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Credence is afraid sometimes that he might wake one day and find his life as it was before Newton Scamander arrived. It is a silly and empty fear but it holds his heart nonetheless.

He can remember the days blurring together, an endless routine of labor and pain without pause. No one talking to him, no one even looking at him, a life as a ghost. He would eat the leftovers in the kitchens on his own and sleep in the servant quarter by himself. The isolation brought a choking silence, something he couldn’t touch but still so heavy it felt like it would crush him some days. That had been his life for as long as he could recall.

Mary Lou had picked him up on the side of the road where his parents abandoned him. She had often told him he should be grateful and pray with gratitude that she saw fit to be merciful and take him.

Credence prayed obediently. His whole life had been Mary Lou and working as a servant of her school. He didn’t know anything beyond the woman’s words.

He believed her words.

He believed her when he would look too long at a girl and so have to be hit with the cane to remind himself to be pure. When he was locked in his room at night he believed it was for his own good so not be tempted to run away. When she strapped his palms raw for not doing his chores on time it was a reminder to be devote in his work.

Before Newton Scamander, Credence had thought life was meant to be painful.

 

Mister Scamander was sent with a paper from the people who owned the school and the land around it. It was permission to stay on the grounds and study the animals that lived in the forest passed the fields. He was an educated man who specialized in researching animals.

“The servant quarters with Credence will be your rooms, you must understand. To protect my girls.” It was clear by her tone that Mary Lou did not want the stranger there but the paper could not be ignored. A wealthy family owned the land and house and it was by their charity that the school ran. What they requested always had to be done.

“It’s perfectly fine, I’ve managed with less, a lovely home,” the stranger replied to her, his voice odd with an accent. Mary Lou watched him with a frown before nodding and leaving the smaller house adjacent to the much larger main house.

She closed the door and the sound of the key locking the door could be heard.

“…Did she just lock us in?” Mister Scamander blinked at the door, a bit startled it seemed.

Credence nodded. “She does every night, to protect the girls.”

“Well, this is…interesting.”

Credence didn’t reply.

The servant’s quarter was a small main room with a table and chairs for eating, a fire stove for heat and cookies get, and a washbasin for cleaning. Off to the side were three small rooms with a single cot in each.

The washbasin had a cracked mirror over it and Credence could see the older man’s profile within it.

He was handsome.

Credence felt a rush of shame for such a thought but it was a still there nonetheless. Mister Scamander didn’t look hard and harsh like many of the men around the area. He looked clean and refined in a way city folk did. But despite that, he didn’t seem delicate like they did. He had callouses on his clean hands and his clothing was dirt-free and nice but also worn and well used. His copper hair with a slight curl was cut in a style Credence had never seen before.

He looked different and that alone was exhilarating.

Credence glanced up and found the man watching him in the reflection with an easy smiled offered. He dropped his gaze and sat up fumblingly, not knowing what to do or say. After a terrible moment of just standing there, Credence ducked away to his room, closing the door and then reopening it.

“G-Goodnight,” he got out and closed the door before the man could reply.

Humiliated, Credence crawled into his bed and listened to Mister Scamander moving around until he went into a room and the light faded as the candles were snuffed out.

 

“Good morning,” Mister Scamander offered when Credence emerged from his the room at first light. The sun just beginning to rise and the chores waiting.

“Hungry?” The man offered, nodding to a table filled with a small morning meal. Bread and porridge set out.

“We shouldn’t eat until after everyone else has,” Credence said without thinking. He wasn’t sure where the food had come from, everything was kept locked in the pantry.

“Ah well, I’ll be out walking the forest line all day so I’m afraid I can’t wait. I’ve my own supplies as well.”

Credence’s stomach ached with the scents in the air, the food did look very good. If he ate now he wouldn’t need to break to eat in the morning either. He could get more work done he reasoned.

“Could you come try this, I’ve never had it before and can’t decide if it’s good.”

It was strange to be spoken to so easily. There was no scolding or severity in mister Scamander’s tone. He smiled at Credence in a way that lacked the cold edge of Mary Lou and the students she taught. When they spoke to him, it was to command something.

He was…warm in a way Credence couldn’t explain. But it reminded him of a fire on a cold night, something that called to his very bones.

There was a small tin of a dark powder beside the porridge and the man mixed it with a few fat drops of honey and even some cream. Credence knew he should tell the man such things were not allowed. Food should be plain not embellished and indulgent.

But some of the girls snuck in fine foods and Credence had always wondered what it might taste like.

It tasted like something utterly sinful.

Like fresh strawberries and peaches, sticky and sweet. Credence licked his lips absently, perched on the chair nervously. Mister Scamander had made him up a bowl and it would be wasteful not to eat it now.

He watched the man stir up a pot of tea and then insist on sharing it. The taste was something that left his body warmed and a faint rasp of something good on his tongue.

“I do like my tea, I hope you don’t mind,” he said with another easy smile. “I find I make too much often, so it would help me a great deal if you would take the extra bits.”

Mister Scamander was kind but he wasn’t bold. His gaze jumped around and he seemed a touch nervous himself. He reminded him a bit like a rabbit, ready to bolt at any second. Credence supposed that was what made him like that man right away. That he wasn’t assured and stout like most of the workers that helped out around the school on occasion. He didn’t seem to look at Credence with a sneer and laugh, thinking he was too small and too strange, raised among women as he was.

“I’ll see you after sundown,” Mister Scamander waved a hand as he left and Credence watched him. It was only after he was gone that he realized the door was unlocked. When he checked it, the lock seemed jammed open and Credence didn’t know enough about locks to fix it.

Mary Lou was angry about the door and more so about Mister Scamander leaving without asking her first. While she strapped Credence’s palms with his belt he knew he should tell her about the breakfast, about the sinfully good meal.

But he didn’t.

It made his stomach turn with guilt and fear but his chest soared with such a tiny little thing, something just for him.

If Mister Scamander told her Credence would be punished again but in that moment, Credence felt bold almost.

It only grew from there.

Mister Scamander never told Mary Lou about their morning breakfasts or the midnight snacks.

The little fire stove top was suddenly well stocked with wood and mister Scamander knew how to cook. He had a supply box of pots and pans and he would bring in game and fresh plants he found out on his walks. He had bags of flour and sugar along with jars of honey and dried fruit. He shared them all with Credence, showing him how to cook meals he had never heard of before. Mixing everything in such a way to make loaves of bread that were sweet or to fry fruit in honey and water that was delicious. He had an endless array of spices that brought flavors Credence had never even imagined.  

Mister Scamander had books on animals and he would write pages of notes. Some nights he brought back cages with beasts in them and he would poke and prod at them before taking them back out the next day.

“An injured leg on this poor fellow,” he told Credence. “Could you help me?”

Credence nodded, not even knowing what he was to do but willing all the same. His room didn’t feel empty and silent anymore. The plain main room was covered with life now, books, notes, and drawings all over. The fire always crackling and the cupboards were filled, a coat hung on the wall, it felt alive now. Firewood was not to be wasted but mister Scamander always brought some back each day. He showed Credence his books and told him stories about his travels. He fed him fruits Credence had never heard of and had him try teas made from local plants.

Credence thought he might give the man whatever he asked.

Together they wrapped a pillowcase around the beast, some sort of small furry thing that had an angry hiss. Credence held it still as mister Scamander took care of its bad leg. He used bits of wood to bind and wrap it with a knowledgeable air. He knew of medicine, he seemed to know of everything compared to Credence. But he never made him feel dumb like the schoolgirls liked too. Instead he taught Credence, explaining what he was doing and letting him try. In everything from cooking to caring for the animals, there was nothing Mister Scamander was not willing to share.

Once the creature was looked after, it was set into a crate with bits of food to rest and recover.

“It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? Knowing we’ve helped him. He’ll live because of us,” Mister Scamander cheered. Credence glanced at the crate and tried to understand such a thing. That something he had done would have such meaning. Mister Scamander had done most of the work but Credence had helped.

He had helped save a life.

 

Mary Lou detested Mister Scamander.

She frowned and scorned him often but her words were like rain on a glass window, never sinking in, never doing any damage. Mister Scamander had a way with her, a polite and blank smile. He never disagreed with her openly, never said anything rude to her. But it was clear he didn’t think she was right, that he didn’t like her words or believe them.

It was staggering to witness, to see someone so bluntly disregard her words. They had been everything to Credence for so long. It left him shivering to think for a moment that she might be wrong about anything.

He didn’t dare speak such a thought. Mary Lou could be around a corner listening in, ready to punish him. But she never could catch mister Scamander. She tried as well, Credence knew she tried to spy on him. But every single time, mister Scamander knew she was there. He would smile and greet her, turn to look right at her or call her from around a corner.

Every time.

“What does he talk about with you? What does he do all night?” Mary Lou would ask Credence and he would lie.

It was frightening to do.

It was amazing to do.

Mister Scamander never asked for such a thing but Credence couldn’t stand the idea of the man being punished for Credence’s words. Not when he brought such warmth and good into his life.

He told Mary Lou what she wanted to hear, that Mister Scamander worked on his studies and made Credence do chores for him. He said the Lord’s Prayer every night and owned a modest rosary. He made him into a devout man because Mister Scamander was odd and awkward but if he was religious then Mary Lou would tolerate him.

She did.

She spoke of prayers to the man and he replied easily, as if he knew Credence’s lies.

“We do reading from the bible each night, you are welcome to join,” she told Mister Scamander when she visited their rooms. The door never locked after the first night. With the war going on all around them there were few men around to come look at it and no one really knew how to properly fix it.

Credence knew it angered her.

“I prefer solitude for reflection,” Mister Scamander told her, nodding to the small shelf of his books. Among them was a well-worn bible that Credence had never seen before. He’d never seen Mister Scamander read it either.

Mary Lou went over and inspected it without asking, pulling it out and peer through the pages.

From the corner of his eye, Credence could see a long list of names on the first page of the book, a list of Mister Scamander’s family who had used the book and so were devote.

“I hadn’t realized you came from a God fearing family,” she mused, her tone different for the first time. She sounded deeply pleased with her discovery.

“There’s no place for flaunting in proper religion,” Mister Scamander replied, his attention on his papers as he jotted notes. He didn’t seem to see the way Mary Lou looked at him with approval.

“I’m surprised you don’t have a wife then.”

“I will, when I return to London with my findings. Until then I remain in the Lord’s hands.”

It felt a bit bizarre to listen to them speak when Credence knew Mister Scamander was lying with such a boldness he had never seen before. The man had spoken before about organized religion being an abysmal idea and that freedom was important. That any god would not create something and then restrict it so harshly.

Credence was still pondering the idea of it. That God had made him to feel because he wanted Credence to feel rather than try to ignore and suppress it.

“Some of the girls had mentioned you, that they spoke with you.”

Credence’s fingers fumbled. He was sorting plants for Mister Scamander at the table and he stared at the thin flowers, wishing he could somehow warn mister Scamander. There were few things more important to Mary Lou than the girl’s purity.

Credence had grown up receiving beatings so he would know that. Mary Lou would not simply toss him out, she would have him jailed if he ever did such a thing. If he even looked upon any of them, he would be punished. His dirty hands had no place near their white dresses and chaste souls.

“Yes, I taught for a bit in London and I rather liked it. You have very smart girls and they were telling me about the local herbs.” Mister Scamander smiled and put his ink pen down to pull out a notebook. “I wrote some of it down, but I would appreciate it if they could fill out more for me.”

“You’d want them to come over here?”

Credence hoped Mister Scamander heard the trap in her words.

“Heavens no, that wouldn’t be proper at all. I had thought perhaps you could include it in their writing classes. To help them practice their letters. With your permission of course.”

Mary Lou slowly nodded and took the book from him.  

Her opinion of the man was changing now, as he passed her unseen tests. But Credence thought maybe Mister Scamander could see them far more clearly than he let on.

 

The air grew colder and fall settled in followed by a heavy winter.

Mister Scamander brought more firewood, more than Credence ever had before. The little rooms were warmed in a way he hadn’t realized they could be. Mister Scamander would head to the town for supplies a few times a month. When the cold set in he brought thick heavy blankets, one for each of them. The rooms were filled with warmth and food now, the silence that used to loom in them was long dead. Credence experienced more in the little main room than he ever had before. So many different flavors of foods and teas, so many pictures in books and stories from mister Scamander’s traveling. They often kept injuries or ill animals as well, hiding them away when Mary Lou came around. Creatures would sometimes curl up in Credence's bed with him at night. Their body heat was the first he had felt and it surprised him how soothing it felt. The more he worked with the wild creatures the more he thought Mister Scamander was akin to one, seemingly shy and meek but with a powerful fight once cornered. Credence wondered what the man would be like if he was ever truly angered. But nothing Credence did ever angered or annoyed him. When he struggled to learn the man was patient. When Credence was sore from a hard days work, Mister Scamander would let him rest and make his own tea and fetch his own things without complaint. He treated Credence with such a fairness, like he was an equal rather than less.

