Percival Graves liked his temporary apartment in Salem city. His No-Majs neighbours thought that he was a businessman, a very rich one, so they all tried to befriend him. Percival shook his head at how easily looks can be deceiving. But since it was aiding his undercover mission here, Percival didn't bother to make them think otherwise.
He Apparated back to his apartment; well, actually it was a penthouse, the very first to be built in this city. The private outdoor terrace spaces had small gardens on each corner, where Percival made plants grew with magic. Of course he had casted several spells to make sure the no one would see what he was doing nor could enter the penthouse's area without his permission. The people looking from another building would see just a simple terrace with just chairs and tables, no magical gardens nor strange plants.
With a snap of his fingers, the stove came to live and the kettle was immediately filled with water and placed on top of the stove. Books flew out of the opened windows to the small table at the outdoor terrace. Percival followed, walking to a small garden in the corner near the door.
He picked some leaves of the herbs he planted, and sent them flying toward the kitchen area. A male juvenile harpy eagle who had been sleeping on a large perch near the window opened his eyes as Percival went inside once more. Percival wasn't an animal-lover, but he started to see animals as more than just brainless creature after he had met Newt Scamander; the eccentric magizoologist he met several years ago.
"Rogue," he called, and smiled as the eagle crooned back at him. Harpy eagle was one of the most powerful bird of preys in the world. This one was a gift to him from a friend in Peru who came to visit him last year. At first Percival wasn't going to accept it, but he thought of the magizoologist and decided to give it a try. America had a law against keeping magical creature, but Harpy eagle was not a magical creature so it was okay. He called it Rogue because he felt like he was betraying his old-self who wouldn't bother to look at any animal twice.
His eagle stretched its wings and flew out of the window toward Percival, landing softly on the table. It squeaked, asking for lunch. Percival smiled. He snapped his fingers and a small plate appeared. On it was a dead rabbit. Rogue happily dug in.
It took several minutes for his tea to be ready, so Percival decided to read something to kill times. He hummed as he reached for the book from the New Salem Philanthropic Society. He had to say that this groups of No-Majs had quite an imagination about witches and wizards. They seemed to think that all witches and wizards could transform at will, which was wrong. Only a few of witches and wizards could do that, and Percival was one of them. He was an Animagus.
After finished reading, Percival moved inside. He needed to prepare himself for the meeting this evening. The first step was to observe that child, and then he would decide what to do with him.
Credence was excited. He had never been this excited in his life, given that he rarely had a chance for such feeling with his daily routine. But tonight he was excited because he wished that the alpha, no…Mr. Percival Graves, would come back. He hoped that Mr. Graves would. Some people had been here only one time and never come back. They said that his mother was weird, and that she freaked them out as much as her children. Credence bit his lip, remembered when he was called a freak. He hoped that Mr. Graves wouldn't think of him as a freak too.
He went to stand near the door when it's nearly time. Behind him, Chastity followed, but she was talking to Ma. Normally Credence would tune them out, they're probably talking about the meeting. However, this time he had a feeling that he should listen. Credence did, and found out that Chastity was talking about the new visitor from yesterday. She was talking about Mr. Graves.
"…I'm sure he's interested in joining us, Ma."
"Good, I'll try to convince him today. And you must be on your best, Chastity."
They really want Mr. Graves to join; Credence thought. However, the first member went in and Credence immediately handed out his hand for the coat.
Many people came in. Credence almost believed that Mr. Graves wouldn't come, but the alpha did. He showed up before the last member arrived. Today he had an expensive scarf draped over his neck. Credence swallowed, trying not to think of the simple poor tied that was around his own neck. He had never felt the need to fix it before, but now he wished he had dressed himself better for this evening.
"Good evening, sir"
In the corner of his eyes, Credence could see Chastity smiling as she greeted the alpha. His heart arched. He knew that Chastity was more enjoyable to look at; the thought made Credence cowered.
