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Eyes could tell a lot about people’s personalities.

Percival would know; he’d spent years interrogating criminals and dark wizards of the sort. He knew the shifty eyed ones who refused to make eye contact. The eyes that blinked too much and he could even recall criminals whose eyes crossed when they were lying. Or he could tell when some of them (though rarely) were being honest. The way their gaze met his, steady and earnest, wanting to clear their name or get some of their punishment cleared off.

Eyes, the windows to the soul; they allowed him to read people and he’s very good at reading people. Eyes, as he recalled, reflect everything.

He’d seen lots of eyes over the years, not all of them dishonest. All sorts of colors dance in the light. Warm brown eyes, firm yet gently caring. Sparkling blue eyes, loving and lively. Dark brown eyes, commanding and fierce. Green eyes, kind and eccentric. Life and wonder reflecting in those green orbs flecked with pristine blue.

He cleared his throat, thoughts of green eyes clearing from his mind. It was irritating, constantly thinking of those eyes. Even more so when he knew exactly who they belonged to. It seemed they were determined to interrupt him of his work. Determined to have his full attention; to gaze at him with warmth and kindness that he didn’t see in a lot of people. He could count very few people in his life that had ever looked at him that way.

Like the way those eyes were looking at one Porpentina Goldstein.

He’d just stepped out of his office only briefly, to get started on his third cup of coffee when he noticed the two of them together, speaking about occamy eggshells or something of that sort. He’s not really listening to their conversation, at least, he’s trying to convince himself of that. Goldstein’s desk wasn’t far away from where they kept the coffee supplies, so it’s not like he couldn’t hear them. It’s just a matter he was trying to convince himself that he was not eavesdropping.

Which, he totally wasn’t.

“Do they start out as pure silver or does it develop?”

“They start out as pure silver. That’s why their nests are always ransacked. Or traffickers will kidnap a mated pair and keep them in mills.”

“Horrible!”

“I know, but there aren’t many. Occamys are hard to catch and extremely dangerous when threatened.”

All around him, all sorts of activity were going on; files being waved around, chatter and occasionally a laugh sounding from someone. Everyone looked busy, even Goldstein was typing up a report as Scamander chatted with her. From one side of the room, he heard Ashwood speaking urgently with Patel about something, more than likely a case. The two of them worked together well, Patel’s attention to detail and Ashwood’s down to earth personality balanced each other out. Especially with the major break through in one of their most impressive cases. This one involving almost the entire auror department.

There was a raid only two months ago, where they shut down a ring of wizards selling no-mag children to buyers in various parts of the world. Most got away, unfortunately, but they did manage to rescue most of the children, obliviating them and returning them back to the city. If he closed his eyes, he could still picture it now. A building full of rusted metal cages holding children, some no bigger than a three-year-old. They had cowered when he and the others entered after taking down all the traffickers, scrambling with bony limbs to the back of their prisons. They were absolutely terrified of them, whimpering and crying. The older ones begging to be left alone; the younger ones crying for their mothers. He had opened one cage door, a small girl with dirty blonde hair curled into a little ball. It was only when he pulled her into his arms that he realized she was dead.

Her name, as he found out later, was Dorothy Farwell. She was only two years old.

It was one of the more unpleasant part of their jobs. The Junior aurors were all warned of it, told that they would see things that would sicken most people. Yet, they were the same. They saw the worst of humanity; the worst things that wizards could do to each other and to the no-mag population, but they still felt it. He could see the rage on O’Malley’s face when he apprehended several of the traffickers. He saw the paleness of Anderson’s face; the protective way Patel cradled one small child in her arms.

They were battle hardened, he and the Senior Aurors, but not immune. The Junior Aurors, the new ones anyway, were immediately shell shocked. Completely unprepared for the sight before them. Weeks later, a few of them even resigned their positions. Did he blame them? No, no he did not.

The traffickers, from what he read from their reports, had no names yet. They didn’t even know if they were American, but they suspected they were part of the ring they broke down those two months ago. Picking up the pieces and trying to reestablish their “trade”. It’s disturbing, he’ll give it that. Ashwood and Patel had been working hard on this case, dedicating all their time to it. Patel had three children of her own; a reason to want these wizards put away for life or executed. Ashwood had neither, but he’d never known another auror with a stronger sense of right and wrong.  

Blinking quickly, he pulled himself out of his thoughts and back to the task at hand. The coffee pot in his hands, ready to be poured into the cup but nothing came out. The noise was gone, shuffling away into the back ground like some distant echo until it faded away completely. There was no wall with the pictures of fallen aurors in front of him, only emptiness. Black emptiness entrapping him; a void he couldn’t escape from. He could not move, unable to even feel the cup and pot in his hands. He could feel a trickle of sweat that ran down his neck, dripping to the floor with a loud plink.

Everything was cold. A bone chilling sort of cold that pierced right through him. No light; no warmth. Just a numb cold that engulfed his entire form. His ears picked up laughter and his stomach churned violently. He knew that laugh; he knew it better than anyone else in the whole world.

Grindelwald stood before him wearing a cruel smirk. With coldness in his eyes like a star burning far away in the night sky. Unfeeling. Callous to what he had been doing to those around him. “How are we today, Director Graves?” he asked, but it was more of a taunt really. “Director Graves-”

“Director Graves!”

It was like someone performed a Lumos spell and the darkness vanished. Silence descended on the room and he felt everyone’s eyes on him. He only then realized that the coffee had spilled from the pot, the glass slipping to the floor with an ear shattering crack. A flare of embarrassment made his stomach clench uneasily and he cleared his throat, using a bit of wandless magic to clean the mess up and repair the broken objects.  

“Carry on,” he ordered with a hoarse voice, and for a quick moment, no one moved until Tina cleared her throat. Her concerned eyes were not the only ones looking at him. Those blue eyes were fixated on him, unspoken worry in those dazzling orbs.

He inwardly groaned. He did not just call Newt Scamander’s, his best friend’s little brother, eyes dazzling. No. No, no, no. He was not about to cross that road; Theseus would probably hex him if he even tried to ask out his “precious baby brother.”

He wanted to leave and stop his senior aurors from getting distracted, but he couldn’t. His feet couldn’t seem to remember how to move, and he was suddenly aware of how everyone was staring at him, wondering if they should say anything.

“You have ten seconds to get back to work, or I’ll make you all rewrite your reports.”

He gave an inward sigh of relief at the sudden flurry of movement as his aurors returned to their jobs. Only Tina and Newt continued to observe him, with a mixture of sympathy and worry in their expressions. Newt’s cup of tea was still held tightly in his hands, smalls puffs of steam rising from the beverage and Tina’s own cup of coffee lay abandoned near a stack of papers on her desk that she wasn’t looking over.

As if sensing what he was thinking, Tina shook her head. “Newt’s not distracting me, Mr. Graves. These are just some permits I’ve filled out for him.”

As if to prove himself, Newt wandlessly waved a piece of paper over and held it almost shyly between long fingers. Indeed, it was a permit for a creature, a nundu or… Merlin help them, another niffler. He couldn’t recall how many times in the past seven months since his rescue that the creature had found its way into his office, taking random heirlooms and trinkets before Newt would catch it and return the items back with a red hue spreading across his cheeks.

He didn’t mind, not really anyway. It gave him more reason to check up on his charms and make sure the greedy little thing didn’t find its way into his office anymore. It gave him more of a reason to see Newt anyway.

If he weren’t good at keeping his emotions in check, his face would have matched the pink that dusted Newt’s face as he continued to gaze at him with curiosity. MACUSA’s new Magizoologist had proven to be quite an asset to their department with the success of his book. He had been meaning to read it, but there was always something to do. A criminal to take to trial, another case that needed solving and truthfully, he was glad there was something to distract himself with.

“You know, those aurors of yours really aren’t the brightest. Not a single one of them is suspicious. Really thought at least one of them would notice; you truly are quite forgettable.”

There was an odd tingling at the back of his neck, a cold chill that ran down his spine. He felt his hand began to shake again and quickly, yet subtly, placed them both behind his back. Straightening his shoulders, avoiding the gaze that somehow managed to see right through him. “Carry on,” he nodded to all of them, suddenly wanting nothing more than to remove himself from their unwavering gazes of sympathy, worry, and worst of all, pity.

Turning on his heel, he made his way in the direction towards his office. People seemed to move out of his way, holding their files or whatever it was they were carrying close to their chests. Down the darkened halls that were beginning to match his mood, it grew quieter. Only a few other aurors and other officials stood in close together, speaking in hushed tones that obviously were to deter others from listening in. Honestly, he found himself thinking, if they wanted to gossip, they should do it in their offices.

His office had been the previous director’s office before his retirement four years ago, and had originally belonged to the director before him. Neatly on his shelf were various items that belonged to him or to MACUSA, and there was at least one photograph of his family there, stern faced despite the happy occasion that day, which was, if he recalled correctly, his eleventh birthday. Then there were folders neatly stacked and labeled in the cabinets and he glowered. Grindelwald hadn’t even bothered to keep his things organized, leaving his filing system a complete disaster that had to be redone.

He sighed, now suddenly remembering that he hadn’t gotten his second cup of coffee for that morning. However, he wasn’t ready to go back out there, so he would have to tough it out for a while. The quiet of his office was unnerving, and for a moment, he regretted adding a silencing charm over the room. It was true, he preferred to work in silence, but now it was like an unwanted stranger. Months of silence, of darkness in his own watch had made it practically unbearable. He never thought he would miss the chatter and occasional laugh, the familiar sounds of his co-workers’ voices.

He shook his head to clear those thoughts, returning to his seat to look back at the case at hand. Another instance of No-mag child trafficking had struck again, only two months after they shut down the ring. Both Ashwood and Patel were convinced that it was the same group, the ones who escaped picking up where they left off. He could believe it; they didn’t actually catch the leader and he would be lying if he didn’t admit it was a bit personal.

Two weeks ago, No-Mag’s Mr. and Mrs. Mariano had awoken on Monday morning to find their only son, Michael, missing from his bed. Normally, MACUSA wouldn’t have bothered looking into it, but since the kidnapping matched the same way the others had months ago, they knew better this time around. He suspected they were reestablishing their ranks, though the biggest clue and indicator that this was not a normal case was the symbol painted on Michael Mariano’s wall. A triangle with a circle and a line inside. Grindelwald sign. 

And now, another face was printed next to the Mariano’s boy. Alice Fitzgerald, a six-year-old No-Mag from Queens, had gone missing as well with the same insignia painted in the place where she had been kidnapped.

So, he would not lie and say this was not personal. He was not typically a vengeful man, but ever since Grindelwald’s escape only three days after being arrested and the resurgence of the traffickers, well, it was needless to say he was in a particularly foul mood.

There was a knock on his door that pulled him from his thoughts and immediately he wandlessly opened the door. Appearing almost shy, Newt Scamander stood in the doorway with a white ceramic mug in his hands. “Can I come in, Mr. Graves?” he asked politely, allowing a soft smile on his face.

“Of course.”

He nodded as Newt stepped in with quiet yet deliberate footsteps. Newt set the cup down on his desk, keeping his gaze momentarily on the steam rising from what he assumed was supposed to be coffee. Instead of the rich deep black it normally was, the contents in the cup was thin and light colored, like soup. Newt flushed. “I’ve never really made coffee before; I don’t drink it. But you looked like you wanted some and Mr. O’Malley took the last bit from the pot, so I thought I would make a new one.”

He watched in concealed amusement at the Magizoologist’s rambling, and graciously took the cup from the table. “Thank you,” he said, and he did mean it. The man who, despite his quirks, had to be one of the kindest people he had ever met. A rare type of person whom you only meet once in your life, or so his mother had told him. “I admit, I’m not much of a tea drinker myself.”

Newt’s shy smile relaxed. “Most Americans I’ve met aren’t.”

A silence descended upon his office, neither uncomfortable or pleasant. Just that same, nerve wracking silence that made his heart rate pick up. He was aware of those robin’s egg blue eyes studying him, and if it were not for Newt’s kind nature, he might have felt a bit more intruded upon. “Are you alright, Mr. Graves?”  he asked, with an air of caution in his tone. “You seem more distracted as of late.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” he brushed him off quickly, which, only resulted in a frown that clearly indicated that Newt was not entirely convinced. He sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning. “Please, do not trouble yourself Mr. Scamander. There’s more important things for you to worry about.”

“You’re no less important,” Newt said softly, but firmly. “And please, Newt is just fine.”

“Alright then, Newt,” he leaned forward, setting the cup back down after taking a small sip and somehow managing to hide the look of discomfort from the Brit. “There is no need to be so formal here in my office. You may call me Percival, if you wish.”

Newt nods, and he followed the blue gaze to the small stack of papers on his desk. The images of the two most recent kidnappings. Newt frowned. “Those two, the two muggle children, they went missing recently, yes?”

Newt hadn’t been there during the raid, but if he had, then the memories of what they found would keep him up for days as well. “Yes,” he confirmed. “From the same type of families. Low-income, different races, anyone who most no-mag’s could care less about.”

“Tina mentioned a symbol; Grindelwald’s,” Newt began. “Can I see?”

“The case doesn’t involve creatures,” he only watched as Newt sorted through the papers with an unreadable expression. He stared back at the cooling cup of coffee, Newt still looking at the symbol with narrowed eyes. “They should be rather easy to catch this time; their pattern hasn’t changed.”

“I don’t recall Grindelwald specifically going after no-mag children,” Newt pondered thoughtfully, fingers lightly tapping against the dark wooden surface of his desk. “There is nothing to gain from the murders of innocent children except…” he trailed off uncomfortably.

He didn’t to finish his statement; he knew exactly what the British wizard was thinking. While unpleasant, it wasn’t an uncommon move for adversaries to go after children on the opposing side of a conflict. Or the unintentional victims during violence. Originally, he believed that the dark wizard had considered them useless in terms of his plans, but he was clearly mistaken. And because of that mistake, many lives had been lost and ruined.

“You attended the funeral of that no-mag child, didn’t you?” Newt inquired softly, prodding carefully at an already painful subject matter. The look the redhead received made the younger wizard flush a bit more. “Sorry, I don’t mean to intrude on your business. It’s just, I was there too and happened to see you.”

“Really,” he blinked once, a million questions running through his mind. The most notable being: How did he not notice Newt Scamander? “I didn’t see you there.”

Newt shook his head. “I didn’t stay for very long; I don’t do well at funerals.”

It had been quite the funeral as well. Any funeral was a somber occasion, but this one was almost unbearable to sit through. The no-mag’s didn’t notice him there due to his ‘Notice me not’ charm, so he was able to go about undetected. Both Mr. and Mrs. Farwell were besides themselves at their only daughter. When they lowered the small white coffin into the ground, all that could be heard were the wails coming from the now childless-mother. He could barely sleep at night without hearing those sobs.

“I am sorry, though,” Newt began once more, folding his hands across the light brown material of his vest. “That you and the others had to witness something like that.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Newt, we are trained aurors. It is our duty to live in a world full of darkness so that these things don’t happen again. We knew what we were getting the moment we decided our careers.”

“None the less, I am sorry,” Newt continued gently. “That these things have happened.”

“Not like they’re you’re fault,” he attempted a smile in hopes of lightening the already tense filled room. “There’s no need to concern yourself with cases like these. You already have to deal with the witches and wizards who have no respect for creatures.”

Newt regarded him solemnly. “We all deserve the same amount of respect as the person next to us. Magic or not, beast or human, we all live together so all this animosity is pointless.”

He cracked a smile at that. “Not sure everyone would agree with you, misguided as some opinion appear to be.”

He was pleasantly surprised when Newt smiled back. “I think you would be right on that.”

He watched as those blue eyes looked over to the bookshelves, landing on the old photograph. “Is that you?” he asked, looking at the image of a boy holding his acceptance letter to Illvermorny with a small smile while a little girl with long black pigtails hung on his arm.

“My eleventh birthday, and the day I happened to receive my acceptance letter,” he answered back easily, leaning into his chair. At Newt’s somewhat incredulous look at his parents’ solemn expression, it took everything he had not to grin. “My parents were happy that day, I promise you.”

“And I am guessing that the girl is your sister?”

“Gracia,” he replied and made a mental note to give his younger sister a call. “My younger sister.”

“I don’t think Theseus ever mentioned you having a younger sister.”

Theseus was one of the few people outside of MACUSA and Illvermorny to know much about his family. Not that he was ashamed of his little sister; quite the opposite, actually, but the less was known about his relationship with his family, the better.

“Maybe I should go to precious Gracia’s house and have a little fun, hm? Listening to her scream and cry while she looks up at the face of her beloved older brother fucking her.”

“Percival?”

He was thankful for Newt’s voice pulling him out of his thoughts. “Yes?” he cleared his throat, pretending not to notice that look of worry and sighed. “Newt, I promise I am fine.”

Newt, in turn, did not look convinced but otherwise said nothing. The once peaceful atmosphere had become tense once more and he noticed Newt twitch slightly, clearly uncomfortable and avoiding eye contact with him. “So,” he started and Newt’s attention was his once more. “The rest of your family, aside from Theseus, are in England, yes?”

Now that got a reaction and he immediately noticed the way the younger wizard’s face set in a hard line. Those blue eyes appeared far away, as though thinking of the people he had left behind across the ocean. “Yes,” Newt finally answered, as if he had been thinking on how he was going to give his answer to Percival’s question. “They, ah, live in England.”

Ah, he finally realized he had found a sore spot and made a quick note not to bring it up again. Whatever Newt’s grievances with his family were, it was not his business to pry. It was no secret to him that Newt was the “black sheep” of the family. From what he had read in Theseus’ letters, Mr. and Mrs. Scamander had been less than pleased with Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts and current life decisions. He could understand, somewhat. He sympathized with Theseus, for his own sister was so unlike the rest of the family. Ever since childhood, she had been a smiling, bright ray of sunshine contrasting with the rest of their somber, stone-like faces.

And said ray of sunshine had slapped Grindelwald across the face when she was notified they had found him locked in his own pocket watch.

As he was trying hard not to think about those months kept in his own watch, the door to his office was immediately flung open. Auror Patel stormed in, wand in hand and wide eyed with a few strands of her dark hair loose from the hair pins. A crumpled note was clutched in her hand, which was shaking ever so slightly. “Director Graves!” she pushed past Newt, who immediately stepped into the background the minute she had entered. “We…we got something a few minutes ago!”

“What?” he asked, intrigued and concerned at how pale her face had become.

She placed the note on his desk, staring at it as though it would catch on fire and somehow injure her in the process. “It came to our office a few minutes ago, with only an address from where it had come from and blank letter. Ashwood revealed what was inside, and began to read it out loud to me when he suddenly stopped. Went as pale as your coffee cup, sir and just took off. Not a word to me, just immediately ran out.”

He took the note, holding it carefully, looking for any other enchantments that could have been placed. On the outside of the note was a single address, and the hand writing on the note itself was all loops and spirals. fancy handwriting of someone of status and experience with writing.

I know your secret. They’re lovely, by the way. I commend you on being able to hide them for so long. You know where to find me.

Anonymous

 He turned the note over again in his hand, narrowing his eyes. “And you said he just ran out? No reason at all?” he looked at the address written down, the reminder suddenly switching on. He could have sworn the man had a different address, but then again, it wasn't as though he had been to his house before. 

Patel nodded, but even she looked doubtful. “I think it is?” 

Well, he mused to himself, his robes moving from across his room and covering his body. At least it wouldn’t be an entirely uneventful day and it was an actual excuse to leave his office and not see those pitying expressions, then he was almost glad. Almost being the keyword, seeing as how much trouble Ashwood could be in.

He spent half a year in his pocket watch protecting his aurors the best he could. He wasn’t about to fail them now. He strolled out of his office quickly, Patel and Newt practically on his heels. “Goldstein, O’Malley, come with me,” he stood by their desks for a brief moment the second he stepped into the senior auror department. Tina looked up immediately from whatever she was typing and the somewhat indignant expression on O’Malley’s face told him that he just inadvertently cockblocked him from doing his secretary, Amanda Weaver, later on.

