"So…you're not going to tell me about that boy, hm?"
"In your dream!..."
With a flick of the wand, everything was quiet again. Percival Graves sighed. He had never expected this investigation to become this chaotic and slipshod, it's very against his nature. Percival, or 'Mr. Graves' - as his co-workers and subordinates called him, sighed and proceeded to stand in front of the suspect who was silent from his Silencing Charm.
"I will let you answer again, this time please try harder," Percival talked slowly. His voice was smooth but cold. Mr. Graves was naturally a patient man – one of the most patient alpha Aurors MACUSA ever had, but he did have his limits, just liked everyone else.
With a subtle gesture of his left hand, a middle aged beta male tied to the chair was able to make a sound again. He gasped, staring at Percival, but no sound was made.
"So…?" Percival raised his eyebrows. He didn't want anything to get messier than it already was, but he wouldn't hesitate to make something explode so this man would start talking.
"The…The omega boy…" the man stuttered, his left hand moved to cradle his heavily injured right arm. Percival had intendedly relocated and reshaped the bones of that arm, resulting in the tearing and unnaturally twisting of the muscles and ligaments. "The boy…is in…some kind of chapel…"
"Where is that chapel?" Percival kept his voice smooth while his mind was screaming in joy that he finally had something to work on. Behind him, his subordinates shifted slightly, ready to take care of the rest as soon as Percival had the information they needed.
"Not… not…not far away…Ahhhh!"
"Mr. Harris, where is that chapel?" Percival asked again after he had relocated another bone of the beta; his patience was running real low. "You know, my men are not expert in putting relocated bones back to their places, so you better tell me where the church is before the damages will be beyond repair."
Mr. Harris didn't seem convinced, so Percival sighed and reshaped the man's left radial bone. The scream was too loud for his liking. And as Percival was thinking about reshaping the man's left tibia too, Mr. Harris had decided to give in.
Two hours later, Percival was in the forest near a small town called 'Salem'. This town looked peaceful, but there were some No-Majs forming a No-Maj anti-witchcraft group. This group was called 'the New Salem Philanthropic Society' or 'NSPS' for short. Well, Percival didn't care about them anyway, even when he was about to walk into their chapel.
"Credence, what are you doing?"
A sharp voice, a voice of a woman who held no love for him, a voice Credence found himself desired to hear less and less.
He mumbled, hand gripping hard on the staircase.
"Credence. Do not lie to mother."
Chastity, his older sibling spoke from where she was arranging the paper. Her voice was cold and hard. She always knew when he was trying to hide something.
"I… I didn't…" he stumbled. He didn't lie, it's nothing. "There…there is nothing… I just sore…"
Ma walked toward him. She hadn't demanded for his belt yet, but she would want it eventually. He had learnt all her silent command since his early years, a flick of the wrist; a small gesture for his obedience.
Her voice was so sharp Credence almost moved away, but he remembered that his mother didn't like it when he moved while she was talking. Credence kept his head down as he answered.
"Which part exactly?"
Her voice was sharper, and Credence's voice was shaking as he answered.
"My lower back"
He replied, and then Chastity's hands were on the back of his thigh, pulling the fabric of his loose pants to see if there was something wrong. Something evil.
"He's not leaking yet," she let go of his pants as soon she was satisfied, as if he was a disgusting insect. She didn't want to touch him, but she couldn't let Ma touch something so evil and disgusting liked him either.
In the corner of his eyes, Credence saw his mother's posture slightly relaxed, but she was still as sharp as ever. "Very well," she said, "go to your room, no dinner for you today."
Credence did as he was told. His room was the furthest room from stairs, next from his room was a storeroom they used for storing clothes, after that it was Chastity's room, then Ma's, and then Modesty's. The children under their care slept in the other building behind the chapel. Sometimes Credence hoped that he could join them. At least their building had a view of a small but comfy street behind the building while the only window of his room showed him the view of a dirty alley no one bother to look twice.