"Good evening," the alpha replied, his voice was light and showed no emotions. Credence kept his eyes trained down as he received the coat, and nearly gasped when they knuckled brushes when the alpha handed it to him along with the scarf.
Credence kept himself in the corner liked usual, eyes down and already tuned out what his mother was speaking. He only moved when it's time to bring out snacks and beverages. Modesty was already waiting for him at the kitchen. He offered a smile, but quickly schooled his expression to blankness when Chastity entered the room.
The guests went to get their beverage as usual, and the alpha was the last one to pick the glass up. Credence risked a glance up and their eyes met. This time, he saw curiosity in Mr. Graves's dark brown eyes. Credence immediately averted his eyes to somewhere else.
"How is your day?"
Mr. Graves spoke, and Credence's heart beat faster. He didn't know what to do. He wasn't supposed to talk to a stranger…
"Um…I've had a nice day so far, Mr. Graves."
It's Chastity who answered that. Credence almost forgot that he was standing beside her. Half of him was relieved, the other half disappointed. So he walked away to stand in his corner, waiting for the time to collect the glasses.
Modesty went to stand with him after her plate was empty. Her small hand went to grab his.
"He's looking at you," the girl whispered without turning her head to face Credence. She was afraid to get caught talking; Ma had forbidden them both from talking in the meeting, unless the guests talked to them first.
Credence didn't talk back, but he looked up from the ground and his eyes met with Mr. Graves's again. Chastity was still there, but she had her back to Credence while talking to Mr. Graves and another member of the community. It's a brief moment that they looked into each other's eyes before Mr. Graves turned back to Chastity.
Nothing happened much, just liked last night. People slowly got up from their seats and walked toward the door, some lingered to speak to Ma about the rally supporting the New Salem Philanthropic Society which would take place on Saturday. Mr. Graves was still there too, but he was talking to Chastity. Credence thought that he saw Chastity's cheeks reddened as she smiled back at the alpha.
That made Credence cowered even more into his corner. He didn't like what he saw, but he didn't know why. And there was a strange feeling in his chest, the feeling that made Credence want to pull his older sister away from Mr. Graves. The thought scared him. Credence had been wanting to hurt Ma and Chastity when he was a child, when they scolded him for no reason except because Credence was born to make people commit sin. He had wanted to hurt them, to make them stop talking. When Credence grew up he had learnt to get used to the unfairness of his life, but this new and strange rush of jealousy he had never felt before just shook Credence to the core.
Mr. Graves spent another minute or two talking to Chastity, and then he was walking toward the exit. Chastity was beside him all the time until the alpha left. Then his sister turned back with a smile and hurried toward Ma.
"Ma, I like him."
"Yes," Chastity smiled as she moved around the kitchen, while Credence was washing the glasses. Normally he would tune their conversation out, but tonight he listened. He didn't even know why.
"Is it okay? Ma? Is it okay for me to…like him?" Chastity stopped her pacing and turned to her mother who was arranging the leaflets on the dining table. His older sister sounded unsure. Credence didn't know why he wanted to hear Ma's answer so badly this time. Half of him wanted Ma to say no, but the other half knew that she would say yes. Chastity was her favourite child after all.
"Yes, it's okay my dear," from the corner of his eyes, Credence saw Ma moved toward Chastity. Her hand held up to caress her oldest daughter's face. "You're blessed, unlike others. You're blessed to be so much more…"
There was a sound of glass breaking, and both women went still before abruptly turned toward Credence who accidently dropped the glass he was washing.
"I…" Credence stuttered. The glass was slippery and he was too focused at their conversation that he got clumsy. "…I'm sorry…" he murmured, ready to reach for his belt.
Credence heard footsteps, he looked up and Ma was in front of him. He was about to reach for his belt when she backhanded him. Credence didn't cry out as his head snapped to the left. And then she held her hand out for his belt.