It was like something long empty was beginning to fill within Credence. A deep well long run dry starting to fill with water. Credence had not known he could feel this way before. The very idea of losing it scared him now, more than the pain Mary Lou could rain upon him even.  

It was remarkable to nestle into the warmth of his blanket and to wake warmed each morning. The man had bought Credence the blanket and expected nothing back. He never expected anything from Credence. People only looked to him when they wanted something, but Mister Scamander was different. Each time he did find something to do for the man, fetching water or wood when he was busy, stirring stew or digging out a new ink pot from the chest, the man would thank him. He would smile at Credence and thank him for helping him.

Credence hadn’t known life could feel so good.

 

Mary Lou changed with the seasons as well.

She became interested in Mister Scamander and invited him to the main house more often. At first he avoided it but eventually he began to go, welcoming Credence to join him each time. Mary Lou frowned at Credence, as if she only just recalled he was there. But she allowed him to join them all, to stand in the background and watch and listen. They would pray and read from books, sometimes Mister Scamander would give short little lessons on animals or plants.

He insisted Credence be there as well, to learn what he could.

“He’s been a good help, a strong laborer. If he wasn’t needed around the house I would take him out with me, he could haul far more than I could,” Mister Scamander praised Credence. Mary Lou never allowed such a thing but she did watch them more.

“He teaches you things?” she asked Credence and he nodded.

Mister Scamander was showing him how to read, teaching him letters. But Credence knew Mary Lou wouldn’t like that. Credence was meant for a base life she often told him. She planned to have him working under her his entire life and for that he didn’t need to know how to read.

“He shows me the plants and how to pick and sort them. How to mind the animals and look after the stove fire to cook on it.”

Mary Lou watched him narrowly, trying to figure out the mystery of the man.

Because Mister Scamander had no interest in the girls of the school. Many of them flirted with him or they tried at least. He turned them all down and forbid them from the little house that he and Credence stayed in. He was firm about propriety and if anyone pushed, he told Mary Lou. His lack of hunger for the young women was clear and Mary Lou was curious about it.

“Has he ever touched you?”

Credence shook his head, a touch frantic in his rejection. “Never. He’s never done anything like that. He says that God is the path and that until he has a wife he won’t sin in such a way. That I should follow that example.”

Mary Lou watched him and Credence was sure she would see the lie. But after a moment she nodded and turned away from him.

“A good sort I suppose. A proper man. You would do well to heed his words.”

“Now bow your head and pray,” she commanded, the cane in her hand.

Once a month she reminded Credence of his place. That if he were to sin he would be punished far beyond what she could do.

 

“Bloody hell,” Mister Scamander had never sworn before and Credence felt scandalized. But firm hands reached for him when he stumbled into the doorway. The door shut on its own with a click of the broken lock and a chair was suddenly under him.

“What has the brute of a woman done to you now?”

Credence never told anyone about this. He would be beaten a hundred times over before he told anyone. That this man would show him such mercy.

Mister Scamander fetched his pot of cream, a mixture he had made himself. He kept it on hand in plentiful amounts. He would rub Credence’s hands after they were strapped and the ache of his fingers and palm would fade.

“Show me,” he asked, always asked and never commanded.

Credence fingers fumbled as he undid his jacket and attempted to slide it off. Mister Scamander helped him strip until his back was bare. It burned hot, like flames were dancing on his skin.

“Damn her, for such a thing,” Mister Scamander breathed when he saw the marks and Credence shivered. It wasn’t the pain, he was used to the pain. It was that someone cared, that this man was upset to see him hurt so. Credence felt tears burn down his face and he knew they were from joy and not pain.

“It’s ok, let’s treat this,” Mister Scamander told him with such a gentle tone. Careful fingers spread the cool cream over his back. It felt like water on embers, the cold chasing the burning. The pain eased and faded away.

Credence could feel the man’s bare hands on his skin, chasing the ache away. For all the pain he was in, Credence felt a sinful stirring in him. A hunger in his groin at the hands on him.

No one ever touched him.

Mister Scamander was a handsome man and Credence had never forgotten that.

He lusted and coveted him, wanted another man. Credence never looked at the girls but he looked at Mister Scamander. Sometimes when he had worked hard and was sweat slicked, Mister Scamander would clean himself. He would strip off his shirt and under shirt and wipe his bare skin off at the wash basin in the main room. Credence had seen him twice and never forgotten it. Never forgotten the smooth skin with those fetching freckles.

Nor the long scars marring his skin.

Mister Scamander was like Credence in that way. Both of them were marked with scars.

Credence thought perhaps he was in love with the man.

“One day, I’m going to be finished with my work and I’ll pack up. I’ll be finished and I’ll have found it and when I leave I’ll take you with me. And that odious woman will be on her own, she won’t hurt you again.”

Credence closed his eyes at such a wild dream, such a vivid, terrible, and desperately desired thought. He never knew he could want something so much it hurt but it was a physical ache in his chest. To think of a life free from this place, to see things like Mister Scamander had, to be educated and worldly.

Credence was certain this was what love felt like.

“Would you come with me one day Credence?”

“…I would like that, Mister Scamander.”

There was no beating severe enough that would ever stop Credence from following him if he could.

“I’m glad. Call me Newt please, Credence. We’ve talked about this. We’re friends aren’t we?”

Credence felt another tear tumble down his cheek as he nodded and thanked God for such a mercy.

 

Spring came and summer followed, the months slipping by slowly. Mary Lou grew to tolerate Newt more. She might have even liked him in her reserved and stoic way. He would teach classes for the girls under her supervision some times. Just that alone was such a high mark of her fondness. She thought Newt was a devoted chaste man who was humble and meek.

Credence carried a thrill in his chest to know how wrong she was.

That he alone knew the real man was exhilarating.

They shared their little servant house and had secret meals together. Credence learned to read and learned about mixing herbs. He felt years and years away from the boy he once was, before Newton Scamander had arrived.

Credence felt educated.

 

The war was in the background usually and mostly they paid little mind beyond a careful caution of soldiers and battle fields. But the longer it went on the more girls left the school. Their families having moved to more stable and safe areas. Others had to suffer their father killed and the girls now too poor to afford schooling. As the fall arrived and winter settled in again, the teachers left as well. Soon the house was no more than Mary Lou, two orphaned girls, and two serving women.

Tina and Queenie Goldstein replaced the black slaves when they ran off. The war was close enough that they had made a bid for the opposite side where they could be free.

Credence could recall seeing them one summer night. Newt and him gathering some plants in the field as nightfall approached.

When he caught sight of them, four women in a row, he had known what they were doing right away. Cloth packs of food on their backs.

Credence had never been allowed to interact with them. No one had. They did their job and spoke to no one. Mary Lou beat them just a severely as she did Credence. He had felt akin to them in so many ways but had always been too scared to try and speak with them. Suddenly he wished in that moment that he had, that he knew their names and their hopes.

“Do you think they’re less for the color of their skin?” Newt asked him without looking up from where he was pulling plants, digging to get at their roots as well.

Credence glanced at the group and saw them staring back at him. They were far off but if he called back to the house, Mary Lou would come. She’d send word to the soldiers and they would hunt them down.

“I…I don’t think anyone should be less,” Credence finally replied, turning back to his work and pushing the sight of the women from his mind. When he glimpsed over again they were gone. Credence felt almost envious of them, to be strong enough to even try for freedom.

But then, Newt was Credence’s own freedom in a way. There was something about the man, something below the polite smiles. It felt almost wild, like the man was a bit like a deer, graceful and swift.

“I have to agree. I can’t imagine we’ll treat animals better when we can’t even treat other people decently.”

Credence nodded. Newt liked his animals very much, he doted on them and Credence thought his kindness was more akin to what God would have wanted. Someone caring and fair rather than cruel and severe.

Credence plucked a flower and watched it bloom in his hand, thinking that God would like Newt.

 

Mary Lou asked them both about the servants in the morning and they both lied without hesitation.

When Mary Lou asked Newt head back to the side house he had tried to make an excuse to bring Credence with him.

“I will thank you not to think you know how to mind him better than I do,” she had told him with cold hard eyes. It was rare for her to distrust Newt these days. Credence would almost say she fancied the man.

“I would never presume. But Credence was with me all evening in the field working last night, I’m certain he saw nothing I did not.”

“Please head back to the rooms Mister Scamander.”

“It’s ok,” Credence dared to add in, looking over at the man. He was only making it that much worse.

With a worried nod, Newt left them.

“Strip,” she commanded and Credence knew it wasn’t the usual lashing on the palms with his belt. Another caning on his back to remind him of his place.

To let her bleed her anger. She beat him because she could, not because it was necessary. A year ago he would never risk such a thought but now he was certain of it.

He swallowed grunts of pain with each strike.

On the fifth, Mary Lou dropped the cane, clutching her hands painfully.

Illness had come into her bones, her wrists and fingers aching often. Credence turned to watch her wring them, pain twisting her features.

“Shall I fetch a hot cloth?” He asked and she nodded.

Credence dressed and went into the main house. They kept a stove on with cloths warming in water constantly. He wrung one out and took it back to her. She wrapped her aching fingers in the heat that helped ease the pain.

Newt knew about her hands.

He had never offered the cooling cream he gave Credence.

“It’s harsh and it hurts you,” she told him. “But you need to learn. You need to never forget. It’s far too easy to slip, to fall into sin. Those women that left will be caught and executed for their crime. You’ll take a letter straight away.”

Credence nodded.

It was too late though, the women had the entire night to travel and they would be far into safe territory by the time the soldiers got word. Both Credence and Mary Lou knew that.

“We will survive this, we will be better than others, more devote in all ways,” she told him and Credence nodded. “We will avoid damnation.”

He thought of his secrets, of his meals and education, and he knew he would be damned ten fold if she ever knew.

But part of Credence did see she thought she was doing good. Mary Lou was trying to help in her mind, trying to do right by him. Credence wasn’t sure if that was something to damn her even more or to pity her for.

He helped her back to the house and heard her lock the main doors of it as he walked back to the servant quarters off to the side.

Newt was waiting with that worried look and his balm to soothe the ache.

Credence thought that if Newt was damnation, then Credence would embrace hell with open arms.

 

Modesty, a young ten-year-old and one of the girls still there, was the one to find the soldier.

“Come see!” She shrieked at Credence and Newt. They were working in the garden, weeding meticulously so the plants would grow strong. Newt had taken over the gardens last spring and he had grown more than double than they ever had before. So this year he minded them again. He was teaching Credence how to do it as well.

They followed the girl into the woods where she was picking berries and found the unconscious man. His leg was poorly wrapped and Newt knelt to inspect the injury. He winced when he pulled the soiled bandage and the repulsive smell of infection wafted up. The man was sweat soaked as well, indicating a fever. Credence knew little beyond what Newt taught him but he knew enough that the man is was in poor condition.

“We’ll have to get him to the house. Credence bring a strong sheet so we can carry him in, please. Modesty, could you go fetch Mary Lou, please?”

Credence ran and when he returned Mary Lou was there already.

“Should we inform the soldiers?” Mary Lou frowned, for once not looking sure.

“In time, we should see to his health before anything else. The soldiers will not be by for a week at a time anyway.”

Credence offered out the sheet and helped Newt load the man onto it.

“I’m not sure he’ll survive the night, to be honest,” Newt said as the readied to move him. “At this point, we’re only showing mercy.”

Newt knew how to speak around Mary Lou. He was good at saying the right words at the right time to make her agree. She nodded her head and followed them as they carried the heavy man to the servant's house.

“The main house would be improper and I don’t want the girls close in case he has illness,” Newt explained to Mary Lou and she nodded in agreement.

The third bedroom had remained empty and so they took him there.

“Fetch some boiling water Credence, we need to flush and clean the injury.”

“Will your limited medical knowledge be enough?” Mary Lou asked and Newt frowned in thought, already focused on the wound.

“We don’t have much of a choice at the point. There are no doctors in the area.”

The war had driven out most people, there was little left of the town these days. Newt was right, he was all they had at this point.

Credence left for the main house as Mary Lou and Newt talked about the chances of the man surviving.

“A man was found?” Queenie asked when Credence arrived in the kitchens.

“Yes, Newt needs boiling water,” he requested and the woman started up the fire stove as he dug in the cupboards for a large boiling pot.

“Will he live? What does he look like?” She asked curiously. Queenie and Tina were both kind women, they talked with Credence and were never cruel to him. They had come to work for the summer and into the fall; to save money to afford the trip to New York where they had family.

While he liked them both, Credence struggled with the sheer amount of chatter, never able to keep up with them. Newt spoke far less and Credence found his calm pace more comfortable.

“I’m not sure. He looks like…a man,” he fumbled to answer. Queenie just smiled at him and peered out the window.

“I wonder what a man is doing around here of all places.”

“He’s a soldier,” Credence blinked, thinking of the uniform he had seen on the man. “A Union soldier.”

Queenie winced and looked out the window with worry then.

They were in Confederate held lands.

“Oh dear,” she breathed and Credence understood her sentiment.

 

When he returned with the boiling water Queenie came with him, setting up the stove in the small quarters to keep the water boiling. Mary Lou was gone and Newt was alone.