He sat down on the bed and cradled his head in his hands. Ma had said that he was born to be the caller of a tool of Satan. She said that he must be locked away as soon as he started 'leaking'. She said that he would eventually leak the cursed fluid from his body, the fluid that would lure good people to the Satan. Credence remembered the hushed voices of Chastity and Ma talking that they should have a few more years before he started to do the job he was born to do; to make people committed sin. It was a matter of time before he would be locked up in the basement.
Credence bit his lower lip. He should be delighted that he still had times left, and he should celebrate by trying to get some sleep. His lower back still arched and prevented him from laying on his back, so he had to stay on his side.
Sometimes, in a very rare occasion, he would have a nice dream. A dream where he was free, free from his family, free from everything. In those dreams he was flying with the birds in the sky, travelled far and far away from the chapel and would never come back. And tonight was one of those rare night that he dreamed.
But no matter how brilliant the dream was, he would always wake up to the same old bed. Sometimes he cried that the dream had ended, and sometimes he wished that he could stay in the dream forever.
Credence woke up before sunrise. He spent several minutes to get up from the bed. He was used to not having dinner by now. Since he had reached puberty, his punishments were mostly divided between 'give me the belt' or 'no dinner for you today'.
He washed his face, made sure to scrub every trace of tears away. Then he slowly and silently made his way to the kitchen. There, Credence started cooking breakfast for twenty children and his family.
Today was Tuesday, that meant the meeting and it would start at 7:15 pm. He had to prepare dinner before then, after that he would spend his time standing still at the corner of the room, waiting for his mother's or Chastity's orders.
He turned at the voice of his younger sister. Modesty. The girl was smiling as she hopped down stairs and ran toward him. Credence didn't smile back, but he felt warm as the girl took his scarred hand in hers.
"Credence," Modesty gave him a mischief grin as she leaned up to whisper into his ears. "Yesterday I threw those leaflets away so I had more time to walk around the town. You should try, throwing them all away."
"I can't." Credence offered her a simple reply. Oh, how much he wanted to do just that, but Ma and Chastity always knew when he did something wrong. He was used to punishment, but it didn't mean that he wouldn't feel pain when receiving one.
"Credence…" Modesty pouted, a behaviour she dared to show when their mother and older sister hadn't awaked yet.
Credence wanted to smile for her, but he looked at the clock and knew that they had around a minute or two before Chastity woke up, so he gently pushed Modesty's shoulder, telling her that she should get herself ready for school.
Modesty sighed but ran back upstairs, just in time before Chastity emerged from her room.
The day went by. Credence and his family ate breakfast before Chastity would call in the orphans. After that the orphans would 'go to school' which was one of the room of the chapel. Chastity, Ma, along with several volunteers, would tutor them. Credence would go to a grocery store to get ingredients for cooking lunch and dinner.
The trip to the grocery store was the period of the day he enjoyed the most. Away from his mother and older sister. All he had to do was walking and admiring the beautiful scenery.
Once he reached the grocery store, Credence schooled his expression and his thought back to the task at hand. He picked each items up without much thought, it's a kind of muscle reflex since he had done this thousands of time already.
Credence balanced every item in one arm as he walked along the shelves. There were two more items he had to get before heading back...
Then, he rounded the corner and walked right into another man.
"Hey, are you alright?"
The man stood still while Credence was on the ground. He ignored the sharp pain from his old wound as he tried to gather his things; he also ignored the hand offered to help him up.
The man seemed to get the impression that Credence was worrying about his stuffs, not the he was being rude because he was afraid to interact. Ma had forbidden him from talking to any stranger unless they're asking about the New Salem Philanthropic Society. Nevertheless, the stranger helped Credence picked up his items and handed it back to him. Credence noted that the man's hand was big, callous, and warm.
Credence kept his eyes trained to the floor as he nodded his gratitude. "Th-thank you," he said. Ma wasn't here, so he guessed that a simple 'thank you' was okay.