"You disappointed me," Ma hissed. "How many time have I told you to be careful? This is why your family left you here. Take off your shirt."
As she beat him with whipped his hands and back with his belt, Credence made no sound. He bit the inside of his cheeks to keep any sound spilling out. Chastity was at the dining table, making the leaflets without paying any attention to them.
After Credence's back was full with bruises and blood, Ma left. She dropped the belt near his feet as she walked toward the stairs. "Clean up the mess. No breakfast for you tomorrow."
As she ascended upstairs, Credence stayed still. Only after her bedroom door was close that he let his tears spilled. Credence didn't even bother to take care of the wounds as he slowly grabbed the pieces of shattered glass. Some of them cut into his fingers as he clumsily picked each of them up, adding new wounds on to his hands.
Credence sobbed as he cleaned the floor, put all the glasses into the bin and slowly stood up, wincing at the pain on his back. He sniffed and was about to reach for a towel when he heard a movement. Turning back abruptly, Credence was now staring at Mr. Graves.
"Hi," Mr. Graves held up his hand in a greeting manner, but he wasn't smiling. He looked…concerned.
Credence took a step back, frantically wiping away his tears. He wasn't sure what to do. His hands were bloody, and he wasn't wearing a shirt, no apron either. Credence's cheeks heated up right after he realized that he was half-naked in front of an alpha. In. Front. Of. An. Alpha.
'Ma will kill me if she finds out' was his first thought as Credence quickly held the dirty towel in front of himself as if it would help cover his body. He wasn't supposed to let anyone see his body. Showing his body meant Credence had proved that he was truly a low-life being created by Satan to sway people from the right path; he was ten years old when Ma gave him this talk. Credence remembered Chastity immediately added that his body was a hideous sight for those with pure hearts. She also said that Credence would only be desired by those of dirty minds.
"Wh...what…what are you doing here?" Credence stuttered as he panicky reached for his shirt, but it wasn't where he left it along with the apron. Credence looked around the room, only to see that both his shirt and apron were in Mr. Graves's hands.
"She beat you," the alpha stated calmly, still keeping Credence's shirt with him. "Does it happen often?"
"What…are you…talking about?"
"The beating," Mr. Graves replied, still holding the shirt and the apron. "Do you want me to ease the pain?"
Ease the pain? What is he talking about?
Credence was confused. He didn't know what to do. He was half-naked in front of an alpha, and the alpha was asking about Ma's edification; at least that's what she told him.
"Do you want me to help with those?" Mr. Graves asked, gesturing toward the sink and stepping closer. Credence stepped away, still confused of what the alpha intended to tell him.
"Those…?" He turned to sink, there were unwashed dishes and glasses in there. Mr. Graves wants to help me…? Oh, no, no, no. I can't let him do that. Credence gulped, shaking his head, looking down at his feet again. He didn't have a courage to meet the alpha's eyes, especially when he was still half-naked.
"Thank you…but this is my work…" Credence tried to stutter as less as possible as he talked, his eyes were glued to the ground, but then he heard a noise of water running, as if Mr. Graves was already at the sink and started cleaning those glasses.
"No..." he looked up, alarmed that the alpha didn't listen to what he said, but Mr. Graves was still where he was before Credence turned away. No, those glasses were washing themselves. WASHING. THEMSELVES.
Is this a dream? Credence mused. No, it's not. My hands still hurt, wait…does this mean…
He looked at Mr. Graves who still wait for his answer, and looked back at the glasses which were washing themselves. Credence gulped. He should be horrified, he should run away, he should be shouting for Ma, telling her that there was a magic user in the chapel. Yet, Credence did nothing, just stared at the alpha in disbelief.
"You are…" he gestured toward the sink. "…you're…you…" and his voice had betrayed him again, so Credence inhaled sharply and tried to put everything out in one go. "You can use magic?" It wasn't what he intended to say, but it's better than kept stuttering and didn't get the message out.
