroaches and other assorted bugs to Fontaine. The five occamies immediately fixed their eyes on her and coiled tight ready to spring. Fontaine screamed when they launched and tried to shield he face.
“Are you trying to scare them to death?” Newt growled at her, the occamy chicks had grown in size and swept them to the side. The five of them were a tangled mess of crying and squawking bodies. Newt picked himself up from the ground and waded into the mess, his hand gently pushing bodies away from his cast. In a matter of minutes the five occamies were slithering around Newt’s body, chirping happily.
“They were only hungry.” he tried really hard to keep the scorn from his voice. Collins meanwhile had managed to right the wheelbarrow and most of the food – he suddenly understood why all the bowls had lids of some description and was immensely grateful. The jar of bug was thrust at him by Fontaine.
“You know,” Newt couldn’t help himself, “after all the things you told me yesterday evening, about how much you knew about magical creatures, I would have thought you’d be…better…at this.”
Collins opened the jar with mild disgust and braced himself as the occamies flocked onto him. Newt watched him with a critical eye and once apparently satisfied with his aptitude at the disgusting task he began to clean out the nest single handed. Fontaine sidled up next to him but the offer of help stuck in her throat when she realised with a flash of panic that her wand was no longer in her pocket. Newt ignored her as she patted her pockets. Her watch was gone, as was her MACUSA badge. Panic bubbled up in her throat. She looked around the ground, hoping against all logic that they all just fell out of various pockets when the occamies erupted from their nest.
“Did you need something?” Newt’s voice was cool as he efficiently wiped the base of the nest before piling fresh hay in and arranging it into a nest.
“I seem to have lost my wand,” Fontaine gritted out. “and my watch and badge.”
Collins eyed her from under the mass of occamies and carefully patted his pocket. His look of relief when he found his wand safely in its place was short lived when his hands patted his other pocket.
“My watch!” he butted in. Newt looked at them as though seizing them up.
“You won’t need any of that here. I’m sure they’ll eventually turn up.” He finished making up the nest and looked at Collins. “You finished feeding them?”
Collins fumbled in the jar with a grimace and pulled another bug out. An occamy snatched it from between his fingers. He shook his smarting fingers and reached into the jar. Newt sighed and swatted his hand out of the way. He pulled a handful of bugs out and with deft efficiency he handed each occamy a treat so they weren’t fighting over one bug at a time. He repeated the action a few more times as Fontaine gathered the rubbish into a separate sack. Once all the occamies were happy with full stomachs Newt lured them with a final cockroach each into the new nest.
“Let’s carry on.” His brisk pace had the two aurors trailing behind him. They stopped by a flat rock perch and Newt gestured at the bucket of meat.
“Please grab that and lay them on that rock. Next to each other, not over lapping.”
Collins grumbled under his breath and hefted the bucket filled with the large pieces of raw pig. Newt whistled behind him, calling whatever creature lived in the habitat. Fontaine’s gasp should have tipped him off that something wasn’t quite right. However he only realised what the big shadow looming over him was when it was too late. The nundu stared intensely at him and the bucket. Collins couldn’t move, fear rooted him to the spot. The nundu’s face leant closer to his and the giant cat gave him a sniff before it snarled. The bucket dropped from his hand.
“Oh for the love of-” Newt shouldered past him and grabbed the bucket with a grunt. He stalked to the edge of the rock and let the bucket fall to the ground with a clang. The nundu gave Collins a final sniff and turned to follow Newt who was busy putting the meat out. The aurors watched in fright as the lumbering beast walked up to Newt and nudged him with its big head. It was the first time that day they’d seen Newt truly smile as he turned to bury his face in the neck of the creature. His arm came up and looped under the neck. Standing on tiptoes he could just about reach the back of the nundu’s ear for a scratch. The response from the animal was a low grumbling purr which reverberated through the habitat. Newt mumbled something in response before quickly emptying the bucket and heading back to where the aurors were still frozen to the spot.
“It really isn’t all that difficult you know.”
