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The Black Mark Upon My Soul

Chapter Text

 

On December 15th, 1885, Percival Graves is born. Across the expanse of his shoulder blades a great swirling design. His family celebrate not only the birth of their first son on this day, but also the honour of the mark bestowed upon their son. The bigger the mark, the greater the love between mates.

 

On May 3rd, 1902, Alec Demers is born on a ship crossing the Atlantic towards America. His mother, Mariam Demers, is fleeing an arranged marriage to a monster of a man. She does not know how long she will be able to hide from him, but she has to try. Before leaving, she consults with another wizard to get her son’s mark glamoured; it will not reveal itself until he turns eleven.

 

On this same day, Percival Graves is in his last year at Ilvermorny. Him and his friends are fooling around in a nearby river when they notice the changing mark. The intricate swirling design that have decorated his back for nearly two decades come to life; dancing across his back before condensing to form a neat script.

 

His friends’ reactions vary from nooooo, to I knew it, to shocked silence. Percival quickly becomes frustrated, what was it about his mark that was so surprising?

 

“Well? What’s her bloody name, you gits!” He explodes. The silence stretched a little longer.

 

“Not a her, Percy. His name. Alec Demers! Sounds French, right? Percy got himself a European –“

 

Percival stopped listening.

 

A boy’s name. Stamped on his back like a brand.

 

Percival had always known part of him leaned towards men, but he had chosen to ignore it; focusing on courting women like he had been raised to do.

 

Inverts weren’t openly prosecuted in the wizarding world (they had enough to fear from Non-Majs without having to fear one and other too), but it was certainly frowned upon; they tended to be ostracized or outright ignored. Percival couldn’t afford either outcome if he wanted to be an Auror.

 

Percival’s life changed that day; he swore his friends to secrecy, but he also stopped seeing women. He threw himself into his Auror training and never looked back.

 

Several years later, Mariam Demers is out of options. She seeks refuge for her and her son at a small church in New York, run by a Miss Mary-Lou Barebone.

 

They are welcomed with open arms, feed and cared for in return for assistance in maintaining the church.

 

But this does not last long, as Miriam has finally been found.

 

Three wizards are sent to ransack the little church, destroying anything within reach and setting it all on fire as they leave. Mary Lou manages to rescue all the children, but is forced to watch as her life’s work burns to the ground.

 

Mary-Lou Barebone understands two things that day. First, witches are harbourers of death and destruction and must be stopped. Second, Alec Demers is currently on a path of sin and must be rescued before his soul is irreparably corrupted as his mother’s was.

 

She christens him Credence Barebone in a first effort to eradicate his connection to his past.

 

Somewhere else in New York, Percival is buried under a pile of paperwork and does not notice when his mark changes once more to write Credence Barebone.

 


 

 

Credence is ten when Mary Lou first starts beating him with his belt. Blows raining down across his back and thighs. Oddly enough, the space right between his shoulder blades never seems to get injured, not matter how hard she hits him.

 

Until one day, when Mary Lou orders him to hand her his belt (he hadn’t been able to hand out all of his pamphlets that day, it was cold and rainy outside and the streets had been barren). Credence removes his shirt and braces himself on the railing as he waits for the blows to begin, but they never do. The silence stretches and stretches and Credence eventually looks back to see if Mary Lou has left. Instead he sees her standing where she had been, arm half raised and still holding the belt, her eyes blown wide and mouth hanging open.

 

His movement prompts her to move as well; her hand tentatively reaches forward and brushes across the space between his shoulders. It is a tender touch, one she usually reserves for the girls and other young children (but not for Credence, never for Credence). He revels in it, sighing and melting into the first kindness that has touched him in in years.

 

“Ma –“ he begins, but his throat swells up with emotion. Has he finally been absolved? Cured of his wickedness—

 

The tender fingers on his back turn to claws, digging into the smooth flesh.

 

Invert.” Mary Lou spits the word out like it is poison, her nails unforgiving and cutting deep into him, but not nearly as deep as her words. “Wicked like your mother! You will bring destruction upon us all, tempted by the Devil as you are!”

 

“Ma— I— I don’t understand! What—“ Mary-Lou thrusts his body back against the railing and brings the belt still clutched in her grasp against his back.

 

Credence cries out more in surprise than pain.

 

“The name of a man embedded in your very skin! Have you no shame, boy? Parading your whorishness in the house of God!”

 

Credence has never heard Mary Lou raise her voice outside of the meetings, let alone shout. But she appears possessed, fury in her eyes and her blows more ferocious than they had ever been before. He barely feels the pain through the shock.

 

“I will erase that name from your skin if it is the last thing I do!” She keeps raining blows until Credence collapses; his back a mess of blood and bits of skin.

 

Later, when Mary Lou as quenched her thirst, she leaves him in a crumpled heap of blood and pain. Credence does not possess the strength to hull himself to his room, so he stays where he is.

 

Time passes as he lies in his own blood; the pain and sorrow in his gut transforms to anger. Credence tries to choke it down, to pray for strength; but he is weak, and eventually the waves of anger over take him. The world goes black.

 

When he wakes again, he is in his bed. The pain in his back the only trace of what had just transpired. However, as he curls into himself in the search for warmth, he does not feel the pull of any wounds in the space between his shoulder blades. Reaching up and around tentatively, his fingers only find smooth skin in the place of his damning mark.

 

Chapter Text

The first time Credence sees Mr. Graves is at a meeting.

 

The man hovers just outside of the gathered crowd, his coat fanning out around him like a dark aura. He cuts such a striking figure Credence can’t help but stare. And stares for too long apparently, as the mysterious man catches his gaze; Credence looks back down to his feet, a deep blush rising to his cheeks. When he gathers the courage to peek by up through his lashes, the man is still looking at him, his head cocked to the side slightly (as if Credence is something curious or interesting, worthy of attention).

 

This happens several times over the course of some weeks, before Credence is properly acquainted. He is handing out flyers on a street corner when approached, a clean manicured hand reaching for a pamphlet.

 

“Would you like to learn about the cause, sir?” Credence doesn’t bother to look up, rattling off the rehearsed monologues his Ma taught him.

 

“Is that the only way I get to speak with you, my boy?” Comes the gravelly reply. Credence does the mistake of looking up in his confusion, and finds himself caught in the intense gaze he has come to know so well.

 

Credence opens his mouth to reply, but nothing comes out; he is frozen on the spot, caught in the snare of a predator.

 

“Very good, come with me. I know a place where we can speak in private.” The man does not wait for Credence’s permission before grabbing him by the elbow and guiding him to the opening of a little alley.

 

Once they are sufficiently isolated, the man turns back to Credence, offering his hand out. “Percival Graves, pleasure to meet you. What is your name?”

 

“Credence Barebone, sir.” The words slip out from between his lips before his mind can comprehend what is happening.

 

“Good lad. You and I have much to talk about.” The smile that splits the man’s face is anything but friendly.

 

Weeks turn into months, and Mr. Graves becomes a major part of Credence’s life. At first Credence was skeptical, but the man has proven to be reliable. He heals the worst of Credence’s wounds, even holds him, rough hands on the back of his neck guiding him to burrow into the warmth of the man’s body. Credence’s breath catches every time, as his traitorous loins react to the comfort, instinctively prompting him to seek out more. But Credence resists the siren’s call; he is damned enough as it is.

 

And he knows the contact is wrong. A darkness rolling deep in his gut whenever the touches linger too long. His mind and body constantly warring against each other, one seeking the only comfort he knows while the other screams in warning.

The need for comfort outweighs the warnings, however; as the darkness building within him grows and quivers beneath his skin demanding to be released.

 

Some days Credence feels paper-thin; and he wonders how Ma does not see the darkness bubbling and pushing against his skin, oozing out amongst the blood that trickles down his back to gather in the waist of his trousers.

 

And when That Day comes around; when the darkness begs so sweetly to be released, to avenge him, Credence feels the imprint of Mr. Graves’ hand across his face like a brand and the betrayal a bitter reminder that the man never cared.

 

Credence gives in. His soul is damned anyway.

 

He lets the darkness take over; lets it scream and writhe, twisting in the sky and distracting him from the hurt. But then there are people talking to him; Mr. Graves is back, and there is Miss Tina who had also been kind to him, and with a brilliant flash a blue there is another man; this one with kind eyes and a soft voice.

 

“Can I come over to you?” The kind man says. Credence expects him to advance, but the man waits, his hand outstretched. “Can I come over there?” Shocked by having been given a choice in the matter, Credence nods his consent.

 

And then bright lights and screaming, and his body is being moved by something; in his fright Credence is swallowed by the darkness once more, swirling angrily and lashing out in an attempt to protect its host.

 

Credence is hurting and frightened, but there are soft voices talking to him again… perhaps he is safe. The kind man said he wanted to help—

 

Suddenly there is only pain. Every inch of his body assaulted by an unseen assailant, a thousand times worse than Ma’s lashes and everywhere at once. Credence screams out his agony, his entire being exploding outwards in an attempt to escape, anything to escape—

 

Everything stops.

 

The world is black and muted. He is weightless, floating in absolute nothingness with no end in sight.

 

Is this Hell?

 

It wasn’t so bad (comforting, even: everything soft and muted), and the pain was gone. He couldn’t feel anything at all, not even himself. He continues floating, and keeps floating for what could have been an eternity or single minute. This place seemed to stand absolutely still.

 

But then there was a voice once more, the soft one from the subway station. Credence could feel its vibration, like an echo, but could not make out the words. It was soothing regardless.

 

I see you— not going to hurt— come down, now… Credence, please…

 

Credence’s world was taking shape once more, as the voice became louder. Like it was guiding him back into his body (which it was, Credence could start feeling his arms, than his hands, and finally his fingers).

 

Eventually, the darkness was gathered under his skin once more and Credence opened his eyes.

 

He was back at the church, or what was left of the church. The kind man in the blue coat was standing in front of him, like he had been at the subway. Hands outstretched and palms up, body crouched low as if to appear smaller.

 

Credence didn’t know what to do. He stayed where he was and waited.

 

“Hello there, Credence. My name is Newt Scamander. I would very much like to help you, if you’ll let me.”

 

Credence blinked, uncomprehending for a moment as his senses slowly came back to him; and even then, the statement made little sense. What did he stand to gain by helping?

 

“W—Why?” Credence forced the word out of his parched throat, thin, rough and barely audible. So he tried again, “Why? Why would you want to?”

 

The man, Mr. Scamander he said his name was, gave a sad smile. “It’s what I do, Credence. I help others.”

 

That didn’t answer his question, not really. “Why.”

 

Mr. Scamander took a deep breath, looking away as he collected his thoughts.

 

“Because— because no one should be hurt as you have been hurt. You have been used and abused and I think it passed time that someone cared for you instead. I see that you are bleeding, Credence. May I, at the very least, treat your wounds?” The man pleaded with his entire body; leaning forward, arms open and eyes sincere.

 

Credence nodded his assent as he had in the subway. What did he have left to lose?

 

It is only as the man places his case on the ground beside Credence that he notices its existence at all. Mr. Scamander opens it and gestures inside.

 

“After you, Credence.”

 

Chapter Text

Credence had been raised to believe that magic was inherently evil, unnatural and wicked. The evilness inside him was proof of that, as it thirsted for destruction and blood and pain.

 

Mr. Graves was further proof; he had twisted Credence up, used him to fulfill a purpose just to throw him to the curb once the work was done.

 

The darkness is his chest twisted angrily at the thought.

 

So, as he reached the bottom of the ladder and turned to observe his surroundings, he could barely contain his shock (he had not believed that he was capable of the feeling after what had transpired after the past few days); Newt’s case effectively destroyed any preconceived notions pertaining to the nature of magic Credence had thought up.

 

He felt drawn out of the little shack he had landed in, and out into what his brain could only rationalize as Paradise itself.

 

A world of new shapes, colours, and sounds surrounded him and overwhelmed the boy’s sense. The very air was vibrant, almost electric, as if the case was a living, breathing organism and if Credence put his hands on the ground he would feel its pulse. But he does not reach out, instead he breathes-in a lungful of fresh air, letting it warm him form the inside. Even the darkness felt calmer in this new space, this truly was Paradise—

 

The thought makes Credence pause. He turns to look at the man—Newt, he said his name was—who had followed the boy out into the open space, and takes him in: tall, but unimposing; bright fiery hair; and kind, soulful eyes.

 

That was the look of an angel if Credence ever knew one. That must mean Credence was dead after all (the thought didn’t bother the boy as much as it once would have).

 

But why bring him to Paradise? Surely Credence deserved to rot in the pits of Hell with the rest of the world’s sinners.

 

Unaware of Credence’s inner turmoil, the angel Newt gently guides the boy back into the shack and into a chair, prompting him to take a seat before crouching at his feet.

 

“There. That’s much better isn’t it? Now I can see your arms and legs are badly cut, so I’ll bandage those—unless you have other injuries that you would rather I treat first?” the angel looks up at him expecting an answer. Again, Credence was baffled by having been given a choice and considers it carefully.

  

Before he could reply, they were interrupted by the sound of the case opening and a small head framed by wild brown hair poking into the opening.

 

“Newt? Newt we couldn’t find him, did you— Oh, Credence! Mercy Lewis, you found him!” And just as suddenly as she had appeared Miss Tina retreated, two feet appearing instead as she climbed into the case, followed by another women.

 

Miss Tina came to sit beside the angel, essentially taking its place as it got up and started rummaging through cupboards; but Credence was watching the women that had entered after her: small and dainty with a pretty pink coat and beautiful golden locks. Another angel?