“And just where are we going, Percy?” O’Malley grinned at the childish nickname, one that for some reason, stuck ever since their time at Illvermorny. He then looked around, as if somehow just realizing that one of their own was gone. “Hey, where’s Ashwood?”

“Maybe you would have noticed him leave if you weren’t so busy chatting up Amanda.” Patel said dryly, giving him a side glare.

He ignored them, their somewhat childish banter falling deaf on his ears. From a little bit behind him, he could feel Newt’s magic brush up against his own. Gentle, much like the former Hufflepuff but still as unyielding as the younger wizard’s loyalty towards his creatures and friends. He frowned slightly at this. Newt Scamander was…odd, but he would agree with anyone else who knew the young man that he certainly left an impression.

It suddenly occurred to him. “Scamander,” he glanced back towards the magizoologist. “This isn’t in your department, if memory serves me right.”

Newt, though with a slight flush, only looks at him with a small look of what he dared called stubbornness. The same look Theseus had during the war and even still had afterwards. The two brothers were more alike than they thought. “It could be related to a case of my own; we don’t know who wrote that note or why, so it very well could be about an animal trafficking ring I’m currently looking into with Tina.”

When he looked towards Tina for conformation, she merely nodded wordlessly.

He didn’t say anything else on the matter, and they exited MACUSA with silence. Apparition never took long once they reached the point they were able to, and in a single moment, he found himself staring at a two-story brick stone townhouse. In a no-mag neighborhood, no less and a sudden feeling of foreboding fell like a shadow across his mind. On the outside, it appeared to be a normal house.

“This isn’t Ashwood’s house,” Patel frowned suspiciously as she tucked a few strands of inky black hair into her hair pins. She looked around, glancing at the sleepy neighborhood. “This is an entire no-mag neighborhood. Are you sure this is the right address?”

“Yes,” he responded, not even having to bother looking down at the crumpled-up piece of paper tucked away in his robes.  Wand in hand, he walked up the steps, murmuring a spell that checked for any wards.

“Someone’s been here,” he called back to the other four, hand resting on the unlocked door. “The wards protecting this place have been deactivated.”

He was instantly met with the metallic, sickly sweet, scent of blood assaulting his nose. In his ears, rang a cold laugh.

“Don’t die on me now, Mr. Graves. We’re just getting started.”

 

Chapter Text

The first time he saw blood, was when the school bully had pushed him so hard, he scrapped his knee on the dirt ground below.

It was the last day of school before the summer holidays and Theseus had returned from his second year at Hogwarts. He remembered being so excited, that he was uncharacteristically chatty and for whatever reason, that irritated the school bully whose name had escaped him. That resulted in a confrontation on the playground and Theseus chasing the bullies off with some unsavory words he dared not repeat.

Theseus had been…less than pleased, but that was expected. Newt had told him about the bullies and Theseus must have had enough since he chased them for quite a while. He stormed back to where Newt was lying on the ground, grumbling as he drew a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed the spot on his knee where the blood was beginning to clot.

“Honestly,” he muttered, but softened his voice at Newt’s sniffles. He tapped him on the nose with his forefinger, storm cloud eyes less angry than they were before. “Don't go looking for trouble if I’m not there to protect you, little lizard.”

Then Theseus pulled him onto his back, hooking his arms underneath his knees and carried him home, telling him about his year at Hogwarts and the shenanigans he and his fellow Gryffindor’s got in.

Of course, that had been a long time ago, and he was a grown man now who had seen more atrocities towards his fellow man and even worse, the creatures who had suffered from man’s negligence and cruelty.

This, however, he had not been prepared for.

He had survived the war, seen countless of men and dragons killed or injured. He had rescued and nurtured creatures who had been on the brink of death before he had found them. Some had died regardless of his efforts and others had recovered to the point one would have never guessed they had been in such a horrible position.

On the outside of the house, it appeared completely normal. A modest, yet well kept small front yard that belonged to a no-mag family, or so he assumed. As Percival, Tina and the other two aurors had a stunned look on their faces, he could tell that they were just as confused as he was. Why had Ashwood come here? If Patel was correct, and only no-mag’s lived here, then why…

His eyes met Percival’s briefly, a similar thought running through both their minds. Tina’s face had paled considerably and even O’Malley, talkative as he was, had gone unnervingly quiet. Patel muttered under her breath, and a flash of betrayal glossed over her dark eyes.

Percival wasted no time, his face impassive as a stone as he ventured inside the darkened house. The sickly-sweet smell of blood was everywhere, giving him the overwhelming impression that something very, very bad had happened and they had been perhaps a few minutes late from stopping whatever it was.

As he stood there in the corridor, he noticed along with the saccharine stench wafting about, there was another fragrance. One that didn’t fit in with the horrid smell, contrasting so much that his nose wrinkled in disgust. Fish, he recognized, and not only that, but other foods as well. Kimchi, and a heavy presence of soy sauce. Despite the heavy odor of blood, he knew these smells by heart. He’d had these foods before, about six years ago when he traveled to Korea and found Dougal nearly snatched away by poachers.

He had only been there for two months, before Theseus sent him a very loud and obnoxious howler demanding that he return home at once before he arrived in Busan himself to take him back to London. Needless to say, he did return, but with a lifelong friend safely tucked away in his case and a resolve to further understand the nature of demiguises.

Of course, that seemed far away now and he had been much, much younger than. The smells of food brought him back from a seemingly distant past and back to the present situation at hand. The minute he stepped foot into the parlor, he noticed the body.

The parlor was beautiful, yet modest in its appearance. With its light green wallpaper and well-kept furniture, it appeared to be rather cozy. Yet, the warmth that had once filled this room was gone as he rushed over to the woman lying on the floor in front of the fire place.

She was young, though not far from his age by the looks of her. Despite her modest clothing, she was far from what many people, he supposed, would call ugly. He knew what Muggles thought about people with different ethnicities, especially in America. This woman, with her Korean heritage, had probably never been considered beautiful by American standards. Her eyes, though clouded in death, were a very dark brown that most would ignorantly call black. He brought a hand up, gently closing her unseeing eyes just as Percival walked in.

The auror didn’t even have to ask the question, merely nodding. “How long?” Percival asked instead, eying the deceased woman with a soft look of what he dared called sympathy.

“Not long,” he responded, laying the woman’s hands down on her chest gently. “I’d say ten, perhaps fifteen minutes at best.”

He looked down to her once more and his heart jumped straight up into his throat. Her body, though slightly on the thinner side, had a definite roundness in her stomach. A momentary flash of anger coursed through his body, sadness following not far behind. He tore his eyes away, biting his lip fiercely. “She was pregnant,” he said softly, but still loud enough for Percival to hear. The man stiffened, and though it disappeared as soon as it arrived, he had seen rage in those piercing gray eyes. Newt looked back towards the dead woman. “What about Ashwood?”

Percival’s lips tightened into a thin line. “He’s dead too. Found him upstairs. They used the killing curse on him.”

Percival leaned down, taking one of the woman’s hands into his own. He closed his eyes, searching for something before opening them once more. “She was tortured before they finally killed her. Look at the markings on her arms; it’s the Cruciatus curse.”

He instinctively felt his whole body tighten, the reminder of the immeasurable pain only a faint memory before now vivid. He hadn’t screamed, but it wasn’t called an unforgivable curse for no reason. Those who survived were scarred, both physically and mentally. Some, worse than others, to the point they were never sane again.

“Who would do this?” he found himself asking out loud, looking back to Percival. “She was a Muggle; no ties to magic whatsoever.”

Percival just looked grim. “She was his wife,” he pointed to a photo on the mantle piece. It showed Ashwood and the woman in a courtroom, the woman dressed in a simple white dress and Ashwood in Muggle clothing. “Looks like they had been married for a while; few years at best. Picquery is not going to like the fact one of her aurors broke our law.”

Again, there was a hot flash of annoyance at the Americans’ view on no-mag-wizard relationships. “They must have really loved each other to defy the law like that,” he couldn’t help but admire and pity the two at the same time. He looked at the woman once more, noting the indentation on her head from most likely hitting the mantle piece on her way to the ground. Over where her right hand, a cutting knife lay discarded and he found a new sense of respect towards her. “She fought her attacker to save him.”

I never said I agreed with the law,” Percival spoke suddenly, catching his attention. The soft manner in which he spoke sounded odd, but not entirely unpleasant. “But the law is the law and Ashwood knew this.”

At the moment Tina came into the room, wand clenched tightly in hand and eyeing the two of them warily. “O’Malley caught this man hiding in the attic. Apparently, Ashwood managed to injure him enough to prevent him from disapprating out of here.”

O’Malley staggered in, strong hand around the forearm of a bony man with a sharp face and stringy black hair. Patel had his other arm, wand pointed under his chin to dissuade him from an escape attempts. Percival stood up, the man in O’Malley and Patel’s grips shaking in fear the moment the auror’s eyes lay on him. Newt took notice of the stab wound in his arm, eying the abandoned knife near the woman’s body and quickly put the two together. “She stabbed you?” he asked before Percival could interrogate him.

The man’s look of fear momentarily faded. “The bitch was crazy,” he sneered. “Screaming at me in Chinese before stabbing me in the fucking arm.”

He uncharacteristically snapped at the man, glaring at him hotly. “She wasn’t Chinese, she was Korean. There may be a similarity in language, but there is a difference in certain aspects of their cultures.”

“Who the hell cares? They all look the same to me.”

For a moment, he thought Percival was going to punch the man. He saw his hand curl, muscles tightening, but only looked at the man in a stony manner. “Did you kill this woman and Auror upstairs?”

The man paled at Percival’s attention on him. “Why…why should I tell you?”

“You criminals all look the same to me,” Percival tapped the man on the chest with his wand lightly, a nonchalant look on his face. “Why should I have any qualms about killing you? An eye for an eye, no?”

If it were possible, the man paled even further. Percival sighed and lowered his wand. “What’s his name?” he asked Patel.

“Finnian Fischer, Director Graves.”

He nodded, returning those cold eyes to the man. “Mr. Fischer, you are under arrest by authority of MACUSA for double homicide of a no-mag and an Auror. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law…”

Newt wasn’t listening anymore, eyes slowly taking in the room and its furnishings. By the fire place, about ten feet away there was an altar. A Jesa, he recognized. Even though his time in Korea had been brief, he knew what a traditional Korean memorial ceremony looked like. The family who had been kind enough to let him stay in their home invited him to partake in the ceremony as an active participant. The man whom he had traveled with had been one of the few friends he had made during the war, so the family was very gracious towards him.

Since Ashwood was Caucasian, it only made sense these were the woman’s parents. He didn’t know very much Korean, but he knew the writing to be different from the Chinese script. He couldn’t read anything on the stone, but that didn’t stop him from admiring the beauty in the woman’s work at honoring her parents.

His gaze wandered towards the mantel piece, noting the photographs lined up in a neat row. Next to the wedding photo, there was one of the woman again. Recently taken, as the date on the bottom left hand corner stated it had been taken two months ago. On the woman’s lap, there was a girl of about three years of age, smiling toothily up at the photography. A very young girl with a strong resemblance to her mother.

“Where’s the girl?” he asked, interrupting Percival as he was magically cuffed the man’s hands. Tina’s eyes met his in confusion and the pit of dread that had been rising in his stomach only increased. “Did any of you see a little girl? She’d probably look to be about three to four years old?”

“I didn’t see her,” Tina frowned worriedly. “I only found Ashwood’s body upstairs in the study.”

O’Malley shook his head. “Patel and I heard movement in the attic and found this bastard trying to escape out the window. We didn’t see a girl.”

He watched as the pale look on the man’s turn an ugly shade of green once Percival rounded on him once more. “Was there a girl?” he inquired sharply, in a tone that suggested that the man answer honestly or there would be even harsher consequences. “Was there a girl?” he asked again, a bit more icily.

The man gulped. “N…no.”

O’Malley’s grip tightened ever so slightly. “You might be let off easier if you’re honest, buddy. Not that a piece of shit like you deserves it.”

“You think I care about that?” the oily haired man spat, glaring at Graves before a twisted smile graced his lips. “If I go to jail, fine. If I’m executed, that’s fine too. If I die, it is for the greater good. For the betterment and freedom of wizard kind.”

Percival flinched. All of them noticed, and Newt’s eyes darted towards the twitch in his wand hand. The memory of that day, where the man had a faraway look in his eyes, hands shaking as the coffee spilled onto the floor. Lost in a different world until he suddenly snapped back into reality and broke the mug.

He didn’t go back to that place this time, though. He simply jabbed his wand into the criminal’s chest. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll find her, through three drops of Veritaserum or through your own memories, you won’t win. Grindelwald won’t win and we will find the girl. Either way, you lose. So, you might as well tell us where you took her.”

The man’s smirk faded and a scowl replaced it. “If I tell you, will I be executed?” he asked cowardly. “I promise you I didn’t kill the no-mag or that Auror. Those were my boss and associates.”

“Where is the girl? Tell us where she is, and we’ll see.”

He couldn’t tell if Percival had meant it or not, but the man nodded. “Same warehouse on the lower side of Harlem. The boss might be there; he might not be. I don’t even know what he looks like, but your Auror sure did.”

Percival took the information in quietly, motioning for O’Malley and Patel. “Take him back to MACUSA. Tell Picquery that we have a new lead on the case. Goldstein, I’m calling all aurors on duty. Let’s get this trafficking ring shut down for good. Scamander and I will stay here and get the place closed off until the Mediwitches get here.”

They disappeared quickly out of the town house, and he closed his eyes, hoping it was not too late.

Chapter Text

The girl was a lot smaller than he imagined she would be.

Amidst the swarm of aurors and mediwitches, she looked like a wayward island surrounded by an endless ocean. Damp black hair stuck on her face, and despite the rain drizzling down on her pale form, she didn’t seem to pay any mind to it. People hurried around her, escorting the few other crying and shaking children wrapped in blankets back to MACUSA headquarters. Even with a blanket wrapped around her bare shoulders, he could see her shaking like a leaf. Even from giving orders and assessing what to be done about the two men they had easily captured, he couldn’t stop his gaze from wandering to where she stood on the sidewalk.

Storming into the warehouse had been easier than expected, even with a full team of aurors at his side. The two men guarding it had been taken completely off guard, not even having time to get their wands out before he and Tina easily managed to stupefy them. After inspecting the grounds for more dark wizards and witches, he came to the eerie conclusion that this had bene a setup.

Whoever had taken the girl to begin with wanted her to be found.

She had been tossed aside on the warehouse’s concrete floor, with a deep cut on the corner of her lip and a faraway look in her eyes. He had thought her to be dead for a moment, when he came to the chilling reminder of how they found him. Numb and painstakingly cold to everything around in that pocket watch. The way she looked up at him, full weariness and fear, whimpering when he reached out to pick her up.

The back half of the front of her dress had been crudely torn open, revealing her small shoulder blades all the way to her lower back. What he discovered next made him uncharacteristically nauseous, hands beginning to tremble. Carved into her back with ink, was a triangle with a straight line in the middle engulfed by a circle. The Deathly Hallows. Grindelwald.

“For the greater good”, he found himself thinking bitterly, pulled back to the present by the sound of Tina’s voice. He didn’t even hear her question, too busy observing the barefooted girl tuned out to everything around her.

“What was that?” he asked Tina, who pursed her lips into a thin line. He sighed, a hand running through his black hair. “Please repeat that again, Goldstein.”

Tina followed his gaze, allowing a brief expression of sadness to show before concealing it away. “I asked, what are we doing about the girl? With both her parents…” she didn’t need to finish her sentence, instead clearing her throat and asking a new one. “What are your orders?”

A flash of blue caught his eye, and the auburn curls stood out against the bleak misery of the crowd around. He watched silently as Newt kneeled to the girl’s eye level, even though she did not look up from whatever it was she was looking at on the ground.

“Hello, mind if I join you here?” he asked gently, softly enough that Percival needed to use a charm in order to hear him. The girl still did not look up, still fixated on whatever was on the ground. Even as the world continued to move around her, she stayed numb, frozen on the spot. Newt smiled comfortingly, standing close enough to her so that she could hear, but still giving her enough space. “My name is Newt Scamander. What’s yours?”

Calliope Ashwood, born February 16, 1923, daughter of Senior auror Seoirse Ashwood and his no-mag wife, Angela Ashwood. For the first time in a long time, he felt unsure on what to do. He didn’t like the sour feeling it left in his stomach, and he sympathized with the girl across the street. In one swift moment, her whole life had been ruined. Her childhood innocence that she would never again get back. Even with the blanket wrapped around her thin shoulders, she looked like a wayward leaf that would suddenly blow away.

Ashwood had been selfish, and he could admit that freely to himself. Saying that right now would be inappropriate, with how many work friends the deceased had who were cleaning the area up. Ashwood knew what he was getting into; he knew the law and the consequences that would follow if he broke it. Yet, he decided to anyway and now he, his wife and unborn child, were dead. Leaving a sad, shell shocked girl standing on the streets without anyone familiar to come get her.

He wasn’t sure, exactly, on what to do with a case like this. After what happened in the past, most of the American witches and wizards wanted nothing to do with no-mag’s. Perhaps there were cases like this before that had happened, but he couldn’t recall one. What were they to do with her? An owl had been sent to Ashwood’s family, but they hadn’t heard back from them yet. Angela’s parents had been immigrants and they died years ago during the Influenza epidemic of 1918. The girl had no one, and no place, to go to.

He looked around, watching as other aurors gave the girl mixed reactions. Some gazed at her with sympathy while others gave her looks of disgust. He wasn’t surprised; with the rise of the Second Salemers, there was no doubt in his mind that there were still those who still had their grievances against the no-mag population.

“It’s disgusting,” his ears picked up the appalled tone of one of the junior aurors, Louisa Roberts. She stood next to one of the other aurors, Marcus Endicott, a strand of her golden blonde hair coiled around her finger in a bored fashion. Her sharp blue gaze stared at the girl with contempt. “She shouldn’t even exist! What was Ashwood thinking? No-mag’s are bad enough, but to marry one? And procreate? It makes me sick!”

The junior auror’s voice carried across the street, and the tips of Calliope’s ears turned pink. Tina whipped around, Roberts and Endicott immediately closing their mouths underneath her sharp brown gaze. “Roberts, Endicott, why don’t you go help Patel’s team with the no-mag kids” Tina snapped, leaving no room argument. “Don’t just stand there, go!”

Glancing at each other quickly, the two junior aurors scurried away like dogs with their tails tucked between their legs before apparating away. Tina sighed, muttering something in the name of Deliverance Dane before turning to him again. “Director Graves, we can’t just leave here there the whole night,” she indicated towards Calliope, and he didn’t need to look back to the girl’s direction to know she was still looking at the ground. Tina pursed her lips tightly, eyebrows knitted in deep thought as she pondered through her next words. “I suppose we could take back to headquarters; she’d be better off in a hospital where people can look after her.”

He was about to agree when the flash of blue moved again. Newt said something to the girl; something he didn’t quite catch. He and Tina both watched with bewildered eyes as Newt removed his coat, draping it around her small shoulders. He then scooped her up carefully in his arms, resting her head on his shoulders as he carried her across the road to where they were standing.

The minute he was standing across from them, he noted the light in his eyes had grown firm. “I’ll be taking her in for the night,” his voice was steady, fully of authority that seemed almost unnatural coming from him. “The best thing for Calliope right now is to be somewhere safe and secure. She needs somewhere comfortable and well protected, so she can rest. We can figure out what to do tomorrow.”

He looked at the girl, her tired gaze meeting his own. He wanted to protest, argue that the hospital would be the best place for her, but those dark brown eyes stopped him. Heavy eyes, full of emotions that were being kept at bay by the shock that still held her body captive. It had been a long day for all of them; her especially. Waking up in the morning to have her parents and by the end of the night, left abandoned in a warehouse, an orphan.

He woke up, and immediately was greeted by darkness. A deafening silence rang in his ears and as he blinked up towards the darkness, he still couldn’t think of where he was. Only that it was dark, and cold, and for the first time in a long time, he felt fear.