He soaked his knife and then his hands for a brief second, cleaning away dirt as he prepared to tend to the man.

His hands quickly became blood slicked again as he put the knife to work.

“Bring a candle here please,” he called and Credence hurried to obey. It was still daylight but the windows were small and blocked the light.

Queenie looked away with a whimper as Newt cut away the dead flesh from the wound. Puss oozed and fresh blood dripped from the jagged slash.

“We’ll clean it as well as we can and hope for the best. We need to try and control the fever. I have a few tea blends for illness and infection, we’ll try those.” Newt spoke calm and focused.

Queenie excused herself and so Credence helped the man. Gathering what he needed and watching as Newt slathered the injury with the cold cream mixed with another paste he had in a tin.

“Will he live?”

“I’m not certain at this point,” Newt answered honestly. “But something this bad should have killed him already, I think there is more to him than it seems.”.

They spent the night looking after the man. Tending to his injuries and trying to soothe his fever. Newt mixed herbs into a pot of cold clean water and rubbed the man down with it. They stripped him bare and Credence tried to ignore the sight of another man bare.

He’d never seen anyone else naked before. Newt he had seen from the waist up but never more. But now this man was completely naked. Newt pulled a sheet over his groin for modesty but left his chest and bad leg exposed so he could work. The smooth skin of his one side was still exposed, the dip of his hip and curve of his pelvis visible.

Despite the grim situation, Credence felt a shameful pull of yearning.

He was a very striking man. Different from Newt’s handsome. The stranger looked a touch hard, a rough sort and a soldier as well. His skin was sun tanned a golden brown and there was dark hair on his chest that Credence couldn’t stop looking at.

Newt would dip the cloth in the cold water and wring it before running it over the man’s face and down his neck. Over and over his long elegant fingers ran across the exposed skin.

He would pause sometimes to change the cloth over the wound, using hot water to heat the cloth before covering the gaping injury.

“It’ll help draw out the infection,” Newt explained softly and Credence nodded, trying to push away all the sinful thoughts.

“There’s not much to do now, you should sleep. I don’t imagine Mary Lou will let you miss chores tomorrow and it’s already late.”

Credence nodded and went, looking back to see Newt looking over the stranger, the candle light casting a soft glow on them both. He could see the sweat still running down the man’s broad chest.

“How odd it is, to find yet another of us, when we are supposedly so rare.” Newt spoke to himself musingly. The words made no sense but many times when Newt talked Credence did not understand. It was the difference between him and a man properly educated.

Credence went to his own room and with the stove on to heat the water, it felt stifling. It was the beginning of summer and the hot heavy air was settling in. Credence stripped himself bare and pulled over a thin night shirt. He curled up on the top of his blanket and tried to settle.

But the image of Newt’s hands on the man kept circling back and Credence pressed his face into his pillow. He could feel himself beginning to ache, his cock filling out against his will.

Unbidden images came to him, of secrets best left alone.

He thought of last fall when Newt had taken Credence out walking. They had gotten lost and started a fire to stay warm as the night settled. They drank river water with fermented berries mashed in and it left Credence dizzy. Newt had laughed and seemed different, loose and relaxed as he sipped the intoxicating drink.

“It’s nice to get away,” he had said to Credence with a sly smile. “It’s a special night you see, the autumn equinox is tonight.”

They had danced, nothing proper like fine men and ladies, but just spinning in circles around the fire. They held hands tightly to help one another stay up and not fall dizzily. Newt had laughed and the fire and moonlight had made him look so beautiful.

When the chill had come in they had sat close, thigh touching thigh, shoulder to shoulder. The heat of their bodies warming one another.

“Tonight is about gratitude and reflection, on all we’ve done and gained over this summer,” Newt mused quietly, watching the fire.

Credence could only think that everything he was glad for in his life, was sitting right beside him.

He had never forgotten a moment of that night and he had touched himself shamefully to the memory. To the feeling of Newt’s sure fingers around his wrist and the heat of his thigh against Credence’s own. He didn’t understand it, not truly. This lust within him, this twisted want that consumed him at times. Credence didn’t even know what he wanted, sex was a sin and he knew nothing of it beyond that. But the image of Newt’s hands on the man’s chest burned behind his eyelids and Credence bit his lip as he pressed his palm to his cock.

Feeling out of control, half terrified and half thrilled he rubbed himself against his hand. His hips jerked awkwardly, rolling so his cock pressed against his nightshirt. Pushing his face into the pillow, he shuddered as the good feeling rose up, overwhelming him as he rocked into the pleasure.

Once it faded down the guilt seeped in, twisted in his chest.

To think of Newt in such a way. To think of that poor man in such a filthy way, he might not even live the night.

Red faced with humiliation, Credence crawled off his bed, kneeling over it on the floor as he pressed his hands together in prayer.

He begged God for forgiveness.  

 

The stranger did live the night. The fever faded and Credence helped Newt care for him. He learned to change his bandages and to change the cool cloth on his brow. Credence carefully avoided anything more, not daring to wash the man down like Newt did each day.

Credence feared what sort of sins might take him if he were to do such a thing.

Mary Lou, Modesty, Chastity, Queenie and Tina all came around each day. Although they had never set foot in the servant quarters before except for Mary Lou and Queenie the day they brought the soldier, they all came now.

“Oh my,” Tina flushed bright red when she brought them left overs and Newt was cleaning the man’s bare chest. Her hands fumbled as she set the plates down on the table and without a word she left quickly.

“I do suppose he is rather handsome,” Newt mused once she was gone. He pushed some dark hair of the man’s brow and peered at him thoughtfully. “Certainly a lady charmer despite not even being awake.”

“Is that why they come by so often?”

Newt nodded with a light mischievous smile. “I do think that’s the reason entirely.”

 

The man woke a week after they found him. He blinked blearily at Credence and he struggled not to jump to see the gaze on him.

“I’ll get Newt,” Credence breathed, setting the bandage he was changing down and just barely not running from the room.

Newt was in the garden but came when Credence appeared. Mary Lou watched them from the window as they went into the side house together.

“Oh, good morning,” Newt greeted the man. He was still laid out on the pillows but looking at them both. “You’ve had a rough go I’m afraid.”

Newt fetched a cup of cool water and helped the stranger sit up to drink. Water ran down his chin as he gulped it down. He stared intently at Newt the entire time, locked on to him in an odd fixated way.

“Some more?”

Newt held the empty cup out and Credence took it quickly to refill it.

“Thank you, Credence,” he offered a smile.  

“The worst of it is over now, your leg is healing and the fever broke. It’s just a matter of gaining strength back.”

The man sighed, settling back into the pillow after a second cup of water.

“I felt you, felt the pull,” he rasped and Credence blinked at the odd words. “I’d never thought to meet another, much less two of you.”

“Did you now? Well be glad it led you to us, any longer in the woods and you would have been a meal for some predator.”

Newt watched the man drift off again, smiling easily at him.

“I had worried the fever might damage his mind but he spoke clearly and understood well.”

“His words made no sense,” Credence hesitantly pointed out but it didn’t seem upset Newt. He never seemed to anger, always ever patient.

“Well, he is a bit fevered, it’s not odd. If he still talks nonsense in a few days we’ll worry then.”

“What will happen to him?”

Newt sat up from the stool beside the small bed and left the little room to fetch himself some water. The summer sun was out and rather hot. Newt’s sleeves were rolled up and his forearms exposed. It felt a bit sinful how the skin drew Credence’s gaze.

“Mary Lou has agreed to see him back to health. Beyond that, we haven’t discussed it. I imagine it’ll depend a great deal on the man’s manners.”

 

When Mary Lou came to visit the man was wearing a cross he had not had before. His shirt opened just enough to expose it and Credence saw the moment Mary Lou noticed it.

Newt seemed unaware of the exchange but Credence was sure it had been planned.

“He woke for a bit but wasn’t clear. He’s gaining strength though,” Newt offered to her and she nodded, peering down at the unconscious man with a strange gaze. But then he was an attractive man laid out nearly bare. Even she was not above such carnal desire it seemed. Credence watched her make herself look away.

“He shall rest and recover then,” she decreed and Newt nodded as if in agreement to her choice. As if had not manipulated her.

 

The man woke again the next day.

Credence came in from chores to find him propped up and speaking with Newt.  

“…Must be found, it can’t be left.”

The man noticed him, eyes cutting from Newt to look at Credence. His gaze was an intent sort, focused and intimidating but with a strange sort of pull. Like it felt good to be looked at by him.

“Credence, come meet Percival Graves,” Newt called him and Credence shyly hung by the door nodding politely. He had seen the man bare and it felt utterly disgraceful to think of it now.

“Credence has been helping me look after you,” Newt said and the man nodded. “He’s been a great help to me and I do hope to take him from this place one day. He is worth more than a mere countryside servant.”

The words filled his chest with a bubbling happiness.

“Well then, I’m grateful,” Percival Graves said. His voice a low rumble that crawled up Credence’s spine. “I owe you both my life and if Newton speaks highly of you I’m inclined to believe it.”

Credence flushed, glancing up to see the attractive man smiling at him. It was a warm thing that made his stomach turn strangely. It felt like he was smiling just for Credence alone.

 

Mary Lou came to visit and spoke with Percival. She agreed to allow him to stay long enough to heal. It was a bit odd, to see her offering mercy so freely. Her tone was stern but her actions almost…kind. It was clear her eyes watched Percival though, desired him.

Modesty and Chastity visited and Credence noticed they wore their finer dresses. It was clear everyone was affected by Percival and his charm. Newt was a soft and sweet man, he was charming in his own gentle way. Percival, however, was rugged and strong, his voice sure and tone commanding. He was the sort of man people would follow, the kind who led others and that drew everyone to him. It only helped that he was so pleasing to look upon, a fit and fine-looking man.

He told stories well and Credence found himself listening from the other room as Percival told stories of his life to others. He had grown up in an isolated area and traveled to be schooled. Afterward, he had begun working in business and politics before the war had come and he had left to fight.

Tina and Queenie were suddenly around more too. They started bringing meals and usually ended up eating with them once Percival was strong enough to sit at the table.

Newt took it all in stride, a bit awkward about all the people but never not inviting and so Credence followed his example. In return he had lively dinners with the five of them, exchanging stories and chatter.

“London sounds amazing,” Queenie remarked when Newt told a tale of his home.

“I do miss it, I hope to return within the year,” he mused, his gaze cut to Credence for a moment before he smiled at the woman. Credence felt a thrill at the idea of leaving soon, of traveling across the vast sea to a new world.

“I’ve always wanted to see London, I’ve never managed to travel that far properly,” Percival remarked, eyes on Newt and the man smiled back at him.

Credence tried to ignore the feeling of unease in his chest.

“London is worth the trip I assure you, but America merited the travel as well. I’ve learned so much about the land and creatures here, it’s been wonderful.”

There was something in Newt’s smile.

The way Percival nodded and looked at him answered it.

Like there was a secret between them. An intensity in the way they looked at one another.

Queenie and Tina seemed unaware of it but Credence could feel it. It made him apprehensive. He was used to being the one who knew the secrets about Newt. The idea that this man might know anything that Credence did not upset him.

 

Credence saw them two weeks after Percival woke up.

During the day he usually did his chores and was kept busy. He helped Tina and Queenie with the hard labor about the house. He managed any upkeep he could figure out on his own. He went to the well and dragged buckets of water up and into the house. He looked after the garden for Newt and he walked to the fading town for supplies as needed. His days were always busy and he rarely went back to the servant house until the evening.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Tina flushed red as Credence stepped back quickly. The red juice of the canned beets was spilled down his front. The lid had come off just as Credence has stepped in to offer help. Sometimes when he thought of things absently, they just happened on their own. Now his white shirt and brown trousers were soaked a dark crimson.

“Change and wash them quickly,” Queenie urged him and Credence nodded. He stepped from the kitchen and wrung his dripping clothing out into the grass. He had one other set of summer clothing and would switch into them.

The door was closed but Credence stepped in without thinking, the lock was still broken.

The bed creaked and Credence glanced up.

Newt had left in the morning to study the wild life and so he expected Percival to be resting.

But Newt was there.

Credence froze in place, unable to do anything but stare.

Newt was in the bed with Percival.

The man was laid out on his back and Newt was astride him. He wore nothing.

The bed creaked softly as he moved. Newt rocked his hips lazily, rolling them on Percival’s lap. He faced away from Credence, his back and shoulders on display as the moved. Sweat gleamed in the weak light from the window, running down his pale skin. The muscles under his skin moved in a fascinating rhythm.

Credence could barely breathe as he stared. He cock suddenly achingly hard in his trousers.

Newt sighed, a deep breathless sound.

It was astonishing.

Percival’s hands curled on Newt’s hips, fingers digging in as he pulled the man down a touch faster.

Newt moaned.

Credence realized they were connected. It was startling and shocking. Newt moved again and Credence looked…there.

He could see Percival’s cock sinking into Newt, buried into his backside. It was appalling and Credence had never heard of such a thing, such a strange wrong sin. But Newt moaned again as Percival sank into him. He sounded like he liked it, like it felt good.