"Are you alright?"
The man repeated, this time Credence was able to focus on the stranger's voice. It's low, a bit rough or it might be because the accent, but not unpleasant.
Since Ma wasn't here, maybe he could rebel a bit. Modesty had thrown those leaflets away yesterday; he wanted a rebellious story to tell her too.
"I-I'm okay," Credence hated that he still stuttered, but he managed to get the word out. His eyes were still glued to his shoes. Nevertheless, he still saw the stranger's shoes, black pants, the shirt and the coat. Credence almost saw the man's face.
"Are you sure?"
A hand touched his shoulder and Credence flinched. He didn't mean too, but he couldn't stop himself. Since he was a child, a sudden contact meant punishment. "I'm okay." He repeated, stepping back before turning away. Half of himself wanted to stay and talked more, but the other half screamed that he had to go or he would be caught.
Credence picked up the rest of the items on the way to the cashier and made a beeline home. His heart was still pounding so hard after that small encounter with a man he didn't even see his face. However, from the faint scent Credence managed to pick up he could tell that the stranger was an Alpha.
Credence got back to the chapel at his usual time. Luck was on his side because he had an hour and a half of cooking to calm his nerve before Chastity and Ma would come back. They didn't suspect a thing, they didn't even look at him as they ate lunch together. After that Credence washed the dishes and cleaned swept the floor. He had to tidy the place up before the meeting this evening.
He cooked after finished cleaning, half listening to the sound of children being gathered to help make the leaflets.
Chastity let the children out after they finished the job. Credence watched them ran out before he turned back to the stove. He knew Chastity was watching him. She had been watching him closely since last week, as if she was waiting for him to do something wrong.
The meeting started half an hour after dinner. Credence helped his sisters and mother carrying the drinks out for the members. After that, he would be at the front door, holding it open and hung the coats for their guests.
People slowly arrived, smiling when they saw Chastity but ignoring when they saw him. Credence kept his head low, no eye contact. There were always 40-50 people on Tuesday and Wednesday, nearly 80 people on Sunday. Credence was hanging the coat of the 45th guest when he heard a familiar voice.
"Good evening, is this the New Salem Philanthropic Society chapel?"
It's the voice of that stranger from the grocery store. Credence felt his heart skipped beat. He hadn't expected to meet him here, but why would he care? Credence really didn't understand himself.
"Yes sir, are you interesting in joining our community?"
Chastity's voice was sweet and soft, unlike when she talked to him.
"I'm not sure, but I was new here, and my friend suggest that I should visit this place. I think I'll give it a try."
Credence heard a footstep went upstairs, followed by the light familiar scent. It distracted him to the point that he didn't hear Chastity inviting him in with polite but lively voice. Credence knew he should keep his head down, but curiosity won the best of him. He wanted to see the alpha's face, so he looked up and was met with a pair of dispassionate dark brown eyes, strong jaw, and a slight grey on his temple. His hair was swept back neatly.
Credence immediately averted his eyes and held out his hands for the coat. The stranger handed it to him and their finger touched. Credence almost felt electricity shot though his body from the contact. But then the man pulled away and continued down the hall, heading toward the available seats.
Ten minutes later, the meeting started. Credence tried to be on his best behaviour because he had a feeling that Ma and Chastity were keeping close eyes on him. Nevertheless, he still sneaked a glance at the man as much as possible. The alpha sat on the middle row, eyes fixed on his Ma who was on the podium.
When it's nearly time for the break, Credence went to the kitchen to bring out the beverage and some snack they had prepared. He carried a plate full with glasses while Modesty and Chastity took care of the snack. That alpha was the last one who came to get the drink. Credence risked glancing up, and was met with the man's eyes. This time, the alpha seemed to be calculating something.
Credence felt himself slightly trembled as the alpha's gaze lingered, but then the man turned and went back to the crowd. Credence inhaled and quickly made his way back to his corner and waited to collect the glass after everyone was done.
