Credence walked down the street in front of Tina and Queenie’s apartment, more than a little uncomfortable as his red cape draped around his shoulders. They had insisted on him as Red Riding Hood, and he had refused to wear the outfit when it was first brought up. He panicked and fretted, and Queenie had been the one to suggest how handsome a pair of black pants and a loose fitting white shirt would look on him along with the cape. His shirt felt more like a blouse or a nightshirt than the formfitting items he was used to.
He plucked at the hem of his shirt before looking at Tina beseechingly. “Are you sure about this? Does the costume make sense?”
Tina’s bright red lips pursed. Credence had never seen her with makeup on, but she seemed younger with it. Her face was always pale, but with a layer of foundation and a touch of bright red blush, one could hardly tell she stayed up late every night going over criminal cases. She had smeared the rouge several times before they even left the apartment, and it was only thanks to magic that the blues and yellows and reds of her dress were clean.
Queenie turned around, more elegant and graceful in her a light blue ballgown than Credence could ever hope to be. The fabric sparkled whenever the light hit it.
“Credence, honey, you look very lovely.” Her mouth twisted in a grin, and Credence knew what she was going to say before she even finished. “Lovely enough to bring someone to the party perhaps?”
Credence shook his head. “I don’t know how I’m going to find someone.”
“If you want to, then you will. You just need to be direct.” Tina snapped her compact shut.
“Or be aggressive, and then play hard to get,” Queenie winked.
The three of them stopped on the corner of the street. Queenie balanced on the heels of her shoes before stopping and smiling at Credence. “Tonight is the perfect night for losing that pesky virginity.”
Tina’s head whipped up sharply. “Queenie!”
“Tina,” Queenie mocked.
Credence felt his whole face turn red. “I’m not a virgin,” he mumbled, despite completely being a virgin. He knew Queenie was looking into his head, and he turned away from the two of them.
Credence wished Newt was there with them. He was so awkward that neither Goldstein girls could go about talking about first times before he quickly started rambling on about his creatures. He had spent six months with Newt, and not once did Newt talk about first times with Credence. If Newt went out and found someone himself, that was one thing. But there was never the pressure of Credence needing to go out himself.
“Credence, dear, it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Queenie soothed.
He didn’t say anything for a long moment. “I just want my first time to be special.”
Tina very determinedly did not roll her eyes. A couple of years ago she might’ve hugged him tight and told him not to worry, but this topic had become discussed on more than one occasion.
Queenie tilted her head. “You’re sweet, but it doesn’t have to be special on the first time.”
That went against everything Credence believed. He opened his mouth to respond, but Tina stopped him short. “If you can’t find anyone to bring to the party, it’s alright. I’ll bring someone to the party for you.”
“No.” Credence shook his head. “I don’t need to be set up.”
“Okay,” Tina murmured. “But if you’re out too late, I’m sending Graves to come find you.”
Credence blushed at the thought of Graves having to come find him, as if he was some insolent pup that purposely strayed away. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I know.” Tina tucked a loose curl behind his ear. “But I will. I know you. And he won’t be happy either knowing you’re out wandering New York alone when you could be surrounded by us.”
Credence could see Tina didn’t want to leave him alone. It was Queenie who had to finally tug Tina by the crook of her elbow. Credence smiled at them both once more.
They were only a few feet away when Queenie paused and turned to Credence. “If worse comes to worse, just play hard to get.”
They walked into an alleyway, and the loud crack of apparition could be heard.
Credence stared out at the crowd. He’d been sitting there for hours in Central Park, and yet hadn’t actually had any luck getting people to come near him.
His posture and demeaner probably didn’t help. He had sprawled out on the bench, and as he slumped, he crossed his arms. He was tired and wanted to go to the party already, but he couldn’t go alone. No, no, no. He certainly couldn’t go to this party alone. Of all the celebrations, this would be the worst to show up without anyone. Everyone else would have someone, and he would try to be alright with that, but he would feel like a failure.
And yet…he didn’t want to bring just anyone along. He had to find the right person. The most deserving person. It was difficult deciding who that person was.
His pocket vibrated, and he reached into it to stop the magicked compact Queenie had given him—the reason why Tina had even accepted the idea of letting him go off by himself.
Credence glanced up at his surroundings. Queenie had promised nobody would be able to see him using it as anything more than a mirror, but he felt silly still. He opened the compact to see a tiny image of Tina.
“Where are you?”
Tina half-smiled. “I’ve found someone for you.”
“…Is he cute?”
There was a long pause before Tina very firmly said, “Yes.”
“That means he’s ugly.”
“He’s good enough. Just come on to the party already.” Credence could imagine Tina worrying herself into a frenzy. “It’s getting late.”
“I know,” Credence sighed. “I’ll be there soon.”
Tina nodded, and Credence shut the compact and tucked it away.