Credence pressed a palm to his cock, feeling it throb.

The bed creaked louder as the two men moved a bit more, rocking faster. Credence stared at Percival’s hand as it grasped at Newt’s lower back. His long calloused fingers spread out over the creamy skin. Nails leaving red lines as Newt whimpered and thrust himself down.

Credence shivered as he came, soiling his pants as he shoved against his palm.

With his knees unsteady and shaking badly, he fumbled from the house, taking care to close the door softly.

Credence made his way to the well and he pulled a large bucket of water, dumping it over himself. The icy coldness of it felt good in the summer heat but it did nothing to undo what Credence had seen.

Newt was fornicating with Percival.

Two men lying as a man and wife should. Sodomy.

It was a terrible sin, one that condemned them both to hell.

Credence had thought of such things, had sinned thinking of such filth but he had never intended to ever do such a thing. Never even knew how it would be done. Actually committing the sin meant the fires of hell. Credence shivered and tried to banish the image of Newt’s bare body from his mind. Percival’s thick thighs and rough hands.

He scrubbed his shirt and trousers still wearing them and when he headed back to the house he made sure to make noise.

Newt was nowhere to be seen and Percival seemed to be asleep.

He was faking it. He was a deceiver and he had put his hands on Newt. Had probably seduced the man into sinning with him.

Percival had doomed Newt to hell.

Credence could feel a rage fill his lungs as such a thought. A cup on the counter cracked.

He changed in his room and carried his soiled clothing to the washing spot. He scrubbed the shirt with a vicious edge, thinking of Newt’s purity taken and ruined.

“You’re angry,” Mary Lou’s voice startled him and Credence nearly dropped the scrub brush.

“It’s not like you to be angry.”

“I…” Credence was at a loss, he couldn’t tell her, couldn’t have her know what Newt had done.

“Newt visited Percival again, I saw him leaving,” she spoke so surely. Watching Credence and waiting for the truth to come out.

Credence could feel the confession bubbling on his lips unwillingly.

“I’m…jealous,” he finally spoke hoarsely. “Newton is my friend and mentor. It’s hard to… see him spent time with Percival.”

Mary Lou watched him for a long moment.

“Come with me,” she finally commanded and Credence hung his wet stained clothing on the clothesline and then followed her.

Inside the house was a small chapel, a large cross hung before a single row of pews. Under the cross was a locked cupboard and Credence watched Mary Lou fetch the key from around her neck.

His knees shook as he watched her open the small doors wide.

A manner of sacred things sat among the blessed oils and incense. There were gold lined crosses and small delicate paintings of Jesus and Mary. In the back were wrong objects, the devil’s things. Trinkets girls had brought to the school: blood red jewels, the color of the devil, and a set of stones with strange markings on them, the devil’s writing. They stayed locked under the cross where their evil could do no harm.

Credence had seen this all before.

He shivered but dragged his shirt off his back.

“You admit you covet mister Scamander, but it’s more than what you claim. You’re lying to me.”

Credence shook his head but Mary Lou’s face was cold and unyielding.

“I’ve seen you Credence, they way you look at Mister Scamander, how you follow him like a dog. You never notice Tina or Queenie but you stare at that man with such a filthy sin.” She spat the words as if they disgusted her and Credence hunched in his spot.

In the locked cabinet was a worn leather flogger and Credence watched as she picked it up. She poured holy oil over it and Credence shook where he stood.

He had been flogged twice in his life and the pain had left him dazed for days.

“You have a wrongness in you, and we must stop it before it can grow,” she told him, her tone composed.

“Do you want to burn in hell?”

Credence thought of Newt riding Percival.

He shook his head, thinking of the pain of hell, of burning without relief forever. The sight of the flogger reminded him of how much pain could burn into him and now he trembled at the idea of hell’s fires.

“We must beat this wrongness from you, so that heaven might take your soiled soul.”

Credence nodded his head weakly.

It burned hotter than anything before it. The desire for another man seemed like nothing as the flogger cut into his back. Blood dripped down his skin and Credence could feel the tears, could feel his flesh torn open. There were steel burrs on the tip of each leather piece and they cut deep with each strike.

It was agony to endure, his tears running and his voice hoarse from muffling screams.

“You must not be weak, you must bear this. Be strong Credence, and heaven might have you. Despite your twisted nature, you might find peace.”

Putting his shirt on burned even worse.

Credence had to lean on the hallway as he walked back to the servant quarter. When he stumbled through the kitchen Queenie dropped a jar and it shattered, crimson beets staining the floor again.

“Oh my God,” Queenie breathed, staring at him with wide eyes filling with tears. “Oh God, what happened, who did this, Credence,” when she tried to come near he flinched and she stopped.

“I…I’m going to go lay down, I’m sorry for not finishing my chores,” he croaked and Queen stood rooted in her spot, horror on her face as she nodded weakly, tears running down her face. “I’ll do them for you, straight away,” she whispered.

Credence wasn’t far from the backdoor before he heard Queenie calling for her sister with a frantic voice.

 

He barely made it back to the servant house. He panted for breath as he leaned against the doorframe. He could feel blood soaking his shirt and running down his skin. It was hot and sticky in the heat.

“Credence?” Percival was sitting at the table reading, his book falling to the floor as he struggled to stand.

“What’s wrong?” The man rose up, his bad leg unsteady.

“I’m going to bed,” Credence slurred, wishing the bedroom was right before him rather than across the room. It was midday still but he needed to lay down before he simply fell down.  

When he tried to push away to walk the last bit he stumbled and began to fall to the floor.

Percival caught him.

The man nearly fell with his bad leg but he caught Credence, pressed his chest to his own and carefully wrapped his arms around him. He avoided his back as he half carried, half dragged Credence across the room.

They slumped against the wall together; knocking over tins as Percival dug in Newt’s belongs with one hand. The other held Credence’s weight to him. They slipped down slowly until they were in a heap on the floor together.

“…Bed,” Credence tried to ask and Percival ignored him. A strong hand carded through his hair and it was surprisingly comforting.

“It’s ok now lad, we’ll see to this and then I’ll go find who did this and blow their fucking head off.” He sounded so angry, so enraged on Credence’s behalf.

“I’m sorry, this will hurt,” he whispered and Credence screamed as the shirt was pulled away. The red-hot pain lanced through him.

But then a blissfully numbing cold settled in.

Percival was smearing the cold cream on his back, grabbing heaping handfuls and with a tender hand, coating it over the deepest lashes.

Percival was a filthy sinner destined to hell but his kindness staggered Credence. Tears beyond pain ran down his face. His cheek was mashed into the man’s shoulder and one long powerful arm held his side carefully as Percival worked.

“It’s going to be ok lad. You’re home now, you’re safe. I’ll not let anyone hurt you.” Percival growled it and it rumbled against Credence’s own chest.

He thought it made a bit of sense, how the man has seduced Newt. When he acted so compassionately. It made Credence feel safe.

He welcomed the darkness when it over came his senses. The room twisted around despite Credence not moving and when it faded and slipped away the pain went with it.

 

He woke on his bed settled on his stomach.

His mouth felt slimy and dirty as he blinked his eyes open.

Newt was on a stool beside his bed, staring down at him. His warm long fingers ran through Credence’s hair soothingly.

Credence closed his eyes as a tear fell down his face.

Even a flogging could not save him.

Newt’s hand felt so warm and good. His touch made Credence yearn for more.

“Hello,” Newt said softly. It was daytime, the sunlight coming in from the small window. “How are you feeling?”

“A bit sore,” Credence managed back in jest and Newt chuckled weakly.

“I imagine so, I’ve done all I can. If it aches you must tell me so I can help treat the pain.”

Credence nodded. His back felt nothing, just a haze of heavy numbness.

“Who did this to you?”

Credence looked away.

“Did she do this?” Newt said the word ‘she’ with a strange edge, something about his tone hard in a way Credence hadn’t heard before.

“Credence?”

He looked away, unable to admit the truth. That Credence had seen them and had wanted, that he lusted for Newt and Percival both. That he was filth. The truth trembled on his tongue and Credence clamped his mouth shut to keep it within.

Newt sighed but never stopped stroking his hair gently.

“Just rest then, heal up and get better. Soon we’ll leave this terrible place far behind.”

 

Newt stayed with him for hours, reading books to him and talking about his work. He showed Credence new drawings and mused on records he had made of the land, nearly every tree mapped out.

They talked like they had before Percival arrived, Newt always watching Credence with a warm smile.

More than Newt though, Percival visited him.

The older man was still healing and had hurt his leg, even more, when he helped Credence.

So they would spend the day together. Percival was well educated and he read very well. He would sit with Credence and help him practice. He never grew bored of it either. Newt tried his best but Credence could tell when the man’s mind would wander. Percival was much more attentive and intent on the task. It was important to him that Credence learns and that influence made him work even harder to do well.

Queenie and Tina came to visit him often. They spoke and blushed around Percival still but they did not overlook Credence. They would offer him little sweets they had made and ask how he was feeling.

Modesty and Chastity came by as well. They wore their fine dresses and smiled at Percival but again, the acknowledged Credence. Modesty was too young but Chastity knew exactly what had happened.

When Credence was ten he had stolen cookies from the kitchen and had been caught. The girls of the school had sat in the pews around the chapel as Mary Lou had flogged him for his sin.

Chastity hadn’t been one of them to cry but she had never treated Credence cruelly afterward. The mean tricks and games the girls played on him stopped. When new girls arrived and tried to start them, Chastity had always reported to Mary Lou.

Her eyes were sober and understanding as she looked down at Credence.

Whenever Mary Lou came around Percival was always there. Every single time, the man was in his room, settled like he belonged.

Mary Lou was a stern woman and stoic and forceful but she couldn’t seem to move him. He never left them alone; even let Mary Lou suggest he do so. He stayed like a guard and Credence wanted to resent him for it. But a deep honest part of himself knew he was grateful. Percival was filthy and had made Newt filthy as well but he was protecting Credence from something he feared just as much as sin itself.

Newt was never around when Mary Lou was.

Queenie divulged that they had fought and were at odds. But a look from Percival had made her stop from telling him the whole story.

 

“If I could just find it,” Newt sounded frustrated. Papers rustling on the table. Credence woke slowly; his bedroom door was closed save for a tiny crack. The weak light of the fire stove letting him see just the barest of things in the dark night.

“I know that it’s important, but how long are you willing to wait. It’s been years.”

Newt sighed against and the chair scraped on the floor as he sat down.

“I can’t go without them now, it’s been too long, I’ve tied myself to them, searching as I have.”

The words made no sense.

“But I am worn, I do not think I will last much longer here. That woman…not much longer I fear,” he muttered.

“Hush, don’t think of her. She’s not worth your time now,” Percival’s voice coaxed. He had a nice voice Credence decided. The man was firm and no nonsense but also kind. Despite their sin, Credence thought them good men still.

“Stop that,” Newt said, the chair scrapping again. “I’m trying to focus,” he said but his tone was odd, almost amused but shy.

“Percival,” a chair scrapped and the table bumped.

Credence flushed, Newt’s tone was low now and he could hear them moving about.

He should go to sleep, close his eyes and forget.

Laid out on his stomach as he was, he wasn’t at the right position to see out the door. Reaching out, he felt on top of the small bedside table. There was a small mirror amongst the medical things Newt had laid out.

Gently he picked it up, the scrap sounding loud in the quiet but the men outside didn’t seem to hear. Swallowing, Credence used the mirror to peer through the crack of the door.

Newt was sitting on the table and Percival was between his legs. They were kissing, mouths touching and pressing. Credence sucked in a weak breath and watched them. Percival’s hands ran up and down Newt’s thighs. Fingers moving forward and Newt’s belt coming undone.

Credence observed them as Percival pull the other man’s pants and under clothing down. He undid one of Newt’s boots so he could pull a leg free. When he knelt to remove it, he pressed a kiss to Newt’s bare thigh. The skin was on display as Percival’s fingers ran along it lightly. When he stood back up he leaned in to lick Newt’s neck, his red tongue running up the pale skin. He lapped like an animal would, like Newt’s skin tasted good.

Percival pulled him closer to the edge of the table and Credence saw Newt’s face when the man pushed into him. His face tightened as if he was in pain, but then his features smoothed and he pressed closer. He rubbed his face on Percival’s shoulder and raised an arm around the other man’s neck to hold on.  

A sin to burn in hell for.

But Newt looked like he adored it, his features open and pleased. He rocked his body to meet Percival as the man thrust at him. The table groaned under them as they moved together. A man and a man as a woman and man should be.

Sodomy.

Newt pressed his face into Percival’s neck and Credence couldn’t see anything but his hair. Percival hissed out though, arching his head up and back, eyes closed in a grimace.

“Easy,” he breathed and Newt hummed in reply. He pressed a kiss over a red mark, he had bitten Percival, Credence realized.