Everything was fuzzy, buzzing around in his head like a swarm of moths. Nothing coherent was coming to mind, only that he had been talking to his sister through a mirror when there was a sudden bang. He’d gone outside to investigate when he…he…

He couldn’t remember. Only Gracia, the noise, and the bright light remained engraved into his mind. Everything else about his life, he remembered, ranging from his childhood to winning the war with Theseus the war hero by his side.

A dark thought came to his mind, threatening to claw out like some sort of beast. What if no one knew he was gone? What if they had gone after Gracia, or his aurors? Pressing a hand to his temple, he roused himself to his feet, hand searching his coat for his…wait, where was his wand?

“Looking for this?”

He whirled around to see a very pale face smirking at him, his hair and mustache a bright shade of pale blonde that resembled snow. Yet his eyes, storm gray on the left and pitch black on the right. The man’s smirk only grew wider, revealing teeth far too bright and sinister to be considered friendly.

“I’m so glad you’re here Mr. Graves. So sorry about this; getting you to comply with my plans would have been moot, so this was the next best option. Oh, where are my manners? My name is Gellert. Gellert Grindelwald.”

If this was hell, he knew he had just entered it and the likelihood of escaping was growing dim.

“Director Graves!”

Tina’s voice snapped him back to reality and he felt a rush of embarrassment crash over him like a wall of bricks. He kept his face cool, clearing his throat and maintain an air of calm that he didn’t necessarily feel at the moment. “Yes, Goldstein,” he nodded his head. “Please, repeat that.”

He had to tear his eyes away from her look of pity. That may not have been the correct word to use, but her eyes projected a strong aura of sympathy and concern. Much like Newt’s eyes, which stared at him like he wanted to say something but couldn’t figure out what.

“I said Mr. Scamander has the right idea,” she repeated, glancing over at her close friend and the child held carefully in his arms. He felt her magic, gentle but unyielding as it flowed through her and reached out towards him unknowingly. She smiled wanly. “He’ll stay at my place; I’ll make sure she stays safe till we figure out what to do.”

“Very well,” he nodded. “I’ll see you both in the morning.”

If either of them had anything else to say, they could talk to him in the morning. He stepped away, walking briskly over to the portkey they’d set up after arriving and arresting the two wizards who had willingly surrendered after he and Tina knocked them to the ground.

He sighed, mostly to himself. He doubted he was even going to head home tonight, already picturing in his mind the amount of reports that needed filled out and filed, questioning the suspects to get a statement out. He could hear one of the mediwitches’ voice in his head, lecturing him to take it easy before he lost all his hair. Or worse.

Yet, there were things that needed to be done. What had happened here, at Ashwood’s house, couldn’t be overlooked. Still on his desk in his office, the letter that Ashwood had received remained. The only clue they had going for them. He scowled, desperately yearning for another cup of coffee. The note was the only physical evidence. They had three suspects and of course, the only remaining witness: Calliope.

A few apparations later and a short walk to his office didn’t leave him in a better mood. People seemed to move out his way like he was a storm approaching over the whole city.

His office hadn’t changed too drastically in the hours he’d been away. Minus the clock whose hands had changed as the hours ticked on and the now cold cup of coffee that Newt had made him, left forgotten in the whirl of events.

He sat down, running a hand over his face and took a deep breath. The clock on his wall read eleven fifty, though it felt like much longer had passed. There was a crick in his neck, shoulders tense by the amount of work and stress that had elevated in a mere few hours.

He scowled. Perhaps the mediwitch was right, maybe it was time to take a vacation. Except if anyone even heard the words “Percival Graves” and “vacation”, in the same sentence, their heads might explode.

That almost brought a smile to his lips, if not for the sound of his door opening suddenly. There was only one person who had access to his office, and if she was visiting now, it couldn’t be anything good.

Seraphina Picquery, despite the tired bags laying heavily under her eyes, looked just as radiant and powerful as ever.

“Director Graves,” she spoke with effortless calm, full of authority that went unchallenged. For a moment, he could have sworn he saw regret in her eyes, but it vanished as soon as it came. She stepped into his office, healed boots tapping loudly against the marble floor. “We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

Home was a word he wasn’t quite used to using yet. Home was supposed to be a haven. It wasn't somewhere one would be scared to be at. It wasn't somewhere one would think of running from all the time. But he preferred his case. It felt safer than home. No one would attack him or his creatures. Nothing would hurt him. The ghosts of his past wouldn't hurt him there. There was still something about home that would take him back there every time he ran away. Each road he took led him back home. No place could feel better than home, though all that place had to offer him was fear, hurt, tears and scars.

Tina and Queenie’s home felt different. The apartment tucked away in the city was quite ordinary on the outside, with worn shutters and vines slithering up the edges of the brick walls. Inside was the gentle crackling of the hearth, chairs pulled inward to invite others towards warmth. He could almost hear the soothing music coming from the Victrola and smell the scents of strudel. A smile spread out across his face as he set his case down momentarily and adjusted the small blue bundle in his arms. 

He remembered he had to be quiet upon entering, less he be on the receiving end of Mrs. Esposito’s wrath. For a moment, he thought Calliope to be asleep, but the small tugging against the thin material of his shirt proved otherwise.

Tina glanced at him briefly, eyes quickly scanning the still girl in his arms. She hadn’t moved yet to slip past the wards on the building complex. “You must be tired,” she commented, eyes meeting his once more. There was still concern, the ever-present glimmer of worry reflecting in her deep brown eyes. “I can take her, if you want.”

From the small grip on his shirt tightening, he only smiled at his good friend tiredly. “It’s alright, Tina. I can manage.”

“I’ll take your case for you, then.”

She picked it up, and if he had any protests, they died before he could utter a single one. The apartment building was as quiet as a graveyard. He followed Tina quietly up the stairs, the other tenants in the building as quiet as mice scuttling about in the kitchen. Tina’s dark hair flowed about the end of her neck, brushing past the top of her shoulders. She had mentioned to him earlier about needing a haircut, but hardly having any time to do it. With the disappearance of Credence, Modesty, and the rest of the Second Salemers in general, Queenie had whispered to him that she spent many late nights in her office trying to hunt the remaining members all down.

He smiled wanly, reminding himself to later remind Tina to take a break. The image of Director Graves crossed his mind as well and he shook his head to free the thoughts from his mind. He wasn’t sure if telling the director to take a vacation was such a good idea. He’d heard fables from Tina, Queenie, and other aurors of those who had suggested that Percival Graves take a vacation.

“The only one,” O’Malley had stated in a mock form of seriousness when he had asked him about it one day. “To have ever survived saying that was President Picquery.”

If he were a fool, he might have believed that Graves had killed the aurors, but the mischievous smirk on O’Malley’s lips proved otherwise.

Tina tapped the door with her wand, quietly saying the password before it opened, letting in the sounds of soft jazz and the scents freshly prepared food. Queenie stood in the center of the parlor, wand out and adjusting the temperature of the fireplace with her wand. The crackling sound drowned out the small taps of rain hitting against the glass window panes.

 Lightening the bleak atmosphere, she smiled as they entered and tucked her wand away in the pocket of her soft pink dress. “Welcome back,” she gave Tina a quick hug before her blue gaze homed in on Calliope. “Oh goodness,” her lips pressed into a worried line as she rushed towards him. She peered curiously at the girl, who decided to then bury her face into his shoulder. “I have soup ready; she should at least eat something.”

He glanced at the grandfather lock in their parlor. Only a few minutes past eleven; much too late for a child this young to be up and about. Queenie was right, though, it was better for her to rest with a full stomach. Slowly, he kneeled to set Calliope down, making sure she was steady on her feet before removing his hands from her small shoulders. She stood very still next to him, almost as if she were glued to his side.

“Hey there honey,” Queenie smiled at her gently, speaking in a soft reassuring tone. “My name’s Queenie. Over there is my sister, Tina. Do you like soup? I made some soup for you if you would like.”

She moved forward to usher to the girl to the kitchen but Calliope instantly shrinked back, opting to hide behind his left leg.

Queenie only glanced at Tina, and he was suddenly felt both their gazes on him. He sighed, resting a hand on Calliope’s shoulder. “It’s okay; Queenie’s a friend. She won’t hurt you, and neither will Tina. How about we sit down and have some soup? Queenie’s cooking is really good, I promise.”

There was a brief pause before she nodded. She didn’t move until he offered his hand out, allowing him to lead her across the parlor to the small dining area. When he offered to remove his coat from her body, she stiffened once more, and her small fingers tightened around the blue material.

Perhaps he would need to buy a new coat? He smiled, shaking the thought away and sat down in the chair next to her. Queenie waved her wand once, her wrist twisting in a quick movement that lifted four bowls and plates from the cabinet next to the stove. He watched as Calliope’s eyes flickered with curiosity as the dinnerware was set in front of her, and he briefly pondered if she had ever seen magic before.

He quickly met Tina’s eyes, and knew she must have been thinking the same thing. Queenie seemed to pay no mind, concentrating on setting the bowl of mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, and freshly baked rolls down on the dining table.

He wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, though. The smell of blood from that house and the damp sewer water from the warehouse still clogged his nose. He had a feeling Calliope wasn’t very hungry either, for even when a serving a mashed potatoes and soup was put in her bowl, she didn’t even do so much as to lift her spoon.

She jumped when a soft rumble of thunder was heard, the rain now hitting the windows even harder. She bit her lip, grimacing at the pain from slightly tugging at the stiches that a mediwitch had given her once she had been evacuated from the warehouse.

Her eyes would always find a way back to him, he found himself noticing as he poured a little more soup into his bowl. He smiled softly at her, which promptly caused her to look away and continue to stare down at the food in front of her. After watching him eat, she finally picked up her spoon and gathered a small helping of potatoes.

He noticed Tina smiled as well, a sigh of relief escaping her as she buttered a roll. She turned to her sister thoughtfully. “I don’t think I have anything that’ll fit her. Do we still have some of our spare clothes from when we were younger?”

“Hmm, I don’t think so,” Queenie hummed, resting her chin briefly on her hands. “I’ll see if I have anything that might work for tonight. Her house is still a crime scene, right?”

Tina cleared her throat awkwardly. “Yes.”

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do.”

The rest of their dinner was in silence, with only the scraping of silverware and the occasional rumble of thunder that could be heard. The child merely poked at her food with vague interest, only taking a few bites every now and then. It was better than nothing, he supposed, though he didn’t blame her for her loss of appetite. Even Tina only took a few bites, chewing the food mournfully as her eyes gazed off into the distance, the bags now very evident.

The girl couldn’t stay here forever, he thought to himself as he took a sip from his tea cup. He could look after her, with Tina and Queenie’s assistance, but he knew nothing of raising children. Creatures and children were two very different things. His mother and Theseus had more experience than he did, but he doubted that his older brother wanted to get involved in a case like this. Theseus had always been a bit, well, overbearing for reasons he never quite understood. He was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, something that seemed to flabbergast most people.

Theseus would probably try to talk him out of taking care of the girl, Percival as well. He could understand their reasoning, but while he was inexperienced, he knew what was best for her at the moment. Her whole world had been shattered in a single day and in the process, she had lost something she would never have again. He sympathized with her, knowing what it was like to be alone in a place where he wasn’t wanted.

A tugging on his shirt sleeve drew his attention away and back to the small dining table. Calliope had gotten up somewhere during his musings and was pulling very adamantly on his shirt sleeve. “Are you done eating?” he asked gently, receiving a nod from her. He pushed his chair back, resting a hand on her shoulder. “Are you tired?”

Again, she nodded.

“I’ll go see what I can find,” Queenie stood up with the gracefulness of a ballerina and waltzed out of the room, disappearing behind one of the doors. She was gone for several minutes, leaving the three of them to silence. When she finally returned, it was with some very long, white cotton night gown. She placed it into the child’s arms, indicating towards the direction she just came from. “You can get dressed in there. When you’re done, you can have my bed. Does that sound alright, honey?”

She still said nothing, which made the two sisters look at each other once more. Tina sighed, settling her spoon down and waved her wand once to gather up the dishes. The water in the sink turned on by itself, momentarily catching the girl’s attention before Queenie led her away towards her room.

The moment they were gone, Tina rounded on him. “She doesn’t say anything,” she said so softly he almost didn’t hear her. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen cases where they’re quiet for this long.”

“She just lost her parents and was tortured by the very same people,” he smiled sadly, trying to push away the image of Percival carrying her out, her back open for all of them to see what those men had done to her. “She’s still in a state of shock, I think. I can’t say how long it will last.”

“None of the other kids we found had that symbol engraved into their skin, so why her?” Tina questioned out loud, fingers tapping against her chin in deep thought. Worry lines heavy around her eyes making her appear older than she looked. “I just don’t believe it’s solely based on the fact her father was an auror and her mother a no-mag.”

She brought up a point that had been stirring in the deep subconscious of his mind. Ashwood had hidden his secret very well, so well that the traffickers hadn’t noticed the first time around.

“They’re lovely, by the way. I commend you on being able to hide them for so long. You know where to find me.”

The note that still lay on Percival’s desk revealed so much, yet so little. Eloquent handwriting hiding in plain sight the secret of the case. Ashwood knew who this person was; had obviously spoken to them before. What was their connection? How had they known each other and had Calliope ever seen them?

“The girl’s not a no-mag,” Tina said softly after taking a long sip of her tea. She stared at the contents in the cup, the steam having long ago vanished. Her eyes wouldn’t meet his as she spoke, “You could sense it, couldn’t you? She has magic.”

“Yes, I know,” he could sense her magic from the moment Percival had carried her out of the warehouse. Her magic had been pulsating gently, like the tides of the ocean. Clean and soft, with the purity and innocence of a young child with little experience of the world. Hiding behind the facade, though, he could feel its power. Like the water, her magic was powerful, with enough force that crashed over him like an unrestrained tidal wave.

Illvermorny would hopefully have another great student to make them proud.

He eyed the case that had been left next to the couch, the reminder that he had to feed his creatures the only light on the bleak situation. He grasped the handle, laying it down on the ground to open it and when he was making his way down the ladder, a hand suddenly grabbed the light material of his shirt.

Calliope was staring at him, black hair pulled out of her face by one of Queenie’s ribbons. Her body was engulfed in a cream-colored night gown that was much too big for her, but she didn’t seem to care as her grip tightened. Queenie smiled apologetically. “She saw you getting in the case and jumped off the bed,” the blonde took her by the shoulder with a soft, delicate hand. “It’s okay, Calliope, Newt will be up with us in the morning.”

The girl shook the hand off her, fingers almost digging into his skin. He recognized the fear in her eyes glowing from unshed tears, the way her lower lip trembled ever so slightly. She was afraid, he realized abruptly. She was afraid, in a strange place that belonged to people she didn’t even know and for whatever reason that was unknown to him, she decided that he was her security blanket.

“It’s alright, Queenie,” he said reassuringly to his friend, stopping her from attempting to pull the child away. “She can stay in the case tonight.”

Tina raised an eyebrow at this. “Do you even have enough room in there?”

He gave her a shy, tentatively cheeky smile. “I’ll manage.”

He motioned for the girl to follow him down, making his way towards the bottom and waited for her. He worried, as he waited and watched as she took cautious steps down, that she would lose her footing and fall. The night gown really was too big and while he appreciated Queenie’s efforts at making quick adjustments for it, he wondered if it was at all possible to return to her home and get some of her clothes.

Was that even ethical? He’d have to ask Theseus or Percival.

The house had seen better days. Years ago, the white paint was a smooth unbroken layer and the window frames a brilliant white on top of new wood. Yet, as fifteen years went by since first acquiring the case, with no thought to maintenance had reduced it to the kind of place that any realtor would hate to list. No one else would want it, but it worked perfectly for him. Just enough space to house his workspace and tucked in a corner was his bed that he never bothered making. It was messy and chaotic, but he knew where everything was, so it fit his needs well.

She stood in the middle of the small room looking terribly out of place, peering curiously around his body to take a look at the creatures outside. He had to smile at that, rummaging through one of the cupboards above for an extra blanket. She shuffled past him to look out the open door, hand placed gingerly on the frame and eyes wide as she took in the sights. A few stopped what they were doing, the Dung beetles and the family of graphorns eagerly awaiting their meal stopped to stare back at her. Gazes flittering from her to him as if to suggest how incredulous they thought he was to bring her here.

He found what he was looking for, throwing it over his shoulder and moved to stand beside her, smiling encouragingly. “This is Calliope, she’s a friend of ours,” he added, giving them each a look that hopefully told them that she wasn’t a threat. “She’ll be staying here for an indefinite amount of time.”

A hand found their way to his and pulled on it lightly. She was looking towards the bed with a sleepy look, silently reminding him why she was down here. He gave a quick sigh, “Come on now,” he said to her serenely, leading her to where he usually slept. She hopped up on it, getting underneath the covers and staring up at him with an unreadable expression. He tucked her in, speaking to her quietly, “If you need anything, I’ll be here. I won’t leave you here alone, I promise. Sleep well.”

She snuggled underneath the blankets, eyelids heavy before they closed together. He stayed a few moments in the house, getting the creatures’ food ready but still listening as her breathing evened out. The ones outside still looked in her direction, obviously not knowing what to think quite yet. Much like how only last December when a certain muggle entered and instantly fell enchanted.

Of course, they liked Jacob now, he noted, and it was hard not to. The American baker enjoyed coming down to help him, or just sit and chat for a while. He was a great listener and like most Americans he’d met, they were not afraid to voice their opinions at any moment. Muggle or not, it was one thing they shared it common and it was a pity they couldn’t see past that.

Dougal stayed inside the house, gathering up herbs and other plants for the creatures who did not eat meat, yet his gaze still fell on the sleeping girl. He didn’t poke at her, or stare too long, he just merely observed her. Eventually he came out, eyes motioning back towards the house as if he were asking why she was there.

“Her parents were murdered,” he told the demiguise as he gingerly fed the occamys in their nest, keeping his vision on them so they wouldn’t accidentally bite off one of his fingers. Dougal only blinked at him once before his eyes retreated to looking at the house. He wiped his hands on his pants, grabbing the bucket for the mooncalves as he spoke, “We don’t know who did, or why. They took her, you see, but they made it too easy for us to find her. Whoever did this to her wanted her to be left alive.”

He suppressed the sudden chill that involuntarily crept its way down his spine. Dougal just stared at him, and with the way his eyes stared down at him, he knew exactly what the rare creature was thinking. “No, Dougal, I don’t think he had a part to play in it this time.”

Whatever was going on, it could wait. He grabbed an extra pillow and blanket the moment he was done feeding his friends, opting to set up a make-shift camp where Missy usually slept. She was busy sleeping in her pile of stolen gold, not even noticing him as he settled down. Up above it was dark, with the illusion of a moon and stars he’d created over time to give a resemblance to the outside world.

Staring at it, he fell asleep, mind heavy with deep thoughts that he managed to push away to corners of his mind…

He dreamed of his childhood; of summers spent outside and winters that brought the delicate snow that laced the ground like powdered sugar on his mother’s ginger loaf. The happy years, before Theseus went off to Hogwarts and left him with a feeling of loneliness that could only be cured by being around the hippogriphs and studying the garden gnomes. In the seasons when Theseus was not home, he would explore as much as he could without getting caught by their parents. They worried more than most parents for reasons he didn’t quite know.

There was a store in the old village where they lived that sold muggle candy as well as wizard’s. It didn’t cost a penny anymore, but it was all the same stuff to him. There were little hard sweets that tasted like soap, toffees and peppermint sticks that were kept in clean, ordinary jars. Then of course there was the wizard candy imported all the way from Honeydukes, where on rare occasions, they were permitted to get Acid pops, chocolate cauldrons, chocolate frogs or anything else their small hearts desired. They could only self-serve in little scoops to white paper bags and the walls were adorned with nostalgic black and white prints from decades ago.