He felt a sudden drop in temperature, and despite the warm cape, goosebumps formed on his arm. He looked up quickly, and his heart dropped when he saw Percival approach him.
“Are you upset to see me?”
Credence quickly shook his head. He didn’t dare raise his eyes, shame stopping him from properly meeting him. “No. No, I just.” He paused. “I didn’t know you were coming to get me. I didn’t know you were here.”
“That’s perfectly fine.”
Credence frowned and glanced up, just a bit. Percival shrugged his shoulders, but he was smiling warmly at Credence. “Here, come along.”
Credence slowly stood up. He eyed Percival carefully before slowly leading the way.
The lampposts and lit torches had kept the main portion of the park bright, but now as they walked farther and farther away from the crowd, only the moonlight guided their path. There was so much hidden in the darkness. Trees that Credence had walked past dozens of times in the spring were now losing their leaves and would soon become barren. Every couple of minutes a shriek could be heard, followed by laughter and more screams. Eventually the sound of children and adults slowly dimmed.
There was rustling off to the side, and Credence nearly jumped before remembering his own power. He let out a huff when a squirrel scurried across the path. Even two years after being rescued by Tina, he was still having to remind himself of his strength.
Credence kept glancing over at Percival. It had been so long since he last saw him. He barely kept himself from squinting in an attempt to try to spot any differences.
Percival and Tina had saved him from his previous life. They had kept the evil inside him from twisting out. He owed a great deal to both of them. Tina had found him, and Percival had vouched for him. They had spent one moment in his presence and knew Credence was just like them. It made him wonder if Mary Lou had been correct to hate him right from the start.
After the twelfth time Credence snuck a look at him, Percival caught his gaze at the exact right time. Percival smiled and moved closer. He offered his arm for Credence, and Credence took it.
“I’ve missed you, Credence.”
Credence smiled in response. He almost could believe it was sincere.
He took a moment to properly glance at Percival’s costume. He wore a cloak too, and a mask covering the top half of his face, and he was very clearly wearing fangs. Credence considered that his costume was a vampire, perhaps, but that felt borderline inappropriate, since there were very real actual vampires out in the world.
Percival grinned at him, and he could see the fangs again. “You know, it’s dangerous being alone on in the middle of the night. You shouldn’t trust the first person you see out in the middle of the woods. You never know who you’ll stumble across.”
Credence nodded his head in agreement. He pulled away for a moment so he could take off his coat. It was getting too hot, and it itched. He glanced at Percival and smiled. “So then are you the hunter or the wolf?”
Percival stood up taller, and with the energy he gave off, it made Credence shrink back. Percival loomed into his space. Credence took a step back, and then another, when Percival matched each step. He tried to keep smiling, but it faltered.
Percival stared at Credence’s mouth for a second. He had expected it when Percival kissed him, but he hadn’t expected to be shoved so roughly up against a tree.
Percival was not gentle in his ministrations. He ignored Credence’s earlier question in favor of pressing his mouth against Credence’s neck. He bit down hard. It was enough of a shock that Credence didn’t have time to properly react before his wrist was bit down on as well.
Tina couldn’t bother with the party knowing that Credence was still out there alone. She didn’t mean to baby him, but he was so malnourished and timid when they first met. She hadn’t ever been able to fully shake that image. And she liked worrying about him. That was her thing. She cared about all her friends, especially when they were too stubborn to properly worry about their own safety.
Queenie shoved up against her, already a little tipsy from the amount of alcohol she had consumed. “Stop worrying. He’ll be fine.”
Tina shrugged. “I know. It’s just—”
“He’s a big boy,” Queenie chided. “He can handle himself.”
Tina didn’t respond to that. She went back to chewing a nail. There was a loud yell, and then a thud. Tina whipped around, only to see a body had fallen down from the trees. Tina recognized that red cape, and she ran before anyone else had time to react.
“Credence,” Tina called. She sat down next to the body, and very gingerly she pulled the cape down. Her hands shook, her heart beating faster than ever before. “Credence?”
She reared back in an instant. The man staring back at her was very much not Credence.
He was blonde, eyes different colors and very, very panicked. It took her a moment before she could even place his face as Grindelwald. In all his pictures, she doubted she had ever seen the look of fear on his face that he currently wore.
“Help me,” he said, quietly at first before repeating it again. “Help me!”
Nobody moved, and nobody said a word.
Slowly people started making movement behind her, and Tina turned around. When Credence appeared, bloody and shoeless, Tina stood up.
“Credence, what happened? Why are you covered in blood?”
“I was trying to play hard to get.” Credence shrugged in Queenie’s direction. Queenie quickly took another gulp of Giggle Water.
Tina shook her head. “Are you hurt? You’re bleeding.”
“I’m okay.” Credence nodded at the man on the floor. “He’s got fangs.”
Tina shared a look with some of the other people at the party. None of them knew what to make of it.