They continued their rounds, bottle feeding a few creatures while Newt looked on. A few times they could have sworn he was sulking at not being able to handle his creatures himself. It must have been close to lunchtime but Newt was still going round his creatures. Collins looked ready to collapse at their next stop, the wheelbarrow was still half full. Fontaine’s bags had multiplied as she carried the rubbish. Occasionally Newt would point out a place she could leave a bag but the rate they filled them far outstripped it. She wondered how Newt usually coped.
“Newt,” she called after him desperately, “can we stop for a quick break? Please.”
Newt turned and looked at them.
“Normally I’d be done with the morning rounds by now.” he admitted with a sad sigh. Collins’ eyes boggled at the thought. “But we’ve still got some hungry creatures. Once everyone is fed you can have a break.”
Fontaine sagged at the thought while Collins actually whined. It wasn’t fair. Their clothes were damp with sweat, shoes scuffed and trousers muddy. Fontaine had a tear in hers and she didn’t even have a wand to fix it. Meanwhile Newt just had a light flush to his cheeks as he charged around in his case without a worry. She doubted he’d really be done with the morning feeds by now on his own. There were three of them and they were barely half done. She picked up her sack and carried on after Newt. They stopped on the outskirts of a habitat and Newt turned to them.
“Stay here please.” he ordered politely. Collins sank to the ground panting while Fontaine descended more gracefully. Newt hauled another bucket of smaller strips of meat with him and approached another rock. His shrill whistle had both aurors jumping in fright and the screech he got in reply sent a chill through them. The thunderbird landed on the rock in front of Newt and screeched again. Instead of what any normal person would do and step back, Newt grinned at the beast and offered a hand up for it to inspect. The thunderbird nuzzled the offered palm briefly before beady eyes landed on the pair slouched on the ground. It let out an irritated squawk and puffed itself up. Newt shushed it and moved to stand between the aurors and the thunderbird.
“You ignore them Ethel.” he whispered to her. “Come and eat, then I’ll look at your wounds. I think it’s time to change bandages on your ankles.”
He fed her a few scraps of meat as he moved to break her line of sight once again.
“They’re not going to hurt you.” he began murmuring again. The thunderbird delicately plucked another chunk of meat from between his fingers and continued to glare.
“Now really Ethel.” Newt chided. Collins stretched on the ground with a groan. Immediately the thunderbird was rearing up, one wing curled around Newt in a shield.
“Ethel.” His voice was muffled from behind the wing but the exasperation was still clearly audible. “Stop it now. You’re better than this. Collins, Fontaine, you need to slowly back away. Don’t turn your backs, don’t make eye contact.”
The aurors did as told and slowly the thunderbird calmed. Her wings dropped and Newt became visible. He had a sunny smile as he patter the creature.
“All better. Now, let’s see your ankles.”
Collins watched mesmerised as Newt worked over the injuries the beast had. Not once did the thunderbird snap at him, even as he pressed on sore looking wounds. He seemed to have bewitched the creature who now protected him to the extreme. Once Newt seemed satisfied with everything he threw a handful of meat high into the air and laughed as Ethel launched herself after them. Then he turned and made his way back to the aurors crashed on the edge of the habitat.
“Ready to move on?”
The rest of the rounds passed fairly quickly. Newt left them a few times at the edges of various habitats which they took as grateful respite rather than the snub that Newt only half-heartedly meant. He didn’t intend to be mean to his help but they were so much more bother than help. Plus they seemed to have no stamina what so ever. By the time they got back to the shed Collins’ legs were shaking and Fontaine could barely drag herself into the little shack.
“Go have lunch, get a bit of rest. I’ll just go and check on the occamies again and sort a few more creatures out. I think one of the acromantulas may need eyedrops. Be back in three hours so we can start the evening rounds.” Newt said and he strolled happily back out into the wilderness of his case.
“He’s mad.” Collins piped up when he was sure they wouldn’t be over heard.
“I don’t think he’s human.” Fontaine said.
“Nobody should be able to do this by themselves. Let alone day in day out. Absolutely off his rocker.”