 

Credence sucked in a breath through clenched teeth and felt tears well up in his eyes at the realization that Miss Tina must be dead too.

 

“Oh no…I’m sorry, Miss Tina, I’m so sorry…” His chest tightened, making each breath increasingly difficult, however Credence was helpless to stop the apologies that poured out of him, “I never meant to hurt you… I never meant for this to happen… I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

 

Tina reached forward and grasped his trembling hands in an effort to stop his ceaseless apologies. “It’s alright Credence, you haven’t hurt me at all. Do I look injured to you?”

 

Credence frowned, eyes jumping back to the angel that had accompanied her into the case, before looking back at Miss Tina, “But— you’re here… with me… and were both—“ dead. Credence tried to force the word past his lips but it caught in his throat. Someone gasped, as if they had heard the admission his mind could make but his lips could not. Credence wanted to look up, but his eyes were filling with tears, and he concentrated on biting his lip in an effort to force them down.

 

Suddenly there was a gentle pressure on his upper arm. Not Miss Tina, she was still holding his hands tightly in her own, Credence looks up to see the blonde angel holding his arm, a sad smile on her lips.

 

“Credence, you dear, sweet boy, no one here is dead.” The angel women said.

 

“Oh you’re so sweet! I’m not an angel, my name’s Queenie, darling. I’m Tina’s sister.” She finished with a great big smile, before adding like an after though “and Newt’s not an angel either. But I can see why you though he might be. It’s all that British charm.” She patted him gently on the arm before backing away again.

 

Credence’s mind was whirling, confused by this new development. “If you’re not an angel, how did you know what I was thinking?”

 

“I’m a Legilimens, honey. I can hear what everyone is thinking.”

 

Newt choses this moment to join them again, mixing a cream of sorts that appeared greenish in colour. “We will have plenty of time later to explain everything, Credence. But right now I do need to start treating your wounds. You’re bleeding quite badly.”

 

It was only now that Newt had mentioned his injuries that he felt them, a sharp yet familiar throb along his legs and arms where the bright light had assaulted him. He also felt some more of the lesions across his back; but Credence hesitated in informing Newt about those.

 

He sees the blonde women frown and realizes she must have heard the thought.

 

“Sweetie, you don’t need to hide from us. We just want to help you get better. Come on, let me help you get that shirt off so we can patch you up, hmm?”

 

And then there were soft hands gently removing his ruined jacket. Credence was too shocked by the kindness of the touch to protest it. He let his mind go blank as they began to work.

 

It was a long process. They started with his arms and legs, cleaning off the excess blood that stained his skin before carefully applying the green stuff that made his skin tingle gently. Next was his chest and abdomen, which received a similar treatment.

 

Last was his back. Queenie and Tina tried to carefully remove his undershirt, but the blood had dried and was sticking to his gaping wounds. Credence tried to bit down the whimpers, but the pain must have shown on his face.

 

“We’ll just cut it off then.” Newt concludes, turning away and presumably fetching scissors.

 

When he comes back, they carefully manoeuvre Credence so that his back is facing the room, allowing Newt to stand behind him and cut the away the fabric.

 

The shirt is only half removed when Newt’s hands still. At first Credence believes the man is staring at the landscape of scars adorning his back, but when he feels gentle fingers brushing the mark between his shoulders, Credence understands.

 

The boy’s body reacts before his mind does. Years of abuse at the hands of another dictating his movement in an effort to protect him from further harm. Credence jumps away from the touch on his back, using the wall in front of him as leverage to push himself away from the people at his back. Unfortunately, this only manages to trap Credence in the corner of the room. The suddenness of his movements is enough to drain the little energy he had left; Credence doesn’t fight as his thin legs collapse under him, but his arms rise up instinctively as a last defense. Credence braces himself for the attack that is sure to come.

 

But nothing happens.

 

Credence strains to hear what the others are doing, but he cannot hear beyond the sound of his heartbeat roaring in his ears.

 

Seconds, minutes, hours, Credence does not know how much time passes, but the adrenaline in his blood thins and his wounds start throbbing in protest of his uncomfortable position against the wall.

 

Still, nothing happens. More time passes.

 

Eventually, whether due to acceptance or exhaustion Credence does not know, the boy lowers his arms and opens his eyes.

 

Newt is sitting a few feet from him, legs crossed and journal open, scribbling notes. Tina and Queenie are nowhere to be seen. Something alerts Newt to the new development of the situation, since he looks up to Credence.

 

“I would like to apologize for touching you without consent. That was rather rude of me.” Newt explains simply, closing is journal and putting away his quill.

 

Credence doesn’t know what to say. He wasn’t expecting an apology.

 

Newt moves to get up, gathering his things and putting them on the nearest table.

 

“Now, would you be opposed to me finishing to treat your wounds? I’ll make quick work of it and then we can go up for a quick bite. Queenie is making us some diner.”

 

But Credence is still reeling. Newt had seen the mark, seen that Credence bares the name of a man on his very flesh, and still wanted to help him?

 

The boy’s confusion must show on his face, because Newt is quick to understand the problem.

 

“Oh, I see. You’re not upset because I touched you. You’re upset because I saw your mark.” Newt is nodding to himself, trying to decide on the best course of action.

 

“Come, sit, Credence. I’ll explain while I treat your back.” Newt has sat himself in the seat he had presumptuously been using while treat Credence earlier, and offers Credence his own seat back.

 

The boy figures that if they wanted to hurt him, they hardly needed his cooperation. Slowly, he eases his body up from it’s cramped position and resumes his earlier seat.

 

“The mark you have,” Newt begins, as he wipes away the fresh blood running down the boy’s back, “do you know what it is?”

 

The Devil’s Mark, Credence thinks, but does not say it. Newt takes his silence as answer enough.

 

“We call it a Soul Mark. It shows the barer the name of their soulmate.” Newt’s fingers trace the edges of the mark, “So, out there somewhere, there is a person who carries your name, in the same place you wear theirs.”

 

“Does the mark not always appear on someone’s back?” The question falls unbidden from Credence’s lips (the opportunity to have some of his questions answered is too tempting to resist).

 

“No. They can appear anywhere on a person’s body. Forearms, wrists, and hearts are the most common, I believe. It varies mostly depending on the size.” Newt answers smoothly. “Yours, for example, is so big it would not fit in any of those places.”

 

“Where is yours?” Credence questions.

 

“Oh I don’t have one. They are quite rare, actually. It is even more rare to see one of this size, it’s why I was surprised earlier.” Newt continues.

 

“Why does the size matter?”

 

“The bigger the mark the more perfect the match.” Newt states simply.

 

Credence stays silent for a while, digesting the new information. However there is one more question he needs answered.

 

“Newt… could you… I mean, my Ma, she never...” Credence works to force the words past his throat. After a few more moments of silence, Newt steps in.

 

“Whatever it is, Credence, I’m happy to help.” He prompts gently.

 

Credence takes a few deep breathes and forces the words out in a rush, “Could you tell me the man’s name?

 

Newt’s hands still on the boy’s back, “Oh, I see. I’m terribly sorry, Credence, but one of your wounds is running across the mark. I can’t read it, and my magic isn’t powerful enough to heal you.”

 

Credence feels himself deflate at the news. He had been so close to finding the truth.

They spend the rest of the time in silence. Newt makes quick work of his remaining wounds, and when finished, he hands the boy a fresh set of clothing. Credence dresses as quickly as his wounds allow him and both men head out of the case.

 

They are not in the subway station, as Credence had expected. Instead, they are in a little apartment.

 

As Newt promised earlier, there is a feast ready on the centre table.

 

“Well aren’t you looking much better, Credence!” Queenie chirps happily from the kitchen area. “Oh, but those clothes just don’t fit at all. Let me take them in, sugar?”

 

Credence nods without understanding what it is he is agreeing to.

 

Queenie takes out her wands and waves it gently; suddenly the too baggy shirt and too short pants are tugging and retracting.

 

Credence looks down at himself in shock. The borrowed clothes fit perfectly now (even better then his own ever had).

 

“That’s much better, ain’t it, Credence? Now come eat before the food gets cold. I made a bit of everything, since I wasn’t sure what you prefer.” Queenie continues without missing a beat, gesturing to the table overflowing with dishes.

 

“Miss Queenie, I—“ Credence starts. Why are they being so kind? They have cared for him, clothed him, and now they are feeding him. Credence’s mind reels in an attempt to decipher what kind of repayment they are hoping for.

 

“None of that, sweetie! We just want to help yous. If you saw someone beaten down an hurtin’ and you had the means to help, would you not want to help them?” Queenie prompts him gently.

 

Credence mulls it over, but can’t find any flaw in her logic. It is an interesting perspective. He accepts the proffered chair, seating him between Newt and Queenie, and facing Tina.

 

Credence carefully fills his plate, taking only a little bit from each offered dish, not daring to fill his plate least he appear greedy. He sets his plate before him, says a quick Grace before picking up his cutlery and taking his first bite.

 

Much like he had felt when first entering Newt’s case, Credence is overwhelmed.

 

The boy openly stares at his plate of food. It is delicious... beyond delicious! Like nectar or perhaps ambrosia. The piece of meat melts in his mouth, tender and flavourful.

 

Credence takes a bite from the potatoes next. They are equally delicious, soft and fluffy.

 

Next he tries the vegetables, surely no one can make vegetables taste good.

 

He is wrong.

 

Credence puts down his fork, his mouth stuffed full of delicious food he refuses to swallow because he wants to savour it a little longer. It is only when he hears a series of small laughs that he realizes his eyes have closed in bliss.

 

Credence opens them, and feels a deep blush creep up his cheeks as he notices that everyone seated at the table is staring at his in open delight. Queenie is even clapping her hands, “Awe, sweetie! You’re too kind!”

 

Credence finally swallows his mouthful of food. “It’s… it’s very good, Miss Queenie. Is it the magic that makes it taste like that?”

 

“Oh, that’s a very good question. I don’t know, Credence. I don’t think I’ve even eaten food made the No-Maj way.” Queenie replies.

 

They get back to eating and Credence clears his plate in minutes. He helps himself to seconds when prompted too. We can hardly eat all this food by ourselves, Credence. Please have more.

 

When they are all overly full, Credence is ushered to a little room with a single bed and night table. Newt hands him a pair of sleep pants that Queenie also tailors.

 

They help him settle into bed, instructing the boy to come wake any of them should he require anything.

 

Credence is asleep before they close the door on their way out.

 

Chapter Text

Credence wakes to the sounds of a hushed conversation happening nearby.

 

“What are we… do? We can’t— Merlin almighty…. How—“

 

“Tina, it’s ok… just have too…”

 

“…Newt!”

 

The conversation goes one for a few more seconds as Credence debates what to do. He doesn’t want to keep eaves dropping, that would be rude, but he also doesn’t want to impose his presence on—

 

A soft voice cut in, louder than the other two. “It’s ok, Credence, you can come out.”

 

“Queenie!” exclaimed Tina.

 

“What? He was working himself into a tizzy.”

 

So Credence reluctantly pulls himself from bed, dresses himself, tries to straighten his hair, and goes out to face his hosts.

 

“I’m sorry for overhearing. I tried not to.” Credence begins, wringing his hands.

 

Newt waves dismissively. “Nonsense, Credence. We aren’t discussing secrets.” He motions to the table. “Please, sit. I’m sure you have some questions.”

 

So Credence sits. Barely a second goes by before Queenie has presented him with a plateful of food.

 

“Oh no, I couldn’t. I’ve already taken too much from you.” Credence tries to refuse, but his growling stomach betrays him.

 

“Please eat, sweetie.” Queenie says as she brushes his hair gently with her finger, hand coming to cradle his jaw lightly. “I made those pancakes especially for you.” She admits with a soft smile, her thumb brushing his cheekbone quickly.

 

Its only as Queenie pulls away that Credence realizes he had stopped breathing at the soft touch. He tucks into the offered food in an effort to distract himself for his rioting emotions and the tears prickling his eyes. Are families normally like this?

 

Once he has finished, he gets up to wash his dishes, but Queenie shoots him a small smile, flicking her wand and prompting them to wash themselves.

 

Credence watches the display with open fascination. “That would have been a useful trick at the church,” He grumbles under his breath.

 

Newt huffs out a laugh, before addressing the boy. “Now, Credence, would you mind if we ask you a few questions? The four of us have a lot to discuss.”

 

They spend the next hours discussing, Obscuruses and Obscurials, the American Magic Community, and finally, the situation with Mr. Graves

 

“So,” Credence begins, “There is a chance I have never met the real Mr. Graves?”

 

“We don’t know, Credence.” Tina replies, “Until we find him, there is no way to tell how long Grindelwald has been involved.”

 

Credence nods his head in acknowledgment, but his mind is whirling with all the new information. “May I go for a walk? I just… I think I just need a little bit of time to think on this.”

 

“If you would like.” Newt responds, “Wait here just a second,” he adds before darting out of the kitchen. He remerges a few moments later with a small coin in his hand.

 

“Take this, Credence. I’ve placed a tracking charm on it. If you get lost, just give it a quick rub and I’ll come fetch you.” Newt hands Credence the coin, and the boy quietly retreats.

 

Credence ponders on the things that have happened during the last few days, trying to make sense of them.

 

Witches and wizards are real.

 

Credence takes a left and keeps walking.

 

I’m an Obscurial.

 

Credence takes a right and keeps walking.

 

Mr. Graves was an imposter.

 

Credence walks and walks, allowing his mind to wander freely, trusting his feet carry him steadily forward.