They moved faster, building up again and Credence watched as Newt held on to Percival. He lifted a leg and curled it over the man’s hip so he could yank him into the thrusts. His hands clung to Percival’s shirt, twisting the material. Newt leaned back, eyes almost closed as he moved in to kiss Percival roughly. He broke the kiss and licked at his chin, his teeth flashing as he bit at Percival’s jaw.

Red angry marks were on the man’s neck as well, Newt had bitten him hard but they both seemed to enjoy it.

Newt muffled his moans at the other man shoved more feverishly, both of them twisting and jerking together as they reached for that immoral peak.

Credence watched Newt revel in their sin, clearly taking such pleasure in the act.

His cock ached against the bed, trapped between the mattress and his body.

Credence moved silently, rocking back and forth and feeling his cock drag against the material of his nightshirt. He looked in the mirror, watching the men move and he matched the rhythm. He moved in time with them and his shoulders shook as he came against the sheets breathlessly.

The mirror caught the light as he slumped into the bed. Credence saw it cast against the roof and wall in the main room and Percival pulled back, looking towards the crack as Credence fumbled to hide the mirror.

Eyes closed and pretending to be asleep, his heart pounded in his chest, unsure if Percival had seen him.

 

The next day Newt left to check the traps, hoping to find a certain type of rare rabbit. His traps didn’t harm the animals but kept them there so he could document them and then release the beasts. Sometimes Newt did kill the game animals, they needed to eat after all. But it was beginning to become clear to Credence that Newt was doing more than he said he was. There was a hunt under way for something, one that had been going on for years now. Something that kept Newt there.

He left early and Percival dragged the stool into Credence’s room. He sat down in the chair already there and raised his bad leg up on the stool. It was healing well but he still limped heavily and used a crutch to move around.

The older man leaned back in his chair and observed Credence for a moment. His gaze was intent and seemed to ferret out all of Credence’s secrets. If felt more pulling than Mary Lou’s cold look even.

It was clear Percival had seen Credence spying on them.

“What do you know of male love and sodomy?”

Credence’s face burned hot.

“It is a sin, one that condemns to hell.”

Percival snorted, sitting back in his chair.

“A lot of things condemn me to hell. If I swear too much, dishonesty, fucking in general, screwing someone I’m not married to. Those are just the common ones.”

Credence ducked away from the terrible words.

“Do you really think your god would send you to hell for lying a few times in your life?”

“It’s different,” Credence breathed and Percival sat forward, watching him for a long moment.

“I suppose it is.” He finally admitted. “But there are worst things you know. That woman has been muttering lately, about strange things and witchcraft.”

Credence felt something in him go very still.

He turned wide horrified eyes on the man.

“Miss Mary thinks someone is cursing her, she’s been snooping around, trying to go through things, looking for signs of the devil and what not.”

“I…I would never,” Credence stumbled to breathe.

“No, I imagine she beat that out of you rather thoroughly. You’ve power in you but you’ve disconnected from it, hiding away.” Percival sat back in the chair, fingers crossed in his lap as he tipped his head at Credence. “Newt, however, is rather pissed with her for beating you and more than happy to curse and hex her at every turn.”

The bed seemed so twist under him, as if it might topple.

“You can’t say that,” Credence whispered harshly.

“Listen now,” Percival began but Credence cut him off.

“You can’t say that,” he hissed again with more force. Glaring up at the man and struggling to sit up, he ignores his aching back. “If she heard you, if she thought for a moment. She’d call soldiers and have Newt burned. She’d kill him,”

Credence’s shoulders shook as he stared the man down, trying desperately to make him understand that a few words could kill Newt.

“…She has you right terrified,” Percival said after a moment.

“There was a girl. A long time ago. She…was different and Mary Lou…” Credence closed his eyes to block the memory but he could smell the burning and hear the screaming. “Please don’t ever say that again.”

Percival watched him before nodding his head seriously, believing him.

“I suppose most of it will wait until we’re not in this little slice of suppressed hell. But you should know you’re not alone, that there is a world beyond this. Newt fully intends to show you that. You’ll find that the outside world is vastly different. What’s between me and Newt is no sort of sin and what’s hidden within you is not the devil or whatever nonsense.”

Credence didn’t know what to say. He stared at the bed and after a moment carefully lowered himself back down.

“Her God is not your own Credence, you were born to one completely different.”

Percival watched him a moment more before he picked up their current book and began reading. Mowgli the man-cub and his adventures with talking animals were something Mary Lou would have never let them read. But when she did come around the book was switched out for a bible.

For now, Credence listened to the fantastic adventures of the boy, where things like witchcraft and burning people wasn’t a concern.

 

Credence’s back healed under Newt’s attention. The man took good care of Credence, checking his back daily and cleaning it carefully so there was no chance of infection. He spread cream and had Credence sip teas so that he didn’t feel the pain.

Percival spent more time outside the servant quarter. With his leg recovering he began to help in the garden and kitchen. Pulling weeds and peeling potatoes.

The women flocked to help him, wearing their fine dresses in the kitchens and smiling all smitten with him. At least Queenie claimed it was so.

Newt just smiled and said Percival was helping as he could.

Credence slowly left his bed more and more each day.

He sat up in the kitchens and helped prepare dinner. Queenie and Tina fretting over him.

Percival would come in from the garden sweat shined and shirtsleeves rolled up. He looked captivatingly handsome and he offered easy smiles to the women. He would lean in when they spoke and his words had a suggestion to them. He compliments them all and spoke flattery time and again.

It confused Credence terribly.

Why would Percival seem to pursue them when he was already with Newt? Had they decided to end their sinful union?

But when Newt was around Percival acted differently, he didn’t smile at the women as much. Credence could sense something wrong happening.

“What are you doing?” He asked him when Newt was out and they were alone in the servant quarters.

The older man paused glancing at Credence in question.

“With the women, you’re…seducing them but you and Newt…” Credence trailed off uncomfortably.

“Don’t worry about that,” he soothed with an easy smile and Credence frowned after him as he walked away. He still had a limp but he was moving much better. It would be soon when Mary Lou would ask him to leave.

It was odd she had waited this long.

But then it was also clear she was not unmoved by Percival, he spoke praise to her most of all.

Credence wasn’t sure how it would all go. Newt was clearly enamored with Percival but was Percival as ardent? Credence watched the way Newt would smile sweetly over to Percival and the man seemed to return it genuinely. But later on, he would smirk and lean in close to Chastity or Tina.

Credence wasn’t sure what to think.

 

It only took a few weeks for everything to shatter out of control.

Newt returned early and frowned when Percival wasn’t in the rooms with Credence.

“I think he might be in the house,” Credence admitted, feeling terrible for suggesting it but knowing it might be true.

“The house? He had been helping in the kitchens,” Newt mused but he noticed Credence hesitance.

“What’s wrong? Are you sore?” Newt asked as he came over to his side.

“Percival…he’s been acting odd I suppose…with the girls you see.”

Newt peered at him, not understanding at all.

“I think, he might be…flirting with them.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s a misunderstanding is all,” Newt dismissed lightly but they both headed to the main house. Credence could feel something building, a tension in the air that promised bad things.

“Percy? He was just here helping move some furniture,” Queenie offered, peering down the hall. “Tina’s still recovering,” she teased.

“Oh?” Newt sounded perfectly light hearted but Credence could feel the ire coming off of him, like a storm brewing in the distance.  

“Well Percy is a bit of a charmer, isn’t he? He has Tina and poor Chastity right in love with him. Even Mary Lou thinks he’s a ‘fine man’.”

Queenie’s smile faded as she looked at Newt and took in his tense shoulders. “Is everything all right?”

Newt nodded but pushed away from the counter, walking down the hall and looking for Percival. Credence followed him and they both looked up at a thump and giggle from a closed door upstairs.

“I’m sure I’m wrong,” Credence tried to assure as Newt took the stairs two at a time.

He yanked the door open and Credence was behind him. He saw Percival with Chastity, pressed up against her, clearly kissing her.

“Newt,” the man began, pulling away quickly.

“What is going on here,” Mary Lou demanded, coming down the hall with Modesty trailing after her. Men were not allowed on the second floor.

“Chastity,” she admonished when she saw them and the young woman ducked away, fumbling for a shawl to cover her bared shoulders. She was dressed but the dress itself was improper.

“We brought you into our home and you do such a thing,” she accused Percival but the man was ignoring her. He only had eyes for Newt who looked utterly heart broken.

“Let me explain, I didn’t mean anything, I was only trying to help.” The words don’t make sense to any of them.

“Help? By putting your hands on that poor girl, by sullying her?” Newt’s voice was cold and his face twisted in repulsion that looked wrong on his soft features.

“You have a poor idea of helping Mister Graves.”

“I think it’s time for you to leave,” Mary Lou announced and Newt nodded in agreement.

“You’re well enough, please leave.”

“Newton,” Percival hissed, he reached for him trying to get a hold of the other man. Newt quickly pulled from his grasp.

“Don’t touch me, you…you need to leave,” Newt sounded hurt but with an underlining anger. “Get out Percival Graves. I cast you out.”

“Listen to me, I can explain.”

“Leave,” Newt growled and he shoved the other man when Percival tried to take hold of him again. Percival stumbled and his bad leg gave out. He was right in front of the wood stairs to the main floor and until that moment nothing seemed dangerous.

Credence could feel the distress rushing up his body, his limbs jerking to move and try to grab the man. But no one was close enough. It felt strange, a second in time paused as Percival fell back down the stairs. But in an instant, the man was falling down and Credence was scrambling after him, trying to stop his fall.

Newt remained at the top of the staircase as Credence fumbled to the bottom where Percival laid in a heap. He wasn’t conscious, but he was breathing still.

Chastity began to scream and Mary Lou rushed down the stairs to look over Percival. Modesty ran to the edge to look down at them and Newt stood at the top. His face was so strangely cold as he glared at the man crumpled on the floor.

“He’s hurt,” Credence called up, Percival’s leg was twisted horribly, bone sticking out.

“Come help,” Mary Lou commanded but Newt turned and walked away.

Credence stared after him, seeing the rain pelting the windows and the thunder rocking the house. Newt had never been so harsh before, always giving and kind. Percival had just been unfaithful but Newt had never seemed like the kind to react as he was.

“Credence,” Mary Lou said and his attention snapped back to her.

The bone was pushing through the skin and the jagged slash had reopened in a few places. Credence was glad the man wasn’t awake because the pain would be terrible.

Both Queenie and Chastity were too nauseated by the sight of the injury to help. Tina and Credence got the unconscious man up onto the kitchen table to inspect the damage properly.

“We need Newton,” Tina hedged but Mary Lou shook her head.

“I know enough, this leg cannot be saved.”

Dread filled their faces.

“Modesty, go get the saw from the tool shed.”

For a moment, everyone stood frozen.

“I’ll get it,” Credence stumbled out, nearly tripping as he rushed to the back door.

Newt was outside now, uncaring of the rain pelting his skin. The storm was unnatural, the clouds rushing in the sky as the thunder roared over and over. The wind hurt Credence’s face, it whipped in the air so hard.

“Newt, please, Mary Lou wants to cut his leg off.”

Newt stared over the garden, his hands closing into fists.

“Please, I…I’m scared,” Credence confessed, desperately wanting Newt to look at him. For this cruel man to fade away and for the good Newt to return.

Newt glanced at him and after a moment his gaze lost its hard edge. His shoulders slumped and the wind died down.

“Alright,” he breathed and Credence nodded, realizing he was crying as he wiped his face quickly with trembling hands and led Newt back to the house.

Newt surprised him when he agreed with Mary Lou. He frowned at the break and examined the leg. Feeling Percival’s thigh and down to his knee. The bone was snapped just under it.

“It’s good in a sense, the joint will be fine. But the rest of the leg cannot be saved. There’s too much damage,” Newt explained.

Mary Lou nodded and the saw was fetched. Feeling queasy, Credence helped hold Percival down as Newt tied his leg off with a belt and began sawing through. They held special vapors under Percival’s nose to keep him unconscious.

Queenie, Modesty, and Chastity all left the room.

Mary Lou and Tina were both pale, Mary Lou grim and Tina’s face pained for Percival. Newt remained unmoved, focused as he removed the leg. He sawed back and forth, through skin, muscle, and bone. The wet sound of it was nauseating.

There was so much blood.

More than the first injury or Credence’s flogging. The blood spilled everywhere on the table, dripping on the floor. Newt’s hands were caked in it, his shirt stained. It poured like a stream, seeming unending.

Newt worked to stem the bleeding and stop the worst of it.

Credence watched and could feel it dripping on his hand but each time he checked there was none.

Once the surgery was done, they carried Percival into a small back bedroom. It was intended for servants who lived in the main house. Tina and Queenie had rooms along side it.

Percival was settled into the bed and Newt didn’t linger as he went back to the kitchen and began cleaning.

“Will he be ok?” Tina asked, still pale as she helped Newt wipe up the bloody mess. The mangled leg was wrapped in a sheet with the blood soaked towels. Credence avoided looking where it was as he filled a bucket with water to scrub the table and floor.

“He might. If he takes to fever then he’ll likely die. Infection as well. Time will tell.” Newt was still so strangely composed, his voice somewhere between cheerful and neutral. There was no shock or dismay, no worry or pity.