The frontage had been redesigned to look like a heritage building. The bay front window was broken into rectangles by a lattice of white wood and the door was a glossy cherry red. The owners, happy old married couple, still greeted everyone as “sir” or “ma ’m” regardless of blood status. It wasn’t a grand store like Honeydukes, but it still offered a homey vibe that was hard to find in some buildings.

One summer day in July, they had been allowed to go. It was particularly hot, and Theseus had been given strict orders, “Look after Newton. Don’t let him cross the street on his own; hold his hand. And for the love of Merlin if he sees a stray dog or cat, don’t let him pet it!” To which Theseus nodded curtly, with every intention of listening to their well-meaning requests.

His brother had just turned eleven and was very excited to go to Hogwarts. He received his letter in the mail a week ago and would not stop talking about it. His storm gray eyes were wild with excitement and although he had been happy, he clutched his older brother’s hand tighter with apprehension. He was a selfish boy, he thought to himself, wanting Theseus to stay at home with him and their parents. Not that he was ever going to tell his beloved older brother these thoughts, for Theseus would just get angry.

They had decided to grab ice cream at the store one day, with Theseus having to wipe his face a few times like a mother hen regardless of his protests that he could do it himself. His older brother had huffed, muttering darkly under his breath about looking after his little brother and how he wasn’t going to be able to once he went to Hogwarts.

The mood had shifted after that, with Theseus asking him about any new lawn gnome discoveries. It kept them occupied for another half hour, with his older brother looking at him with a patient smile. They decided to bring back a few more sweets, along with some cauldron cakes for their parents. He waited by the cherry red door, gazing out the window towards the people living out their daily lives. Theseus was in line, holding the little bags they’d filled up and talking with one of his schoolmates who was going to Hogwarts as well.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed something run by. A scruffy dog, with patches of matted fur and an injured leg, had settled outside the shop. It panted, blinking at watching the people who ignored it as they walked by. He glanced over at his brother carefully. Theseus was distracted, laughing at something his friend said. He wouldn’t mind terribly if he left for a few seconds, right? He would come right back, just as if he’d never left.

He managed to sneak out the door right as another customer walked in, the bell attached ringing jovially. In his hand were the cauldron cakes Theseus had asked him to hold and he took one out, kneeling down to the dog’s eye level. “Here you go, doggy,” he grinned as the dog accepted the cake, tail wagging happily as it swallowed and then looked at him with expecting brown eyes. He smiled sadly at the pitiful creature. “I’m sorry, if I give you more, Thee will get angry with me.”

“I do believe that sweets are not good for dogs. Correct me if I am wrong, though.”

He jumped at the soft, foreign voice that sounded from behind him. He turned quickly, eyes widening at the cloaked figure standing across from him. He backed up, the dog whimpering slightly out of fear. He couldn’t see much of the man’s face, only the small quirk of his lips. “Hello there, little one. What’s your name?”

“Theseus…told me not to talk to strangers,” he backed up even further, avoiding the man’s gaze. Even though he still couldn’t see much, there was a nagging voice that told him to get away. The man chuckled as he stepped towards him. “Your brother is a smart boy. You should mind him more, Newton.”

He only swallowed and out of fear, the dog hobbled away. He looked over his shoulder, watching briefly as it limped away and when he returned his gaze back to the man, he found he was much closer. His body tensed, ready to take flight when a hand landed on his head. Long fingers gently massaged their way through his curls affectionately and he was met with the great impression that this man knew him. Question was, who was he? More importantly, how did he know his name?

He opened his mouth to ask the man only to find himself once again alone in front of the store. Most people who walked by ignored him, not even paying him a glance as he stared at the direction the man had been. The glossy red door burst open, revealing a very upset and worried Theseus. “Newton Artemis Fido Scamander!” the older boy hissed, setting their bags momentarily on the ground and resting his hands on his shoulders. “Where were you? What have I told you about wandering off? You had me worried sick!”

He felt bad, the guilt washing over him like rain. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, avoiding his brother’s stormy gaze. “There was a dog and…”

He couldn’t finish the last part of the sentence; he was sure Theseus would be even more angry with him, so he kept it to himself. Not that it went unnoticed by his older brother. “And what?” he asked, voice tense and his eyes hiding an emotion he couldn’t read.

“And,” he cleared his throat, quickly coming up with an answer, “The dog was hurt, Thee! I wanted to-“

“There’s nothing you could have done for it,” Theseus sighed, but looked less angry than before. He took him by the hand, the other reaching for the small bags. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Everything blurred, and the memory turned into a simple mist. He was left with a heart that thumped steadily in his chest. It was better, he supposed, than thinking about things that were painful. Yet he still felt like he was in a frigid steam room with every breath. His eyes flew open, landing on the makeshift stars in the sky. He wasn‘t sure what time it was, only that most of the creatures were sound asleep in their nests. He smiled as Missy cooed, gathering more treasure around her body as she slept. The soft noises made a smile turn his lips, and he closed his eyes once more to the peace.

Only to have them fly open at the sound of a scream.

He tumbled out of his make shift blanket, tripping over one of his mooncalves as every creature in the case woke up at the sudden sound. The scream wasn’t from one of the creatures, so that only left one other option as he stumbled into the small house. Calliope sat up in her bed, no longer screaming but crying quite loudly. Loud wailing sounds, like a newborn taking their first breath. He hurried over to her, taking a spot on the end of the bed and resting a hand on her shaking form. “Calliope,” he spoke firmly, yet gently. She was shaking, her face wet and blotchy with tears and her bottom lip quivered. Her eyes widened when she realized he was sitting next to her. She scooted closer to him, looking as though another sob would burst past her lips. “Calliope,” he spoke again, and she attached herself to him, small arms wrapping around him. The creatures poked their heads in the doorway and windows but made no move to enter. He rocked her back and forth, a calming technique his mother and Theseus used on him when he was her age. “It’s alright, you’re safe. You’re safe here, Calliope.”

She continued to shake like a leaf, tightening her arms. A sound broke out, soft and broken, allowing him the realization that she had spoken, “Mommy, Daddy,” she whispered, voice hoarse from the crying. “Where are they?”

“They’re gone,” he didn’t lie to her, even when fresh tears spilled down her pale cheeks. Lying to her wouldn’t do any good; nothing could bring them back. “But you’re here, and safe.”

“Hurts,” she whimpered, burying her face in his shirt.

“Is it your back?” he asked gently, to which she nodded. He smiled softly. “I can help. There’s an ointment that I can create to ease it. Would you like that?”

She nodded, removing her arms so he could get up and go to his work station. The balm only required a few simple ingredients that were easy enough to find in the house. He worked in silence, missing herbs and water together to form a paste. Completely aware of her dark brown gaze on him. He gave her a quick smile, noting that she had stopped crying though a few tears still fell down her face. It was good, he thought to himself, that she was speaking once more.

“The bad men,” she said so suddenly that he almost knocked over one of the vials on the bench. He tensed, eyes still staring at the opaque mixture in the bowl. She sniffled, arms wrapping around her knees. “They…they took Mommy away from me.”

“Director Graves has them in custody, they will not be going out into the streets ever again,” he assumed they would be given the death sentence and he tried not to think about his last experience in that room. He moved back towards the bed, setting the bowl on the table. “The men that took the lives of your parents will pay for their crimes. Can I see your back?”

He looked away as she undid the top buttons of the night gown, turning around on the bed so he could see her back. The symbol was huge, taking up most her back with the tip of the triangle nearing her shoulder blades. The ink would never leave her skin, forever leaving a reminder of what happened to her and her family.

Greater good indeed, he snorted. Around the ink were small red bumps, most likely causing the pain and leaving an angry red impression. It would heal in a few days, the paste helping, but the inked scar would last a lifetime. “Merlin’s beard,” he muttered softly, applying some of the paste on her back gently. She flinched from the stinging but said nothing. She, he grimly realized, had been through worse. “Sorry about the stinging; it shouldn’t hurt for much longer.”

She nodded, turning her head to observe him. She still looked tired, but her eyes were alive. A harrowing question burning in them as she asked, “When can I go home?”

Sadly, he did not have an answer to that question. He set the paste back down on the table and she began to button up the dress once more. He pressed his lips together in a thin line. “I don’t know,” he answered after a moment’s thought. She tucked herself back in the bed, a frown forming as she most likely tried to find a reason. “We’ll go into MACUSA later today and see what can be done, alright?”

“Okay.”

She turned her back to him, laying on her left side. He wanted to block out the quiet sniffles, but found he couldn’t as he stayed with her till she fell asleep once more.

Chapter Text

Organized papers and files lay about on Picquery’s desk, a quill and ink pot next to an article she had been looking over before. The previous president’s office had been a drab sort of place he recalled, with little to no decoration aside from a few photos of his family and other important figures. Picquery’s office was like his, the same size and furnishing, but with mauve floral wallpaper that hinted at a feminine touch. The flower, the Cherokee rose, was a reminder of her home state of Georgia served as the only reminder of her southern roots. A single photograph of her and her mother when she was younger the only indication of how close she was to her family. There was a smaller photograph on her desk hidden from any outside view that was tucked away behind a quill pen holder, holding two photos of a man and a girl. Her husband and her daughter whom he had met before on a few occasions. The only two people he had ever seen her display a separate aspect of her personality; a smile and kindness reserved only for them.

It was certainly not shown for him at this moment. She sat at her desk with her hands laced together and her dark eyes staring straight into his. A cup of black tea let out small puffs of steam but was left ignored for the time being. She looked as tired as he did, and he wondered for a moment what was keeping her thoughts occupied, but knew now was not the time to ask. Amidst the papers was The New York Ghost, and the image on it immediately drew him in.

There she was, the little girl, standing in the center of the page with a familiar coat wrapped around her. Newt stood next to her, a comforting hand on her shoulder as if he felt he could take the entire weight of the world off her shoulders.

“It was taken earlier this evening,” Picquery answered the unspoken question with a slightly drawl tone. “Apparently your team didn’t do such an extensive job to keep the press at bay.”

He ignored the not so subtle jab with a grimace, fingers lightly tapping the arm rest of his seat in thought. “The press would have gotten wind of the event regardless of our efforts,” he responded boldly, meeting her steely gaze. “The most important thing is we got the children out, obliviated, and returned to no-mag custody.”

“All of them?” and though her voice had lowered and hardened, there was a softness in her eyes that a select few would be able to dissert out. She had leaned forward, resting her chin momentarily on her individual ringed fingers. He didn’t have to answer that question either; she already knew and she sighed. “She’s in Goldstein’s custody, am I correct in that assumption?”

“Technically Scamander’s,” he amended, and she raised an eyebrow. He tactfully added on to that previous statement. “It was Mr. Scamander’s idea that she stay with him and Goldstein for the night. They-we, thought it would be best if she had some time away from all the chaos her father caused.”

She twisted the ring on her left ring finger, the golden wedding band twisting and casting a soft golden light to dance around on the table. She closed her eyes briefly, letting out another sigh and shook her head. “You should see what the press is saying; mind you, none of its good,” she added darkly, sliding the paper over to him. “One commentator, I believed mentioned, awful things about that little girl. Said something about sending her back to Korea.”

“As if she would have been able to go in this economy,” he muttered, taking the paper off the desk and opening the crisp off-white pages. The image of the girl had been forever ingrained into his memory, along with the tender look on Newt’s face as he draped the coat around her. He felt a sharp pang of sympathy go out towards her, an innocent victim caught up in a devastating turn of events. His eyes moved down the page, quickly absorbing the comments and opinions that already seemed to have collected in quite a large quantity.

They varied from sympathetic to downright atrocious, and he found it difficult to stomach the few comments that mentioned her impure blood heritage. Stating that indeed, she should be sent back to her mother’s family’s home country, or that she needed to be obliviated and left to her own devices. The most harrowing one had to be that her whole family should be ashamed; that they got what they deserved.

Despite this, she had felt so light in his arms. The warehouse hadn’t been in use since 1910 and the city had made no move to do anything with it. A quick “notice-me-not” charm and it was completely indistinguishable to the no-mag’s. The inside had been so dark, dimly lit with a few enchantments and tossed on the damp ground had been the girl. Staring at him with dark brown eyes that told him that somehow, she knew that she was alone in the world.

“You didn’t oblivate her,” it wasn’t a question, and Picquery’s voice had changed its timber to mild curiosity.

“No,” he responded curtly, purposefully avoiding her gaze. It was not entirely uncommon for other wizards to feel another’s magic. Some were gifted with this sensitivity, though few had ever been able of refining it. Albus Dumbledore, if he recalled correctly, had mastered this ability to the point of recognizing another’s magical signature. He recalled, albeit bitterly, that his own ability of this had been lost during his imprisonment. Through torture and experimentation, Grindelwald had nearly destroyed him. Would have left him to waste away in that pocket watch if it were not for his name and importance in the magical community.

Perhaps he felt like he was, at times, and then he would appear in a flash of blue. Robin’s egg blue eyes would find his and there would be a soft brush of something nourishing and calm, easing him into a sense of serenity. Grindelwald’s had been something forceful and heavy, like a dark oppression that suffocated him. The girl’s, though only feeling it for a moment, was raw and unrestrained with potential.

“She’s not a squib; she has magic,” he said after a pregnant pause. “Ashwood most likely knew this, and I doubt he expected Illvermorny to take her in.”

“Last time I heard, Hogwarts isn’t taking in any American students,” Picquery commented dryly before abruptly changing the nature of the discussion. “Anyway, we’ll get back on the child later. My question is how something like this was allowed to happen again?”

“We didn’t obtain every member into our custody,” he reminded her, an odd feeling of irritation causing him to grind his teeth. “However, I believe the nature of their work was different this time around.”

“Oh? How so?”

“They didn’t have Grindelwald’s mark back then,” he watched as she bristled at the very name, a similar sensation running through his blood as well. “And they made it almost too easy to find us. I suggest that this isn’t over with; they wanted us to find that girl.”

She frowned harder. “Other than going against everything Grindelwald stands for, not to mention a personal attack towards MACUSA, I ask what sets this girl apart from the other children. Why did they want us to find her?”

It’s a question that made him rack his brain for an answer, but was unable to come up with one. What Picquery stated was true; Grindelwald and his followers were not subtle in their attitudes towards no-mag’s and the nonsense of blood purity. He cleared his throat, running a hand over his face and sighed. “We need to do more investigating on that. In the meantime, have the Ashwood’s responded?”

“They won’t get here till tomorrow,” she responded quickly. “They’re upset, to say the least.”

“They didn’t even know they had a granddaughter,” he stated, shaking his head in pity. “How are they going to react?”

Picquery’s lips tightened in a way that suggested an answer he would rather not hear, but needed to anyway. “Ashwood came from one of the few pure blood families in the states. How do you think they’re going to react now that they know their youngest son married a no-mag woman?”

“I see.”

“If they don’t react well, there’s the matter of custody towards the girl. She’ll be placed under MACUSA protection until suitable arrangements can be found,” she said briskly, changing the focus of the subject back to the girl in once swift moment. “Aside from that, there’s something else we need to go over. It’s imperative to this case that we know exactly what happened.”

He held back the grimace. “You want to go through her memories.”

“As I said, we need to know if she has any other information. If Ashwood or his wife were still alive, it wouldn’t have to be this way. But she’s the only remaining witness and the sooner we have the memory, the better.”

“This is a child we’re talking about-“

“Don’t think for a second I’m not aware of that,” she interrupted sharply, an almost murderous gleam in her eye and her hands gripping her desk so tightly he could see her knuckles pale. “It’s uncomfortable, yes, I know, but if something like this were to happen again, we need to apprehend the one who is responsible.”

He felt tempted to sigh again, but refrained from doing so. “I can extract the memory and use the pensieve, but it’s risky. I don’t recall the last time we used it and…” he trailed off, finding no room in his heart to finish that sentence. Begrudgingly he had accepted that his magic skill was not the same as it had once been, but accepting it left him with a bitter feeling. “Otherwise, I can always get a legilimens to do it.”

“I imagine she’d be more cooperative if you or Mr. Scamander were to do it,” Picquery added quickly, though not as an afterthought. The firmness in her eyes had lessened, allowing for a split second of possible affection to seep through. “Ashwood would have had you do it.”

He caught a glimpse of heaviness hidden deeply, very deeply in her chocolate brown eyes. He could count off hand how many aurors he’d lost on numerous of cases and raids. He remembered them all, each man and woman who now had their photos framed on the wall outside, a reminder towards all who became aurors that these were the people who held the highest honor. Yet it was he or even Picquery who wrote the letters to the families when one of them died. Picquery couldn’t express how this affected her. She didn’t have the luxury of being emotional and had an image to uphold. The burden she, and the rest of them, bared with unwavering loyalty.

“You aren’t thinking of obliviating her, are you?” he asked abruptly, immensely uncomfortable with the silence that had befallen her office.

She kept her expression neutral, looking towards the tea cup as though it were the most unusual thing in the room. “Given any other circumstance, she would have to be. However, since you and the reports say she has magic, I’m not sure we can. I wrote to Illvermorny, asking if she had already been written in their book of incoming students, but I have not heard back yet.”

“Hm,” he shook his head. “It can wait; she’s only four.”

“Regardless, if we know now, we can at least have the information put away for the time being,” she countered evenly, the crinkling of a smile pulling at her lips. She leaned back her chair, scanning his body with a scrutinizing stare. “Percival, you should go home. You look exhausted.”

“I’m fine-“

She raised her eyes. “As president, I would say that if you’re this exhausted, you’re a liability. As your friend, however, I’m telling you to go home. It’s late, and I need you to at least have some rest for tomorrow.”

He bowed his head. “As you wish.”

Before he could even step out the door, her voice stopped him just as he was about to turn the handle. “Percival,” her voice cut through the thick silence. “That twitch…have you seen a mediwitch about that?”

“How?” he asked, but he didn’t need to. Of course, she knew; why wouldn’t she? One of the others must have informed her, or quite possibly she concluded this question from her own observations.

“That’s not important,” she stated firmly. “I would recommend-“

“Thanks,” he interrupted, holding up a hand. “But I assure you that I’m fine. It’s nothing to worry about.”

From the look on her face, he knew full well she was calling him out on his bullshit. Tempting him to see how long he could keep it up.

He could only sigh for the umpteenth time that night.

Chapter Text

The three of them must have looked odd, Newt mused, walking down the streets of New York City.

Him with his unruly auburn curls and blue coat that stuck out like a sore thumb against the more subdued colors of the other New Yorkers. Tina on his left side with her lips pursed together grimly and changing the pace of their step with every street they walked down. Finally, Calliope in the middle of them with stitches above her upper lip and her tight grip on his hand.

He was suddenly thankful for having long arms, so he didn’t have to bend down too much to allow Calliope to clutch his hand. She didn’t walk terribly quickly, so their pace was slowed down a bit, in hopes she didn’t get too tired and potentially get cranky. She did not say anything towards him when he woke up that morning, finding her playing with Missy in front of the house with what appeared to be a smile.

Just like the night before, she was silent, taking in the world with curious dark brown eyes. Every so often Tina would glance down at her and then tear her gaze away just as quick as it had come. The child had been dressed in mismatched clothing that spoke of older times. A hemmed brown skirt that belonged to one of the sisters during their school years and a long blue jumper with a white collar that draped over the skirt. Her socks had been magically shrunk so that they’d fit her, but even still, they slipped down her knees and gathered around at her shins.

“We’re almost there,” Tina spoke up suddenly, though he wasn’t sure on who exactly she was talking to. “Just one more block to go.”

He simply nodded, and Calliope must have heard it too for she squeezed his hand even more tightly as they crossed the street. She stared up at the Woolworth building, taking in its sheer size and height. He smiled. “It’s more impressive inside,” he said, adding quickly. “I remember my first time going in. Tina had arrested me.”

She whipped her head around to stare up at him incredulously. The question burned in her eyes, quickly turning her head to look up towards Tina. The auror was still pursing her lips, though this time to fight the smile that tugged the corners of her lips upward. The spark of amusement soon faded, leaving behind a glimmer of apprehension that made her tighten her grip on her wand. He didn’t need to have Queenie’s skill of legilimens to know what she was thinking. It seemed Calliope sensed it too, for the curiosity in her eyes soon faded into worry and she now faulted in her step.