They dragged themselves out of the case and were met with the blank stare of their director.
“Director Graves, Sir.” Fontaine bit out as she tried to brush straw off her trousers and back into the case. Collins who was behind her slapped her leg and blew the straw from his face.
“Having fun?” Percival asked blandly. Collins so badly wanted to reply with a tirade of just how awful his morning had been but held his tongue. It was just as likely he’d permanently get demoted to an assistant of a lunatic as it was that he’d be put in Wands Permit for a month. Though that was looking preferable to another day in the case. Percival raised an eyebrow at them before windlessly opening the door. The two aurors gratefully escaped only to realise neither of them had their wallets in their pockets any more. Whatever was in the case had robbed them blind.
Two hours later they found themselves apprehensively knocking on the director’s door. There was no answer so they slowly opened the door. The room was empty. They knocked on the case’s lid before descending back down into the shed. Newt was nowhere to be seen so Collins called out the shed door.
“There in a jiffy.” Newt’s cheerful voice rang through the case. It was coming up to five o’clock. Most of their colleagues would be getting ready to go home. Collins felt a pang of jealousy at the thought. He didn’t especially want to be in a magically expanded case filled with wild creatures. Except Fontaine had kicked up a fuss about her wand still being in the fiery bowels of that particular hell and they didn’t really want Director Graves to assign them to any other undesirable post. Newt bumbled in smelling like fresh straw and damp earth. He looked surprisingly cheerful as he waved them through the door.
“This should be quicker than this morning. Fontaine if you get the wheelbarrow with the food. Collins you can help distribute foods. Then we go round again and tuck everyone in.” he made it sound so simple when reality couldn’t possibly be further from that. They were setting Dougal’s food bowl down (fruits properly arranged this time) when the demiguise began to clap and chitter excitedly.
“Well go on then.” Newt gestured to him with a wide grin. Immediately Dougal took off and was closely pursued by the Niffler. Newt shook his head and ambled back to the wheelbarrow.
“We might as well do the occamies next.” The two aurors barely held in a groan at the prospect of being accosted by winged snakes for disgusting, wriggling bugs. They were almost by the nest when footsteps from behind them caught them off guard. Fontaine wasn’t sure if Newt didn’t hear the steps or chose to ignore it but Collins had dropped the wheelbarrow and spun, wand out to threaten the intruder.
“What did I say about wands and magic?” Newt sounded irritated. Collins gulped as he stared at Director Graves who had Dougal clinging to his back while the niffler was stroking a very shiny ball of glittered paper as it was cradled in his arms.
“Director Graves.” Collins stammered out.
“Put your wand away Collins.” Percival ordered as he reached into his pocket. “Fontaine I believe these are yours, and Collins these belong to you.” He passed over their wallets, Fontaine’s want, silver handle pointing towards her and her watch.
“Thank you Sir.” Fontaine grabbed her things hurriedly.
“The niffler has a sixth sense for anything shiny. From now on please try to not bring them in here unless you want it stolen.”
“Percy.” Newt called out with a smile in his voice. The two aurors looked between them. Director Graves has never ever had anyone call him that before.
“Yes menace?” he called back with a matching smile. It was unsettling.
“Leave my assistants be please. I need them to work. You got the niffler’s hoard cleared out?”
They continued shouting to each other over the habitats, slowly migrating closer together as they worked through enclosures. Fontaine and Collins followed Newt round like lost ducklings, occasionally handing him bowls but mostly ignored in favour of the most bizarre conversation he had going with the Director. They finally came together at the occamy nest, Newt having changed route mid step to look in on his Abraxan herd. The occamies were excitedly chittering as soon as the two men approached the nest and were launching themselves at Percival without any food to entice them. Much to their surprise rather than fend them off and get angry Percival laughed. His sleeves were rolled up to above his elbows, shirt untucked from his trousers. He had a light flush dusting his cheeks and a small patch of his shirt was sticking to his back. Dougal had obviously decided to give the occamy pile a miss. Newt snatched the bowl of bugs from the wheelbarrow and passed it to Percival who sat with his back against the nest. The occamies had wound themselves round him and were gently pecking at his fingers.