“Well, I’m just glad you’re here,” Tina sighed. She hugged Credence, and went away to grab a bottle of hard liquor. She deserved it after the stress of worrying after everyone tonight.
She glanced back and saw Newt lingered over Grindelwald. He stared oddly at him before forcing Grindelwald’s mouth open. He pulled out a set of fangs, admiring them before tossing them away. “They do look very real. I would venture saying they are actual human teeth,” he said to the surrounding partygoers.
Queenie stood behind him. “I’ve got a good feeling about this.” She nodded at Grindelwald. “I don’t really know you, but I’m glad you’re Credence’s first.”
Grindelwald whimpered, most definitely in pain after the thrashing Credence had delivered, but they ignored it. All their victims whimpered. They had learned to tune it out quickly over the years.
Credence wandered to his real Percival Graves. Percival frowned at the bite marks on Credence’s body, but he wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him forward when he got close enough. “What happened?”
Credence shrugged a shoulder. “He tried to pretend he was you.”
“But you figured it out.”
“Yes.” He let the smells and sounds of his pack wash over him. It had been so long since he last saw his alpha, and he treasured the direct attention after so long. “Just had to get him past the wards so his magic wouldn’t work anymore.”
Percival cupped Credence’s face. “You smell like him.”
Credence ducked his head. He pressed his face against Percival’s neck. “He was very aggressive.”
Percival ran his hand through Credence’s hair. It was like a balm to his soul. Finally, eventually, Credence pulled away and glanced up at Percival. “Would you ever dress up as a vampire?”
Percival snorted. “Maybe if I wanted to be an asshole.”
Despite the joking, Percival was on edge at the sight of Grindelwald. Credence was too. The first time he had seen him and scented him, he knew Grindelwald wasn’t his alpha.
“Most dangerous criminal, and thinks he can fool my pack,” Percival grumbled. He clenched his jaw so tight that Credence thought he might crack his teeth. Percival shook his head. “For all his ingenuity, couldn’t even recognize what was in front of him. Fucking arrogant.” He was quiet for a long time, holding Credence while people around them talked and laughed.
“The Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low,” Credence quoted quietly.
Percival raised an eyebrow, but smirked. “Quoting the Bible?” He brought his face very close to Credence’s, to the point where their foreheads touched. “Careful, or you might be condemning us too.”
Percival was teasing, but Credence closed his eyes. The low playing music increased in volume, and suddenly the party became rowdier. Credence knew he would have to go back to Grindelwald, but he lingered. “I don’t know if I’m going to do this right.”
Percival cupped Credence’s jaw with his hands. “There’s no wrong or right way. Just be yourself.” Percival pressed a kiss against his lips.
Credence sighed into it, and felt euphoric when he got another. When Percival leaned away, Credence nodded and reluctantly left the warmth and comfort of Percival. Slowly he turned and walked back to Grindelwald. He had stalled for long enough.
Credence climbed on top of Grindelwald. Grindelwald’s leg had broken during the fall, and he winced at the added pressure. Despite Credence’s presence, Grindelwald’s attention was divided. His gaze kept darting back out over the crowd. He had no doubt seen the other countless bodies slowly bleeding out on the ground. Credence felt a little bad. His pack had been waiting so long for him to arrive.
The others were eager to shed their skin, and Credence watched as they did so. Bones cracked and spines contorted, and skin was ripped and torn and kicked to the side as fur emerged. Others were daintier about it, and Credence could see Queenie removing her skin from her leg like one might take off a silk sock.
Grindelwald wasn’t screaming, but his heart was beating fastest out of them all. Credence listened to it intently. There was a rush of adrenaline. He’d spent the night luring his prey here, and with the way Grindelwald had acted, it made Credence assured in his decision. He could do this with someone who truly deserved it.
Suddenly he could understand what Percival and Tina and Newt and Queenie had all been trying to tell him when explaining how this felt.
Grindelwald stared at Credence’s packmates as they shed their skin. He didn’t blink, and despite the gore, he didn’t look away from it. Some were already ripping and shredding their prey apart, snouts covered in blood.
“My what big eyes you have,” Credence murmured.
Finally, Grindelwald turned his gaze back to him. His eyes were so wide, but whether it was from amazement or fear, Credence couldn’t tell. Credence had a feeling Grindelwald wasn’t smart enough to truly be afraid just yet. He was used to getting everything he wanted. He was used to being the most dangerous person in the room. Unfortunately, for him, he had miscalculated this time.
“What are you?”
Credence tilted his head. For all Grindelwald’s costumes of fake vampires, he should know what it looked like when werewolves hunted together.
He arched his back, feeling his own transformation settling in and beginning. Bones broke and cracked, and he moved a hand back to help his skin rip apart. He looked back down at Grindelwald, smiling as he did.
“Sorry if I’m a little awkward at this.” Credence paused to readjust his position on top of Grindelwald’s lap. “It’s my first time.”