 

Hours go by, and Credence eventually comes back to himself as the sun is setting in the horizon. The boy notes that upscale houses and buildings line the street; he must have wandered into the nicer-end of New York.

 

As he readies himself to start the walk back to the Goldsteins’ apartment, one of the small houses catches his attention.

 

It is not particularly interesting or remarkable, but before Credence realizes what is happening, his feet have resume their trajectory; bringing him closer to the mysterious house (as if they have been leading the boy to this very destination all day).

 

As he ventures closer, Credence can feel magic surrounding the house like a dense cloud, making the hair on the boy’s neck stand on end. As the boy nears, the front door swings open, inviting him in.

 

The inside of the house is not what Credence expected: it is dark, dusty, and unkempt. Neglected, Credence’s mind offers.

 

The darkness within Credence—the Obscurus, his mind corrects—that had been fluttering happily all day simmers down and coils tightly; ready to strike.

 

The magic that had appeared to shroud the house like a protective cape now feels different, muted and warped, or perhaps damaged. It pulsates like an open wound weeping out little trails of magic throughout the house.

 

Credence follows the magic, which leads him up the stairs and into a large and plush bedroom where the magic is thickest.

 

Once inside, Credence did not take note of the massive bed or the beautiful mahogany furniture; instead he felt drawn to the little secluded bookshelf at the back of the room, his eyes falling to a small book tucked into the bottom corner shelf.

 

The Deathly Hallows

 

Credence leans down to run his fingers along the spine of the book, but his Obscurus lashes out to the book, pulling it free and devouring it.

 

Credence watches in stunned fascination as the darkness battles the seemingly innocent object; a screeching crescendo that ends with an explosion of magic so strong Credence is thrown across the room.

 

When Credence regains his bearings, he slowly gets back on his feet and looks to find the small book.

 

Except it is no longer a book. Nor is it small.

 

In the middle of the floor is the biggest book Credence has ever seen, lying open and face up on the floor. Except that the middle of the book has been carved out. As Credence approaches, he realizes that the hole is not a hole, but an entrance; a set of stone stairs leading down into the floor.

 

When Credence up the book and peers under, there is no hole in the floor.

 

Credence sets the book back down and studies the entrance.

 

Perhaps this is like Newt’s case?

 

Credence slowly descends the stairs, where he finds a single wooden door, which the Obscurus makes quick work of. It creaks open to reveal a small stone room.

 

At the back of the room, hanging down from chains bolted to the ceiling and attached at the wrists, is a man.

 

His hair is long and matted, sticking to his forehead and obscuring his face. He is naked, but for a tattered pair of pants. Credence is faced with the familiar sight of bruised skin bisected by deep welts; the boy shivers in sympathy.

 

Credence watches the man’s body tense at his entrance; however he does not raise his head to greet the newcomer.

 

“What will it be today?” The man’s voice is hoarse from disuse.

 

Credence recognizes it any way.

 

But, before he can gather his thoughts, Mr. Graves finally deigns to raise his head.

 

The man looks like he is hanging on to life by a single thread. His features gaunt and pale, his eyes halloed by dark circles, his lips pale and cracked. Mr. Graves licks at them as he observes Credence, looking the boy up and down, assessing him.

 

“The fuck are you playing at, Grindelwald?” The man’s brow is creased in confusion. “I’m not going to be more forth-coming just because you are wearing a pretty face.” Mr. Graves adds, his shoulders tensing reflexively, but quickly relaxing again, as his face screws up in pain. Credence notices the awkward angle at which Mr. Graves’ right shoulder is resting. Broken or dislocated.

 

As if on autopilot, Credence approaches the man, he feels his Obscurus welling in his finger tips and lets it trickle out. Watches as it devours the cursed chains holding the man and catches Mr. Graves when he falls forward.

 

They both feel it instantaneously, like an electric current except without any of the unpleasantness.

 

“Who the hell are you?” the man gasps into Credence chest as his fingers grip weakly at the boy’s shirt. Could he feel it too?

 

“I just want to help.” Credence replies, trying to remain unthreatening, like Newt had done for him, and ignores the undercurrent of electricity still sparking between the two. Perhaps this was a side effect of the Obscurus?

 

“Well, whoever you are, you have to get out. Grindelwald is here. He’ll be back.” Mr. Graves’ fingers tighten their grip, as if trying to prove their point physically since the man’s voice is far from authorities in its current parched state.

 

Credence does his best to sooth him, “No, they caught him. Grindelwald is not coming back.”

 

Mr. Graves collapses back onto the floor at the news, his hands finally loosening their grip. “Oh, thank Merlin.”

 

“Come, Mr. Graves. Lets get you back upstairs,” and with as much gentleness as he can muster, Credence carries the frail man back up the stone stairs and lays him on the bed.

 

“Rest, I’ll call for help.” Mr. Graves nods minutely in response, but seems reluctant to let go of Credence. The boy disentangles himself from the mostly-unconscious-man as gently as possible.

 

Credence takes out the coin Newt had given him, rubs the face-side and waits for Newt to appear. When he does, Credence is quick to explain the situation and guide Newt back to the man who is now asleep on the massive bed.

 

Newt concludes it would be best to notify Tina and let her handle the situation, and apparates them both back to the Goldstein apartment.

Chapter Text

Percival wakes to the feeling of soft sheets and the sound of gentle snoring. When he opens his eyes everything is brilliantly white.

 

Not in Grindelwald’s dungeon, then.

 

Percival blinks back the tears that spring to his eyes (due to the brightness of the room of course, not because he is emotional, not at all).

 

He tries to sit up on the bed, but his movements cause him to groan.

 

Merlin, he was stiff. His whole body ached, still recovering from the injuries he had sustained in captivity.

 

His shuffling alerts his guest, who bolts upright.

 

“You’re awake!” exclaims Tina.

 

Her small face and mop of hair come into view as she frets over him.

 

“Don’t move too much, sir. You’ve been injured quite badly. The healers are—“

 

Percival couldn’t help tuning out. It was so good hearing a voice that wasn’t his. For months, the only company he had had was that of a madman. Grindelwald had loved to brag about his activities, and threatened to harm his Aurors if Percival didn’t actively participate in the conversation.

 

Percival knew better than to test the legitimacy of the threat.

 

Grindelwald would talk about current cases, office gossip, as well as boast on the fact that no one in MACUSA had noticed his absence. Eventually, Grindelwald began talking about the broken boy he was using. An orphan from the Second Salemers group Tina had been obsessed with, Percival remembered.

 

The thought reminded Percival of the boy who had rescued him.

 

But, before he could ask Tina about him, a group of healers enters the room to examine him. Tina excuses herself and promises to return with coffee.

 

In the mean time, the healers prod him, cast diagnostic spells, and test the dexterity of his limbs. Finally, they conclude that he will, miraculously, make a full recovery.

 

Once they are done and packing their things, Percival inquires about the whereabouts of the boy who found him.

 

“What boy, Director? Auror Goldstein is the one who found you.” The healer informs him.

 

“No, no. There was boy. About my height, but with a thinner built. Dark hair.”

 

“There was only Auror Goldstein, Director.”

 

Percival creased his brow in confusion, but lets the matter drop. When Tina comes back with the promised coffee, he does not ask about the boy.

 

Over the course of the following days, his entire Auror team comes to visit him, as does the President. Together they explain the happenings of the past months; the damage Grindelwald made and the situation of the Obscurus.

A week later, Percival is discharged from the hospital.

 

He beeline’s to his home, takes the longest shower of his life (scrubbing his skin within an inch of its life), shaves the beard that had accumulated throughout his captivity, and spells his hair into its usual style.

 

Next he stands in front of his wardrobe. All his favourite pieces stink of Grindelwald, so Percival does the only logical thing he can think of: he burns them all (and throws in the bed linens for good measure).

 

Next, Percival sends an owl to his tailor requesting a new wardrobe. He spends the next several hours Scourgifying his home from top to bottom and destroying any item that retained Grindelwald’s taint. By the time he is done, an owl has returned from the tailor’s with a few pieces of clothing and a promise that the remainder of the wardrobe would be sent by Floo before the end of the week.

 

Feeling put back together at last, Percival apparates to Goldstein’s apartment.

 

After appearing at the front of the building, casting a quick Notice-Me-Not spell, Percival climbs the steps and knocks on the door.

 

A slightly frazzled Tina opens the door, leaning against the frame to block his entrance. Her hair is more mussed than usual and she appears a little winded.

 

“Hello Director! I wasn’t expecting you.” Tina plasters on a fake smile after her greeting.

 

“Tina, I was hoping I could speak with you. May I come in?”

 

“I—uhm. It’s, ah, not the best of times? We weren’t expecting company—“

 

“I’m afraid it’s rather urgent.” Percival cuts in.

 

This seemed to sober Tina. Her auror training kicking in, she straightens her spines and opens her door.

 

“Understood, sir. Please, come in.”

 

Tina leads him to their living area, and settles him on a couch. “Would you like some coffee, Director?”

 

“I’m fine, thank you.” Percival waves off her offer. “I’m here to discuss Credence Barebone.”

 

Tina shifts uncomfortably in her seat. “Ah, yes. Rather unfortunate situation. Madame President did the best she could with the information she had at the time.”

 

“I meant what happened after the incident, Tina.” Percival answers smoothly. “The boy did come to my rescue, after all.”

 

This time Tina goes absolutely still, her face white as a sheet. “I—I don’t know what you mean, sir! Credence was killed by the Aurors—“

 

“I would appreciate if you didn’t lie to my face, Tina. I know what I saw just as I know that he is here.” Percival grows impatient with this current situation.

 

“Credence?” He addresses to the room at large. “If you can hear me, I would very much like to speak with you.” Percival cranes his head around, trying to spot any movement. “And thank you, for finding me.”

 

And just when Percival was about to get up and leave, one of the doors blessedly opens and Credence steps out into the living room, hands wringing and head bowed (clearly anticipating a punishment).

 

Percival lets out a breath didn’t know he’d been holding. “Hello, Credence.”

 

“Mr. Graves.” The boy replies, still refusing to meet his gaze and remaining on the outskirts of the room.

 

Percival stands, approaches the boy slowly, trying to telegraph all his movements to avoid scaring the boy further.

 

Finally, when they stand only a few inches apart, does he address the boy again.

 

“Would you look at me, Credence?” The boy hesitates a little before peering up through his lashes. Percival finds himself utterly captivated by the dark soulful eyes of this young man. He has to mentally shake himself to remember he cannot simply stare at Credence all day long. He has a purpose here.

 

“I wanted to thank you, Credence,” Percival begins, “for finding me. I do not know how much longer I could have lasted in that dungeon.” He admits more frankly than he had anticipated. Percival finds himself wanting to pour his heart out to Credence, as if the boy can unleash him from the shackles of his own mind as easily as he unleashed the shackles on his body.

 

“I want you to know your secret is safe with me. I owe you a great debt, if you are ever in need of anything, and I mean anything, Credence, all you need to do is ask.”

Percival finds himself rambling, but can’t seem to stop.

 

“I’m sure the Goldsteins are taking good care of you, I would expect nothing less from them. But perhaps, if you are interested, I could assist in your tutoring, Credence? Madame President has informed me I am on a mandatory sick leave for the following weeks.”

 

Percival surprises himself with the offer. He had not planned on saying any of that, however the idea pleases him. Perhaps it would be a good way to spend his time?

 

Credence’s eyes had gone progressively wider the more Percival spoke. This is not what the boy had anticipated when he revealed himself. He though Mr. Graves had been lying about his motives, a candy-covered promise to coax Credence into revealing himself. However, Credence didn’t want to cause any more trouble for the Goldstein sisters, who had helped him so much.

 

They had explained that the Mr. Graves he had known was not the real one, but this man is not what Credence had expected.

 

“I—“ Credence began, “You don’t have to do that, Mr. Graves. Really. You don’t owe me anything at all.” Credence felt entirely too overwhelmed by the situation. He looked back down to his wringing hands.

 

His next breath got caught somewhere in his throat as a gentle finger tipped his chin up, and then all breathe left him in a rush as he was caught once more into Mr. Graves gaze. His kind eyes baring the boy down to his very soul, and for the first time Credence wants to be seen. Wants to offer Mr. Graves everything he is.

 

“Percival, Credence. You are not my employee, and so I would like you to call me Percival.” Credence nodded his head. It is all he can do.

 

Tina cleared her throat somewhere behind them, causing both men to jump apart slightly. Percival took his hand back and Credence mourned he loss of contact, his skin tingling at the memory of the touch.

 

“Well,” Tina began, “We have been trying to find some way to tutor Credence. We have started showing him some things, but we both work during the day, so if you want…”

 

“I would be more than happy to entertain Credence during the day. I also believe I hung on to some of my early Ilvermorny books.” Percival says before turning back to Credence. “Have you got a wand yet?”

 

Tina answers for the boy.

 

“No, we haven’t been able to find a way to get him one without drawing attention.”

 

Percival hums in consideration, “We could use some transfiguration. Perhaps grow his hair longer? He could be my ward.” Percival offers. “How does that sound, Credence?”

 

But Credence wants another question answered first.

 

“Can you really grow my hair?” He asks, voice small and hushed, his hands brushing at his short fringe.

 

Percival rewards him with a warm smile. “Of course, Credence. As long as you like it.”

 

“Then, yes. I would very much like that Mr. G—Percival. I would like that, Percival.” Credence answers enthusiastically, before adding, “If it’s not too much trouble.”