“I don’t know why you’re their favourite.” Newt grumbled. Percival just stuck his tongue out and grabbed a handful of bugs. “I used to be their favourite.” It was obviously a well-practiced and old argument that had no heat to it. Percival continued feeding the excitable occamies, occasionally laughing at their antics. Collins and Fontaine backed away until they were stood by the wheelbarrow and looking at the peculiar scene. Newt had slid down onto the ground next to Percival, their shoulders pushed together. An occamy looked around both of their shoulders with a delighted chirp. Newt scratched at its head and snatched a bug to feed it from Percival’s hand. Once the occamies were fed and disentangled from the Director, the two men got up and walked amicably back towards the shed. Fontaine almost dropped the wheelbarrow in surprise when the Director slipped a hand round Newt’s waist and pulled him closer. Newt didn’t even resist the move, instead he slipped his hand into the back pocket of the Director. Collins coughed to cover up his disbelieving noise. The men ahead turned as one to look at them, similar questioning looks on their face.
“Is there a problem?” Percival asked. Both aurors frantically shook their heads. After a moment they continued back to the shed. Once everything was put away Fontaine and Collins stood uncertain at the bottom of the ladder.
“Right.,” Newt tore his eyes away from Percival who was rummaging in one of the lower cupboards, “thank you for your help today.”
There was an awkward pause as Percival straightened up and Newt’s eyes slid over to him again.
“Anyway. As much as I appreciate your attempts at helping I don’t think it really worked out. So please, go back to your day jobs and don’t give them up, don’t come back here.”
A relieved laugh erupted from Collins. Newt stared at him.
“I wasn’t joking. You really aren’t cut out for this.”
“Hey Newt,” Percival had turned and was eyeing the scene in front of him with mild amusement.
“Yes love?” Newt turned to look at the director.
“Never get a people facing job. You’d be awful at it.”
“So,” Percival turned to his aurors, “what Newt is trying to say is that you are reinstated as aurors as of tomorrow. Please come dressed appropriately. And never think that just because someone is good at their job and enjoys it they need to be taken down a peg or two. You’re dismissed.”
Collins and Fontaine scrambled for the ladder. As they got to the top and turned to close the lid a throaty chuckle drifted out of the case and the ladder shuddered with a small thump. Looking back down they could see Percival crowding up against Newt whose back was now pressed against the ladder. They were both smiling, leaning towards each other. Collins kicked the lid of the case shut before he saw something he couldn’t unsee. He stared at Fontaine with a look of shock.
“We didn’t see that, did we?”
Collins shook his head adamantly. He had no desire to be once again demoted because he saw something not meant for his eyes. Not that he ever really wanted to think about his boss and the odd magizoologist in the case. There were some things that were best left untouched. As they left the Director’s office they looked at each other.
“We’re never speaking of this ever again.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Newt spent the whole night immersed to the waist in cold water to sit with a young hippocampus. Lo and behold the next day he comes down with a bug. It is up to Percival and his aurors to take care of the creatures (and Newt).
Not beta read.
Don't own the characters, only the typos and mistakes.
For some reason this story just won't leave me alone. I keep thinking I'm done with it then I have another idea.
The room filled up slowly, everybody taking their seats round the large table. Percival sat to Picquery’s left and watched as people shuffled in. Newt was hidden amongst the throng, his case uncharacteristically nowhere in sight. He clutched a mug in his good hand and all but slumped into his seat, hands wrapping round the mug for residual warmth. He stared at the table in front of him as people moved around and settled. From where he sat Percival could just about make out the almost purple bags under his eyes and the slow blinks. There was a dusting of pink high on his cheeks. Percival sighed, he knew Newt had spent all night down in his case but hoped against all logic that perhaps he’d also slept a little while he was down there. His musings were interrupted by Picquery beginning the meeting as everyone had found a place to sit. Despite his best intentions Percival found himself zoning out and eyes flicking back to Newt. The man looked pale despite his flushed cheeks, drawn and tired. The way his hand clutched the mug, face angled to catch any steam rising up and his coat wrapped close round him. His blinks were becoming longer, eyes slower to open under his fringe. Percival watched bewitched as his head fell forwards before snapping up and he blinked furiously.