He could only squeeze her hand reassuringly. “It’ll be alright,” he said to her gently. “I promised I won’t let anything hurt you.”

She just fixed him with that same worried look, and only tightened her grip even further, causing him to almost wince. For someone so small, she had a strong grip when she wanted to and the look on her face suggested she was now both scared and curious at the same time. An interesting combination that only made them stand out even more, probably.

After yesterday’s hasty exit, MACUSA hadn’t changed much over night. They got into the main entrance with little to no resistance aside from the man holding the door giving the child a perturbed look that suggested he wanted to say something, but wisely kept his mouth shut. Rightly so, the look Tina gave the man was enough to discourage any sort of rude behavior.

She took everything in, he noted, with wide impressive eyes. Her grip on his hand loosened enough that it could easily slip out if he didn’t pay attention. A sort of soft smile grew on his face at the sight of her amazement at the magic energy around her, almost like his own experience entering MACUSA headquarters for the first time. The hands on the clock tower sat at blue, issuing a high alert, for reasons he could only assume at the moment. The murder of a senior auror had clearly shifted the mood of the work place. The already tense atmosphere of arising Grindelwald supporters also did not help matters. Fear did that, he supposed. When word would spread that an auror and his pregnant muggle wife had been killed, he could almost feel the flames of uproar licking at his back. Despite the fact he broke MACUSA’s most revered law, it would only be a matter of time before the crowds flocked to MACUSA’s doors and demand justice for the criminal who dared kill an auror. A pureblood American auror at that, and though the thought of that made his chest tighten uncomfortably, blood status always played the most important part.

“Come on,” snapping him out of his musings was Tina’s hurried tone, her fingers reaching out to tug gently on his coat. Calliope trailed after him, still fascinated and distracted by the activities around her. Her gaze currently fixated on a house-elf polishing the wand of a witch, regardless if she knew it was rude to stare so long. Tina sighed in almost exasperation, eyeing the girl. “We have to see Madam President in five minutes!”

That explained her hurry and anticipation to get to work early, though even she woke up late for once. She had woken up at 7:15, much later than her usual time and by then, Queenie had already served them breakfast. She really needed to take a day or two off, if not to catch up on lost hours of sleep.

“Come along,” he ushered the girl along, breaking her intense stare down with the house-elf and leading her towards the entrance of the elevator.

Like the house-elf polishing wands, Red had also captured Calliope’s interest. An interesting contrast, he noted. How she could be shy and apprehensive in one moment, and then almost intrusively curious in the next. The way she stared at Red gave him the inclination that this was the first time she had ever seen house-elves.

Red glared. “What are you lookin’ at, eh?”

With that, she immediately gave a sharp intake of breath and moved to hide behind his legs, allowing only a part of herself to be shown. Tina shook her head at this, but even he could tell she wasn’t entirely unamused. “Major Investigation Department,” was all she said and with one more scowl towards the girl, Red closed the gate.

It was certainly awkward, and no one said anything on the way up. Tina stared pointedly ahead of her, foot tapping almost impatiently against the linoleum flooring. If Red had anything more to say to the child currently hiding behind his legs, he said nothing and continued to sneer at her every time he caught her gaze. Newt could only sigh in exasperation and pray to Merlin that the elevator did not get stuck. The sooner they reached Percival’s office, the better.

The thought of the current Director of Magical Law Enforcement brought a pink hue to his cheeks, like he was a school girl at Hogwarts with her first crush. Contrary to most people’s thoughts, he wasn’t oblivious to his own feelings, nor to the ones of others. He was very much aware of lingering stares and the way Percival’s eyes would soften when they were alone together. It didn’t help that Queenie told him once, when they were walking back from Jacob’s bakery, that Percival had compared his eyes to that of a robin’s egg. She had giggled like a school girl as his face went bright red.

Percival was handsome in a way that he could catch the attention of both witches and wizards. Tall and dark haired, with whiskey dark eyes that held a sea of emotions that most could not possibly fathom. Behind those mysterious eyes, was a small, curtained window that held back the pain that he could not show.

Newt understood why, though he personally thought it was unfair. Theseus held a similar window and to the same extent, he himself did too. If he wanted to be philosophical, everyone did, muggle and wizard alike. Yet his had his creatures to help deal with the pain, and Theseus had his work and overprotective brotherly tendencies to deal with his, however bothersome and tiring it was to Newt. Percival had no one to share his pain with. At least no one he was close to or anyone that Newt was aware of.

Percival sharing the fact he had a sister, one he was close to, was something he knew that Percival trusted very little with this information. He would be a liar if he said he didn’t feel a little touched that Percival considered him someone he could trust.

“Here ya go, Goldstein. Major Investigation Department.”

“Thank you,” was Tina’s short reply as she brusquely walked off the elevator, Newt and Calliope in tow. The Major Investigation Department hadn’t changed that much overnight, he noticed as they stood and waited for either President Picquery or Percival to receive them. He noticed, and held back the smile, as Calliope stared at the papers on the desk as though she waned to see what they were. Her grip on his hand relaxed, but tightened every other second as if reminding him not to let her go. O’Malley and Patel were no where in sight, along with the other senior aurors, leaving him with an odd feeling that they were sent somewhere else. Definitely not a good sign.

The doors opened suddenly, in walking President Picquery and Percival. He met Newt’s eyes, and he was met with a sort of grimness that did not sit well with him. He noticed Tina stiffen beside him, her own expression darkening into one of resignation and rolled her shoulders back. No one said anything for the longest moment, leaving only the sound of a clock ticking steadily in the background and the faint almost inaudible muffled noises of people in the distance.

Percival broke the foreboding silence with a cough, snapping everyone out of their reverie and turning his attention to Calliope, still clutching Newt’s hand. He might have found it surprising, noticing that she did not shy away from Percival, had it not been for the fact that Percival had been the one to save her.

He knelt before her with a soft smile reserved only for those he deemed in need of one. “Hello Calliope,” he spoke to her gently, offering his hand out to her. “My name is Percival Graves. Do you remember me?”

Calliope didn’t say anything, though she did take the hand offered to her and gave him a shy, tentative smile. Percival held her tiny dainty hand carefully as though she were a delicate china doll that would break if he pressed to hard. He inclined his head towards Picquery, who watched the scene with an unreadable expression.

“This is President Picquery,” Percival introduced the small girl towards the stern looking woman. “She runs things around here. She’s here to help put the people who hurt you away. To do this, we’re going to need your help. Do you think you can help us?”

Newt wasn’t surprised when she nodded her head, though how much of what Percival said she understood was certainly questionable. No doubt she was afraid, Newt couldn’t help but muse as Calliope released Percival’s hand and stepped back to take his own once again. He didn’t blame her; anyone who had just had their whole life thrown into uncertainty and fear would be.

“Mr. and Mrs. Ashwood will be arriving soon,” Picquery announced, folding her hands in front of her, allowing everyone to see the note that had just arrived from an owl now sitting on his perch, cleaning his snow-white feathers. Though she paused at everyone’s stiffening response, she spoke more evenly. “In the meantime, we need to get her account on what happened yesterday.”

“Madam President,” said Tina politely. “Allow me to do it…”

“No,” Picquery cut in, not sharply, but calmly. “You will be coming with me to brief the Ashwood’s on what happened. They’ll probably want to speak with someone who was there.”

Newt met Picquery’s gaze and knew with full certainty that was not the only reason. She wasn’t referring for him to do it. Mind magic was much too complicated for him, and though it wasn’t unfamiliar, it definitely was not something he would feel comfortable using on another person. Without her even having to say so, she made it clear to Newt and Percival that Calliope would be more cooperative and trusting if both of them were there.

“We’ll leave you to it,” were Picquery’s final words before she motioned for Tina to follow her. Tina shot him one last look of solace before following the president out the door.

“Alright then,” Percival wasted no time, kneeling back down to Calliope and gave her another gentle smile. “Calliope, there is something I need you to help me with. It may hurt, and I know it might be hard to do, but I need you to remember what happened yesterday. Do you think you can be brave and help me?”

Calliope met his soft gaze with more uncertainty, and Newt found her dark brown gaze staring up at him with unrestrained anticipation. “I’ll be right here with you,” he said patiently, squeezing her hand for extra good measure. “If you want to stop, then we’ll stop. Okay?”

She did not speak for what seemed to be a very long minute. She stared minutely at him, and he found himself unable to look away from her. It was the same look that creatures gave him those first few days of being in the case. Aware of their surroundings, but still so unsure about everything else. Even though she had been loved by her parents, the past twenty-four hours had proven to her that she should be warier around everyone. Even the ones who promised her protection.

“Okay,” she said finally, focusing her attention back to Percival.

Newt watched as Percival removed his wand, bringing it slowly to the scalp of he girl’s head just a little above the temple. “There will be a little pressure; nothing that should hurt but you can tell me if it does,” Percival warned her, speaking in the same even manner that he did with his creatures. When she didn’t respond, he continued forward. “Now I need you to remember what happened yesterday. Tell me about your day, Calliope.”

She paused, wetting her lips as she closed her eyes tightly. “I woke up and had breakfast with Mommy and Daddy,” she sounded unsure, more than likely not knowing where to begin. “I gave Daddy a hug before he went to work and promised him that I would be a good girl and do what Mommy tells me to do.”

“Think of your dad’s hug, Calliope,” Percival glanced quickly up on him. “Or focus on holding Newt’s hand. What happened after your dad left?”

“I helped Mommy clean up the house. She said I did a really good job with the dusting and said I could go play in my room till she was ready to show me something special to her. I was playing with my dolls, and she called me back to show me something she called a Jesa, and that when Daddy got home, we would pray and have a big dinner. Like the one we have at Christmas. She said that when I grow up, I can have a Jesa of my own.”

“And then what happened?”

“Four men showed up wearing bathrobes, I think,” she paused once again, and while Newt knew they were probably not wearing bathrobes, it made sense for her to think they were. She continued with her recollection, voice getting softer with each word. “They pointed their wands at Mommy and me. They told us to not move or they would make us sorry. One of them went upstairs. I couldn’t see his face, but I think he was the leader.”

As she paused again, a wisp of iridescent vapory silver had begun to form at the tip of Percival’s sleek black wand. Percival kept his face neutral as Calliope’s face contorted with the memory of something so unpleasant and horrible that no one in their right mind would want to remember.

“Daddy came back…one man took him away upstairs as he called out to us. Mommy looked like she waned to cry, but she didn’t. She begged them to let me go, but they said no and said bad words to her. One of them reached his hand out towards me, but Mommy got really mad. She took a knife and stabbed him right here,” she pointed towards her upper arm, a little way down the shoulder. “He screamed so loudly and began to bleed. The other man, he pointed his wand in Mommy’s direction. She started screaming and fell to the floor. I started crying and the man Mommy hurt started acting funny. The man who took Daddy away came back and shot a green light at Mommy. She fell over and she…she didn’t get up.”

“Did they say anything to you?” Percival asked gently.

“No,” she shook her head sharply. “Everything went dark after that. I woke up and it was dark and cold. The floor was wet. There were a few other kids, but I couldn’t see them very well. I remember my back hurt a lot, and…”

“It’s okay, you don’t have to keep going.” Percival stopped her abruptly, pulling his wand away from her head and slipping the silvery memory into a vial. It bounced against the glass momentarily, pulsating serenely like a candle. Newt met with a sudden realization that Calliope had let go of his hand. Her hands were rubbing furiously at her face. Her shoulders shook uncontrollably and from behind her hands he could hear the sniffles.

He stepped forward to comfort the child, but he didn’t have to. Percival had already wrapped his arms around the girl. He spoke not a single word other than the occasional murmur that the ones who hurt her could not do it again and that she was safe within the walls of MACUSA. He didn’t talk down to her or give her words of pity. He simply held her and allowed her to grieve without any interruptions.

Newt pressed his hand down on her shoulder and met Percival’s eyes as they looked to each other in equal recognition.

Calliope pulled away after a long moment of clutching onto Percival. She still kept wiping at her eyes, now blotchy and her nose running. Percival simply gave a quick wave of his wand and a handkerchief fell from the sky, landing in the palm of her hand. She said nothing but gave a quick smile of gratitude.

“Are we interrupting something here, Mr. Graves? Mr. Scamander?”

He nearly jumped out his coat and cursed himself silently for not noticing Picquery’s presence earlier. She stood near the entryway with her jaw rigid and her eyes blazing with cool fire. He quickly felt uneasy, suddenly feeling the urge to pull Calliope back towards him and keep her out of the president’s way.

“No, Madam President,” Percival rose to his feet, straightening out his robes with professional expertise. “Are the Ashwood’s here?”

Picquery nodded once in answer, stepping forward to allow the new comers to enter the room. Newt inclined his head to look over Tina’s shoulder as she passed, coming to stand next to him. The sour expression on her face told him everything and he braced himself for an unpleasant encounter.

Mr. Ashwood was a man in his early sixties. His first impression gave away an air of austerity and a self-contained demeanor. A man who held himself in high regard as a descendant of a Northern colonist family and one who took a great pride in being a yankee. A man who took family values with a sort of arrogance that only a pureblood could ever obtain.

Mrs. Ashwood was fair virtually to extreme of being translucent. Tall for a woman and willowy, with slender hands that held onto her purse as though she were suspicious of everyone around her. Her dark brows and lashes, were in stark contrast to how pale she was, gave a touch of character and distinction. It didn’t take long for him to realize she came from the old world, with how she held herself erect and with an air of disinterest.

He felt the strange urge to scoff at the presence of these purebloods but settled on tightening his jaw instead. The couple stared at their granddaughter with a mix of curiosity, disbelief and a dash of disgust. Instinctively, Calliope pulled his hand, and he almost gave a sigh of relief to know she was as uncomfortable as he was.

“So, this is my brother’s child?”

Another man walked into the department, and for a moment, he thought it was Seoirse Ashwood returned from the dead. A brother, he realized, and found there was a distinct resemblance between the two of them. He was well built, tall like his parents and his blue eyes were alert to everything that was going on. He could have looked stern if it were not for the smile tugging at his lips. Not a pleasant smile, but a crude smirk that was not appropriate at all for the situation.

A woman was with him, her arm tucked into his. She was noticeably shorter than her companions and like them, dressed in black. Golden hair tucked into a low bun, face half concealed by a veil connected to her black hat. Her eyes collected and bore tragically every wrong doing that had been poured upon her. Her lips smiled politely, but her eyes ceased to be a part of the world.

“Alistair,” Ashwood’s brother stuck his hand out towards Percival, who took it with a tightly sealed smile. “Seoirse’s older brother. This is my wife, Helena, and I can see you’ve met my parents. You’re the man who found my brother and…his wife?”

Mr. Ashwood gave a snort of disgust.

Percival, ever the professional, ignored the older man. “Yes,” he answered placidly. “Ms. Goldstein here, and Mr. Scamander were instrumental in aiding the capture of the perpetrators, along with the rest of my team. Mr. Scamander here was kind enough to offer shelter to your niece.”

 “Mr. Scamander?” Alistair raised his eyebrows, turning his attention towards Newt, who stiffened. “You wrote that book, didn’t you? That extermination guide for beasts?”

“It’s a book to understand and care for creatures, not exterminate them,” Newt ground out, though one look form Picquery warned him to keep his anger in check and remain civil. “But Ms. Goldstein and I were the ones to take care of her while you and your family made the journey here.”

They could have arrived sooner, he thought bitterly. A wealthy family like theirs probably had all the means of travel they could ever need. No, they didn’t appear to care much for being in the headquarters of M.A.C.U.S.A. They hadn’t said a word towards their granddaughter, he noted as he watched Mr. and Mrs. Ashwood speak quietly with Picquery. They would spare her glances, but no sympathy, no kind words. They just looked at her distantly, too wrapped up in their own world to spare her any affection.

“You are her only remaining family,” Picquery spoke up suddenly, a burning fire in her eyes and her tone sharp. “By law, you have to take her in. Unless you make other arrangements, then I am not giving you any choice in the matter.”

“We had no idea she even existed,” Mr. Ashwood argued back, more heatedly than Picquery. “Why should we pay for our son’s mistake? Our name will be ruined; we have a reputation to uphold! Our son has disgraced the family name! Isn’t that punishment enough?”

Calliope stared at them numbly, not even registering the words they used to describe her. He wanted to hold her close, shield her away from these awful people and give them a good knock of sense. Picquery didn’t seem all too surprised by their reactions, and he had the inkling she had dealt with these kinds of people before. She stood firm, arms crossed over her chest. “She is your kin, not a punishment. Now, please calm down so we can discuss this like adults.”

“What is to discuss?” Mrs. Ashwood spoke for the first time, a low voice with the slightest hint of an accent. “Our son lied to us and now look where that’s gotten him,” she closed her eyes and took in a deep sigh, face briefly allowing the grief to show. If Newt wasn’t feeling angry, he might have felt sorry for her. “We cannot possibly take in another child. Not at a time like this.”

“Again, you are her only remaining family,” Percival cut in before Picquery could speak. “Her mother’s parents died during the epidemic of 18. And as our Madam President said, you have a responsibility for her well being.”

“And as we said, why should we?” Mr. Ashwood snapped. “Since our son didn’t feel the need to inform us on his little fling with a no-mag woman,” he said this with absolute disgust. “Then we should be under no obligation to be responsible for his mistakes.”

“Besides,” Alistair spoke up. “Are there not orphanages you could send her to? Work houses? Those still take in children, don’t they?”

Newt could not contain it any longer. Siting idly by was never his style when the voiceless could not speak up. “She’s not a mistake,” he said, loud enough for everyone to hear him without needing to shout. “She’s a child who has just witnessed something so horrible. She needs someone to look after and protect her! Your son died protecting her, your granddaughter. You can’t just speak about her like she’s an inconvenience!”

 Mr. Ashwood sneered. “She’s no family of mine.”

“Seoirse broke the law,” Alistair sighed, as though stressed out from having to speak. “He made his bed, now he has to lie in it. My little brother always was an incorrigible fool. First, he becomes an auror against our parents’ wishes, and now we’ve found he’s broken the law by marrying some oriental no-mag woman, polluting our family’s blood with this brat.”

“How dare you,” Percival said so lowly it sounded like a growl. Even Tina stepped back, eyes widening in surprise. The auror’s knuckles had been turning white the minute Alistair began to speak and his eyes burned darkly. “You have no right to speak about one of my aurors in such a way! You have no disrespect him in front of his own daughter! Where do you get off speaking about him?”

“Director Graves,” Picquery cut through the tension like a knife. She glared at him sharply. “You will calm down or I will ask you to leave this office. Do I make myself clear?”

Percival didn’t look all too happy about being reprimanded but was wise enough to follow the president’s order. Tina appeared as though she wanted nothing more than to leave the room.

Picquery pursed her lips together. “If you do not take her in, then you forfeit any rights to custody. You will not have a say in who takes her in or how she is raised. You will have no familial rights over her. Is that acceptable for you, or would you perhaps like to reconsider?”

“There is nothing to reconsider,” Mr. Ashwood sneered. “We will have nothing to do with this child!”

“Alright then,” Picquery said before turning her attention towards Alistair. “And what of you? You are her next of kin, as her uncle.”

“Helena’s health is fragile,” Alistair stated in a way that seemed matter o’ fact. “I spend quite a bit of my energy and time to make sure she is well. When I’m not looking after her, I’m busy with work.”

Helena, who had remained silent the entire time, merely nodded her head with downcast eyes.

“I will take her in,” Newt said firmly, without even a second thought. “Madam President, if you would permit me too.”

“Mr. Scamander, you are currently staying with Ms. Goldstein here till you find a place of your own, correct?”

“Yes, Madam President.”

“In a two-bedroom apartment?”

“Last time I checked,” he answered back perhaps a bit too cheekily.

She ignored it, much to his relief and continued to address him with a tone that sounded like she was hinting towards something he couldn’t figure out. Her mind running a thousand miles a minute as she stared him down. “Since you do not have a place of your own yet that would be more accessible to a child, I cannot in my position allow that,” she glanced at Tina. “And I know Ms. Goldstein’s landlady does not allow men on the premise.”