 

“No problem at all, my boy. But perhaps we should wait on the younger Goldstein? I think she would be best suited to conduct these kinds of spells.”

 

Credence goes warm all over at the endearment.

 

“She and Newt should be back soon,” Tina says. “They are fetching some baked goods from the new bakery down the road.”

 

As if on cue, footsteps can be heard on the stairs leading up to the apartment. Moments later, the door opens to reveal Queenie and Newt holding a big white box tied with string.

 

“We’re back, Teenie—Oh hello Mr. Graves!” Queenie greets warmly.

 

“Miss Goldstein,” Percival inclines his head politely. “And I presume Mr. Scamander? I am well acquainted with your older brother.” Percival offers his hand to the timid magizoologist.

 

“Ah, yes. Hello, Mr. Graves. Please to finally make your acquaintance.” Newt answers, shaking the man’s hand. “And please, call me Newt.”

 

“Very well, Newt, and the pleasure is all mine.”

 

The group makes idle talking for a bit. Percival inquires about Newt’s case and his previous travels. Eventually diner time roles around and Queenie invites the man to stay for the meal.

 

Percival declines, explains that he still has things to tidy up back at his home.

 

“Thank you for the warm reception, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Credence.”

 

Credence nods his head. Percival quickly gathers his things, bids them all farewell and silently disapparates.

 

Even after Percival is gone, Credence finds himself unable to stop smiling. He helps Queenie clear the table before letting her lead his to the washroom where she says she will go about fixing his hair, Teenie says you want it longer, sweetie? We can make that happen! I have plenty of ribbons you can use to tie it back…

 

Perhaps the wizarding world is where he belongs after all.

 

Chapter Text

The first thing Percival notices when he opens his front door is Credence’s hair.

 

It is longer. Much, much longer than it had been the previous day. So long, in fact, that the boy has it tied back from his face, only a few pieces escaping to frame his delicate face.

 

Percival is so focused on Credence’s hair, that he barely hears Tina mumble something about picking the boy up after work, before she disapparates

 

Percival gives himself a mental shake before he steps back, inviting Credence inside.

 

“Are you hungry, Credence?” He inquires as he leads the boy to the kitchen.

 

“No, sir. Queenie is very generous with her portions of food.” Credence replies.

 

“I’m sure she is, but can I tempt you with a cup of coffee? Or tea?” Percival presses, “I myself, will be having some coffee.” He settles them both at the kitchen table.

 

Credence daintily curls himself into the offered chair, as if afraid to touch anything in his vicinity. “Oh. Well, I wouldn’t be opposed to a cup of tea? If it’s not too much trouble?” Credence answers meekly.

 

“No trouble at all, my boy.” The boy visibly calms at the endearment. Interesting.

 

Percival quickly fixes both their drinks before coming back to the table. He places the steaming mug in front of Credence, who takes it in both hands, relishing the warmth.

 

They sit in companionable silence for a while, sipping their drinks. Credence keeps stealing little glances at Percival, through his lashes, before quickly looking away when he realizes Percival is shamelessly staring.

 

Credence can feel a blush creeping into his cheeks as he squirms in his seat, tucks a piece of hair that has escaped his ribbon back behind his ear. “I wanted to thank you, again, Mr. Graves, for your hospitality…” Credence began but was interrupted by the man.

 

“I thought I asked you to call me Percival, Credence?”

 

“Oh. Yes, Percival.” Credence affirms. This rewards him a warm smile from the man.

 

“Much better. Now, what kind of spells have the Goldsteins been showing you, Credence?”

 

“Uhm, they tried showing me some cooking spells? So I could help Queenie. But I’m not very good at those. The food tends to burst when I try,” Credence answers sheepishly. “They also showed me the cleaning spell, Scourgify? That one is easier, especially when there are lots of things to clean at once.” The boy continues.

 

“Easier, you say? When there is more to do?” Percival inquires.

 

“Yes.”

 

Percival considers this for a few moments, looking Credence up and down. Sizing him up. “Interesting.”

 

Credence can’t help the blush that creeps to his cheeks. He is anything but interesting.

 

“So,” Percival leans forward, placing his elbows on the table to lean closer to the boy. Credence can’t help but think that his Ma would have punished him for such a rude action. “I was thinking that we would go find you a wand, get you a few more things to get you settled, before coming back here so that you can show me what the Goldsteins have taught you. How does that sound, Credence?”

 

Credence nods his head enthusiastically, which makes the man smile again. The boy’s stomach flips excitedly at the sight.

 

“Very good, very good. Finish your tea, Credence, and then we’ll go.”

 

When they are done, Percival quickly cleans their mugs with a wordless spell, and leads them back to the foyer where he hands Credence a coat.

 

“You can wear this for today, since you didn’t come with one. It’s an old one of mine, but it should fit you.”

 

Credence silently puts it on. It is heavy and warm. He can’t help turning his head into the lapel and breathing in. It smells like him. The knowledge brings a smile to the boys face.

 

Percival leads them outside. “Usually I would bring you to Jonkers for a wand, but he uses Wampus cat hair for his wand cores, and I don’t think it will be suitable for your kind of magic.”

 

“Why is that?” Credence asks, a little hesitant. Does he want to hear the answer?

 

“Wampus cat hair makes wands that are proficient in hexes and curses. Small but effective spellwork, which is suitable for the vast majority of wizards.” Percival explains, “You, however, have a bigger pool of magic than the average wizard, I would wager. You would have to be, to have survived the Obscurus as you did.”

 

The man continues before Credence can fully understand what he has said. Did Percival think he was a powerful wizard?

 

“So, I’m bringing you to the wandmaker who made my wand. Thiago Quintana makes wand with the spine of White River Monsters.” Percival unsheathes his wand, allowing Credence to take a look. It was long, longer than Tina and Queenie’s wands and all over black, with the exception of a few silver rings.

 

“Thiago is known for making unusually long wands, which is also good for powerful wizards, since it helps focus your magic more precisely.”

 

Credence mulls over this new information as Percival leads them to an apparition point.

 

Once arrived, Percival takes Credence by the arm and apparates them. Credence tries to continue breathing normally despite the contact.

 

Percival doesn’t let him go afterwards either, they walk arm in arm all the way to the shop. Once inside they are greeted warmly.

 

“Percival Graves! Good to see you. Not having troubles with your wand are you?”

 

A tall man greets them. He has long white hair, tied at the base of his skull. He is lean, despite his height and his skin sun-kissed; a testament to a life lived outdoors.

 

“Thiago, good to see you,” Percival releases Credence in order to shake the man’s hand. “And no, my wand is fine.” He continues smoothly. “I’m here to get a wand for my ward. He has a lot of raw power that I don’t think would be suitable with Jonkers’ wands.”

 

This causes the wandmaker to turn his attentions to Credence, eyes calculating.

 

“Powerful, you say? The wands will be the judge of that,” the man comments, before returning behind his counter. “Bit old, aren’t you, boy? What wand did you have previously?”

 

Percival saves Credence the trouble of answering. “These are special circumstances, Thiago. The boy was raised among Non-Majs and has only recently been discovered. This will be his first wand.”

 

The wandmaker barely pauses at the news, much to Credence’s surprise. The man just hums in response, and proceeds to start fishing out narrow boxes from beneath the counter.

 

When he is finished, there are six boxes neatly placed on the counter. When opened, the wands presented are varied in appearances. Some are long and some short (although none shorter than 12 inches, Credence notes absentmindedly), some pale as bone and other as black as Percival’s. Some appear untouched, like a simple stick of wood, and others are carved into intricate shapes.

 

They are all beautiful to Credence.

 

“Pick one and give it a whirl, boy.” The wandmaker instructs him.

 

Credence feels his heart leap to his throat, and looks pleadingly to Percival. How do I choose?

 

Feeling his distress, Percival picks one at random and hands it to the boy. “Try this”

 

The wand is simply carved, smooth and light brown. Credence hold it lightly, and on Percival’s prompting, gives it a light flick.

 

The back wall of the store splits with a resounding crack.

 

Credence drops the wand as if burnt, apologies already pouring from his lips

 

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to, I swear I didn’t—“

 

Percival takes his face between his strong hands, forces the boy to look him in the eye. “It’s alright, Credence. This kind of thing happens when wizards are searching for their wand. It’s perfectly natural, right Thiago?” Percival looks over at the man, who is actually smiling, observing the damage curiously.

 

“Hmm? Yes, oh yes. Quite natural, dear boy. Although not usually to this degree.” And adds, mostly to himself, “Powerful indeed.”

 

They spend the next hour trying an endless stream of wands, each offering an equally disastrous outcome as the first. And while Percival seems to grow a little distressed by the endless failure, Mr. Quintana only grows more excited.

 

After what must have been the fiftieth wand, Percival runs a hand over his face in frustration. “Perhaps even White River Monster Cores are not powerful enough for you, my boy.” Credence sways from foot to foot miserably as he watches both man extinguish another fire.

 

The wandmaker perks up at the observation. “Did you say my cores not powerful enough, Percival?” The man looks at Credence again, eyes dissecting. “Perhaps you are right.”

 

“I do have one more wand,” the wandmaker continues, still observing Credence, “it was an experiment of sorts, when I was still an apprentice.” He pauses briefly. “One of the first White River Monster core wands I made, in fact.”

 

Percival cuts in tiredly, “Thiago, I don’t think this core works for him.”

 

“Humour me, Percival.” The wandmaker disappears into the back of the store and re-emerges with a single black box. It looks old and worn, but is beautifully decorated. When opened it reveals a wand unlike any Credence had previously tried.

 

This wand is made of two types of wood, a dark wood forms the body of the wand, and a light brown one shapes the handle. The dark wood is polished, but retains most of its natural knobby shape, while the handle is beautifully carved. Both pieces connected by a single silver band.

 

Credence feels his heart beat fast, his blood singing at the sight; captivated.

 

The boy picks up the wand.

 

The reaction is immediate, the Obscrusus within Credence sings in contentment, rushing out of the tip of the wand in a silvery mist and sweeping through the room like a wave, effortlessly repairing all the damage Credence had previously inflicted. And it keeps going, dancing through the air in aimless patterns, sliding between them, gently ruffling their hair as it passes.

 

Eventually, the mist fades away, leaving the room in awed silence.

 

Credence clutches the wand to his chest, and realizes his cheeks are wet with tears, but he doesn’t care. This feels right.

 

When the boy looks to the other two men, he can see their open wonder. Credence lets out a happy laugh, and tries to wipe his tears away. They found it, this was the wand.

 

“Merlin’s beard, Credence. That was amazing.” Percival whispers in awe.

 

The wandmaker seems to finally have regained control of his senses, because he claps excitedly, his face split open by a wide grin. “Amazing? That was extraordinary!” He rushes towards Credence, and grips him by the shoulders.

 

“When I crafted this wand, my boy, I was trying to make the most powerful wand I was capable of.” He explains. “I had my White River Monster spines, which are already capable of a lot, but I wanted to make it better. I added some Chimera scales, which are very rare, too rare to make a whole core, but I have enough to make a blended core.” He continues, “And I used Elder wood, because it has the most potential for power.” The man adds excitedly.

 

“However an elder wand with a powerful core was still too simple, no, I wanted to craft a hero’s wand. Elder is powerful, but without loyalty. So I added a handle of Cypress,” the man finishes breathlessly. “It was a self-indulgent project. I never expected to find wizard worthy of it. But you, my boy, it chose you.” The man squeezes Credence’s shoulders good-naturedly.

 

Credence is overwhelmed by this news, can only manage “Thank you, sir,” still clutching the wand to his chest.

 

Percival takes the opportunity to cut in, “Did you say Elder and Cypress, Thiago?”

 

The wandmaker nods his head, finally releasing Credence. “Yes, an interesting combination, is it not? Like I said, I never expected it to match with anyone.”

 

Percival returns his gaze to Credence, and for the third time that day remarks, “Interesting.”

 

Credence tightens his grip on the wand, but hold’s the man’s gaze this time, because in this moment, with the lingering feeling of his magic rushing through his veins and Percival smiling at him, Credence feels invincible.

 

Chapter Text

After purchasing the wand for Credence, Percival brings the boy to his tailor. He gets him fitted for an entire wardrobe (much to the boy’s protest), and then they go to a bookstore to pick a few textbooks, a quill, and a journal.

 

By the time lunchtime rolls around, Credence has watched Percival spend more money than he had ever seen in his previous life.

 

Percival leads them to a small dinner, ordering them a couple of sandwiches before Credence has the opportunity to request the cheapest item on the menu.

 

As they wait for their order to be served, Credence finds his thoughts returning to his new wand. “Percival, may I ask you a question?”

 

“Of course, Credence. What’s on your mind?” The man replies casually.

 

“My wand… Mr. Quintana said that it was odd? Or different?” Credence asks hesitantly.

 

“Odd is not quite the right word. More… Unexpected, I would say,” Percival beings, searching for the right words.

 

“You see, Credence, wands are very intricate magical items, each one is unique,” he continues. “There are dozens of different woods that can be used, and countless magical cores. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses, different personalities, if you will.” Percival leans forward on the table, like he had previously that morning. The rest of the restaurant fades away and Credence finds himself engrossed by Percival’s explanation. “So with all these different variables, wandmakers can create wands that match every kind of wizard in existence. Following me so far?” Credence nods, so the man continues.

 

“Now your wand, Credence, is even more complex than the average one. Not only do you have a blended core, you also have two different woods. So, four elements are at play, instead of the usual two.” Percival pulls out his wand, places it on the table between them both. “My wand, Credence, is made of Ebony with the spine of White River Monster, as you know.” Percival runs his fingers down the length of his wand absentmindedly.