“Keeping you awake are we, Mr. Scamander?” Picquery teased warmly and a smattering of chuckles went round the room.
“Sorry.” Newt looked back down at the table and wiped at his nose.
“How’s your young hippocampus?”
“Better. I sat with her all night.” Newt smiled softly.
“I’m very glad to hear. Now that everyone’s attention is back on task let us continue.” she smoothly moved back onto topic. Percival barely paid any attention, focus solely on Newt. While the other man didn’t come quite as perilously close to falling asleep as before he still looked as though he were lost in his own head. The meeting couldn’t end soon enough and chairs were pushed back. Newt lingered, letting the vast majority of the group get a head start while he sipped the last dregs of his tea. Percival took it as his chance to approach the man. He crouched in front of his chair which Newt had pushed away from the table.
“You okay?” Percival asked gently. Newt nodded and wiped his nose. His eyes were fever bright.
“Did you spend all night waist deep in water with the hippocampus?”
“She needed someone to support her until she could move easier. Her tail was so cramped she would have sunk to the bottom without assistance. The other option was to keep her on the shore but she would have dried out that suffered there.” Newt sniffed and swiped at his nose again. A handkerchief appeared in front of him as Percival had enough of his sniffling.
“So you thought it would be a good idea to sit with her throughout the night in cold water.” Percival held up a hand to stave off any interruptions. “And now you’re ill.”
Newt slumped in his chair in defeat and nodded miserably.
“I’m okay though.” He got a raised eyebrow to that. “I mean. Everyone is taken care of, I just need a nap and I’ll be fine too.”
“Uhuh. You can call me Picquery when that happens. I’ll even wear a head wrap.” Newt out an ungainly snort at the image and Percival took his hands into his own to get his attention. “Now, what I want you to do it go home and sleep. I assume your case is in my office. Let me sort everyone out this evening. I’ll bring dinner home tonight. Okay?”
Not waiting for a response Percival stood and dropped a kiss on Newt’s too warm forehead.
“I’m glad you agree. Now get going.” he ushered the younger man out the door and turned back to get his own things. Once he was in his office he eyed the case sitting innocuously in the corner and sighed.
“Collins. Fontaine.” Percival called from his doorway. The two aurors rushed to his office.
“What are you working on at the moment?” Percival asked them. He listened to them stumble over their words about paperwork and reports and nodded in all the right places.
“I’ll let you have until the end of next week to fill out any outstanding reports. And have tomorrow off in lieu if you’ll help me this evening.” He knew he was being too generous but he really could do with the help. Judging by the enthusiastic nods he was getting the other two hadn’t yet cottoned on to what they were letting themselves in for.
“You’re both familiar with the content of Newt’s case. As he is unwell it falls to us to make sure his creatures are looked after. Meet me here at 5:30 this evening. Dismissed.” He watched with mild satisfaction as the two aurors continued to nod despite paling a little at the prospect of going back into the case they were so unceremoniously asked to leave from. Still, it needed doing and the quicker Percival could get things done the sooner he got to see Newt.
Their agreed meeting time came round far too soon and as Percival was rolling his sleeves up a knock sounded on his door. Fontaine and Collins walked in at his call and he was pleased to note that they had the good sense to change into something more practical than last time. They silently made their way into the case where Percival gave out jobs as quickly as possible. Fontaine would put the evening feeds out for the creatures, Collins would do any heavy lifting and quick tidying of habitats while Percival would wrangle the more difficult creatures. The system seemed to work fairly well, they moved through habitats comparatively rapidly. Occasionally Percival would leave the other two while he sorted the nundu and the new thunderbird who he refused to call Ethel in front of Newt though the name was stuck in his head. It was while he was tending to the runespoor that he heard Fontaine’s soft gasp.