Tina flushed bright red, taking a sudden great amount of interest at her shoes.

“However,” Picquery let the word hang in the air, allowing a moment of suspense. “I will grant you temporary partial custody of her if someone is willing to take partial custody with you. Director Graves?”

Percival raised his brows. “You cannot be serious.”

“I’ve seen the way she interacts with both of you. She has been more receptive to your efforts than anyone else,” at Newt’s confusion, she indicated towards Tina. “Goldstein filled me on last night’s events. In any other circumstance, I would send her to one of our orphanages, but as I have been reviewing this case, it is obvious that finding her was almost too easy. Whoever was the mastermind behind all this is still out there. Calliope’s life is at risk and needs protection. As I’ve been observing you, she responds to both your efforts than anyone else’s.”

“Madam President-”

“Until our culprit is found, you and Mr. Scamander will be her temporary guardians,” Picquery said, with an air of finality that anyone who even thought of opposing her kept their mouth shut. She let out a sigh, straightening out her jacket. “Ms. Goldstein, I think you can take things from here. I’m sure the Ashwood’s would like to make funeral arrangements for their son.”

“Of course, Madam President,” Tina bowed her head respectfully. Turning to the family, her demeanor had lost some of its earlier warmth and she reminded Newt of ice. “Please, follow me.”

They left without even sparing a glance at their youngest member of their family, instead opting to send heated glares at him and Percival as they went. He could feel Calliope press against him, mouth pressed in a thin line and eyes watering again. All the life had drained out of her in one short hour, and she appeared as though she would collapse on the spot.

“Newt?” she asked in a small, almost inaudible voice. “Am I mistake?”

He grasped her by the shoulders quickly, holding them firmly. Not enough to cause her pain, but to make sure she did not look away. “Calliope,” he began softly, catching her attention as heavy dark brown eyes searched his face. “Calliope don’t think for a minute that you are a mistake. Those people, who said those rude things, don’t even think on them. None of the things they said are true. But you know what is?”

She tilted her head. “What?”

“They didn’t mention that you’re brave. So incredibly brave,” he smiled to her, hoping to remove the frown from her face. “You are so many things, Calliope. So many things that you have yet to figure out and show the world, but a mistake is not one of them. Your parents loved you so much and did so much to try to protect you. Not once did they ever think of you as a mistake.”

She allowed two tears to fall down her face before using her sleeve to wipe them away. “Okay,” came her muffled reply.

He offered her an encouraging smile, not even having to look up to know that Percival was watching him with reverential respect.

His cheeks turned a faint shade of pink in response.

Chapter Text

Life wasn’t fair, Percival knew that better than anyone else. It took, and it took, and it took till there was nothing. Calliope, put into his care for a reason that didn’t seem very sound to him, knew this better than anyone else her age. To be a child and have the people who were supposed to love and protect her turn her away, was unfair. It was unfair of her father to keep her and her mother a secret instead of relocating to Canada or England. It was even more unfair to have to witness something so horrible at such a young age. But life was full injustices that did not discriminate between wizard and no-mag.

Her life had been completely normal and the bitter feeling that surged through him became worse with each interaction she had. Calliope had been a ray of sunshine, much like his own sister had been when they were young. With a dimpled smile and dark innocent eyes that could perceive no wrongs in the world. It felt so intrusive watching her, knowing full well what was to come next.

She sat on her knees, kneeling in front of a dollhouse that looked like it had seen better days, but she didn’t seem to mind. Her black hair fell past her shoulders, contrasting with the lilac printed dress she had been wearing for the special event that was supposed to happen.

Next to her stocking clad feet, there were two dolls standing in the parlor of the small house. Seoirse must have made them at some point, seeing as how they looked very similar to him and his wife. The dolls would move, and a fond memory crept through his defenses. A memory of rainy summer days spent playing with his younger sister with her fancy Victorian dollhouse. Calliope held as much joy as his sister had, chatting happily to herself as she positioned the dolls around.

“You have to be a good girl today,” she imitated a deeper sounding voice, trying to sound stern. “Today is a very special day for Mommy, so you need to help her out. Can you do that?”

“Yes Daddy,” in her other hand, there was a smaller doll. In an outfit that mimicked her own and the doll held a very similar appearance to the mother doll that was in the kitchen. The smaller doll then hugged the father doll, and Percival felt his chest tighten. “Have a good day! Come back home soon!”

Calliope watched as the father doll moved on his way out of the house, where he then promptly lay on the ground till she had further use of him. The small child began to hum quietly to herself, a gay little tune that only she herself knew. This was not his favorite part of his job, and the cheerful atmosphere of the home only dampened his mood.

It occurred to him, suddenly, that he was a mere spectator of a play. One he had seen before, countless of times over, and regardless of if he knew the ending or not, he still had an urge to shout and yell “Run!” to the mute ears of the actors. The love that radiated deep within the home would be forever tainted. Sadness lingered, he knew from past experiences, and the house would never be the same again.

“Soon there’ll be a new member in the family,” Calliope gave a smile so full of sunshine it hurt. The mother doll had moved from the kitchen to hug the girl doll, an embrace he never recalled his own mother doing very often. “You’re going to have a little brother. So that means you’re going to be a big sister.”

“What will he look like?”

“Well, we’ll find out in five months, now won’t we?”

He felt nauseas, and an immediate urge to leave the memory. The no-mag woman had been pregnant with a boy. The mediwitches had relayed this information to him after an autopsy on the body. The no-mag, Angela Ashwood, had been tortured with the Cruciatus curse. This had been made aware to him when he first found her body, still warm with lingering life and a hand curled protectively over her middle.

“Calliope come here please!”

“Coming Mommy!”

She immediately set the dolls aside, smoothing down the bottom of her dress before bouncing off to their parlor. Her black hair flying behind her and him as her unwilling shadow that followed. The parlor didn’t look that differently from when he first saw it. Of course, when he saw it, there was drying blood on the wall and on the floor.

A sort of altar had been constructed against the left side window next to the fire place. The white table cloth looked as soft as silk; delicate and something they probably didn’t use very often. Two candles on either side and the two stone markers that held Korean writing. Her parents’ names, Newt had said to him. Calliope had been learning her family’s traditions, and on that same day, her family had been taken from her. The irony made him frown bitterly.

Her mother stood before the altar, humming the same tune Calliope had been earlier. Her ink colored hair tied up in a bun and the light catching her eyes made them a rich dark brown. She took her daughter by the hand, pointing towards the food on the table. Soup, wine, a plate of beef with vegetables and different kinds of fruit sat on the alar, her mother gesturing towards each item.

“Your grandfather was particularly fond of this beef dish,” her mother, Angela, spoke in a fond tone. “Your grandmother made it for him every year on his birthday. And your grandmother, she loved making this taro soup when it was very cold out. She told me her mother would make it extra hot during the winter months in Korea.”

“Where’s Korea?” Calliope asked innocently, stumbling over the words.

“It’s very far from here, near China,” Angela responded, releasing her daughter’s hand so she could adjust the tablet with Korean writing. “Your grandparents lived near the sea and until they came to America, your grandfather would go out to sea and sell fish.”

“Why did they come to America?”

“Well,” Angela paused, mulling over the words to explain them in a way a child could understand. “They were poor. They had lost their son one winter when he got very sick. His suffering prompted them to seek a new life, so they moved to New York.”

“And then you were born?”

Angela gave a small laugh, letting her hand fall to her daughter’s head to stroke her hair. “Yes, and then I was born. Then I grew up and met your father. We married, and we now have a wonderful, beautiful daughter,” her other hand came to rest on her rounded stomach. “And soon, you’ll have a little brother. Aren’t you happy to be a big sister?”

Calliope tilted her head. “How do you know I’ll have a brother?”

“Hmmm, mother’s intuition. You’ll understand when you’re a mother someday.”

Calliope’s brow furrowed in confusion. “How can I have babies? Daddy said a house-elf delivers them, is that true?”

Angela’s face turned pink and she hid the laugh by pretending to cough. “You’ll have to ask your Daddy when he gets home. I’m not so sure about house-elves, but I’m sure he knows all about where babies come from.”

He had to smile at the mischievous glimmer in the woman’s eyes, and then had to ignore the wave of gloom that threatened to wash over him. He didn’t know this woman; would never get the chance to know her, but from the conversation he’d been listening to and the interactions between mother and daughter, it was clear as crystal that this woman loved Calliope very much.

When the door opened, the spell of happiness that thrived in this house vanished all at once.

Angela frowned, hands twisting the white apron over her dress. “It’s barely mid-morning; much too early for your father to be home yet,” she strode quickly towards the entryway of the living room, stands of hair threatening to spill loose. She gave her daughter a quick look. “Wait right there, I’ll be back in a moment.”

There were several things Percival wanted to do in that moment. One, would be to actually travel back in time and prevent the slaughter that would inevitably occur. Two, would be to step past Calliope’s limited perspective on the event and find out who was the one in charge of the unfortunate affair. And the third, would be to protect the innocent child that would forever be changed in a matter of minutes. Yet neither of these three things would happen. He was not usually a man who would stare up at the night sky or toss a coin into a fountain to wish these atrocities away. He’d seen the worst of what witches and wizards could to no-mag’s and each other. But in this moment, he wished there was something he could do.

The more he thought about it, he wished the horrible things that happened to him had never happened. However dismal the thought may be, he knew quite well it was childish and selfish to wish those things. Better him having to suffer for his failure to escape getting captured than someone like his junior or senior aurors. Or one of the Goldstein sisters.

Or Newt.

He quickly pushed that thought aside, not wanting to think of unpleasant things and Newt together. He was rather unlucky in this regard, for Angela returned. With men wearing black cloaks that covered a large portion of their faces following her, wands pointed threateningly. Angela stepped carefully towards Calliope, hands protectively encircling her stomach and her face paler than the tablecloth.

Calliope looked between the men and her mother, face conflicting between confusion and fear. “Mommy,” she hid behind her mother, wrapping her hands around her mother’s waist. “Who are they? Where’s Daddy?”

“Shhh,” her mother hushed her sharply, hands wrapping around her child to keep her close. Her dark eyes homed in on the men, glaring coldly. “Who are you? What business do you have in my house?”

“You better keep your mouth shut, you no-mag bitch,” one of the men sneered, continuing to point his wand at her threateningly. Percival recognized this man’s voice as the one they had captured, Mr. Fischer. “Or I’ll do something that’ll keep it shut.”

“My husband is an auror,” Angela stated this with deadly calm, keeping her jaw set and her grip on her child firm. “He will not stand for this, you know. Now, could you lower your wand? You are scaring my daughter and I do not appreciate that.”

“Be quiet,” the other man snapped. “You have no right to be talking to your superiors like that.”

“Mommy,” Calliope spoke up, not tearing her eyes away from the wands pointed at them. “Mommy, I’m scared.”

“Hush,” Angela reprimanded her. “Don’t say a word, you hear me?”

“You better keep your brat quiet too,” Fischer leered, staring maliciously down at the girl in such a way that Percival wanted to strike him down all over again. “Or we’ll find ways of keeping her quiet too.”

“You will do no such thing. The child is not to be touched.”

He took his attention away from the men pointing their wands to the two men standing by the archway. Both wearing the same black robes, but one of them had a silver cloak clasp that appeared like two crescent moons facing left and right on each side. His cloak looked finer than the other three; more expensive with only the finest material. Someone rich, Percival frowned deeply. Someone that clearly was the leader, and one that didn’t have to speak when he had someone to do it for him. Definitely a piece of information to tuck away for further observation.

It didn’t exactly fit Grindelwald’s motif. Yes, attacking no-mag’s seemed to be no problem for him, but that was always to make a statement. Behind every attack, there was a strategic and tactful reason behind it. Yet this seemed to be the work of someone else. Someone who followed the “Greater Good” ideology but had completely gone about their own way of doing it.

The man wearing the ornate cloak clasp turned away, and he cursed himself for not being able to have a better look at him. Before he left, he whispered something to the man who’d been standing next to him, and that man only nodded swiftly.

“Keep an eye on them,” he ordered disdainfully. “Make sure they don’t try and escape.”

The front door burst open, and he knew immediately that Seoirse had returned to his home. The heavy footsteps echoed in the hall but were soon halted by the man he assumed was second in command. “Angela! Calliope! Wait- who are you? I demand you let me through at once! How dare you treat my family this way!”

An eerie silence had fallen over the house, and all he could hear now was the sound of muffled voices. As Calliope had told him, the man had taken Seoirse upstairs, more than likely threatening his wife and daughter’s lives if he didn’t comply. He looked back to the woman and her child cornered near the fireplace like a pair of animals. Despite the fierce desire to protect her child, Angela had decided to take a different route. Her eyes had become misty with unshed tears that she was doing an immense job at holding in.

“Please,” she begged softly, keeping her tone relaxed but earnest. “Please, can’t you see my daughter is just a child? There is no reason to frighten her like this, so please let her go! You can keep me here, but let my daughter go free! She has no use for you! What could you possibly need from an innocent, defenseless child.”

“Hey, keep quiet,” Fischer stepped forward, pointing his wand farther. “This is the last time I’m going to warn you!”

It suddenly clicked that this was what Angela wanted. By pleading and trying to appear like a helpless woman, she had been inching ever so closely to the table with each plea. The men would have made terrible aurors, he mused as he watched her slender fingers wrap around the handle of the steak knife that had been set near the plate of beef.

In that moment, she had shaken Calliope off her, pushing the child back so that she fell to the floor in shock. She moved fast, for a no-mag, though it had to be fueled by adrenaline and the fierce urge to protect her child. Percival felt a new deep respect for the woman, who had not let her lack of magic stop her from trying to help her child escape.

Clearly though, she didn’t know where she was supposed to hit, for Fisher attempted to block her. The knife ended up wedged in his arm rather deep, enough so that he howled quite loudly. Thick, heavy blood flowed from his arm as he forcefully yanked the knife out, flecks of blood landing on his face and floor. He either didn’t know how to stop the blood, or the most likely case, in too much pain and anger to care.

“YOU BITCH!” he cried out, face paling as his grip on his wand tightened. His face was pallid, but his eyes burned with a vengeful fire. “CRUCIO!”

Angela had not been prepared for the impact of the curse. Percival braced himself, holding back the tightness that rose in his throat and made his fingers twitch nervously. Her head hit the mantle of the fireplace as she fell to the ground, her own blood spilling onto the floor and specks of it flying onto Calliope.

 “Run!” were what the instincts that in protest screamed at him, and at once, he felt ashamed. He hadn’t been able to run the last time. He hadn’t been able to move or see at all really. There was darkness, and cold, and an indescribable pain that he did not dare want to speak about.

The same pain that Angela Ashwood had felt in her last moments of life. She curled into herself on the floor, screaming as her hands wrapped around her pregnancy bump, trying to protect the baby inside of her. Earsplitting, was the best way to describe it. Not shrill, but long and holding a deep immeasurable pain she had likely never endured. A stray thought ran across his mind suggesting he cover his ears, but he pushed it aside as the memory of the pain sprung forward unwantedly.  A thousand invisible knives carving into the flesh all at once, and you couldn’t see where they were coming from or how long it would last. He remembered laying on the cold metal floor, all sense of time lost and begging for death to take him into their embrace.

He forced himself to look at Calliope. She could only stand there, eyes wide and enraptured by a force that wouldn’t let her go. Mind shattering shock had replaced fear in that moment, a force so powerful it could prevent the person from even moving. He had seen it before in victims many times. Unable to bring themselves to calm down, their eyes disconnected from everything going on around them. Calliope could only stare at her mother, her body going rigid as she watched the dark wizard shout the curse at her, over and over again.

Angela just continued to give blood curdling screams.

Had it only been moments later, she would have lost the baby. One of the mediwitches informed she had been in the early stages of miscarriage. He could only grimace at the reminder.

Footsteps alerted him that one of the other wizards had returned. The cloaked man gave a snarl of anger, pushing Fischer to the side. “What are you doing you idiot? Do you want to alert everyone that we are here?”

“The bitch stabbed me!”

“Does it look like I care? She’s a no-mag; you shouldn’t have let her stab you in the first place,” the man spat towards the barely conscious woman in distaste. “Unbelievable! You’re about as worthless as she is.”

The other man pointing his wand towards Calliope sighed in boredom. “What are you down here for? Is that auror causing trouble?”

“He was.”

Percival recognized that tone and immediately the anger resurfaced. Ashwood had probably been trying to outmaneuver his captors to rescue his family, but ultimately failed. Fischer looked back down towards Angela in contempt. “What do we do now? Kill ‘em both?”

“The child goes with us,” the man, who seemed to be the second-in-command, gestured towards Calliope with disinterest. “Clean up your mess here and we’ll be on our way. No doubt the aurors will show up soon.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

The second-in-command must have finally snapped, nostrils flaring as he shoved Fischer aside roughly. The wizard who had sighed in boredom merely stepped aside and allowed the injured wizard to fall down in an ungraceful heap by his feet.
“Idiot,” the wizard grumbled, now directing his own wand towards Angela. “This is how you remove trash.”

He knew the words by heart. He could have chosen to close his eyes but found he could not look away. The cloaked wizard flourished his wand expertly, the words uttered from his mouth with no hesitation. “Avada Kedavra.

Percival let out the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding in. He didn’t even flinch as a flash of bright green light emerged out of the wand. It hit Angela before she even had time to realize what was happening. She didn’t scream; didn’t try to drag her body away. Her hand reached out in the direction of her daughter, wide and terrified, as though prompting her to run.

Her body fell back towards the grown the moment the curse hit her, bloodied head smacking the ground and her eyes shrouded over. Not closed; no one who died from the curse ever had their eyes closed. Calliope still just stood there, motionless and staring at her mother’s body. He couldn’t know what was going on in her mind, only that she was into much stress to even do anything.

The wizard with the cloak clasp returned, entering the room with silent footsteps. He gave a sigh of irritation that seemed to say he was surrounded by idiots. “Grab the girl,” he ordered, not even sparing a glance at the dead woman on the floor. The wizard who had simply moved aside when Fischer had fallen stepped towards the shocked girl carefully, wand still pointing at her with a readiness to strike if need be.

“Knock her out,” the wizard in charge stated in a tone of afterthought. “I don’t need her to cause trouble.”

“Will do, sir.”

He had expected the wizard to stupefy her, or perform another spell to knock her out, but that did not happen. He pulled Calliope by the collar of her dress, lifting her a few inches off the ground so that her feet dangled slightly in the air. He brought his wand hand down harshly over her face, one of the points of the wand slicing the skin above her lip. She cried out once before going limp, blood beginning to dribble down over her lips and chin.

The image blurred into wisps of black smoke, her memory dissolving into nothing as he ejected himself out of the memory. With a gasp, he pulled his head from the bronze bowl of the pensieve, wiping at his face hurriedly as though it was wet. His heart beat fast, a sense of vertigo spilling over him as he forced himself to take deep breaths.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out….

“Percival?”

In the darkened room where they kept the pensieve, Newt’s figure was illuminated by the silver glow the object gave. It brought out the blue in his eyes, making them appear sharper against the dull glow of the pensieve. Newt didn’t reach his hand out, respecting his space, but still stared at him with a touch of intrigue.

“Fischer tortured her mother, but he didn’t kill her. That was one of the others,” he stated shortly. “Of the other two men we captured, we only have the one who knocked Calliope out. The other man had just been guarding the other captured children.”

It honestly hadn’t taken long to get the statement out of the other two wizards they had captured. The one who had knocked Calliope out had been difficult at first, but after an hour of pressing on, he managed to wear him down enough for the wizard to admit that the one who had killed Angela had left the warehouse long before Percival and his auror team had arrived.

“He didn’t know the names of the wizards who were in charge. The only name he knew was Fischer’s.”

Newt didn’t say anything for a moment, but eventually he let out a sigh. “Not surprising. Better to use an alias when conducting illegal business,” the redhead managed to crack a small smile. “Not that I would know.”