 

“Ebony wands are best for combative magic and Transfiguration, two skills essential to Aurors. But Ebony wands also require a wizard with strong beliefs, someone unafraid of standing out because of their ideals and someone who doesn’t acquiesce to the status quo. Sound familiar?” Percival finishes with a small self-conscious smile.

 

Credence is surprised by the specificity of the description; Percival and his wand are well matched indeed.

 

“Next is the core, which has less to do with personality and more to do with skill. Like I explained earlier, Wampus cat hair is best for casting jinxes and curses. White River Monster spine, however, is more powerful. Thiago’s wands are known for their force and elegance.” Percival puts his wand away, before asking to see Credence’s. The boy places it in the man’s open hand.

 

Percival carefully examines the wand, turning it over in his hands.

 

“Your wand, Credence, is very interesting.” Percival places it in the middle of the table, as he had with his own earlier.

 

“It has the same core as mine, so you already have that potential for power. But Thiago also added some Chimera scales. Chimeras are native to Greece, and very rare. I think only one has been captured in the past two millennia. But its properties possess a raw power found in very few other core materials. So your wand, Credence, is doubly powerful.” Percival gifts him a smile that has the boy’s stomach tying itself in knots. “I knew you were powerful, my boy, but this is something extra.” Percival remarks. Credence blushes at the compliment.

 

“But the interesting bit has to do with the two types of wood being used. It is a combination that should not work, since they should contradict each other.” Percival’s brow creases as he considers his next words.

 

“This wood here,” the man trails his fingers across the dark wood that forms the body of the wand, “is Elder wood. It is the rarest of wand wood, firstly because it is very difficult to master, and secondly because it is rumoured to be deeply unlucky. Most wandmakers avoid it altogether.”

 

Credence finds himself curling forward miserably at the news. Of course the unlucky and difficult wood would choose him. It was poetic, really. Percival senses his mood and is quick to clarify his explanation.

 

“However, Credence, Elder wood is the also the best wood. The most powerful wand in existence to date is an Elder wand. The Elder wand, some would say. I don’t know of anyone else who has matched with this type of wood.” Percival explains, “They only chose individuals destined for greatness.”

 

Credence furrows his brow as he remembers something the wandmaker had mentioned. “What did Mr. Quintana mean when he said Elder had no loyalty?”

 

Percival hums in consideration. “Like I said, Elder wands are notoriously powerful, they gravitate towards individuals marked for greatness. This makes them very changeable; they will always obey the most powerful wizard, regardless of their current owner. The Elder wand I mentioned earlier has had multiple masters, because it can be won. If you can beat its current owner, the wand will change its allegiance.” Percival pauses, letting the words sink in. “Elder wands are considered dangerous because the wizards interested in wielding this kind of power typically have malicious intentions.”

 

“So Elder wands are used for evil, then.” Credence states. His wand was not only unlucky, but evil too.

 

“No, Credence. Wands don’t have a predisposition to good or evil. They are tools; it is a simple fact of existence that powerful things attract dark forces. A fact that Thiago understood, Credence, which is why he used a second type of wood.” Percival smiled knowingly, and taps the handle of the wand “This wood is Cypress, a very interesting choice to pair with Elder.”

 

“Why is that? You said they are conflicting?” Credence inquires.

 

“Yes, in my opinion, because while Elder searches for the most powerful and ambitious master, Cypress is known for its nobility. It seeks the brave and bold,” Percival pauses, eyes boring into Credence’s, ensuring he had the boy’s complete attention, “but most importantly, someone self-sacrificing.”

 

Credence’s eyes blow wide open. Self-sacrificing? He was anything but

 

Sensing his mounting distress, Percival quickly captures both of Credence’s hands in his own, interlocking their fingers.

 

“Cypress only matches with the pure of heart, someone who is unafraid to confront the darkness within themselves and within others. Do you see the contradiction, Credence?” Percival asks excitedly. “Your wand is powerful, made for someone ambitious and marked for a special destiny; but ultimately someone kind and good, someone who has seen the ugliness of the world but would still lay down their lives for the greater good.” Percival squeezes Credence’s hands with his own.

 

“An Elder wand will attract the selfish and power-hungry, but a Cypress wand will only accept someone selfless. This is a hero’s wand, Credence, and it chose you.”

 

Credence feels himself shake, every inch of him trembling with barely contained emotion. He wasn’t a hero, he had hurt and killed, and he wasn’t worthy of something so beautiful.

 

The boy’s voice a barely a hoarse whisper “It’s wrong, it chose wrong. This can’t be for me, I’m not good. It’s wrong, I’m not… I’m not—“ the boy chokes on a sob, and suddenly Percival is all around him, gathering the boy in his arms and tucking his head below the man’s chin. Credence hears him mutter a silencing charm and Notice-Me-Not, and suddenly everything is quiet but for his sobbing.

 

Percival doesn’t speak, just holds the boy, gently rubbing his back until he quiets.

 

Eventually, Percival tells the boy they should head back home. The man never fully releases him, just adjusted his grip so that he has an arm slung over Credence’s shoulders as he leads Credence out of the restaurant and to an apparition point.

 

Only once they are back at Percival’s home does he let the boy go, he settles Credence on the couch, drapes a blanket over his shoulders and presents him with a steaming mug of tea. Credence notices that their sandwiches have been wrapped up and are in the middle of the coffee table.

 

“’m sorry, Percival, I don’t know what came over me.” Credence mumbles guiltily.

 

“Nonsense, my boy. This world is very new to you, and you have much to learn. It’s no surprise that you got overwhelmed. Now, are you hungry?” Percival seats himself beside Credence on the couch, unwrapping his sandwich.

 

Credence nods, taking is own onto his lap. They eat in silence.

 

By the time they are finished, Credence is feeling much better. Lighter, even.

 

Percival must sense his change of mood, because he gifts him with a warm smile and reaches out to tuck a piece of hair that had escaped the ribbon back behind his ear.

 

Percival lets his hand linger, gently cupping the boy’s face when he doesn’t pull away.

 

“I want you to know, Credence, that it’s alright if you are feeling overwhelmed. You will adjust and things will get easier. But,” and the man pauses, as he had in the dinner, looking deep into Credence’s eyes, “never doubt that you are worthy. Your wand chose you for a reason, and they are never wrong.” Percival caresses the boy’s cheekbone with his thumb. “It will be my pleasure to help you see who you are, and to help you grow into the man I know you will become.” Percival finishes softly.

 

Credence feels Percival’s belief like a living, breathing thing; feels it in the air between them, making his hair stand on end.

 

He may not believe in himself, but he could believe in Percival. And for now, that was enough.

 


 

 

Days turn into weeks. Credence spends his days with Percival practicing magic and learning the history of the magical world, and his evenings with the Goldsteins.

 

Percival is a very dutiful teacher, and constantly pushes Credence to do better. I know you can do it, Credence, now you need to believe it too.

 

So Credence pushes himself harder, works tirelessly to refine his skill and hone his abilities. He still struggles with finer, intricate spellwork, but it comes more easily now that he has his wand.

 

But, best of all, Credence gets to spend most of his time with Percival. A man who is kind and patient, who doesn’t get angry when Credence fails (It’s not failure, Credence, it’s just a work in progress. You’ll get it, try again).A man who grins whenever Credence gets it right, hugs him and ruffles his hair. Credence loves when they are close, despite how his stomach flips and his cheeks redden every time.

 

Queenie is the first to notice his slight obsession with the man. My, my, Credence, Mr. Graves takes up a lot of space in that head of yours.

 

And one day, Queenie makes a comment that upheaves Credence’s world. It’s a simple question, really, but it ignites a spark of hope deep in Credence’s chest.

 

“Teenie, does Mr. Graves have a Soulmark?”

 

Tina, who had been reading over case files and sipping on a coffee barely spares it a though. “I’ve no idea, Queenie. Mr. Graves doesn’t talk about those things.”

 

Credence’s mind takes the idea and runs with it. Could Percival be his soulmate? But then would he not have recognized Credence’s name? Credence winds himself up to such a degree he is unable to sleep that night.

 

The next day, Credence assembles all his courage and asks the man.

 

“Percival, have you heard of Soul Marks?” They have been practicing magic for several hours now, and are settling down for a short break, each nursing a glass of water.

 

Percival furrows his brows, and answers more slowly than usual, “Yes I know of them, why do you ask?”

 

Suddenly, Percival is observing him with such intense scrutiny that Credence nearly looses his nerve. “I just— I have one. A mark. I wondered if you had one too?” The boy can only manage to speak to his shoes. He places his glass back on the coffee table, there was no way he could stomach anything at the moment.

 

Percival is quiet for a long time. Credence wonders what his face looks like, but doesn’t have the courage to check. Is the man mad? Uncomfortable? Credence is about to change the subject when Percival finally speaks.

 

“Soul Marks are an old and powerful magic.” He begins, hesitantly. Credence’s rioting nerves get the best of him and he cuts the man off. “But, do you have one, Percival?”

 

Startled by the boy’s insistence, Percival answers honestly, “Yes.”

 

Credence stops breathing. Percival has a mark too, HE HAS A MARK TOO—

 

An insistent knocking at the kitchen window interrupts them; Percival waves his hand and an owl fly’s into the living room, carrying a letter.

 

Percival quickly reads it and starts swearing. “Go get our coats, Credence. We have to go.”

 

Credence does as he is told. “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”

 

Once they have adorned their coats, Percival takes Credence by the arm and leads them to the apparition point.

 

“Grindelwald has escaped.” Percival says, and their apparition swallows Credence’s exclamation.

 

They land in front of the Woolworth building. Credence blanches at the sight, clearly remembering what happened the last time he was faced with a team of Aurors.

 

“Percival, what are you doing?”

 

“You are safest with me, but I am needed here. I’ll hide you in my office; no one should bother you there. Just keep your head down and let me do the talking.”

 

Credence follows the man dutifully.

 

Once safely inside Percival’s office, Credence relaxes a touch. Percival rounds on him, takes both of Credence’s hands in his own. “Stay here, I’ll lock the room behind me. Don’t open the door for anyone, not even me, unless I say ‘Cypress’, understood?”

 

Credence nods his head. “Don’t open the door until you say ‘Cypress’.”

 

Percival lets out a breath, and gently tucks a stray piece of hair behind Credence’s ear.

 

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.” And with one last look, Percival let’s go of Credence and exits the office.

 

Credence takes a seat, puts his head in his hands and tries to get his breathing under control. Everything will be fine.

 


 

 

It’s only a few hours later that Credence hears the deafening BANG. The whole building shakes and goes quiet for a single moment before another series of crashes can be heard.

 

Credence is up and out of his chair in an instant, racing out of the office before he can think properly. Percival could be in danger.

 

When he reaches the lobby of MACUSA, it is in pieces. The clock has crashed into the central staircase, it’s arrows all pointing to the red, and one of the elevator shafts has been blown open, rendering it useless. Despite the destruction, the lobby remained crowded with wizards, all of them fighting. Spells fly from every direction, and a cacophony of incantations fills the space.

 

There is a clear divide between the wizards; one group is attacking from the entrance, trying to force their way inside, while the other group defends its position from the middle of the lobby.

 

Credence spots Percival fighting in the middle with a blonde man, and it is only when Percival deflects a spell, sending it hurtling behind himself and past Credence, that the boy understand who the blond man is. Recognizes the feeling of the magic.

 

Credence is paralyzed at the realization, and his cheek tingles in memory of the hit he received. No, he didn’t want to see that man again. Never again.

 

But the Aurors were losing ground; Grindelwald’s forces pushing their way further into MACUSA, and while Percival was holding his own, he was strictly on the defensive. They weren’t going to last much longer, but Credence doesn’t know what to do. Percival hadn’t taught him any combative magic yet; the boy didn’t know how to fight.

 

And suddenly, Grindelwald hits Percival with a series of spells, disarming the man. Percival tries to block the remaining spells with wandless magic, but is quickly overpowered and sent flying backwards. The man collides with a pillar, falling into a broken heap at its base.

 

Grindelwald smiles, triumphant, and raises his wand one more time—

 

In the end, Credence finds himself doing the easiest thing in the world.

 

The boy feels himself scream, his body dissolving into the sound and pushing forward with intent. Credence feels his Obscurus responding, spreading itself to form a barrier between the Aurors and Grindelwald. Watches, as the blond man’s face slackens with shock, feds on the bittersweet pride of having been the one to derail his plans again. Uses it to force Grindelwald and his followers back and away. Lets it bleed out of him as he screams for them to GET OUT.

 

This time, the whole of MACUSA shakes because of Credence.

 

And one by one, Grindelwald’s followers disapparate, until only Grindelwald remains.

 

The blond man stares at Credence for a few moments more, “This isn’t over yet, my boy,” he says with a slow smile. “I’ll be back for you,” and finally disapparates.

 

Credence waits a few moments more, just to be certain that they were truly gone, before pulling himself back together. He lands on his feet, digs his fingers in the rubble to help ground himself. He can feel the Aurors staring, knows that he will need to face them now, too.

 

Credence takes comfort in the thought that if he is to die today, it will still have been worth it; he managed to thwart Grindelwald and he saved Percival.

 

The boy takes a few breaths, stands on shaky legs, and turns to face the people who have destroyed him once already, with his head held high.

 

Credence saved his Percival, and for him, on this day, it is enough.

 

Chapter Text

Everything happens slowly, much to Credence’s surprise.