Tina watched him with open worry and Mary Lou observed him with her own curiosity.

 

Credence was changing the bandage when Percival woke a week later.

Newt would only offer the bare minimum of help for the man. He didn’t make teas for pain or creams to help heal. Instead, Credence used the medical supplies from the house to try and treat the man. Mary Lou watched over him silently, taking in Credence’s new medical knowledge.

The main house had larger windows, even in the servant rooms. So the midday sun lit the room up brightly letting him work easily.

It was one of the rare moments when Mary Lou wasn’t at his back watching.

Percival woke with a terrible noise, body shuddering. His hand clutched his thigh and he took a shaky breath before he even opened his eyes.

Credence watched the man’s gaze fly down to his missing limb.

“Fucking bastard,” he breathed, but strangely, didn’t seem overly outraged. More like someone had played a mean trick on him.

“He cut off my leg,” Percival muttered, staring down at the knee that came to abrupt end. “That bastard cut my fucking leg off.”

“It was mangled badly,” Credence offered. “Mary Lou agreed it couldn’t be saved.”

The older man’s lip pulled taunt and then twitched upward.

Feeling utterly unsure what to do, Credence watched Percival break into laughter. It rose up loudly until his head was thrown back and he dragged in heaving breaths.

“I offended him and chopped my leg off. They’re certainly are a different sort across the ocean. So much more pure and close to true nature.”

Credence fidgeted on the stool.

“It couldn’t be saved,” he repeated weakly.

“One day,” Percival said, lolling his head on the pillow to look at Credence. “One day you’ll find yourself a mate and you’ll be no better. It’s his nature to be vicious and violent. I’m lucky I still have a cock I suppose. Choosing to chase after such a wild one like him.”

Credence stared at him, wondering if Percival was fevered and thus talking gibberish.

“We all feel that pull to the earth, that feral thing. The more powerful feel it stronger. Newt can wear a meek face but there is a beast lurking under his skin. I’d never thought to find someone like him.” He said it with a fond smile, like it was a good thing.

“We’re rare these days,” Percival looked back at Credence. “Most are like you, not even knowing what you are truly and letting humans own you like a pet.”

The words made Credence’s heart pound. Such a terrible and exhilarating idea.

Not to be human.

“Where’s Newt?”

“…Out doing his walks, he’s been busy.”

“Hasn’t come by once has he?” Percival chuckled, like it was fine.

Credence felt bad but didn’t lie to the man.

“Again, I should be grateful he let me live. Mistaken as he was, thinking I was unfaithful. You’ll talk to him for me, tell him something?”

Newt and Credence still shared the servant quarters; while Newt avoided Percival he was still warm and kind to Credence. They spoke every night about his work and plans for the future, as if Percival had never come into their lives. His behavior about Percival had made Tina and Queenie weary of him. Mary Lou was still at odds with Newt but almost…approving that he was enraged that Percival had touched Chastity. But then, she truly had no idea what the two men had done together. That Newt was a lover wronged.

“Will you?” Percival asked again when Credence didn’t reply.

He nodded his head, willing to help make peace if he could. He did think Percival was sincere in his bizarre babble.

“Tell him, he misunderstood. I was only trying to learn more. About what he’s looking for. I don’t think it’s in the woods anymore. Since you told me about the girl from before that burned, I’ve suspected it.”

The words were strange and shouldn’t make any sort of sense but Credence could feel his gut turn. Newt had mentioned wanting to find something but he never clarified it over the years. Credence could see in his mind’s eye, the strange stones in the chapel cabinet.

The girl Mary Lou had burned alive had brought them to the house. It was what Mary Lou had found and used as proof to kill her.

“What he’s seeking is in this house, I’m sure of that much. Chastity confirmed it. Will you tell him that?”

Credence nodded weakly.

“Ask him to visit me, I am sorry for making him think I was anything less than dedicated. I’ve no interest in a country girl, in any girl, I’ve only eyes for him. We’re meant to be.”

It was peculiar and strange.

Percival was sure Newt had intentionally taken his leg and yet he was still trying to make amends with him. Credence wasn’t sure what to think about it all. He tried not to let his mind linger on the stones in the chapel and that night when Newt stood in the storm, seeming a force of nature itself.

It was clear Newt was not ordinary and that Percival knew that and might be the same.

Credence was scared of the idea.

He was terrified of witches and being burned alive. Of that abysmal thing inside him, he had spent his whole life fighting, suppressing down into nothing. Mary Lou knew it was in him and she had decided she could cure him. That she was strong enough to chase out the evil in him. For all the pain and the beatings she gave him, Credence knew it never faded, that it never would.

He was different.

Newt and Percival were different as well.

Credence was scared of it, scared of how desperately he wanted it to be real. That Newt was like him and would take him away from Mary Lou.

That Newt would teach him about magic.

The very thought made him cringe, the devil whispering in his ear to taint him. But it was there in his chest, pounding as strong as his heart. Credence could ignore it but it was there.

The idea of magic and occult things, sorcery and omens, spells and sacrifices.

Witchcraft led to impurity and debauchery.

It made him think of Percival rutting into Newt on the table and Newt riding Percival in the bed. It was lewd and wicked and Credence wanted it so badly.

So he told Newt Percival’s message. He spoke it word for word and the other man looked unsure, frowning into his teacup.

“Do you think he was honest?”

Credence wasn’t ready for such a question, to have someone want his opinion. Newt had asked him things before but this was more, this meant an abundant deal to him. It wasn’t Credence repeating something he was taught. It was his own thoughts on something that would have a great impact.

“I…I think so. He never seemed interested in the women before, it was only after I told him about… the girl that burned. Then he took an interest. He flirted with everyone, not just Chastity.”

“I wonder if that’s a good sign or a poor one,” Newt mused with a frown. He finished his tea and set his empty cup down and stood up. Credence watched him go to their small cupboards and fetching a thick salve he had made for Credence’s back. Obediently, he began stripping down so Newt could treat him. His back was still uncomfortably tight but there was no true discomfort.

“Percival would appreciate your salve I think,” Credence pointed out carefully and Newt made a thoughtful reply.

“The world can be dangerous Credence, surely you know that?”

He nodded, watching as Newt went behind and feeling the gentle touch of his hand smearing the salve.

“You have to be careful who you trust. More so for people like us.”

His heart began to pound at the words, Newt had never said such a thing, never suggested it before.

Credence could see him in the storm, the rain pouring down and thunder deafeningly loud.

“I think I rushed a bit with Percival. But he was so handsome and charming. I think I felt a connection and followed it a bit blindly. I should be careful, should hold back more. But it’s rare to meet others like us, to feel the potential for bonds.”

Not knowing what to say, Credence waited as Newt tended to his injuries.

“The problem is, I don’t think I want too, be careful that is.” Newt sighed like it was a troublesome thing. “But in acting rashly, I endanger myself. It’s only been my brother and me for so long. Now you are here and Percival would make four.”

Newt paused and smiled.

“A good strong number. Many things come in fours. The seasons come in four cycles and the very elements of nature. But in my eagerness, I might be endangering us all terribly.”

“I don’t think Percival means you harm,” Credence confessed, thinking of the day the man fell. “When you saw him with Chastity he was more upset than I’ve ever seen him, he wanted to explain to you. I don’t think he would have wanted that if he didn’t care, he doesn’t seem like the sort of man to do things just for show.”

Newt hummed in agreement, working carefully, his hands soothing on Credence’s numb back.

It needed time to dry so Credence sat at the small table, watching Newt clean his hands off.

“Take a look in my tea cup will you?”

Credence blinked but reached out for the cup across the table. The bits of loose tea was at the bottom of the delicate porcelain.

“Does it look like anything?”

Newt asked like it was nothing, a common question, but Credence stiffened.

Such games were deadly, looking for signs in things, looking for the devil by divination.

Credence swallowed and tipped the cup, staring at the bits of dark crushed leaves in the cup.

“There’s nothing there,” he finally answered. Not sure if he was relieved or not.

Newt set down the rag he was drying his hand with and came over, looking down at Credence seated at the table. Reaching out, he tipped Credence’s chin up and without warning he leaned down and kissed him.

It felt a bit like turning his face up towards the sun, bright, almost too bright.

“What’s in the cup Credence?”

Dazed, he glanced down again.

“A dog. No. It’s a wolf.”

Newt smiled slowly, looking up at nothing. “A wolf. They mate for life,” he cheered brightly.

“You kissed me,” Credence croaked and Newt smiled down at him.

“I did, but was it what you expected?”

“Yes. No,” Credence fumbled his face heating up. He had always wondered, had always thought it would make him desperate. Like when Newt and Percival kissed so hungrily. It was good, warm and good but he wasn’t lustful, his cock wasn’t hard.

“We’re a pair me and you, but I don’t think we’d do well as mates I’m afraid. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

Credence’s heart threatened to burst from his chest. Newt said it so easily, like it was a fact and he was certain.

“I…I think I love you too,” he breathed weakly. No one had ever said such a thing to him before, no one had ever wanted him around, had smiled and been happy to see him.

Of course Credence loved Newt.

Newt pressed a kiss to his brow, another warm spark behind Credence’s eyelids.

“We’re together now and I’ll always be here to help you, we’re brothers now, you and I.”

Brothers.

Family.

It was such a strange idea.

Memories of the parents picking up their daughters came to him, the happy smiles and embraces to greet one another. Tina and Queenie, pressed close and leaning on one another, an utter trust between them.

Credence didn’t know what a family was supposed to feel like.

He did know he loved Newt, but didn’t precisely lust him. He lusted what Newt did with Percival, he lusted his looks at times, and his freedom. Credence looked at the man’s hands, long and elegant, the hands of someone educated. There were also callused though, from his years of hands on labor. Newt was smart and educated but capable and a hard worker.

He was everything Credence hoped he could be one day. If he dared to dream such things.

“I’m going to go check on Percival,” Newt decided, packing up loose herbs and tins of salves and creams.

Credence watched him go, unsure what was happening around him. For all the uncertainty and fear of hellfire, there was a hope blooming as well. More than a hope or a dream even.

A plan.

A future that could be his.

 

Newt began to visit Percival again, there was no anger between them, they smiled just as they did before.

Chastity and Modesty were forbidden from visiting him. Queenie and Tina also kept to themselves a bit, sensing something was off between the two men.

With how they smiled and talked for hours, it wasn’t long before Mary Lou picked up on the oddity.

“Did they spend much time together before?” She asked Credence, coming around while Newt visited Percival.

“They did,” Credence answered nervously. “They talked a great deal, both of them educated. I didn’t understand much of it. About traveling and business and the like.”

The woman scowled at the wall, her mind turning over some thought.

“Newton had been very useful these past years, helping out as he has.”

Credence nodded.

“Mister Graves has spoken about both of them leaving soon, traveling to New York and possibly London.”

Again, he nodded.

“I’m worried,” she announced. “Mister Scamander is a good devout man,” she looked up to the cross hanging over the door. “He believes in the good in everyone, forgives quickly.”

“Jesus’ teachings,” Credence dared to mumble and Mary Lou looked sharply at him.

“Yes, the teachings of the son, but the father must be observed a well. There is evil all around us and we must rise above it. I believe Mister Graves has turned his perversions from Chastity on to Newton. I fear for his soul.”

Credence glanced up at her, unsure what she wanted him to say. He watched her wring her hands. They were thin and bony, fingers curled slightly. They had only grown worse over time. Newt had suspected she might have a bone illness. Her back and feet had begun to hurt her as well.

Still, no salve or cream was offered to ease her aches.

“When we took in that man, we may have let a devil into our home.”

Her gaze turned on Credence again, like a lash on his skin.

“Have you seen anything unnatural Credence, any sort of strange things about him?”

He shook his head.

“Lies lead to depravity Credence.”

He shook his head again.

“There was nothing, he just slept mostly. I never saw anything unnatural.”

Before Mary Lou could press him more, the door creaked and Newt came in their quarters.

“Evening,” he tipped his head towards Mary Lou and offered Credence a quick smile.

“I do believe dinner will be served in the main house soon,” he told her politely.

“I wanted to speak with you,” she announced and Newt’s shoulders hunched with tension.

“I do believe we agreed that civil talk was the best we could keep between us,” he reminded her and Credence hadn’t heard about this. He only knew Newt had been upset when Mary Lou had flogged him.

“You do not understand, few do. Credence needed to be punished, he needed to be cleansed through suffering.”

Credence could see Newt shuffling things on the table to prepare tea. His fingers gripped the kettle with a white-knuckle grip.

“We must disagree, I do not believe in beating an innocent human being like that. Peace is the way.”

The words were clearly said before, the two at odd with one another. Mary Lou frowned at Newt’s back and he faced away from her, preparing his tea. Settling the kettle on the fire stove. It was lit and burning although it had not been moments before.

Mary Lou did not seem to notice it.

