Percival enters the Woolworth building, just like every morning.
The dimmed sunlight breaks through the large windows. Lamps above the people’s heads glow still. The place isn’t too crowded yet, but it will be soon. Some aurors leave and others come in for their shifts. Percival hears their whispers as he walks, notices the glances and how fearfully they move out of his way.
He is the scary director, just like every morning.
Graves grabs his coffee from the caffeteria as is his daily habit and walks to his office. People’s reactions don’t change, they never do. In fact, when he tried to smile a few times before, he earned frowns in return, accompanied by nervous ‘good morning’s.
He stopped smiling. He walks now with a frown that looks even more prominent due to his eyebrows than he aims it to be.
“Stay out of his way, Newt,” he hears someone whispering. Percival looks and sees Fontaine talking to one Newt Scamander. His auror doesn’t seem to notice the director at all. “He’s scary, always angry and generally a bad company. He will get over this shit soon enough. Graves is a freak like that. And he’s not a kind, caring type. He will chew you out over nothing.”
Graves doesn’t address his auror’s scathing words. Neither does Newt who just looks him in the eye, looking afraid.
Afraid of me, Percival’s mind supplies cruelly.
“Fontaine, if you gossip about someone, make sure they’re not in the same room as you.” he saus, his tone soft but firm. It’s more than enough to make the auror jump and stutter apologies.
Graves just shakes his head and walks away with a sigh. Finally, he’s in his office. Percival closes the door and slumps heavily in his black, comfortable chair. Large part of him wants to make him curl up and cry. He wants to scream that he’s not evil. That he’s not a bad person. He’d never purposefully hurt someone unless he had no other choice.
He does none of it, silently mulling over his relationship with the MACUSA’s employees. Percival knew he wasn’t well-liked, but it was getting to him more day by day ever since he came back to work after the whole Grindelwald fiasco.
What a shame he didn’t stay with Newt and Fontaine on the corridor, because he’d hear...
“You’re wrong,” Scamander mutters quietly, but with conviction, much to the other man’s surprise.
“What?” Fontaine gasps out, taken aback with Newt’s disagreement.
“I said you’re wrong,” the magizoologist says, a little louder, but still his tone is very mild like he’d talk to a small child. The auror blinks at him, utterly confused.
Silence falls between the two of them for a long moment. Newt is the first one to break it.
“He’s hurting,” Scamander whispers, looking sadly at the door of the director’s office. Fontaine doesn’t argue, scratching his head.
“Don’t go in there,” the auror says, watching Newt approach the wooden door with Graves’ name on the golden plaque. “He will make you cry in less than ten seconds. He’s a great director and an auror, just not a great human being.”
The magizoologist didn’t listen, of course. He knocks softly on the door and opnes it upon a soft ‘come in’, coming from the room. Fontaine just shrugs and walks away as the door closes behind Newt.
Scamander looks around the office and notices a number of things - one, everything is in order except it’s slightly covered in dust. Two - a document from the top of the pile on Graves’ desk is dated for five days aback. And three - that the director looks very pale, very thin and there are shadows under those dark, glossy eyes.
In conclusion, Percival Graves wasn’t doing too great recently.
“How may I help you, Mr Scamander?” the director’s deep, soft voice rings out, making Newt smile a little.
“Oh, I think I can help you, Mr Graves,” he says with a small grin. Graves looks up at him, one eyebrow raised questioningly.
“How so?” the auror asks with equal suspcion and confusion lacing in his voice.
“Please, get up and come here,” Newt answers softly and encouragingly. When Graves obeys, the magizoologist wraps his arms around the raven-haired man, enveloping him in tight, yet careful embrace.
Percival gasps. His muscles tighten but his body remains unmoving. He’s not sure if he wants to reciprocate the hug or escape from it. His mind is reeling from the sensation of intimacy and affection he was so rarely gifted with.
“Shh...” Newt mutters, stroking the strong back hidden under a black suit. “It’s fine. It’s okay to need this. You don’t need to hide either. I know you’re not a bad man. You’re just... hurting.”
Graves relaxes gradually and buries his face in the other man’s shoulder. He’s not sure when, but his arms wound up around Scamander as well and he starts sobbing. Weeping, even. But Newt lets him do that, holding him through it all.
“How did you know?” Percival asks weakly once he calms down. He feels utterly exhausted after the breakdown, so Scamander takes him to the couch, letting him rest against his body.
“You’re like... like a dragon. They’re fierce, protective and independent, and don’t trust easily. They’re incredibly strong, too, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be hurt. If they’re thrown out by their flock, they suffer a great deal,” Newt explained, caressing Percival’s pale cheeks. “They can even get depressed and end their own lives as a result. One of the dragons I looked after... did that. He had the same deep sadness around his eyes that you do.”
Percival looks away, feeling stripped bare and vulnerable under other’s knowing gaze. He says nothing, neither confirming nor denying Newt’s suspicions.
“And you know what?” Scamander asks, gently pulling Percival’s head upwards by the chin. “You don’t have to be nice all the time to be a good person. We never talked much before, but I always felt safe around you. Your aurors feel that too, even when they complain about you.”
“I don’t think they do,” Graves whispers with a heavy sigh.
“How about we show them, huh? How about we make them see how wonderful you truly are and how big heart you have?” Newt offers with a shy smile. Percival sees the man’s blush deepen as Scamander slowly draws closer until their lips meet in short, elecrifying kiss. “Oh, sorry! I... I g-got carried away... and, um...”
The directors silences the other’s stuttering with another kiss, slow and sweet this time. It takes the breath away from them both.
Newt is so red in the face it makes Percival laugh for the first time in ages. The magizoologist joins too, still blushing as he giggles. Outside of the office, there are three aurors - Goldstein, Fontaine and McWick, all of them stunned into silence with the sound of mixed laughs of Newt and Graves.
They never heard their director laugh, but it was a nice sound, especially when it was echoed by Scamander’s soft giggle. They were still unconvinced of Graves being a good person, but it made them wonder if perhaps they misjudged their boss just a little bit.