 

Credence wonders if this is what people refer to, when they say they saw their life flash before their eyes; when the mind races to such a speed that everything else slows in comparison. Credence doesn’t have much of a life to remember, so he is content in simply watch as the Aurors raise their wands in his direction, arms moving slowly, as if dragging through molasses.

 

His mind flashes back to the subway station, as the many wands start to glow.

 

Credence can remember the pain of dying, what it had felt like to be so overwhelmed by magic that he had burst under the pressure. His Obscurus boils beneath his skin in response, wanting to protect its host.

 

Credence refuses to set it free.

 

He focuses on his breathing instead; the feeling of his lungs expanding and contracting; he focuses on the sound of his blood roaring in his ears, drowning out everything else, until all he can hear is his heart beat.

 

Ba boum.

 

The boy closes his eyes and waits.

 

Ba boum.

 

He waits. Feels a gust of breeze ruffle his hair.

 

Ba boum.

 

And waits.

 

Ba boum.

 

When too much time has past, Credence opens his eyes—

 

And sees is the back of someone’s head, slicked black and silver hair.

 

Credence knows that hair.

 

Percival stands before him, arms open wide, shielding the boy from his Aurors.

 

The world start to speed up again, Credence can begin hearing past the roaring in his ears.

 

“—OP! Put away your wands! I said stop, he’s on our side!” Percival yells, and slowly, so very slowly, his Aurors comply.

 

Credence’s earlier courage drains out of him just as quickly as it had appeared; his legs give out under him, and he reaches out to Percival instinctively. He fists his hands in the back of the man’s coat, and lets himself fall forward resting his forehead on the man’s shoulder.

 

Credence breathes in the scent of safety and home.

 

“Credence? Mercy Lewis, come ‘ere.” Suddenly, Percival twists in the boy’s grip, forcing Credence to let go of the coat, much to Credence’s distress. But Percival wraps the boy in his arms, soothing him. They fall to the ground together, Credence practically sitting in the man’s lap.

 

“What the hell was that, Credence? Merlin, I thought he was going to kill you.” Percival hugs the boy tighter and Credence lets him. “Never do that to me again. Never, Credence.”

 

Credence starts to apologize, but realizes that he isn’t sorry at all.

 

“’m not sorry,” he mumbles into Percival’s collar, and reaches his arms around the man’s middle. “He would have killed you. I couldn’t stand by and let him.” Credence can feel the distressed noise Percival makes in the back of his throat as it vibrates throughout his body. This time, Credence is the one hugging Percival tighter.

 

“Damn Cypress wand. You’re not supposed to sacrifice yourself for me, Credence.” The man whispers into the boy’s hair, leaning his cheek onto the top of Credence’s head.

 

Credence melts into the gentle touch and lets the subject drop. Credence would do it again. Percival would always be worth saving, but he doesn’t have the energy to argue. He just wants to savour this moment of closeness.

 

Their moment is shattered by someone shouting “Graves!” from somewhere behind them. Percival startles, as if only now remembering that they are surrounded by his Aurors; however he does not let go of Credence (perhaps even holds the boy tighter).

 

Seraphina Picquery strides towards them purposefully, her coat billowing behind her. “Graves, my office, now. And bring the Obscurus,” she walks straight past them and towards the only functioning elevator. “You too, Goldstein. Something tells me you’re implicated as well.”

 


 

 

Hours later, Percival is ready to take Credence home. He feels drained from the intense conversation with President Picquery and his wounds are starting to throb mercilessly.

 

Seraphina Picquery leads them into her office; she goes to stand behind her desk, leaning her arms against its surface but not sitting (and not offering them to take a seat either), and demands an explanation.

 

Percival isn’t intimidated. He sits in on of the chairs positioned in front of the massive desk and guides Credence into the other. Tina hovers behind them, shifting from foot to foot nervously.

 

Once Percival and Tina explain the situation the President begins to relax,

 

“So, if I’ve understood this correctly,” the President begins, “Credence is the one that found you, Graves, and in return you have been teaching him magic. He has been living with the Goldsteins and has learnt to control his Obscurus?”

 

Percival nods in assent. “Yes, that pretty much sums it up.”

 

She takes a deep breath. “Alright, I am willing to let this go, because Credence did demonstrate great control today. However,” And now she rounds her remaining fury towards Percival, “if you ever presume to withhold information from me again, Graves, it will be the last time. Am I clear?”

 

Percival nods his head solemnly. “Yes, Madame President.”

 

They were released shortly after, much to Percival’s relief. He could feel Credence exhaustion radiating off the boy in waves. Or perhaps it was weariness; in any case, Percival was ready to go home.

 

The man had lived through many truly frightening situations in his life (he’d gone to war after all). And yet, Grindelwald’s attack had shaken him more deeply then anything he had lived through previously. Percival thought he had been a dead man once Grindelwald managed to disarm him, had accepted the fact. But seeing Credence jump to his defense had been terrifying, because Percival had no power to protect the boy he had come to care for so deeply.

 

Percival squeezes Credence tighter against his side, reassured that the boy was whole and safe, tucked in his arms where he belonged.

 

A dark place in Percival’s mind reminded him that Credence was not his to keep and protect. The boy had admitted that he had a Soul Mark earlier in the day, which meant he had a soulmate somewhere in the world waiting for him.

 

Just as Percival did, in fact: the mysterious Alec Demers.

 

Percival had not thought of his soulmate many times throughout the years, he preferred to ignore the matter all together. However in this moment, with Credence in his arms, he thought of Alec; and for the first time, Percival felt something other than annoyance at the prospect of other-wordly-things making decisions for him.

 

In this moment, Percival felt hatred. He hated his soulmate, hated Credence’s soulmate; he hated everything in existence that took away his power to decide for himself who he could love.

 


 

 

Once arrived back at the house, Credence helps Percival removes his coat and follows him to the kitchen. Percival spells the first-aid products from his toiletry cabinet upstairs to come down to the kitchen, and promptly takes a seat at the kitchen table.

 

Meanwhile, Credence starts assembling the necessary ingredients to make the same poultice Newt had used to heal his own magical wound all those weeks ago. The boy takes out a bowl and begins mixing the ingredients.

 

Credence sees Percival begin to roll up his sleeve in order to uncover his wound, and releases a hiss of pain. Credence looks over with concern, “Perhaps you should just take your shirt off entirely, Percival?”

 

So Percival does, vanishing it with a flick of his wrist.

 

Credence is so shocked by the mark on the man’s back that he drops his bowl of poultice, which breaks with a resounding crack.

 

Written in beautiful curling cursive, in the centre of Percival’s back, sprouting like wings, are the words Credence Barebone.

 

Clearly realizing his mistake, Percival is up and across the room the next second, turning his back to the wall—as if removing his mark from the boy’s sight might prompt him to forget what he had seen.

 

But Credence can still see the design; it is burned into the back of his eyelids.

 

Credence thought he would have been elated at discovering that he was Percival’s soulmate. Is this not what he had wanted? What he had been asking for this very morning?

 

But the dark part of Credence’s mind whispers to him: if Percival knew they were mates, why had he not said so? Why would he keep it a secret?

 

“That’s my name,” the boy chokes out finally. “On your back. You have my name.”

 

Percival furrows his brow as if confused, but doesn’t deny it.

 

Credence presses on.

 

“I know what it means, to have someone’s name on you. Newt—Newt explained it to me. He said it means that…it means—it means we’re soulmates. And that means—“ Credence’s throat closed up as angry tears prickle his eyes. Why had the man not told him? Why would he lie?

 

“Credence, I don’t understand, what are you talking about?”

 

Credence feels tears overflow from his eyes and run hotly down his cheeks.

 

“You knew. You’ve always known, and—and… you never said—“ He takes a deep breath, reaching for any residual courage to just say what needs to be said.

 

“If you didn’t want me you could just have said so, Mr. Graves.”

 

Percival is taken aback by Credence’s sudden return to formality.

 

“Credence, what are you talking about? We’re not soulmates!” The man hollers.

 

Credence feels himself start to shake, feels his Obscurus clawing at his ribs. He chokes down another sob. “Am I so repulsive to you, so inadequate…” Credence doesn’t know how to finish that sentence, his mind is spiralling out of control.

 

Percival raises his hands in the universal sign of surrender, or perhaps in an attempt to sooth the boy. “You’re right, Credence, I have a Soul Mark,” he acquiesces, “and out there, there is another wizard that carries my name, just like I carry theirs. But they are not you. I don’t control who the fates chose for me…”

 

Percival trails off when he can observe his words landing on Credence like physical blows.

 

Within the boy, the Obscurus swirls faster, claws digging deeper. Credence struggles to breath past the pain. Why was the man still lying? “Tell me the truth, Percival.” The boy gasps out. He needs the truth. “I saw my name! Just tell me the truth, Percival. You owe me this much.”

 

Sensing Credence’s mounting distress, Percival tries something else “Let’s try this instead. Who’s name do you have on your back, Credence?”

 

The question seemed to only frustrate Credence further, his eyes flash white and the boy bares his teeth, “I don’t know. Ma she never—she never told me. And—and there were no mirrors in the house so I couldn’t see. And after… and then after the Aurors tried to—they tried to… UGH!” Credence screams in frustration because he can’t find the right words, so instead he removes his own shirt, bares his scarred back to Percival so the man can see for himself what Credence is failing to express.

 

“Mercy Lewis, Credence…” Percival had known that Credence had been abused, but he had never realized to what extent.

 

The entirety of the boy’s back is criss-crossed with scars, some clearly marks from a whipping while others appeared to be burn marks. But, what stood out most starkly, were the four deep pink wounds that ran the length of Credence’s body, one of which bisected Credence’s beautiful Soul Mark, obscuring the name nestled within.

 

However, some part of Percival’s mind recognizes the placement, the intricate shape of the mark.

 

Because it is the same as his own.

 

Percival feels a bright flare of hope bloom in his chest. Credence was the right age, he had been adopted, so there was a chance his name could have been changed.

 

“Oh God, Credence. Merlin, come ‘ere…” Percival moves to hug Credence, because he finally understood. Marks could change, but Percival hadn’t looked at his own in decades.

 

However Credence recoils for the man, his eyes flashing dangerously.

 

“NO! You don’t get to touch me. You never cared, not really” Credence shouts, he feels like he’s hanging on by a thread and a single touch from Percival would unravel him. The boy embraces his anger, because it is the only thing that doesn’t hurt.

 

“I was just a charity case. Something for you to fix because you are incapable of fixing yourself.” Credence doesn’t even know what he is shouting. He just knows he wants to make Percival understand his pain. “You never cared about me, never wanted me. You knew we were soulmates and you said nothing.” Credence is shaking so hard his body is practically vibrating. The Obscurus was taking over and Credence could no longer hold on; he feels his body being taken over and surrenders to it.

 

“NO, Credence, wait!” Percival tries to grab the boy again, unwilling to let him go now that he finally understood.

 

But he was too late, the damage was done.

 

The boy has dissolved entirely into black smoke, and explodes outwards; Percival is knocked backwards by the force of it, and by the time he looks up again, Credence has been entirely consumed.

 

Percival falls back onto the floor; can do nothing as the Obscurus flees from his open kitchen window and into the night.

 

The man stares at his kitchen window for a long time. Some distant part of him hoping Credence will come back, but knowing that he won’t.

 

He stays where Credence left him, sitting alone in the middle of his kitchen.

 

After what he has just done, being alone is all he deserves.

 

Chapter Text

Percival stays on his kitchen floor all night, back resting against the nearest cupboards. He stays seated until the sun starts to rise and the tears have long ago dried.

 

However, the saluting sun reminds him that he has responsibilities beyond his own heartbreak to attend to. The man gets up.

 

He takes inventory of his kitchen—many things got thrown around at Credence’s sudden and violent departure. There are a few broken appliances, but nothing severe.

 

Percival fishes around for his wand to fix the damage, but it is not in its usual place.

 

A quick search and Percival finds it in the corner of the kitchen, his brief relief quelling when he sees that the handle is cracked. He flicks it around experimentally and notes that it is still worked, despite spewing out a few dangerous sparks from the cracked end.

 

Wonderful.

 

It’s funny, really. Like the poetic embodiment of his life: still functional, but crumbling at the foundation.

 

Percival shoves the thought to the back of his mind, now was not the time for a pity-party.

 

The man goes up to his bedroom and freshens up, before coming back down, grabbing his coat and setting of to Thiago Quintana’s wand shop for the second time in as many months.

 

?$#@

 

Percival is greeted as soon as he enters the shop.

 

“Percival! Come to see me again so soon?” The tall man emerges from the back of his shop, arms full of wand boxes. “You better be careful, if you keep showing up here I’ll assume that you want something other than a wand, my friend.” Thiago unloads his armful of boxes and the two men shake hands.

 

“Don’t go giving me ideas, Thiago.” Percival replies warmly. “However, I have indeed come again due to a wand-related issue,” he continues, pulling out his cracked wand and offering it to his friend.

 

“My, my, Percival… what happened here? I heard MACUSA was attacked yesterday.” The wandmaker asks while he turns the wand over in his hands, examining the damage more closely. “Hmm… but this wasn’t caused by any curse. Did you throw your wand at the wall, Percival?” Thiago kept his tone light and innocent, but his questions were becoming increasingly inquisitive. “Or perhaps you were duelling with that ward of yours? Where is he, anyway? I would have imagined you would prefer to keep him close by during these dangerous times…” Thiago trails off lightly, but his eyes betray his curiosity.