"Yes, I can," Mr. Graves nodded. He snapped his fingers and broom flew out from the corner. It landed in front of the alpha and started to sweep the floor.
Credence still didn't know what to do. The right thing would be waking his Ma up and told her that there was a wizard, A REAL WIZARD, in the chapel. But in the other hand, Credence felt no urge to do as she had been repeatedly instructed him since he a child. Ma had told him to tell her as soon as he saw abnormal or magic user-related activities, and glass washing themselves was more than enough to be classified as 'abnormal'.
"So…" Mr. Graves spoke up, his voice was soft and smooth, as he took a step closer. Credence didn't back away, not because his cheeks had stopped flushing red, but because he didn't know where to go. Credence wanted to talk, or at least stay, with this alpha. "…how long have you been living here?"
The alpha's question made Credence stop to think about it. He barely remembered anything from his childhood. There were several broken memories of his early days before his family left him with Ma. He remembered sunlight and a lake, but nothing else. After that, he seemed to be left at the chapel. Ma took him in, and the memories blurred together from the same routines again and again.
"Since…I was three," Credence answered timidly. He still remembered the warmness from the embrace of his real mother, but he didn't have much time to think about it. He didn't want to hurt himself with a dream that would never come true.
"How old are you now?"
"Seventeen, sir," Credence nodded, eyes looking down at his shoes again. He tried not to shiver as the weather was getting worse as days past. Half of him wanted to curve up in his bed and slept, but the other remembered that he still had some unfinished chores.
"Please, please…my shirt…" Credence kept his head down as he asked. "I…I'm cold…"
He heard footsteps, and then the alpha was in front of him. Credence looked up, but Mr. Graves wasn't handing him his shirt.
"Let me stop the bleeding, then I'll give your shirt back," was what the alpha said, voice soft. Credence staggered backward in surprise.
He didn't know what to say. He had never had a wizard offering to treat his wounds before.
What did Ma say about magic users? They don't work for free?
Credence tried to bring up as much memories as possible. And it made sense, this wizard was probably after something. His mother's community might had effected his life, maybe Mr. Graves was a spy from the magic user community who was trying to get the information about them.
"In an exchange for what?" Credence blurred out before he could stop himself, and he hated how his voice cracked at the end from not used to talking.
To Credence surprise, the alpha seemed to be amused.
"Credence," Mr. Graves walked toward him, and stood still until they're face to face. Credence wanted to turn away, but that pair of dark brown eyes made him frozen in place. Mr. Graves's gaze was intense, and his eyes seemed to be searching for something. Credence hoped that the alpha found it soon.
"Credence," the alpha's voice was even softer than before, as if he was trying to soothe a wounded and scared animal. "I'm not asking anything from this. Not all magic users are cold-hearted and hellish liked what your mother said. I'm helping you because I wanted to, and that you don't deserve any of this," the alpha waved his free hand around.
Credence wanted to agree, oh Goodness he really wanted, but he didn't trust this man. No, he could not trust this wizard. Ma had forbidden them from trusting a stranger, let alone a magi user.
But Ma isn't here, and these wounds hurt so much; a voice in his head argued. Ma doesn't love me as much as she loves Chastity, why do I have to care about what she said?
No, my back and my hands hurt and I'm freezing. Besides, it's not like I've a choice. I need my shirt back, Ma cannot know that some of my clothes have gone missing.
With that thought, Credence turned to the alpha and nodded. It's not totally true though, Ma hadn't checked his clothes since he turned thirteen, and she wouldn't start checking them anytime soon.
"Stay still, it won't hurt," Mr. Grave said and then there was a wand, a real wand, on his free hand. Credence looked at it as the alpha murmured something to the air. Then, he softly flicked his wand, and Credence felt warm. He felt so comfortable he almost closed his eyes. However, instead of closing his eyes and savoured the unnaturally warmness he felt, Credence's eyes wandered to the alpha's face. There was no emotion there, or Credence was terrible at reading people. It must be the later, since the most facial expression he had seen was the cold emotionless one from Ma.