If this was Newt’s attempt at a joke, well, he couldn’t say it didn’t work. He couldn’t help but smile at Newt’s effort, despite how dismal the implication was.

“Is there something you’re hiding, Newt?” he asked, only hoping the small smile on his face could mask how exhausted he truly felt.

To his relief, Newt played along. “Of course not, Percival.”

The silence that fell between them felt natural. Any other person, and perhaps it would have felt more awkward or even forced. Newt allowed the bowtruckle (Snickett?) to crawl steadily up to his shoulder and perch there like an owl. The Brit was alone, completely at ease seeing as they were the only ones in the room.

The thought suddenly occurred to him, an itch in the back of his mind that something was not quite right. “Where’s Calliope?” Percival asked, not even bothering to hide the curiosity that leaked through his tone. “Did she willingly leave your side?”

“Sort of,” replied Newt, the small smile on his face tightening. “But I needed to speak with you, so Tina said she would take her to get lunch. She trusts Tina, I believe. Enough so that she didn’t argue.”

“Tina is trustworthy,” he agreed. “She wouldn’t do anything that would deliberately put Calliope in danger.”

“She wouldn’t,” Newt agreed. The bowtruckle on his shoulder now making its way towards the other shoulder, its dark eyes not leaving his. As if the creature thought he was untrustworthy. Newt caught his gaze, following it to the creature. He smiled softly. “Don’t worry; he’s just a little wary around people he doesn’t know very well.”

“Snickett’s known me for over six months.”

“Yes, Pickett has known you for well over six months. He’s just more cautious after the whole,” Newt paused, eyes darting away out of discomfort. “The whole Grindelwald incident.”

“I see.”

“I don’t mean any offense by that. Pickett’s just afraid that he’ll be used as a bargaining chip again; not that I was actually going to give him to Gnarlack. But he’ll come around to you, since we’re going to be seeing each other quite a bit, I imagine.”

Of course, he didn’t take any offense, but the sting that still pricked him was difficult to ignore. Another reminder of his failure to stop Grindelwald from capturing him in the first place. It was a bit ridiculous to get worked up over the opinion of a bowtruckle, one might say. Yet the immediate distrust from the creature was enough to dampen his spirits.

He pushed it aside for now, meeting Newt’s blue gaze again. “I’ve been meaning to speak to about that,” he had Newt’s full attention now, and he swallowed quickly. “I understand Picquery’s intentions about choosing me as a temporary guardian, but I am not a good choice.”

“Percival-”

He held up a hand, stopping Newt from starting whatever he was going to say. “Regardless of my own opinions in the matter, I will do as my president asks me. Yet I feel though it is in Calliope’s best interests if you are near her.”

Frowning slightly, Newt stared him with incredulity. “You’re saying you want me to move in with you.” he stated quietly.

He willed his heartbeat to calm down, even though it felt like it was pounding so hard against his chest. If he were younger and less trained in professionalism, he would have been blushing furiously at the insinuation.

“Essentially, yes,” he replied evenly, not betraying the fluttering feeling that danced along his sternum. “Until the one in charge of her kidnapping is found, she needs protection. She can’t stay at Tina’s place, so my home is the next best option.”

“And you want me to move in because of the connection Calliope and I have.”

That was one of putting it, he supposed. The child had a strong attachment to Newt that didn’t necessarily surprise him. People were drawn to the magizoologist in different ways, so it seemed likely he could connect to the girl who had lost everything.

“It’s only temporary,” Percival added quickly. “My home is protected very well, so anyone who would even try to harm her would have difficulties getting in.”

Newt pursed his lips together. “I couldn’t impose,” he said gently. “I understand your point, but it would cause talk. I don’t normally care about talk; I can handle it, but it would involve you and I couldn’t do that.”

“You don’t think I can handle work-place gossip? Really Newt, I thought you knew me better than that,” he mused, watching as Newt’s cheeks flushed a very faint pink. “Newt, you don’t have to worry. Besides, most people here wouldn’t even care.”

“I suppose that is true,” Newt said thoughtfully, with a little tilt of his head. “You live in a manor outside of the city, don’t you?”

“Yes,” said Percival quickly. “As I said, it’s well protected with runes and enchantments. Even Grindelwald wasn’t able to get in.” He didn’t feel he needed to mention the obvious pride he took in that fact and the glimmer in Newt’s eyes told him he knew.

“It would, perhaps, be better for Calliope to get away from all the noise of the city. It would allow her to give her some space to begin recovering,” Newt said thoughtfully. At once, his lips quirked upwards as if hiding some mischievous thought. “Theseus would never approve.”

He opened his mouth to respond to that, but then quickly shut it. He cleared his throat awkwardly, now just realizing that Newt had made another one of those remarks that most would not find particularly funny. A sort of private joke shared between the two of them that Percival couldn’t help but find oddly amusing.

“Of course, he wouldn’t; he doesn’t approve of a lot of things, does he?”

“He means well,” Newt sighed, fondness with a mix of irritation. “But it’s rather bothersome at times being treated like a child.”

“He spoke of you a great deal,” Percival said absently. All the letters he’d been sent, and long conversations over a bottle of whisky during those gloomy war days. “His younger brother who was going to give him gray hair before he turned forty.”

“Oh, he won’t need me to do that,” Newt raised his eyes to the ceiling. “He does like to be dramatic.”

“Try having a sister,” he couldn’t help but give a sigh of his own. “Especially one that has no qualms with telling you what to do.”

“They would get along fine,” Newt said amusedly. “Perhaps one day, in better circumstances that is, if ever they should meet.”

They met with silence once more, the only sound being the soft, faint sound of the pensieve babbling in the distance. Newt shuffled his feet awkwardly, lips pursed in deep thought. He knew whenever Newt was thinking hard about something, his mouth would press together in a thin line. His eyes would darken, making the blue seem more of a darker gray, not unlike his older brother’s.

“If you do not feel it would trouble you, then I accept your proposal,” Newt said, very formally, Percival noticed. The British wizard straightened up, offering him a tentative smile. “I do hope you won’t mind me letting my creatures out for a bit though. Not in the house, of course.”

He shrugged, finding the rosy blush on Newt’s cheeks to be rather endearing. “As long as they don’t become loose in the city. Again,” he teased lightly, watching as the blush darkened further. He added further. “I am afraid to admit my home is dreadfully quiet. Some noise might liven the place up.”

“Quiet isn’t necessarily bad,” Newt said thoughtfully. “I do prefer it, at times, to the babel of people.”

“Well, there is something we have in common, Newt.”

The smile on Newt’s face appeared again, more genuine than it was for most other people. “Tickety-boo, then,” and while Percival had no idea what that meant, by the look on Newt’s face, he figured it didn’t mean anything sarcastic. Newt cleared his throat abruptly, reigning in the amusement. “I do have something I’d like to ask you, though.”

“Go ahead. Shoot.”

“Most of Calliope’s things are still at her home. She needs her clothes and probably other necessities that are there. I understand that her home is still a crime scene, but I was wondering if, at all possible, I can get at least some of her clothes. If not, I am more than capable of providing her with new clothes if not-”

He held up a hand to stop the Brit’s rambling. “It’s fine,” he said, effectively ceasing whatever else Newt was going to say. “You don’t need to ask me; you are a member of this case. From what we’ve uncovered, there’s nothing we’ve managed to find out about those bastards. Unless something else is found, the house won’t be a crime scene much longer. So, unless you find anything else, you have the all clear from me.”

Newt nodded solemnly. “Then I’d best go now while I still have a chance,” he looked at Percival considerately. “If it’s not too much trouble, you won’t mind looking after Calliope until I get back? That is, if Tina doesn’t mind either.”

He smiled. “She’s my ward too, isn’t she?

With that, Newt’s smile brightened the dimly lit room.

Chapter Text

The Ashwood house looked no different than it had yesterday. If one were to overlook the blood staining the light green walls and flooring. There was still quite a bit of blood on the corner of the mantle piece where Angela had presumably hit her head on the way down. Even with the bodies removed, Newt could still feel the remaining traces of dark magic used. Floating over his skin like an odor that seemed to be determined to linger.

The house reeked of death, bringing a dark cloud over the once happy home and marring it. The evil that had occurred here would settle for a long time. Calliope’s home would fester a wound that would take a long time to heal, and he knew first hands that those wounds often left permanent scars.

Even with permission to be here to retrieve things for his new ward, he had the oddest sense that he was intruding. Through the deafening silence, he found himself reminiscent of the Scamander family home. “Hidden from the world”, was what he would call it when he was younger and was yet to be aware of all the wrongdoings of the world. Playing with his brother through the orchards and helping his mother with the hippogriffs. Curling up with his father in the evenings while he read, tucked into his side while the man read to him with his deep, baritone voice.

He smiled at the memory, though it quickly disappeared when something light tapped his cheek. He jumped in surprise at Pickett trying to get his attention, the Bow Truckle not at all amused of having been ignored for so long. “I’m sorry,” he said sheepishly. “You’re right, let’s not get lost in thought, eh?”

Cautiously, he took light steps towards the Jesa still on the table by the fireplace. The candles and incense had long since burnt out, though the aroma still laid thick in the air, not at all matching the foul odor of dark magic. Heavy like ozone, but now matched with the lightest hints of jasmine.

The food had long since been removed, leaving only the two stone markers of her family name. He took them carefully, taking the silken tablecloth to wrap them up. Seeing as they were her family, it was only right that they fall into her care. He opened the case, using his wand to gently lower the items down there to his workshop until he could find a better place to put them.

He took the pictures off the fire place as well; not that there were many. Seoirse had no photos of his parents or of his brother and his wife. An old photo of Angela’s parents sat in the center, next a photo of Seoirse and Angela on their wedding day. On the opposite side, a moving photo of Calliope as a baby and then a recent one of her on her mother’s lap, giving a smile that would never be the same again.

“Ashwood had to have known the man who killed him,” Newt muttered to himself, closing the lid to his case. He made his way up the stairs, hands gripping the bannister tightly. “This whole case makes absolutely no sense.”

Pickett, in response, gave a chirp that could have meant: “I agree. It makes no sense.”

On the top landing of the stairs, there were only four doors. Angela and Seoirse’s room nearest the stairs, which he could not bring himself to go into. The bathroom sat across from them and the door on the other side, with a small yellow rain jacket hooked on the outside. Calliope’s room.

He pushed it open, eyes immediately assaulted with bright colors and blinding late afternoon sunshine. Her unmade bed tucked in a corner near the windows, perfect for a child to stick their head out and take in the New York City night. A desk sat near the other window, covered in crayons and other clutter. Random pictures of what looked to be her parents, a park and other scribbles lined the walls of her room, and he could not help but smile fondly.

With a complex twist of his wand, he conjured a small suitcase, only slightly less wide than his own. With another flick the dresser at the opposite end of the room opened, clothes spilling out and landing in the now opened suitcase lying on the floor, the closet door opening as well to bring out more. If Jacob were here, he thought with amusement as he shut the lid of the case once all the clothes were in, the muggle would be amazed. Even with all the spells he’d seen, their world never ceased to amaze him.

He sighed uneasily. Everyone seemed to be under the impression that because he was good with creatures, he would be good with children. Creatures, for all their diverse complexities, were fairly easy to understand. Children, especially small ones, were something else altogether. His creatures normally told him in their own ways when they needed something, or if something was bothering them. In her moments of unnerving silence, it was nearly impossible to know what Calliope was thinking. He was no legilimens like Queenie. Unless it was something fairly obvious he had no other way of knowing.

“Merlin’s beard,” he huffed to himself, picking up his case. He eyed Pickett still sitting on his shoulder. “I’m being ridiculous, aren’t I?”

Pickett, in response, patted him on the cheek. Newt wasn’t sure to interpret that as a conformation or a sign of comfort. He chose the latter.

“At least Percival will be able to help with this mess; she doesn’t seem to be so hesitant around him,” he thought back to when Percival had carried her out of the warehouse, daring anyone with eyes like steel to remove her. “He helped raise his younger sister so there’s that.”

That should have made the tension disappear, but it only lessened it slightly. However good with children Percival might be, the other man also wasn’t prepared for the task. His heart had warmed at the way Percival had stood up for the girl, even though it wasn’t professional at all to shout at her father’s family. His heart fluttered against his chest in a way in hadn’t done for a very long time.

Asking Theseus for advice would also be beneficial; he couldn’t deny that as much as he wanted to. His older brother would probably be over the moon at the idea of his little brother asking him for help. As much as he loved his brother, his hovering did nothing to smooth over their strained relationship.

Out of Calliope’s room and into the hall, he leaned against the wall, staring at the door that he had not ventured into yet. He glanced down at Pickett, who chirped at him in what sounded to be a reprimand. He smiled sheepishly. “Yes, I know it’s not polite to go through other people’s things,” dead or alive, he added to himself. “But there might be something; there has to be something in there that might let us know what happened.”

It was a long shot, the other aurors had already checked the office, but Newt wanted to see for himself. With a whispered, “Alohomora!” against the locked door, it pushed open with a gentle sounding creak. He stood in the entryway, momentarily unable to bring himself to step over the threshold. Death had cloaked itself over the room, just like it had the rest of the house. They had found Seoirse’s body up here, eyes frozen over in death.

Tucking his wand away, Newt was met with a surprising scene. His office was a mess, he realized as he found the courage to step in. From what little he knew of Seoirse, the man had been expectantly neat and organized. He was one of the few aurors Percival never needed to have rewrite his reports because of how systematized and coherent they were. His desk, across from Tina’s, never had a speck of dust on them. It seemed completely out of character for him to have his home office in such disarray.

The aurors must have taken whatever files they could find that might be relevant to the case. Or files that they didn’t want to have fallen into the wrong hands. He wasn’t too sure, but the office was now covered with paper they deemed useless. Quills scattered everywhere and a few ink bottles tip over and staining the wooden desk. Even the plants he kept on his windowsill had been removed.

 Yet, something still didn’t feel right. Amongst the haphazardly tossed paper and open drawers, he had the nagging suspicion that someone else had been here. Another presence was in the house, and he instinctively drew his wand out from his pocket. The prickling sensation of nerves dancing along his skin made him tense, tightening the grip on his wand. Pickett, sensing trouble, crawled his way down to take refuge in his front pocket.

Footsteps, light and unhurried, stopped at the door’s entryway. Only a few feet from where Newt stood. He whipped around, wand at the ready when he met the intruder’s gaze. He froze, heart seizing in his chest. “Oh, it’s you.”

Those familiar eyes took in his anxious form, revealing nothing but cold, vague disinterest. The stranger smiled at him, as though they were old friends. Yet there was no warmth in his smile, only the merest hint that the man found something to be oddly amusing. Except Newt had no idea what exactly was so funny, only that this smile made him more on edge.

“Now, is that any way to greet me? Honestly Newton, I thought you were raised with better manners than that.”

“I should hardly think that you have any right to be commenting on my upbringing,” he answered, his voice clipped and chillingly polite. “Or any right to be standing in this house addressing me so casually.”

The stranger’s smile widened and familiar piercing gray eyes gleamed. “Perhaps not,” the man said with no hint of indignation. “But all the same, is that any way to greet someone you have not seen in a while?”

Newt pursed his lips. “What are you doing here?” he asked, careful to keep any suspicion out of his voice. “What interest could you possibly have in a vacant house?”

“Come now, Newton, there’s a bit more to this house, isn’t there?” the man brushed his question off easily. “What happened here is no secret. Every witch and wizard in the United States knows that a recently murdered highly esteemed Pureblood auror has broken their most sacred law by marrying a muggle. Even the British Ministry has caught word of it; nothing of this caliber has ever happened to M.A.C.U.S.A.”

“If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you are taking enjoyment out of this,” he sighed, the smallest amounts of irritation noticeable. “But yes, nothing like this has happened here before.”

“And the girl I presume is in the custody of M.A.C.U.S.A,” the man continued airily, stepping further into the office, forcing Newt to step back out of self-preservation. The man’s voice softened. “Yes, such a tragedy. To lose one’s parents in such a manner would rouse suspicion.”

Newt narrowed his eyes. “Do you happen to know who did this?” and even if the man did, he had no doubt that he wouldn’t tell him.

To his surprise, the man shook his head. His pale hand traced the carvings on the edge of desk interestedly, but not meeting Newt’s narrowed gaze. “Someone with their own goals, I imagine,” the man finally answered evenly. He then cocked his head. “Or perhaps someone who just wanted the muggle woman and her spawn out of their way.”

In spite of himself, he bristled at those words. “That “spawn” is a four-year-old girl,” he said firmly, forcing himself to push his anger back down. “The lesser good are no less than those whom you believe are greater.”

At that, Grindelwald’s one gray eye shone almost blue in the fading light of the sun. His hand lifted from the desk, only to fall back down lazily. “Those almost sound like Albus’s words,” he said softly, and if any remaining fondness was there, it did not show. “Well thought out, but foolishly sentimental.”

Newt shuffled awkwardly, feet nudging more papers askew. “Why are you here?” he asked again, abruptly changing the subject. “Being a well-known terrorist doesn’t leave you with much free time, I suspect.”

If being called a terrorist angered Grindelwald, he didn’t show it. Newt didn’t think it was likely; many called him that anyway. It seemed rather silly for him to get upset over a word, but Newt had seen many witches and wizards get upset over less. Grindelwald, however, merely ignored him with perfect ease.

“The girl,” Grindelwald began slowly, drawing out the words almost lazily. “I hear you and that Director Graves are taking her in as a ward. My sources tell me her father’s family didn’t receive the news quite as well as they hoped they would.”

So, there were spies in M.A.C.U.S.A then, Newt noted unsurprised. How could there not be? Grindelwald was more than capable to infiltrate the Magical Congress all on his own, but it would have been an opportune moment to get information from his spies while he searched for Credence. He would have to tell Percival about this at some point, though he suspected the man probably already knew. Narrowing down who were the spies, however, would be a long daunting task.

 “The Ashwood’s are one of the few remaining Pureblood families in North America,” he stated shortly. “Their reactions were not surprising in the slightest.”

“An old family that immigrated here almost 300 years ago,” Grindelwald added, eyes on the spilt ink bottle as though it were somehow fascinating and worthy of his interest. “They left a branch back in England, but I heard they relocated to Paris in the early 1800s. Only one of them remains now, however.”

Newt frowned, and the slinking suspicion that there was more to what Grindelwald was telling him felt like an itch along his skull. “And that has something to do with the recent murder?”

“Perhaps,” Grindelwald began aloofly. “Or perhaps not. Yet it would be foolish to believe that this murder was a mere coincidence. On the contrary, I believe there is more at play here.”

The unease in his chest tightened, and Newt forced himself to speak. “Something unpleasant, I imagine.”

Grindelwald eyed him. “Have you ever heard of a wizarding family by the name of Cromwell?”

Cromwell? He knew of an Oliver Cromwell, an English muggle political and militaristic figure who lived in the early 1600s, but other than that, the name wasn’t familiar. He didn’t know of any wizards by that name, nor did the name sound of any significant importance in the current political climate.

“Can’t say that I have,” he answered lightly, warily watching as Grindelwald took a step forward. “I don’t see what that’s got to do with the Ashwood’s.”

“An old Pureblood family that seemingly all but disappeared. The main branch of the family; a couple and their four sons. All of them killed after they willingly murdered another member of a Pureblood family. Nothing truly noteworthy that history books would mention, but I do remember my Aunt Bathilda mentioning them while editing one of her works. Or so I believed, at the time.”

It was obvious to anyone what Grindelwald was referring to, and Newt couldn’t help but purse his lips tightly. “If you think that the Ashwood’s had something to do with the Cromwell’s end, I doubt even that would prompt you enough to show yourself to me in broad daylight. No, there’s something else. What is it?”

He was literally backed up against the wall, and the strained sound of Pickett chirping against the blue fabric of his coat was slightly muffled. The hand around his wand had grown sweaty due to how tight he was holding it, so badly now it was starting to shake. His jaw clenched decisively, and no matter how badly he wanted to tear his gaze away from Grindelwald, he refused to turn away.