 

Percival takes a moment to consider his next words. Thiago was a smart man, it was one of the many things Percival liked about him, but right now, it worked to Percival’s disadvantage. He would need to be careful, it appeared the wandmaker was much more aware than Percival would like him to be.

 

“Yes, we were practicing magic. And the boy had prior engagements, which prevented him for joining us.” Percival acquiesces slowly, meeting his friend’s gaze squarely. “However, I did not come here to discuss my ward, Thiago. My wand, can it be fixed? I’d rather not get a new one during these times.”

 

The wandmaker hold’s Percival’s gaze for a few moments more, clearly not buying the man’s story, but willing to let it go. “Yes, it should be a relatively easy fix, it is only the wood that cracked. The core is intact, so it is a simple matter of changing the handle.” Thiago starts examining the wand once more, his thumb running across the cracked wood.

 

“I know you probably want your new handle to be like you last, Percival, however may I try something different first?” The wandmaker asks, and continues before Percival can answer, “If you don’t like it, I can change it back. However, I have this, idea. Call it a professional hunch.”

 

While Percival is skeptical, he nods his assent and watches as the wandmaker disappears into the back of the shop.

 

Some time later, he re-emerges. In his hands, is Percival’s wand.

 

It appeared the same as it had always been, aside from one glaring detail; the handle was now made of a light-brown wood.

 

“What in Merlin’s name have you done to my wand, Quintana!” Percival exclaimed in shock, however the wandmaker only seemed amused by the reaction and hands Percival back his wand.

 

“Just give it a wave, Percival.” After taking a deep breath, the man does as he is told.

 

Much as it had when he was eleven years old, the wand spurts out sparks that rain down like falling stars; but, unlike when he was a boy, a gust of smoke swirls out alongside, twisting mid air before circling back to brush against Percival’s cheek.

 

Percival feels his breath punch out of his lungs at the soft caress. It reminded him so much of Credence. “What have you done to my wand, Thiago?” Percival asks, softly this time, still mesmerized by the lingering sparks and smoke.

 

“As I said, dear old friend, I had a hunch.” The wandmaker replies, a small smile on his lips. “I used Rowan wood for the handle, instead of Ebony.”

 

Percival huffs out a breath, trying to regain his composure. “And why would you do that?”

 

The wandmaker hums in consideration, “What do you know of Rowan wood, Percival?”

 

“What do I know of Rowan? It’s a very prized wood, it has a reputation for its association with defensive magic and its dissociation with the Dark Arts. Rowan is usually associated with pure-hearted wizards.” Percival recites. “Why in Merlin’s name would you use Rowan for my wand? I’m hardly pure, Thiago.” Percival shakes his head and the wandmaker shrugs in response.

 

“Did you know, Percival, that the composition of a dual-wood wand is important?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The wood used for the body of the wand represents the image of a wizard. How they appear to the world at large, but the handle, Percival, the wood used for the handle is meant to represent the heart.” The wandmaker smiles knowingly.

 

“And what made you think that Rowan wood best suits my heart?” Percival presses, still confused by the situation.

 

“Like I said, I had a hunch. I’ve had it since the day you walked in with that ward of yours. And when he was chosen by my Elder wand, I knew it was only a matter of time before you were back as well, Percival,” the wandmaker beings to explain.

 

“You see, Percival, Elder is such a finicky wood. Incredibly powerful, but morose and lonely. It does, however, have one positive inclination. It would seem, Percival, that wizards in possession of Elder wands gravitate towards individuals who have Rowan wands, and likewise Rowan to Elder.” After that declaration, the wandmaker grabbed Percival by the shoulders, looking the man straight in the eye.

 

“I cannot speak to the purity of your heart, dear friend, but I can see to what it is inclined.” He continues, “Or to who, I should say.”

 

Percival forces himself to laugh despite the fact that his heart has leapt into his throat; the alternative is to start crying again and he has no intention of doing that with an audience. “Am I so transparent, Thiago?”

 

The wandmaker claps the man’s shoulder good-naturedly. “Only to me, my friend. So where is the boy? I don’t believe your bullshit story.”

 

Percival drags his hand down the length of his face, trying to regain his composure. That appears to be the challenge of the day. “I made a terrible mistake and he left.”

 

Thiago hums in quick consideration, “Is that it? Since when is a single mistake enough to stop the mighty Percival Graves?” the tall man presses.

 

“You don’t understand, Thiago. I hurt him. Not physically, obviously, but…” Percival trails off miserably.

 

“So? Percival! I’ve never known you to be coward. Find the boy and apologize!” the wandmaker exclaims.

 

“It’s not that simple, Thiago!” Percival shouts in return, but his friend only shakes his head.

 

“Yes it is, my friend. You made a mistake, find the boy and explain yourself to him. I’m sure you had your reasons.” The wandmaker urges, “Now, stop feeling sorry for yourself and go find the boy!”

 


 

 

Meanwhile, back in New York, Credence is curled in a ball sobbing in the deepest bowels of the church rubbles he used to call home.

 

Everything hurt. His body, where it was pressed into small rocks, his eyes which burned from too many tears shed, and his heart shattered into pieces, its shards digging into his ribs making it impossible to breath.

 

The boy wonders where it all went wrong; it is likely that he never had a chance with a man as respectable as Percival Graves. The knowledge did not stop Credence for revelling in his own misery.

 

Eventually the tears stopped, then dried. Soon his body slumped forward, his mind swimming in and out of consciousness.

 

Even later, his body started to protest again the harsh treatment. Aches turning into pains before dulling back to numbness. Credence was tired and hungry, but he could not face Percival. Not now that he knew the truth the man had withheld.

 

So Credence stayed as he was, curled into a dark corner.

 

Alone.

 

Until he wasn’t anymore.

 

The wood floor at the entrance of the church creaked and groaned under the weight of someone entering.

 

Credence considers hiding himself more thoroughly before deciding against it. As much as he would like to keep hiding, he knew he had to face the consequences of his actions. He uncurls his limbs and gets to his feet.

 

The boy expects to find Percival at the entrance, or perhaps Tina.

 

He does not expect Grindelwald.

 

The man’s mismatched eyes find Credence instantly, and the man throws a spell towards the boy before he has the chance to do more than close his eyes. When Credence opens them again, he sees that he is encased in a sort of translucent bubble, hovering inches above his skin. The boy pushes against it experimentally and feels it flex beneath his touch but it does not break.

 

“No, no, no…” Credence can feels his breathing growing erratic and his pulse beat out of control, he flails against the barrier to no avail. He is trapped.

 

“Now, now, my boy. I did tell you I’d find you.” The man makes his way towards the boy with long and sure steps. A hunter approaching it’s captured prey.

 

“NO. Stay back.” Credence shouts, but Grindelwald ignores him and continues speaking as if Credence had not interrupted.

 

“…Although I am surprised by your choice of venue, I’d assumed I’d find you with dear old Percy.” The older man continues, mussing out loud. “Where is he, Credence? Did the two of you have a spat? Hmmm…”

 

The boy tries to push through the barrier with his Obscurus, but it has no effect. Meanwhile, Grindelwald is getting closer.

 

“Are you surprised, my boy? I told you they would never accept you, not really. You traded your old shackles for new ones, Credence. They will always fear you.” Grindelwald was closing in, only a few feet away now. “But not me, dear boy. I’ll never be afraid of you. I see you, Credence. See you for the miracle that you are…”

 

The man stopped only a few feet away, crowding Credence into the wall.

 

“Come away with me, Credence. I can set you free… We’d be invincible.” The man smiles languidly, victorious, and steps into Credence’s space, “Come with me, and we will destroy everyone who has ever hurt you. We will rule, humans and wizards alike.”

 

Credence uses his hands to push against Grindelwald’s chest in a last attempt at defense. The barrier shimmers between the two, but does not impede the physical contact. Grindelwald takes hold of Credence’s hands and tugs the boy forward until he falls in the man’s arms. Credence tries to scramble back but is anchored by Grindelwald’s arms around his back.

 

“NO! NO! Get off! Let me go! Let GO!” Credence digs his nails into the man’s chest, trying to shake him off. But Grindelwald only tightens his grip. The Obscurus tries to assist, but it is trapped within the bubble and cannot reach the dark wizard.

 

Grindelwald runs his hand down the length of the boy’s back in a mockery of comfort, shushing soothingly. “It’s alright, Credence, you will see that I am right in time.” The man pulls out his wand, points it to the ceiling in preparation for apparition.

 

And just when Credence was certain his fate was sealed, he hears someone shout his name from afar.

 

“Credence!”

 

And that voice, the deep timber, is so achingly familiar, that Credence knows who else has found him.

 

Grindelwald turns to find Percival at the entrance of the church, wand raised and pointed towards the dark wizard.

 

“You will let him go, Grindelwald.” Percival states calmly, wand unwavering.

 

Grindelwald is not impressed.

 

“Do you think you can beat me, dear Director? You failed the first time we met, and you failed again yesterday. Care to make it three for three?” Grindelwald spits out mockingly, releasing the boy and turning to face his opponent fully. Credence falls back into the wall, his legs giving out under the pressure of fear pumping through his veins.

 

Percival wastes no time unleashing the first spell that locks the two older wizards into a powerful duel, firing and deflecting spells, circling each other.

 

The two dance around one and other, except, much like at MACUSA the day before, Percival is forced pushed into the defensive under the onslaught of Grindelwald’s attack.

 

It doesn’t take a long time for the dark haired man to realizes that even though he isn’t losing, but he won’t be winning either.

 

On his best day, Percival doubts he could best Grindelwald, and today is not his best day; he is tired, injured, and rapidly fading. He spares a glance towards Credence, who is still huddled against the far wall, seemingly frozen in horror.

 

“Credence!” Percival yells over the whistle of the flying spells. “Get out! Run!”

 

Percival’s yells shake Credence from his reverie. The boy sees that even from the defensive, Percival is manipulating Grindelwald away from the entrance creating a clear path of escape.

 

But even when Credence regains his senses, he doesn’t leave. The choice is just as easy in this moment as it had been the day before. Even betrayed, broken-hearted, and hurting, Credence would never abandon his Percival.

 

With blossoming courage, Credence digs deep into himself, connects with his Obscurus, surrenders himself to it not out of fear in anger, but out of love; feels it respond, feels it swell and bloom.

 

Save Percival Graves.

 

It grows, absorbing Credence into its smoke, the two becoming one entity with a single purpose.

 

Save Percival Graves.

 

The Obscurus presses against the magical barrier and pushes, begins to churn in the small space, turning faster and faster, rebelling against the shackles that imprisons it.

 

Save Percival Graves.

 

The pressure is suffocating, unrelenting, but Credence keeps going. Pushes faster and harder until the world cracks open and Credence is swallowed in darkness, his last conscious thought, save Percival Graves.

  

Chapter Text

The Obscurus had been Credence’s guardian angel for as long as the boy could remember; it offered an escape for the pain and loneliness that had plagued the boy for the majority of his life. But the price to pay was steep: The Obscurus demanded the complete surrender of the boy’s mind, body, and soul; it consumed him so completely that Credence could only hope to retain some scraps of consciousness once it took over.

 

It was a different kind of fear that Credence felt when the Obscurus overtook him; the lack of control was terrifying. But when Credence was hurt and afraid, it was a worthy trade-off. If surrendering himself meant he could escape the pain, or siphon some of his anger away, Credence would acquiesce.

 

But this time, Credence was not angry or afraid.

 

This time, Credence had a singular purpose, untainted by any dark emotions.

 

Save Percival Graves.

 

And it was as if the Obscurus had also noticed the different, because it wasn’t overwhelming, it wasn’t thundering out of control but rather moved along with Credence, like and extension of the boy rather than an opposing force.

 

They moved, breathed, and thought in absolute synchronicity.

 

Credence no longer had eyes like he did in when he was human, but rather a comprehensive awareness of his surroundings, like he was feeling the ebbs and flows of magic surrounding him rather than seeing and hearing them. Credence could feel the magic flowing through the open space, and feel it condense like auras around the people present. He could feel Grindelwald’s magic oozing like a dark sludge, just as he could feel Percival radiated warmth and safety and home.

 

Percival.

 

Credence gravitates towards the man he loves, takes him into his smoky embrace and holds him close. Almost instantly, the boy can feel Grindelwald trying to pierce his veil of smoke with spells, feels them like the lashes Mary-Lou use to rain down upon his body.

 

But it is to no avail; pain is something Credence understands with intimate familiarity, and if a decade’s worth of abuse and a whole team of Aurors could not kill him, a single man will not.

 

So Credence endures the onslaught, as he has so many times before, and protects the man he holds within. He can hear and feel Grindelwald’s anger like a raging storm thundering louder and louder the longer Credence remains an obstacle. The spells cut into the boy deeper and deeper but Credence stays firm, drawing strength from the warmth of Percival.

 

Eventually (minutes, hours, days), Grindelwald slows, his earlier anger flickering out like a candle that has run out of wick to burn, and the dark wizard lowers his wand.

 

Which is when Credence pounces; he only has a moment to get this right.

 

Recoiling away from Percival and moving to capture Grindelwald instead, Credence imprisoned the man in his smoke, churning around him faster and faster.

 

Credence can hear Percival calling to him, much like Newt had so many months ago. But Credence doesn’t listen, he keeps moving; he has to end this now, they won’t get another chance. Credence can feel Grindelwald struggling, trying to summon his magic, so the boy forces himself tighter, a boa constricting around its prey.

 

Despite the dark wizard’s massive power and cunning, Grindelwald was just a man, and with one last failed attempt to gather breath, the dark wizard collapses.