Then, the warmness appeared, and Credence looked down at his hands. The blood was gone and his skin had knitted itself back together. The wounds were still there, but they looked like a 1 or 2 days old wounds more than the fresh ones.
"All done," Mr. Graves handed the shirt and the apron back. Credence immediately put them on and noticed that the broom was already back in its place and the kitchen was well swept.
Credence immediately turned to the sink, gasping as he saw that all glasses and plates had finished washing themselves. He then looked back at the alpha who was walking around the kitchen, admiring his works.
"Do all…." Credence's curiosity won the best of him, so he decided to ask. "Do all witches and wizards use magic to clean their kitchen?"
"Depends," the alpha turned to look at him, a small smile on his face. "There're some that enjoy housework, but most of us use magic."
"Oh," Credence nodded, suddenly didn't know what to say anymore. He was tired, but he wouldn't go to bed with an alpha wizard walking around in the chapel.
"It's late," Mr. Graves seemed to understand his hesitation to go upstairs. "I'll be heading home now, take care of yourself."
And then the alpha just disappeared. He just…turned into thin air and gone. Credence gulped, he wasn't sure what he should do. Should he tell Ma? No, he wouldn't. There was no evidence, and she would beat him for waking her up at this hour. No, no, he shouldn't tell anyone. He should go to bed and pretend that this didn't happen.
So that's what Credence did, he went to bed and tried to forget everything.
"We've captured several smugglers in Brooklyn, Mr. Waylon is interrogating them as we speak," Goldstein replied, her voice smooth and her expression professional. "We also found a new lead to our poachers, they seemed to be hiding in Trenton, New Jersey."
"Good," Percival nodded. "Tell Madame President I've found the child."
"Yes, sir," Goldstein nodded before she Apparated. Percival was glad that she was back. Goldstein might be clumsy sometimes, but she's hardworking and determine. She's a good Auror, and that's probably why Grindelwald had her removed soon after he claimed Percival Graves's identity.
It took three months for the truth of Grindelwald to be revealed, and he owed Newt Scamander for it. No, actually it's Newt Scamander's Niffler. It pickpocketed Grindelwald and eventually stole a silver cigarette box that Percival was kept within. It's an awkward moment when he popped out from that box while Scamander was trying to pour out what the Niffler had stolen. The Niffler was a magical creature and had magic of its own, most charms used on object would slowly dissolve when that object was kept in its pouch. In his case, Percival was glad that the charm wore off right after the cigarette box was outside the animal's body. He couldn't imagine himself in the Niffler's pouch along with what it had stolen.
After that, they went after Grindelwald. He was half alive at that time, but the anger pushed him forward. The duel between them before the rest of the Aurors arrived was intense, and Percival nearly died twice. Madams President had tried to cheer him up by mentioning that he was the first person to have all his limbs intact and suffered only malnutrition after being locked away by Grindelwald. It appeared that he was not the first person Grindelwald had captured for the identity, but he was the only one to make it out alive.
Percival didn't remember much of what it's like in that cigarette box. That bastard kept him sedated and unconscious most of the time. It took the healers a week to lift all the curse Grindelwald put on him, and another month for recovering and checking before he was allowed back to work. They had to make sure that he was really Percival Graves, and that he had completely healed.
He Apparated back to his apartment. Rogue was already asleep as Percival shrugged out his coat and scarf. He sighed and made his way to the bathroom.
As he showered, Percival thought of the child. His mission was to observe and deliver the final decision, but somehow he had let his feeling interfere. He felt sorry for the child. Credence's family wasn't a family at all. The woman who adopted Credence was abusing him, that's very obvious.
Percival did hope for the better future for this child. But if he became a threat in the end, he would have to be eliminated. Percival hated the thought of killing something so innocent, but duty came first.