Credence didn't know why he was a bit sad when the meeting ended. Their guests stood up and prepared to leave. Credence immediately went to stand behind Ma and Chastity at the exit, eyes glued to his shoes. But even with afford to be uninterested in the alpha, Credence still noticed that the stranger he met at the grocery store today spent sometimes studying the architecture of the chapel before leaving.
After that he helped Ma and Chastity cleaned up the chapel. Ma said nothing as she walked upstairs, a signal that she would be retiring for the night now. Chastity followed suit, leaving Credence to wash the glasses.
Credence went on with his chore. He was thinking about tomorrow trip to the grocery store already. The winter was coming, and he wished to see snow soon. He wished that he would have a time to watch it painted the world to the perfect whiteness, pure and beautiful. Something he would never be; his mother had said that when she was teaching Modesty what snow was.
Then, out of nowhere, Credence heard the voice of that alpha. He jumped, dropping the glass back into the sink. He was lucky it didn't broke though, just splashed the water and wetted his apron.
Credence turned around and gasped when he saw the alpha from earlier standing at the threshold of the kitchen's door.
The alpha stepped in and looked around him. Credence felt his cheek heated up. He had never felt ashamed of their kitchen before, but with the alpha walking around, Credence suddenly felt ashamed of who he was and the place he lived. The alpha walked around elegantly, but still aware of his surroundings.
Even that Credence had seen this animal in books only, he was sure this man fitted the definition of 'like a panther cornering its prey'. And this alpha made him felt as if he was cornered without doing anything more than walking around the old and quite messy kitchen.
"I forgot my wallet," the alpha said. His voice was soft and smooth, as if he was trying not to startle Credence. "And I saw a light in here, so I…" he gestured to the door that connected the kitchen to the main hall of the chapel. "I'm sorry that I didn't knock. I just wished that perhaps you might have found it."
Credence gulped. He knew he should call for Ma, but he couldn't. He felt as if his voice was gone, and the alpha standing there with his eyes focused on Credence didn't help make it any better.
"I…" Credence tried, only to swallow and cower backward. He wanted to call for his mother, but the other part of him didn't want to. She would be angry, and when she was angry she punished him. "…I…" He tried again, now his voice was a bit louder than a whisper; he was making progress. "I…I can…help you look…" he winched at his own voice. It sounded liked he was croaking more than talking. Moreover, Credence hated himself for stuttering, but he just couldn't help it. He was nervous. However, beyond that feeling there were other feelings as well, and he didn't know what they were.
"Thank you," the alpha nodded, his eyes travelled up and down. Credence wondered if the alpha was regarding him. He hoped that he didn't look as terrible as he thought.
Credence slowly followed the alpha back to the main hall. They started looking for the alpha's wallet and eventually found it under the seat the man had occupied at the meeting.
"Thank you so much," the alpha said again, his voice was smooth and his eyes were glittering, or maybe it might be the light playing tricks with Credence. And he was too caught up in his own thought to notice that the alpha had taken a step closer. Now they're less than a meter away from each other.
"What's your name?" the alpha asked. His voice soft and made Credence's cheeks heated up again. "I'm Percival, Percival Graves. And you?"
It took Credence a moment to reply, "Credence," he said. "Credence…Credence Barebone."
"Credence," the alpha, Percival Graves nodded. They're almost at the same high, but the alpha's shoulders were boarder, and he was surely well-built. "Thank you for helping me, I guess I will see you tomorrow, right?"
"The next meeting is tomorrow at 6:15 pm, right?"
"Yes, yes," Credence quickly nodded, looking at anywhere but the alpha to avoid eyes contact because his cheeks were too hot right now. "See…see you tomorrow, sir."
"Goodnight," Mr. Percival Graves nodded and turned to leave. Credence watched until the double door was close that he immediately sat down on a nearby chair. He didn't understand why his heart was pounding so hard right now.
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.