 

Credence keeps going long after the body has gone limp, too scared to stop. Is he dead? Is he really dead? Am I sure? He needed to be certain that the dark wizard was dead. Couldn’t let him get away this time.

 

Suddenly there are hands touching the boy softly, tracing along his smoky silhouette; gentle and warm. Credence knows that touch, and he lets himself focus on it, draws strength from the warmth. He strains to hear the sound of Percival’s voice as it starts to fade back into his consciousness.

 

Come back… please, Credence… come back to me…

 

The man’s gentle voice allows Credence to pull himself back together, to gather the smoke beneath his skin, to congeal back into himself. Once Credence has legs again, they collapse under him, but Percival is there to catch him.

 

Credence lets himself be pulled into the man’s chest, tucked safely within the circle of his arms.

 

“Merlin, Credence, what the hell.” Percival kneels on the ground, pulling Credence into his lap and rocking them together as his hands wander to find and heal all the wounds that afflict Credence’s body.

 

“What the hell, oh my lord, Credence never do that again. Did I not tell you to never do that again? Merlin’s beard…” Percival keeps frantically whispering to Credence as he works, until there are no more wounds to heal and Credence feels himself being pulled to unconsciousness. Percival hugs him tighter now that there are no wounds obstructing his embrace.

 

Credence burrows into the warmth; too weak to protest when Percival offers his affection so freely. But deep down, Credence knows he doesn’t deserve it after the tantrum he pulled the day before.

 

“I’m sorry… shouldn’t have gotten angry at you…” Credence tries to apologize, but forming words is getting increasingly difficult.

 

“Sorry? What do you have to be sorry for?” Percival inquires hotly, tilting Credence’s chin up until their eyes meet. The man’s eyes are shinny, frantically waving back and forth, as if still searching for signs of injury. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. I have been an absolute fool and there are so many things I should be apologizing to you for, my dearest boy.” The man looks to be on the verge of tears.

 

“No… I got angry, I shouldn’t have gotten angry at you…” Credence tries to explain, but Percival interrupts him.

 

“You had every right to be angry, Credence I made a terrible, terrible mistake and you paid the price, and for that I am so, so sorry.” Percival tells him, still gripping the boy’s chin and staring down into his eyes, imploring the boy to understand the depth of his sincerity. “I have made so many mistakes, but I hope you will give me the chance to make them right, to love you as you deserve to be loved.”

 

Credence thinks he must already be dreaming, this confession was not meant for him. “Percival, I don’t understand…” Credence whispers, heart in his throat.

 

“I love you, Credence. Love you so much I think I might burst from it. You are beautiful, and kind, and utterly infuriating when you keep throwing yourself into danger for me.”

 

“No, this was my fault, Grindelwald came after me… it’s my fault he nearly killed you…” Credence tried to argue, but Percival was having none of it.

 

“Dying for you would be my greatest honour, my love.” Percival whispers softly, letting his hand travel from the boy’s chin up to cup his soft cheek and guiding their faces closer together. “And if you do not believe my words, would you let my actions speak for my heart?”

 

And slowly, so very slowly, Percival leans down, barely brushes his lips against Credence’s. The touch is electrifying, causing Credence to leap forward and close the gap.

 

And suddenly they are kissing, melting into the touch of the other. It is soft and sweet and better than Credence could ever have dreamed. When they finally part, Percival keeps their faces close, breaths mingling together.

 

They are interrupted by the faint sound of popping in the distance. Credence tries to turn towards the sound, but Percival soothes him.

 

“Shh, it’s alright. I sent a Patronus to my Aurors earlier. You need rest, Credence. I’ll be there when you wake.” The man whispers, and Credence is helpless to obey.

 

In the safety of the arms of someone he loves, Credence doesn’t try to fight the unconsciousness that pulls him under.

 

 


 

Credence wakes on a soft bed. He lazily opens his eyes and realizes that he is in his room, back at the Goldstein’s apartment. His movement causes a groan to escape his parched lips, his whole body ached, still marred by some residual bruising.

 

Credence’s thoughts are interrupted by Percival, whose big hands are guiding the boy back onto the bed, “Shh... Don’t move, Credence, you need rest. Everything has been taken care of.” The man whispers soothingly.

 

So Credence settles himself back on the pillows, instinctively trusting the man, and sighs contentedly as he tucks a blanket around him before gently carding his fingers through Credence’s loose hair, idly tucking a strand behind the boy’s ear.

 

“How are you feeling? You really must stop scaring me like that, dear boy. I don’t think my heart can take much more.”

 

Credence can’t help nuzzling into Percival’s palm, “’m not sorry.” He mumbles, already feeling the heavy pull of sleep dragging him under again, but he fights it. He has questions that need answers.

 

“In the church, why did you say you loved me?” Why did you kiss me?

 

Percival appears to have expected the question, because he offers Credence a gentle smile before answering, “Because I do love you”

 

The answer should be simple, but it only creates more confusion in Credence.

 

“If you love me, why did you pretend not to know about our Marks?” Credence questions, growing frustrated.

 

Percival breathes out of his nose heavily, carefully considering his words.

 

“Did you know that Soul Marks can change, Credence?”

 

“Why would they do that?” Credence fires back.

 

“It’s simple, if a person changes their name, the mark will change to match the new name. Did you know you were not always named Credence, my boy? Your name use to be very different.” Percival explains, his thumb gently caressing the boy’s cheekbone as he waits for Credence to piece it together.

 

And when the boy’s eyes blow wide open he knows Credence has made the connection, so Percival continues his explanation.

 

“Your name use to be Alec Demers. My friends use to joke that I would get hitched by a European.” Percival smiles self-consciously at the admission.

 

“I did some research; and it turns out your mother came to America to escape an arranged marriage. But she was hunted down and discovered about ten years ago, about the same time Mary-Lou Barebone took you in, correct?”

 

Credence can only nod as the pieces of his life all come together, the details he couldn’t explain before finally making sense. Credence can feel tears prickling at his eyes. “So you didn’t know we were soulmates?”

 

“No, I thought we were both destined for other people. I should have known better. It was neglectful of me not to look at my mark… it certainly would have saved us both a lot of pain, huh?” Percival finishes. He takes Credence’s hands into his own, and places a kiss on every one of his knuckles. “I asked a healer to come over to heal the scars on your back, so you’ll be able to see your Mark. Is that alright with you?”

 

The tears in Credence’s eyes overflow at the news, spilling liberally down his cheeks. Percival doesn’t seem to mind, just gently brushes them away with his thumb. “I’ll take that as a yes, dear boy?”

 

Credence nods his head frantically, and reaches forward to wrap his arms around the man he loves and pulls him closer.

 

“Yes, Percival. For you, the answer will always be, yes.”

 


 

 

Epilogue

 

Credence used to hate the rain.

 

It was cold and wet, and used to run down his spine and seep into his wounds making them sting viciously. His already frozen fingers would turn blue and go numb. The rain would soak his pamphlets, rendering them useless (nothing angered Ma more than useless things).

 

Credence used to hate the rain, and he told Percival one day, that he didn’t like being outside when it drizzled, that he didn’t like the nights where thunder roared and lighting cut across the sky.

 

At first, Percival didn’t question it. He understood that there were something that were difficult for Credence, and he helped where he could.

 

But one day, when there was a downpour of rain and Credence was mopping around their home, Percival asked about it.

 

“What is it about rain that you don’t like?” Percival inquired gently, as he always does when the pair ventures into uncharted territory. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, of course.”

 

But Credence didn’t mind, so he explained about the cold and the wet and the pain.

 

Percival hummed in consideration, stepping behind Credence, gently wrapping his arms around the boy he loved and slowly ushering them towards the nearest window.

 

“I understand it use to be difficult for you, Credence. But are you not warm now? And dry, and loved?” Percival whispers, nuzzling gently into his lovers neck, and pressing a gentle kiss there.

 

Now it is Credence’s turn to hum in consideration (a habit he stole from his love).

 

“I suppose.”

 

“Do you want to know what I think of rain, dear boy?” Percival asks.

 

“I always want to know what you’re thinking.” Credence can feel Percival’s smile on his skin before the man brings to sing.

 

Tapping softly against aged windowpanes
Soothing the soul,
Caressing the inner being.
Dancing across the fields of time,
Enchanting hearts… releasing minds
As the thunder rolls in the distance.
The rhythm of lets pitter-pattering
Upon the tin roof splendidly swells,
While progressive rumbling foretells
Lightening's quickened arrival.
Cooling the night as the frogs' serenada
Seemingly invites the spirit 
To enter into the bosom of peace and rest.
Drifting off in slumber deep,
Patiently, I await your return.”

 

Percival finishes his lullaby, whispered into his lover’s skin.

 

“That was beautiful, Percy,” Credence whispers back, awed.

 

“I love the rain. My mother used to sing that lullaby to me as a child. And I use to sing it to myself during the war whenever it rained. It helped make the best of a bad situation.” Percival explains. Credence doesn’t know what to say in response, so he simply pulls the man closer, humming the tune back at him.

 

The rain keeps pouring, tapping a gentle rhythm onto the roof of their small home, the drops rolling down the window, cleaning it from the dust that had accumulated. It is peaceful, Credence thinks, as they sway together. The rain helped mute the rest of the word, creating a little bubble in which only Credence and Percival existed.

 

The boy tips his head back, lets it rest on Percival’s shoulder as the man nuzzles into the exposed skin, peppering him with little kisses. Credence feels himself smile, and thinks that if Percival can love the rain, perhaps he could learn to love it, too.

Chapter Text

“Credence! Credence!”

 

A warm, calloused hand shakes the young man’s shoulder, prying him from the grips of the night terror.

 

Credence gasps into consciousness, the sob catching in his throat.

 

“Credence?” Comes the voice again, rough timber gentler this time.

 

It is a siren song to Credence.

 

“Percival.” His husband, his lover. His everything.

 

“Another nightmare?” Perceval questions, carefully—always so careful—drawing his shivering husband into the safety of his arms. Held close, so that Credence can hear the reassuring pounding of the man’s heart under his ear.

 

They settle themselves against the headboard of their massive bed—Percival’s tastes have always leaned towards the luxurious—Credence curled into Percival's chest, while the man gently runs his hands down the length of his husband’s back.

 

“Is everything alright, Credence? This is the second nightmare you’ve had this week.”

 

Credence had had night terrors for months after the whole Grindelwald debacle. But that was years ago, and the nightmares had tapered off since then. Credence might get one now and again, but he hadn't had two so closely together in years.

 

The sound of Percival’s screams echo off the walls. The assailants have beaten him to a pulp. His limbs bend at unnatural angles, blood seeping from the punctures skin, pooling beneath his crumbled form. Credence can't do anything but watch as his husband is beaten. His own hands are tied behind his back, held securely between two big, yet surprisingly soft hands. The man restraining Credence shifts closer, leaning down to whisper into his ear.

 

“You should have come with me when you had the chance, dear boy.”

 

Credence shivers as Grindelwald grabs his chin, angling their faces closer together. Mismatched eyes meet his own.

 

“You could have spared your husband so much pain if you had just come with me.”

 

Credence doesn't cry from the nightmares anymore. Instead, he buries his nose into his husband’s neck, breathing him in. He is safe. They are both safe.

 

Percival's noses at Credence’s soft hair, “Care to tell me what's going on?”

 

“‘s silly.” Credence’s response is muffled, but Percival makes it out anyway.

 

“I would like to hear it regardless.”

 

Credence takes a deep breath allowing his racing heart a chance to settle. His husband is safe. One pale hand escapes the cocoon of blankets, tracing up Percival’s abdomen and chest to stop at the edge of a bandage covering the entirety of his husband’s upper arm.

 

“What? This silly thing? I told you they barely scratched me, Credence.” Percival's comments, tone light.

 

Percival did not go out in the field much anymore. Rarely, even. So, when Credence had been called to the hospital to be informed that his husband had been hit by a curse—merely a scratch, Percival had assured him—it had been a shock. His naive belief of absolute safety had been shattered.

 

Percival could have been killed, and Credence wouldn't have even known. Couldn't have done anything to prevent it. In this, Credence was entirely helpless.

 

“I wasn't there when you needed me.” Credence admits.

 

“I was fine, Credence. They barely grazed me. Please, have some faith that the Director of Magical Security can defend himself against a handful of crooks, hmm?”

 

“I do have faith in you. It's just… sometimes it boils down to luck, not skill.” Credence explains, “it only takes one well-placed curse and you could be taken away from me again.”

 

Percival is quiet. His hand stills on Credence’s back.

 

Suddenly, the man is moving. Shifting their bodies so that Credence is cradled between the man’s powerful thighs, their faces a breath width apart. Credence’s arms automatically wind across the man’s neck, but in this moment, he can't meet his eyes.

 

“Credence,” begins Percival, his finger gently tipping his husband’s head up until their eyes are level.

 

“Credence,” he says again, “it will take a lot more than a single well-placed curse to take me away from you.”

 

Tears prickle at Credence's eyes, threatening to fall. But Percival isn't done yet.

 

“I will fight with every ounce of magic in my body, every muscle, every breath I have to ensure that I can come home to you. I will rage with all the energy I possess, I will surmount anything that comes in the way of me seeing you even one last time, do you understand me?”

 

Credence, enraptured, can only nod his head.

 

“I will not disappear the second you turn away from me. I will always come home to you. There is no force strong enough in the world that could stop me. Ok?”

 

Credence releases a breath he hadn't known he was holding, body sagging forward. The tears tracing his cheeks soak into Percival’s shirt, but neither comment on it.

 

“Ok.”