When she looked at Newt, she only ever saw what he wanted her too. He was a devout good man to her, someone to be trusted, and someone humble and demure. None of it was true really; Newt was more like a wild animal than a man. The way he had lashed out so viciously at Percival, the way he loved to wander the woods, to have his hands in the earth. He was more a creature of nature than anything proper Credence realized.

Like a great regal animal in the woods, minding its own business and fine to be left alone. But quick to turn dangerous and deadly when threatened.

“Mister Graves will be leaving soon, I’ve decided to send Credence with a letter tomorrow. Soldiers will come and collect him.”

Newt frowned.

“Confederate soldiers will kill him.”

Mary Lou nodded, seeming at peace with the idea.

“He chose the wrong side and must answer for it. I should never have let him stay here, to begin with. I let mercy blind me and for it, Chastity was almost ruined.”

“You take him in, only to kill him?”

“I’ll not have my household undone. Mister Graves has brought upheaval and danger to us all.”

Newt frowned but oddly didn’t protest, watching the woman in front of them.

Mary Lou grew a touch awkward standing there as she was, with Newt sipping his tea and not speaking.

“First thing in the morning Credence,” she instructed.

He nodded his head weakly and watched her go.

“…You’ll not let her hurt him will you?”

Newt shook his head.

“Don’t worry on it, Percival will be fine,” he reassured without any doubt about him.

Credence believed him before he did Mary Lou.

 

Come morning, Newt slipped two letters into Credence’s hands.

“Get rid of what she gives you and deliver this one.” It looked exactly like her letters, with her school seal on the corner and her name written in her hand.

“Drop this one off at the post,” he added, offering a smaller letter folded and marked for London.

Credence took them both and headed into the house.

“I know you might think this harsh, but it’s for the best,” Mary Lou told him. She offered him a letter, a seemingly exact copy of what Newt had given him.

 

Credence delivered the letters.

He walked along the roads and into the almost abandoned town. Only the soldiers coming through with supplies kept it going, most shops closed down. But the post remained and so Credence sent Newt’s letter off for him. While he was there he tore up Mary Lou’s letter.

He took the second to the soldier’s outpost and stood to the side as the man read the letter.

“We’ll have someone come by next week,” the man told Credence and he nodded before leaving. He had no real idea what Newt had written on the letter but he was sure that when soldiers came it would not be for Percival.

 

“What did they tell you?” Mary Lou met him at the door and he looked up at her. She had never met him like this before and her gaze was narrow and fixed on him.

“They said someone will come by next week.”

She nodded her head and walked into the house without a word.

 

There was nothing to fear but Credence was still troubled. The hair on his neck rose when he was near Mary Lou. The woman walked about with a small satisfied smile on her face. She kept Chastity and Modesty locked away in the higher rooms. She did not visit Newt or Percival again.

It was the fact that she did not visit Newt that made him uneasy.

She had thought to save the man before but now she didn’t spare him a glance.

Credence could feel something was wrong, but everywhere he looked he could find no danger. Mary Lou went about her days as she normally did. The sun rose and set each day and they carried on.

Newt tended to Percival most of the day, helping him heal and adjust to his lost limb. It was clear there was affection between them, they made no real effort to hide it anymore. It seemed almost like it was consuming them both.

Percival moved back into the servant quarters with them.

Newt would climb into the tiny bed with the other man, their limbs intertwined as the slept.

“Try some of this,” Newt offered, tapping a fine ground herb over the porridge and Percival mixed it in before sampling it.

“Delicious, you have a great talent with your plants,” he complimented and Newt smiled at him fondly.

“I’m better with creatures, there isn’t much left in this area though. The war scattered most of them. You’ll see later though. I find working with them rewarding,” he explained and Percival nodded, looking up at Newt with doting eyes.

“I don’t doubt you, I imagine you could coax a lion tame.”

Newt laughed lightly, amused as he took his spot at the table and poured thick honey into his porridge.

“Now why you I want to tame such a fantastic beast?” He teased, tone warm and a touch sly.

Percival smirked at him, something hungry passing through them.

 

They were both so sure and Credence wanted to feel that way as well. But the disquiet remained settled on his skin, tricking along his healing back. Mary Lou was capable of terrible things.

 

“I would like to have a dinner tomorrow.”

Credence looked up from the kitchen table where he was cutting potatoes for Queenie and Tina. Both women were working to have dinner ready to be served.

“With everyone, all of us together, before Mister Graves leaves.”

Mary Lou had not told them she had called for the soldiers to come and kill the man. Only that he would be leaving.

“Oh, that would be nice,” Queenie offered with a smile.

Credence focused on his potatoes.

‘I think she’s going to do something,’ he wanted to say. But Newt and Percival were so calm about everything. Credence felt as if his fears were foolish and merely ghosts of his past scaring him.

Queenie and Tina seemed excited to share a dinner and worked hard to prepare it. It would be wrong to ruin it with his weakness.

The summer heat was beginning to fade into fall, the night sky coming sooner each night. Credence looked up at the moon and felt uncomfortable in his dinner suit. It didn’t quite fit him anymore but he had nothing else.

Tina and Queenie wore their best as well, Newt in his nice shirt and vest, Percival in his military coat of all things. Mary Lou, Chastity, and Modesty were all dressed up to the nines. The looked like royalty among the lower class. Credence could see that it pleased Mary Lou how much finer they were but she said nothing about it.

Dinner was laid out and it looked truly fine, Queenie and Tina having done a splendid job. Mary Lou had allowed them to butcher a chicken even and it sat in the center.

“This is a fine meal and I’m gracious to be a part of it,” Percival told them, his gaze on Mary Lou. A challenge was between them, back and forth as everyone else pretended not to see it. She no longer seemed besotted with the man, her smile cold.

Mary Lou had to know that Newt would tell Percival about the coming soldiers but she seemed serene and at ease.

It made Credence want to jump up and scream. To toss the good food on the floor and to grab and shake her hard. To demand to know what she was planning on doing to them.

Credence had never wished ill on Mary Lou before. She had been trying to help in her twisted way. But now it was different. It wasn’t Credence she was watching raptly, it was Newt. Seeing it from the outside, Credence could see clearly for the first time.

Mary Lou wasn’t trying to help them.

She was trying to control them.

While she had always been strict, Credence had never realized the extent to which it went. The woman wanted to be in charge of everything. The idea that Percival was taking Newt without her permission angered her.

Enough so that she would stop him.

Credence knew she wouldn’t merely sit back and watching them go. If she had any inkling that Credence was planning on leaving with Newt she would chain him up to keep him.

She would never willingly give up power.

 

Chastity wore a strange smile, her eyes darting to Modesty and Mary Lou. A secret shared between them.

Dread clawed at his throat, threatening to choke him.

“Credence,” Newt called to him softly across the table.

He realized he was shaking, his fork trembling in his grip.

“Something is wrong,” he breathed, certain of it as he was that it was night outside. Certain of it to his very bones. “Something is wrong.”

Newt frowned, worry flicking in his gaze for the first time.

That was when Percival first gasped.

A cut off, too fast thing.

His hand reached for his throat and Newt sat up quickly. Percival’s fork clattered to his plate and Credence realized it was different from the rest. It wasn’t polished clean like the rest. Credence had always cleaned the silverware before dinners but this time he hadn’t done so. Modesty had cleaned them and Chastity had seated them, had placed Percival in the spot he toppled from now.

“What’s wrong?” Newt questioned with rising fear and Percival clawed at his throat again, fingers digging into his skin.

“Percival,” Newt grasped at him frantically now, falling to the floor with him as he struggled to help.

“What’s wrong, what’s happening?” Newt sounded hysterical as the other man continued to gasp for air he couldn’t seem to get.

Credence looked over to Mary Lou.

She sat so serenely, her eyes smug in a terrifying way. Chastity and Modesty looked less sure but they knew.

They knew.

“He’s been poisoned,” Credence hissed, pushing his chair back and trying to help in some way. Newt forced Percival onto his back, struggling to clear his airway as the man gave gasping breaths. Horrid little things cut off and backed with a boundless desperation.

Percival’s frantic gaze met Newt’s and he watched the man as his mouth turned blue.

The clock over the mantle shattered.

“No, oh no. It’s ok, it’s ok dear, let me help you,” Newt babbled, curling an arm around Percival’s head and cradling the man close.

“It will be ok.”

Credence could see the life fading from the man, his legs stopped jerking and the hand gripping Newt’s arm slid down slowly.

The tiny choked wheezes slowed.

And then stopped.

“It will be ok,” Newt insisted and a great boom of thunder shook the entire house.

Everyone startled as the clear night slammed into a sudden storm. Credence turned his head from the window to Mary Lou, who was watching him intently. The fire place suddenly roared with a great blazing fire that hadn’t been there before and Modesty cried out in fear.

“Credence, come with me,” Mary Lou commanded.

He wanted to smash her face into the table, to damage her in a way that would never heal.

Not for the pain she had forced on him all his life, not for the beatings and the scorn. But for this moment now, for Newt’s frenzied tears and rising sobs as he clutched at the dead man in his arms.

“Credence,” she snapped and as she walked towards him his gaze caught on the chain around her neck.

The key to the chapel cabinet.

Credence followed her, glancing back at Tina and the woman heard his silent plea as she dropped beside Newt and tried to comfort him. All of them looked afraid, watching the unnatural fire.

But it was clear they thought it was Credence doing it.

 

They walked down the dark halls, Mary Lou carrying a candle stand to light the way. The shadows followed them, twisting on the walls. They formed bodies, figures that burned and writhed on the walls just as the girl Mary Lou had burned alive.

“I know this is hard for you, but you must be strong. Faith will guide you,” she sounded so certain. As if there was no way her words were not right. Perhaps that was why Credence had followed her for so long. Had believed in her poison.

Heat burned under his skin, a fire was in his chest.

The chapel was lit already, candles placed along the alter. The cross gleamed like some sacred thing but Credence only speculated when she had lit the candles. Had she done so before dinner thinking about how she would soon kill a man.

The flames flickered and burned higher, wax dripping down the holders too fast to be normal.

“When I sent my letter I wanted to trust you, but I knew I had to be careful. The devil temps Credence. He seduces. So I added a question in the letter and when you returned and did not answer it, I knew you had betrayed me.”

She kept her back to him, unseeing of the black things at the door, their fingers clawing at the doorframe and leaving black charcoal marks. The heaped together, limbs twisting grotesquely as they began to become a single body.

A crack of thunder shook the house again, louder and harder this time. The anger was there now, a rage that could not be ignored. Lightening flashed and the entire room burned white for an instant.

“You killed him, you took a life. You’re going to burn in hell,” he told her, feeling a strange stillness within him. The woman whirled so fast, twisting to strike him hard across the face.

Just as hard as she had when he was a boy.

“You don’t know anything about God you filthy unnatural thing. I know what you’ve been doing; I know that the devil corrupted you. You let him rut you didn’t you, let the man climb on you. You would both drag poor Newton down with you as well.” Her voice was almost hysterical as she spoke. Her eyes alight with a strange glee.

“I stopped him and I will stop you. Newton is mine, he belongs in my home.”

She turned back to her cross, to her God who would damn Credence simply for existing.

“Kneel Credence, we must cleanse you, we must force this evil out. We must try,” she explained, pulling her key from her neck and kneeling to open the cabinet.

“If we cannot Credence then the fires will come from you.”

The little girl’s charred body screamed in the doorway, an unholy shrieking sound. Mary Lou twisted to see it behind Credence finally, her stoic and self-righteous face twisting with fright for the first time.

“You want to own everything, to be right all the time. But you’re wrong,” he told her, his voice sounded odd to him. Strong and sure when usually it was meek and broken.

“You’re a murder that killed and beat children and only hell waits for you. Newt loves Percival and embraces him willingly, he always despised you.”

Credence stepped towards her and she scrambled to get away from him, rushing to the one side and grasping a wood cross from the wall.

“Stay away you monster, the Devil’s child, Satan’s seed,” she screamed at him and Credence spared her a dark look. He wanted to punish her, wanted to see her in pain. She should have to answer for all she had done.

But the stones in the cabinet caught his eye.

Punishing Mary Lou was important and threatened to consume him, but when he looked at the stones he felt them pull.

Newt wanted them, had been looking for them for years.

Two small flat and disk shaped stones, with symbols worn into them. The marks had to be carved but the looked natural somehow, as if they had always existed within the stone.

Credence picked them up and felt their warmth, a comforting hum not unlike Newt. They reminded him of the man’s soft kiss.

Credence lifted one to his mouth and when his lips brushed the warm stone he felt that same good feeling deep inside him. It calmed his rage and he realized the stones had a strength of their own. That they might help somehow.

The house trembled, a picture in the hall shattering as the thunder roared down on them and the windows groaned under the force of the rain and wind.

“It’s not me you’ll answer too,” Credence said without looking over at Mary Lou.

“Newt will deal with you, his anger is what plagues you, your broken fingers and aching spine, your dreams of wolves hunting you down and devouring you, the blood on your mouth in the mornings.”

Credence didn’t know how he knew such things, but the words sprang to his lips and as they fell he knew they were true.

“Newt will kill you. And then your hell will be waiting.”