“Director?” she called, her voice hushed. Percival hurried back to them and stopped when he saw her reason for calling. A soft smile lit up his face at the picture in front of him. Newt had obviously decided that his interpretation of home was going to be different because he was a stubborn mule. Instead of going back to their house and curling up in bed he was fast asleep under a pile of mooncalves.
“Leave him be.” Percival whispered to his aurors. “I’ll be back in a moment.”
He hurried back to the shed where an old patchwork quilt was draped over the back of a chair. Collins was tidying up the habitat while Fontaine was feeding the mooncalves which would leave Newt alone. Quilt in hand Percival knelt next to Newt’s sleeping form and shooed the creatures off him gently. Newt’s coat was pulled round him, fingers curled into the collar. Carefully Percival pried if free of his grip and replaced the coat with the warmer quilt. Newt stirred under his hand as he felt his forehead for a temperature but settled quickly.
“We’ll come back for him once we’re done. Let’s finish up quickly.” Percival suggested quietly as they moved away from the mooncalves who were happily snatching pellets from the air with delighted chirrups. Glancing back over his shoulder Percival was happy to note that Newt had curled into a tight ball under the blanket and continued to sleep.
It was only the matter of another hour before the trio were headed back to the mooncalves. However the habitat was void of Newt. The two aurors were visibly rattled by the missing magizoologist but Percival knew better. The first few times something similar had happened he was just as worried. Instead he lead the way back to the shed. A low light was spilling from the windows and as Percival had expected, upon pushing the door open he was greeted to the sight of Newt hunched over his desk. Pieces of paper were sprawled in a mess around him. A mug was by his elbow fresh steam wafting into the air and carrying the scent of camomile while the quilt was wrapped around his shoulders. It was almost routine for Percival to walk up behind him and rub his shoulders, aurors forgotten in the moment. A warm hand reached up to rest on his for a brief squeeze as Newt straightened up. His hand travelled up Percival’s shoulder and tangled gently in his hair as he tilted his head back silently asking for a kiss. Fontaine and Collins had the good manners to look away from their boss and busied themselves with washing their hands in the sink nearby but they couldn’t help but overhear the low conversation on the other side of the room.
“How are you feeling?” Percival asked.
“Better. Thank you for sorting everyone out.” There was the sound of papers being shuffled and a quiet sigh as the older wizard sat himself atop the table. Collins cast a subtle look round and watched his boss swing his legs while his eyes were fixed on the magizoologist wrapped up in the quilt.
“Have you got another name for Ethel yet?” Newt smiled while Percival ducked his head and mumbled something. “I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that.”
“Ethel.” Percival grumbled. “I said she’s called Ethel.” The triumphant laugh from Newt made both aurors turn. His head was thrown back in a delighted chuckle, eyes crinkling at the edges. Despite his griping Percival’s lips were also twitching upwards in a fond smile. In fact, and they would deny this until their dying days, their boss looked decidedly soft in the golden light of the shed. He didn’t look like the fearsome auror that stalked the halls of MACUSA and struck the fear of failure into his underlings. The smile and the tender look he gave Newt made him warm, approachable and worryingly human. The younger wizard looked at him with just as much affection but it wasn’t so jarring on him, after all it was how he looked at most creatures he encountered.
“I told you.” he was saying.
“Oh shut up.” Percival nudged him with his foot.
“Make me.” came the challenge which Percival rose to. He hopped off the table and quieted any further comment from Newt with a kiss.
“I guess that works too.” Newt mused. Collins and Fontaine edged towards the ladder, not wanting to interrupt them. When Collins got a foot on the first rung he turned.
“Night boss. Night Newt.” he called. Fontaine echoed him and waved as the two wizards looked up. Percival was stood behind Newt, chin resting on top of his head and an arm slung round his chest. He gave them a tight smile but didn’t move.
“Thank you for your help Collins. And you too Fontaine.”
“Yes, thank you.” Newt added with a small smile. The two aurors nodded and beat a hasty retreat. They didn’t dare say anything when a few days later at the insistence of his aurors Percival went home early with a fever which he said he just needed to sleep off.