The burned girl writhed and clawed at the doorway, the only way out of the chapel. Her body was like smoke and her eyes an empty white.

She was a part of Credence he comprehended slowly as he watched her.

An embodiment of all the fear and pain Mary Lou had brought upon him. Every lash of the belt and strike of the flogger. Credence could see her broken mangled fingers and her back oozing black blood. Her body a burned out corpse with the embers still red hot under her skin. Ever burning, ever screaming. His deepest terror alive and breathing.

She was the fear that had held him all his life, made real.

But when his fear stood before him, Credence faced it down. The more he looked at her the less horrifying she was to him. As if having her there before him meant she was no longer inside him. No longer holding him down, no longer suppressing him.

He walked passed her and she didn’t look at him.

He realized she never had.

Credence wasn’t the one she was watching.

Mary Lou prayed frantically in the corner, crouched against the wall with a cross pointed out at them. She was staring at the girl with such open horror.

Let her feel it, let her experience all she had forced on him all his life, he thought as he turned away and left her. A part of him was suddenly cracking open, a dark shroud always over his eyes being snatched away for the first time. Left behind with the woman screaming on the floor.

 

Credence walked down the halls, the house shaking down to its foundations. Pictures fell to the floor and tables fell over, things smashing all over the house.

Chastity and Modesty pressed against the wall in the dinning room, faces hidden in their arms as they cried.

Tina and Queenie were in a corner together, holding one another tightly.

The windows of the dinning room were shattered, the curtains dancing furiously as the rain splattered on the broken glass all over the floor.

Newt was still holding Percival, tears running down his face.

His eyes were a strange white, empty of color. They seemed like they should be sightless but Credence knew they saw far more then any normal eyes could.

Credence knelt before him and offered the stones.

They felt vital.

Newt blinked at them, the wind wiping his hair around his face.

“Will you help me?” He rasped, his voice almost lost among the anger of the wind.

Credence nodded. He wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it, but if he could help his brother, he would. Newt took one stone and left the other in his palm. It made sense. They felt like the land, like the fields and the forest that Credence had grown up in. They were a part of his home and they were his right even before Newt. But Credence felt no greed over them. He would share willingly. A family was far more important to him than any sort of power.

 

Credence woke slowly.

The sunlight shone on his face and the birds sang happily in the trees.

He shifted and felt the earth under him, the grass of the field tickling his cheek and neck.

Credence blinked open his eyes, feeling as if he had worked a long hard week without rest. He rolled onto his back and the morning sky greeted him. Rabbits and mice were curled to his sides smug and content. The scent of the rain clung to the air and the gentle wind carried a cold touch.

Credence huffed and he could see his breath in the morning cold.

But he could feel the fire inside him. The little girl was gone now and something new in her place, something bright and hot. But it burned in a warm way. It felt good and comforting for the first time.

When he lifted a hand and touched his chest, he could feel the stone there, deep inside him now. His forever just like the other one was Newt’s now. Long ago, when people were still new, they had put the stones in the earth. Had buried them all across the world. Each stone had slowly gained power, drawing from the earth around them. Newt had come to find the ones in this forest. They had called him from over the sea, a perfect harmonization. Some people traveled the world to find the stone that called them Newt explained. Others never felt the pull, it was rare and a blessing. Credence had grown up with them, not realizing they were there. They had fed him power and he had fed them in return, a circle that wouldn’t break. They were bound together and Newt had lived on the land for years, bonding with them as well.

Now they carried them in their chests, they could go where ever they wished and the land would go with them.

Sitting up hurt a bit, his body aching. The rabbits at his side left, the mice scurrying off as well.

The field was quiet and calm. Along the forest a deer was eating, the sunlight’s rays dancing along its fur.

It looked lovely.

When he rubbed his face to chase away the last of sleep, he noticed his hands. They were smeared red, dried blood flaking off his skin. On the backs of his hands, pretty symbols were drawn in blood and ash. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal his skin and the marks were up along his forearms. His shirt hung open as well, blood and ash painted over his chest.

He recalled flashes of Newt painting them with his elegant fingers, the fire blazing hot but not burning them as the rain pelted down on their skin but didn’t hurt or dose the fire.

Credence looked up and across the field, eyes searching until he found them.

Under a great old tree, Newt was curled around Percival. They embraced like lovers should and it looked right. The notions of wrong had faded now, Credence refused to let it have a hold on him any longer.

He stood up and left the field, minding the grass smeared with blood and the symbols drawn into the earth. His bare feet felt the dirt and grass, a pleasant sensation.

Newt had told him what the symbols meant but Credence couldn’t recall. But like when he learned to read, he knew with time he would absorb them. Newt and Percival would teach him in time.

As he approached, Credence could hear Newt whispering softly, teasing words. Percival chuckled softly and replied in kind. Newt was astride Percival who lay out under him willingly.

The moved sensually, rocking together as Percival’s cock buried into Newt over and over. Newt tipped his head up to the sky, his pale neck stretching. He was facing Credence this time and he could see the pleasure on the man’s face. His neck was marred with purple bruises and teeth marks, blood still lazily seeping from some of them.

Percival was worse off, his one shoulder such a mess; skin torn with how hard Newt had bitten him. An animal’s mating, feral and ferocious.

It seemed like the opposite of the moment now, the two of them lovingly moving as Newt moaned out and Percival lifted his hips up. He pushed as high as he could as he groaned and they both shivered together as they spilled.

Newt leaned down to kiss Percival breathlessly, panting a bit as he smiled sweetly. Sweat ran down his chest, smearing the dirt, blood, and ash.

Neither of them wore clothing, the symbols painted on them as they were Credence. He stumbled closer to them as Newt slid off Percival’s lap and slumped against his side. Percival laid out on his back stretched out and Newt was facing him, tucked under his arm contently. Credence minded Percival’s feet as he knelt on Newt’s other side. The new foot looked exactly like the other, as if it had always been there.

Credence laid down and rested his head on Newt’s bare hip with a sigh. There was nothing sexual about it anymore, no want for the man left in him, only comfort in the touch of his brother.

The man chuckled and his long fingers ran through Credence’s hair in a warm greeting.

“How do you feel?” Newt asked softly.

“Tired,” Credence replied and Percival snorted.

“Exhausted, utterly to the bone weary is more like it.”

“Hush, Credence isn’t a complainer like you,” Newt teased affectionately. The two men baiting one another again and Credence could feel Newt shift to lean up and kiss Percival again.

After Percival had woken up, he had pinned Newt in the dirt and ravished him.

Not like the soft sort just now, not kisses and sweet hunger.

He had been like a beast, snarling and clawing.

Newt had reveled in it, had moaned and arched into each rough touch. That was when they had bitten each other.

Percival had mauled his neck raw, had left him bleeding and Newt had returned it eager. They left claw marks that claimed one another, symbols of their union, a savage coupling.

It was a wild union, a feral mating.

It was the human part stripped away until only the base persisted. The civilization faded and the animal remained.

Credence hoped that one day he would find such a pure love. Something untamed and uncontrollable. That would consume him and bind him to another in such an ardent way.

Resting his head on Newt’s hip, he looked out over the field. The blood was visible in the golden grass, painted in circles and symbols. In the center the smoke still burned a bit, the black charred heap of the fire still piled there.

Mary Lou’s corpse was just barely visible among it. Only if you knew you were looking for a human, would you see her among the burnt black wood. She was like the little girl now, twisted and burned out. Credence’s dread of her put to rest with her body.

A life for a life was needed Newt said. A fair trade to wake Percival.

There had been no doubt between them whose life would be offered up.

Credence wasn’t sure where the others had gone. Tina and Queenie had run from the room, hand in hand, out the door and down the road into the night. He wished them well.

Chastity and Modesty had remained in the house, even as it crumpled down. Credence wasn’t sure if they had lived.

He didn’t care overly much anymore.

They were his past and his past was done with.

His future was waiting for him now, bright and free and more than anything he could have hoped for. The heat burned in his chest with a delightful feeling of anticipation.

He lay against Newt and felt his long fingers idly stroke Credence’s hair.

He felt right and at home for the first time in his life.

It was marvelous.

“While I do admit America has its uses, I have to prefer my home land.” Newt cheered, smiling brightly as they walked through the bustling crowds of New York. There were more people in the city than Credence could have ever imaged, endless faces.

Percival touched his arm lightly, guiding Credence closer to them as people walked by. The man looked vastly different in his fine suit, his face clean shaven and hair slicked back fashionably. Newt wore a blue coat Percival had purchased for him, under that he wore his usual trousers, shirt, and vest. Good quality but well worn.

Credence was in a suit, the cloth feeling so soft against his skin. It felt like armor, wrapped around him and protecting him. People saw the expensive clothing and avoided him when they walked down the street. They thought him someone important to dress so well. They thought him an educated man; someone to be seen and perhaps even respected a touch.

Buildings that seemed to reach for the sky surrounded them, bright colors everywhere and so much noise. It was overwhelming and a touch frightening but Percival’s arm on his elbow grounded him. Newt smiled at him, stepping closer so their shoulder’s knocked.

“It won’t be long now, once Theseus arrives we can head out.”

“Will he like me?” Credence whispered, unable to avoid the worry.

Newt laughed bright and warm.

“Theseus will adore you, he was so excited to learn about you. He’s been waiting to meet you for a long while now.”

Magic called to other magic.

On one’s own, they could do things, but only little things. But when they gathered to others they became powerful. Percival was like them and so was Newt’s brother. They were bound together now. Connected through a link that could not be seen but felt. Credence could feel Theseus, a curious but warm and protective sensation. He could feel Newt and Percival as well, steady and strong comforts. The stones in Credence and Newt strengthened that bond, it protected them as well. The power would keep them safe from people like Mary Lou now, their eyes unable to see them. They were free and had to no longer worry about such things.

“You’ll see when we head out to England, our kind are more common there and ‘unnatural’ things are just myths to be forgotten.” Newt told him with an easy smile. The fear that still unnerved Credence seemed far from Newt but Percival understood him. He had been raised in America as well, among the witch burnings. But now they were together and a family. They would be safe.

They were teaching Credence, guiding him as he learned about this new world. One that was his right to learn, he was one of them.

Credence didn’t belong in the old world. He didn’t belong under God and his damnations. Credence belonged to something older, something far beyond Christianity. An ancient magic that thrummed in his veins. It led his way and he followed it now, each pull in his chest and the whisper in his ear a good thing rather than something evil.

It was his and no one would shame him for it again.

He was both good and bad, capable of doing either one and willing as well. He would protect his happiness and his brothers. The fire was burning in his chest, instinctual and undeniable. It would lead his actions now. There was no bible with its commandments and hell fire. There was no government law with its prisons and executions. Credence would only answer to himself now, with his brothers to guide him.

Newt smiled at him and Percival smirked at them both. Turning his head up, he watched the great ship enter the harbor, people waving eagerly.

“They’re so excited for the new world,” Percival noted.

“It is exciting I supposed, Theseus will enjoy touring the city I’m sure. But I’m eager for home. The English countryside is calling to me after years of feeling the pull here.”

“Can you feel it calling?” Newt asked as he glanced back at Credence.

He nodded with a smile, feeling the tug inside Newt and basking in the connection between them all.

“I wonder how long it will take this brother of yours to defile poor Credence.” Percival teased and Newt immediately huffed in displeasure.

“Not all connections are sexual you terrible man,” he scolded and Percival grinned at him for riling under the teasing.

“But most do find partners and most find them within their own coven.”

Newt huffed again and turned to Credence.

“Ignore him, you’re not under any expectation to form a mate bond with Theseus.”

Percival laughed, a sly thing that made Newt puff up to lecture him. The man glanced over to Credence, letting him know he was only teasing. Percival’s favorite hobby seemed to be upsetting Newt until the man was waving a finger at him like a naughty schoolboy.

“Honestly, you’ll find your mate when the time comes. Theseus will likely bore you.”

“Well, thanks,” a wry British voiced chimed in and they turned to face the new man.

“Theseus!” Newt tossed himself at the man but he was ready, accepting the full body hug and returning it tightly.

It was clear they were brothers in blood, Newt looking so alike to the stranger.

He was tall like Newt but broader. Handsome and fit with a charming smile that lacked the roguish edge like Percival’s did. He fit the last connection in Credence, a face finally to the magic that echoed in him. A magic that seemed to harmonize with his own in a promising way.

It still felt a bit like a dream he had made up, a perfect life away from Mary Lou and her school. A part of him long used to the cruelty and pain waited for it to return, expected it to. There were times when Credence was certain he was about to wake. Or that Mary Lou was there, standing on the corner of some street, ready to force him back to her school.

But Newt would touch his hand or Percival would nudge his shoulder and the dark images would disperse. The emptiness inside him was now a coil of endless ropes. Strong and powerful cords binding them all together and no knife could sever them.

Credence was no longer alone.

Newt brought Theseus over to him and Percival, smiling brightly as he introduced them all. Percival nodded politely but wore that mischievous look about him again. Newt already offended just for the look.

“Hello,” Theseus offered to him and Credence smiled in answer, eager to find his future.