“There is no need to look so defensive,” Grindelwald sighed, as if Newt were the one causing the thick tension in the room. “Despite what you make believe, this is merely a visit of informality. My only intentions are to speak with you.”

Newt snorted. “As much as I’d like to believe you, I am not silly enough to. Even if you are being truthful, there’s always something else you’re keeping to yourself.”

Grindelwald’s lips twitched. “You’re beginning to sound like him, Schätzchen.”

He flinched at the very word. “Don’t call me that,” he uncharacteristically snapped. “You have no right to-”

Grindelwald raised his hand in what appeared to be mock surrender. “There is no need to get upset, Newton. I was speaking the truth, despite what you want to believe.”

“As if I’d ever believe anything you’d have to say.”

Grindelwald ignored the biting remark, wand twirling in between his long pale fingers. The German wizard lifted it upwards languidly. The tip of it traced Newt’s face gently, and though a thousand voices in his head screamed at him to run, he remained frozen to the wall. Those mismatched eyes stared at him for what seemed like forever before clicking his tongue in disappointment.

“I see that you still resent me for using the Cruciatus curse on you. And for sending you to be executed,” he added, with a smallest, barest hint of indignity. “But you must understand that I could not let you interfere with my work.”

“So better to have me dead, then.”

The older wizard frowned. “You must think so little of me,” he mused, more to himself than to Newt. “However, I was on my way to retrieve you from the executioners. You just happened to be competent enough to save yourself.”

He ignored the pride that shone in those eyes, glaring at him instead. “You would have let them murder Tina and I; don’t pretend you now suddenly care about my well being,” he sighed, fighting the urge to run his hand through his messy auburn hair. “Now if you don’t mind, I have things to go do.”

He made his way to leave, pushing past the German when the older man called out. “You haven’t seen Credence around, have you?”

Newt froze, hand on his case almost loosening at the very mention of that name. Slowly, he turned back around. “What did you just say?” he asked in astonishment.

“Credence Barebones is alive.”

He shook his head in disbelief. That couldn’t be true; after being attacked by so many aurors, there was no chance that Credence was still alive. “Impossible,” he muttered. “While Credence may have been the longest living obscurial, there is no chance he could be alive after what they did to him.”

“I assure you, he is very much alive,” Grindelwald continued, ignoring his previous statement. “Currently, he is hiding out in Paris. Merlin knows how he managed to end up there without the authorities noticing.”

“Why are you telling me this?” he asked suspiciously. “If you think he’ll trust you again after all you did to him, you’re only deluding yourself.”

“There is a rumor circulating among our world that he is a member of the Lestrange family,” Grindelwald ignored him once more. “However, seeing as how a certain Lestrange family member keeps denying it, I can’t help but wonder if the rumor is perhaps merely that, a rumor. Or if a certain Lestrange is hiding something from the rest of the world.”

Leta, he knew whom Grindelwald was referring to instantly. Beautiful, but hauntingly sad Leta Lestrange who just like Newt, was an outcast. An odd duo; a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff as best friends until the even that happened in their sixth year. Even if speaking to her now caused nothing but old wounds to hurt, he wouldn’t allow anything to befall her.

“Leta’s got nothing to do with this,” he said curtly, forcing down his anger once more. “Whatever they’re gossiping about in England, it’s simply that, a rumor.”

“Conceivably, they might be simple rumors,” Grindelwald carried on amusedly. “Or she could be hiding something. It’s not as though she shared everything in her life to you. Even if she was your one and only friend.”

“That’s-”

“Yes, you consider the Goldstein sisters friends. And that muggle,” Grindelwald interrupted brusquely, and Newt could have sworn he saw an expression of disgust cross his features. It was gone in a moment before a knowing smirk replaced it. “And your friendship with one Director Graves, now, perhaps there is something unspoken there, hm?”

Inside him, something curled unpleasantly at the implication. “There is nothing there,” he retorted coolly, even though his heart beat had quickened at the very thought of Percival. “If you even think of going after him, I-”

“Contrary to what you may believe, Newton, your dear Percival is of little interest to me now,” Grindelwald said breezily, brushing Newt’s anger aside once more. “I got what I needed from him, and when he was of no more use to me-”

“You left him to die!” Newt interrupted hotly, and with that, annoyance flashed in those eyes. He swallowed down the fear, nails digging into his palms to anchor himself. “Whatever explanation you might have, I have no desire to hear.

Grindelwald fell silent, staring at him as though he were the most interesting specimen of human he’d ever seen. Aside from the creaks of the old house and the occasional brush of wind against the window, even the outside world seemed to be at a standstill. The noise of New York City had all but faded away, leaving behind what sounded like faint hums against his ears. Those piercing eyes, fixated on his soul, searching for something they were desperately seeking to find.

Finally, the German lowered his gaze and gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “You are more like him than you realize,” he then added, “And Theseus too.”

“That’s not even remotely true,” he replied back stonily. “And Theseus wouldn’t use people like pawns on a chess set.”

“So, you’re not blind to his faults, are you?” those eyes gleamed. “And yet your loyalty is still to him?”

Stiffly, Newt raised his head up. “My loyalty is to those who seek to help to those who are in need of it,” that didn’t just extend to his creatures, he thought as his mind drifted to the girl under his care. “And it does not matter to me if they have magic or not.”

Grindelwald raised his eyes. “How noble,” he said drily. “But if I am to be honest, entirely expected of you, Newton.”

He didn’t care if he met Grindelwald’s expectations or not. To tell the truth, meeting anyone’s expectations had never been on his list of priorities. He said nothing in return to Grindelwald, finding there was not a single thing he wanted to say to him that he hadn’t said already.

“The girl was kept alive for a purpose. I imagine those who performed the crime have been eager to receive my attention,” abruptly, Grindelwald changed the subject nonchalantly, leaving Newt with the vague impression that he was speaking to an old friend about the weather or their family. “Carving my insignia upon her back was a theatrical, I do admit, if not a bit crude.”

“It was more than a bit crude,” Newt said between pursed lips. “She’s four. She shouldn’t have a tattoo to begin with.”

“It’s enchanted, no doubt,” and Newt wasn’t surprised that Grindelwald knew this. What else did the German know of the happenings inside M.A.C.U.S.A? Grindelwald carried on. “Whoever did this is more interested in her background than they might appear to be. Did that ever cross your mind, Newton?”

Newt felt his brow furrow, a single thought crossing his mind. How did he not think of that? He had figured that whoever had done this to Calliope was sending a message out to Grindelwald that they were not afraid of the American aurors, especially ones who had broken one of their laws. Yet there had been a suspicion he wanted to ignore that this could not be entirely true. Why leave a child alive unless there was something even more sinister planned? The more he thought about it, the more worried he became for the girl’s safety. Even with Percival’s protection, how safe could he keep her?

“The main branch of the Cromwell family became extinct in the male line,” Grindelwald hinted at in an inexplicably vague voice. “My aunt suggested that all were killed by the Wizard’s Council. However, I have concluded that this perhaps is untrue.”

He tossed something in Newt’s direction, and he caught it gingerly in his right hand. It was firm in his hand, the cold metal soothing against his sweaty palms. Bringing it closer for inspection, he was surprised to see it was a clasp, ancient and worn from years of being lost to time. Beneath the rust, he could make out a shield being supported by the carving of what appeared to be two women, both with flowing hair. On the top of the shield, sat a symbol that was probably, at one point, a large ornate moon. Yet engraved on the shield, the silhouettes of three men gripping their wands arrogantly upwards and at the bottom of the shield written in words plain as day, in Latin, read: “Memoriae Proficimus.”

“To memories we prevail,” Grindelwald voiced, as Newt continued to stare at the crest. “Interesting motto, is it not?”

“And what does this have to do with recent events?” Newt asked, the clasp dancing through his fingers as he sighed.

“Your auror friends aren’t as through as they’d like to believe,” Grindelwald said smugly. “I found it in one of the desk drawers. Newton, you cannot pretend it is merely coincidence.”

As much as he loathed to admit, Grindelwald had a point. Newt pocketed the clasp quickly in his front pocket, and through the material, he could feel Picket wrap his branch-like arms around it. Firmly, he addressed Grindelwald. “Even if it is not coincidence, I don’t see why you’d be interested.”

 “Why not?” Grindelwald suggest flippantly. “Why would Ashwood have this in his possession? And the girl was left with what people are calling my insignia. Whoever did this wanted my attention and well, I may be inclined to entertain them.”

“You’re not going anywhere near her,” he said hotly. “She’s got nothing to do with this!”

“A little girl holds very little interest to me,” Grindelwald responded evenly. “However, her circumstances are much more intriguing. If you look at her family emblem, you cannot deny that it holds a not so subtle resemblance with the one now residing in your pocket.”

Of course, he’d never seen the Ashwood family crest. Ashwood had never stressed before the importance of being Pureblood. The auror had rarely spoken about his family, and now Newt knew why. It must have been difficult, holding all those secrets in and in the end, had it been worth it?

“Ah, but I’m sure you’ve never seen it. The Ashwood’s would be selective on whom they show it to, naturally,” Grindelwald said almost pleasantly, unfitting the room’s tense atmosphere. “Family crests are much important in the old country, but to a family as old as they are, certain customs are difficult to part with.”

“I seriously doubt the Ashwood’s would let me anywhere near their home.”

“Perhaps not, but from what I have heard, they are not the only Ashwood’s left, are they?

Newt stared at him. “If you think I’m doing your dirty work for you, then you are mistaken,” he said softly, disgust creeping along the edges of his voice. “Even if the Ashwood’s and Cromwell’s are connected somehow, that’s no explanation for what they did to Calliope.”

“Come now, Newton, you know that’s not true,” Grindelwald responded very plainly, as though exasperated with Newt’s defiance. “Whomever it was that killed the girl’s parents had knowledge of them. They most likely killed the father because he knew too much. Perhaps he even tried to stop them. There is a family secret here, and even if you don’t figure it out, someone else will.”

“And they might not have good intentions for her,” he couldn’t help but think uneasily. Even if the Ashwood’s and Cromwell’s were perhaps, the same family, that didn’t explain anything. What was so upsetting to these people that they had to traumatize a small child? Blood was one thing, but the current angle M.A.C.U.S.A had didn’t fit anymore. They wanted her alive. Not only as a message to Grindelwald and to other wizarding families, but so they could study her.

Yet, study her for what? Exactly what were they waiting for? Newt didn’t know, and with the unease sinking in his stomach, he had a feeling he would soon know. “Where is the remaining Ashwood?” he asked hesitantly.

“Paris,” Grindelwald said, with his lips quirking in an obvious indication of smug satisfaction. “And if my sources are correct, Credence is there too.”

Newt paused. Even if Credence was alive, how would he tell Percival? The man would want to know where he got his information from and that would spiral a whole conversation that inevitably wouldn’t end well. “If you think that I am just going to drop everything and run off to Paris to do your dirty work, then I am sorry to say that you are mistaken.”

Grindelwald just smiled an all-knowing smile that did not quite reach his eyes. “I am sure our paths will cross again very soon, Newton.”

Then he was gone, disapparating out of the town house with a popping sound. Newt let out the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding, slinking down the wall with a decided thud. His legs felt numb, as though they wouldn’t move ever again. His throat had gone uncomfortably dry, and his heart raced a mile a minute.

He had to tell Theseus about this. There was no one else he could explain to about the sudden bizarre encounter with Grindelwald. Not to Tina or Queenie, who would immediately insist he go to the President and not to Jacob, who would naturally side with the sisters. Lastly, he could certainly not go to Percival and explain it. That would lead to a million questions he was not ready or willing to answer.

After all, how could he even begin to tell someone that his father was Gellert Grindelwald?

~

The dark thoughts continued to linger his mind until well after dinner. He considered himself lucky that Queenie had made plans with Jacob tonight and had left earlier in the evening. As soon as dinner ended, Tina excused herself to retire for the night, leaving just himself and Calliope. Naturally she had followed him down to his case, like a wayward duckling chasing after its mother.

From his workshop, he glanced out to where she was currently. Sitting on the ground, Calliope held one of Missy’s babies close to her chest, stroking its fur with the tiniest hint of a smile tugging at her mouth. The other three scurried around her, pawing at her knees for attention. He observed the scene, allowing a brief smile to mark his features. Yet, it fell as soon as it arrived.

Knife in hand, he chopped up blades of star grass. Nearby, his cauldron bubbled quietly, steam rising from the top of it before wafting upwards and disappearing. Every few seconds, he glanced to see where she was. He had given her instructions to not wander from his sight; to remain near the make-shift house. While he trusted that his creatures wouldn’t do any harm to her, the last thing he needed was for an accident to happen.

In a few days, though, that wouldn’t be a problem. They would be staying with Percival and he’d be a liar if he said the thought of it didn’t bring a pink hue to his cheeks. It was illogical to act that way, he grumbled to himself. He was an adult, not a sixteen-year-old school-girl in love for the first time. He was a grown man, as was Percival, and yet…

“Ridiculous,” Newt muttered to himself as he chopped up more blades of grass. “I’m being ridiculous. It’s a logical decision to move in. We’ll be able to keep a better eye on her.”

Except that meant he and Percival would be spending a lot more time together than usual. Meal time, days off, going to and from work. All of that would be spent with a man whom Newt could not deny was attractive. Not only physically, but with a kindness that he wasn’t often on the receiving end of. It brought a flutter to his heart, and the sudden urge to grin like an idiot. It had been a very long time since he had felt like this.

“Oh bugger,” Newt groaned softly to himself. “I might as well just admit it. At least, to myself anyway.”

So perhaps liking Percival wasn’t the biggest problem in the world. Except that Percival, with his resolute determination and kindness, did not deserve to be with someone who could not confess their major secret. Percival already, and justifiably so, had trust issues. How would Percival be able to trust him, the son of the man who had kidnapped, tortured, and left him to die all those months ago?

“What are you doing?”

He nearly jumped out of his shoes at Calliope’s sudden appearance. One of the baby niffler’s, Pumpernickel, sat on the top of her black hair, playing with the strands gleefully. Calliope’s dark eyes stared up at the cutting bored interestedly, with the fascination that only a small child could have. He moved slightly to the left, allowing her more access to the station. Even though she couldn’t see very well over the top of his work space, he still moved the knife to the side opposite of her.  

“I’m making a salve,” he answered her, and when she tilted her head in confusion, he added on. “I use it for my creatures when they are hurt. This is the same one I used on you last night.”

“Oh,” came her response. She moved her hand to the where her shoulder met her back, fingers subconsciously retracing the memory of last night. She didn’t even notice when another baby niffler, Pumpkin, crawled up her leg. Still gazing at the grass, she spoke again. “Why do the creatures get hurt?”

“Well,” he started, and then paused, deciding on the best way to answer her without disturbing her too much. “Sometimes it happens on accident. Like when we sometimes fall down and scrape ourselves up. Other times, it happens when they get into fights. Or with what I work with, it’s when bad people make bad decisions.”

“Bad decisions?”

“All these creatures have been rescued and I am rehabilitating them. Some of them came from bad places, where bad people were doing bad things to them,” he wasn’t sure how much she could handle, so he opted on being as non-descript as he could be. “They can’t speak up for themselves, so I am there to do it for them.”

“Okay,” she looked back towards the enclosure where Frank had once been, with a surprisingly solemn glint in her eyes. He shouldn’t have been surprised; with all that she had been through in the past days, it wasn’t all that odd to see a sort of maturity come over her. It wasn’t fair that she should have this maturity, but then, when was life fair?

“You shouldn’t chop them up like that.”

He blinked in surprise at the statement. Looking quickly back down to the grass, he then met her serious gaze with his own surprised one. “What?” he asked in astonishment.

She didn’t meet his eyes, opting to stare at the bright green strands with a faraway look. “You’re cutting them up to small. You should only be cutting them up by half an inch, not by a fourth.”

He could only stare at her in confusion from the rather precocious statement. He looked back down to the strands, internally grumbling to himself that he had, indeed, been cutting them up too small. “How did you know that?” he questioned her softly. “Did someone tell you?”

In an instant, her expression morphed from one of solemnity to confusion. She blinked quickly, lashes fluttering against her cheekbones. “I dunno,” she replied, now noticing the nifflers and quickly lifting them off her head to gather them close to her chest. “I just thought it.”

At once, she let out a cry of pain. The baby nifflers immediately crawled out of her arms, running down her body and out of sight. She gripped her head with her small hands, and he could see tears beginning to fall down her face underneath her tightly closed eyes. Immediately he went to her side, hand pressing to her forehead. No fever, he quickly deduced. He waved his wand expertly. “Accio Calming Draught!”

The potion flew off the shelf into his outstretched hand. Opening it, he managed to get her to open her mouth to ingest some of the potion. The tears slipped down her face, but after a few minutes passing, she opened her dark eyes. Her breathing labored, she eventually managed to calm down enough to remove her hands from her head, sniffling as she did so.

“Are you alright?” he asked with deep concern.

“I…I think so,” she sniffed, wiping the tears from her eyes. “My head hurt a lot, and then it didn’t.”

The potion worked, then, he noted for future reference in case she needed it again. “Are you feeling sick?” he asked.

She shook her head. “My head hurt and then it didn’t,” she said with the same answer. She now looked more upset than in pain.

“Has it hurt like that before?”

“No,” she responded quickly. “Never.”

He checked her over once more, just to be sure that he didn’t miss anything. “Are you quite sure?” he asked quietly, calming his voice so that he didn’t let the fear in his voice show. “You’ve never experienced anything like that before?”

“No,” came her response, but then she paused and pursed her lips together in thought. He could see her mind working a mile a minute, trying to remember something she’d forgotten. The nifflers came back into the room cautiously, Missy right behind them with an expression of confusion as to what the commotion had been about. Calliope’s widened eyes met his suddenly. “I think I felt something like it when those bad men poked my back.”

He didn’t have to be a legilimens to know how traumatizing that must have been on her. Every so often during the day he would see her poke at her bandaged back, with an expression of pain at the phantom memory of their wands gauging into her flesh. It still caused her quite a bit of pain, though the salve did help with that.

She picked up one of the baby nifflers again, Pistachio, who instantly began to coo in her arms. Despite Missy hovering around, sniffing at her leg, she didn’t seem to mind. Too lost in the act of petting the creature’s soft fur.

“You need to tell me if it happens again,” he finally said, drawing her attention back to him. The alarming situation, despite being brief, was not something he wanted to see again. He knelt down to her eye level, giving a soft reassuring smile. “And if I’m not there, then tell Percival.”

“What if Percival isn’t there?”

“Then tell Tina or Queenie,” he replied back evenly. “Or any nearby adult. But the four of us are here to help you, Calliope.”

She nodded slowly, still stroking Pistachio with her index finger. She frowned then. “Newt?” she asked, so soft he almost didn’t hear her.

“Yes?”

“If Mommy and Daddy aren’t here with me anymore, then where did they go?” her eyes looked up to him pleadingly. “The bad place was really, really dark and scary. And I thought that if they aren’t with me, then any other place would be too cold for me.”

His heart nearly broke at those words. He could see her again on that warehouse floor. Dress ripped, hair matted, and her face bruised and bleeding. He thought she was dead until closer examination. A lifeless husk was the better word for it. Like she’d received a Dementor’s kiss, all the life from her sucked away. She had been tossed aside, left to lay there on the cold wet floor. Waiting for someone to save her or even worse, waiting to die.

At Missy’s insistence, Pistachio heeded his mother’s call and ran down the girl’s arm again. Newt seized the opportunity to take Calliope’s hands into his. “They’re right here,” he started gently, never once looking away from her. He took her right hand and placed it over her heart. “And though you can’t see them, they are here with you. Our memories are so precious to us, Calliope. If you can remember how much they loved you, and how much you love them, then they are never truly gone.”

When she didn’t say anything, he continued on. “And Percival and I, we are here with you too. And we care about you so much. Tina and Queenie do too.”

She finally smiled, a real smile that lit up her whole face. It was as though a new person had taken over the sad, lonely little girl that she now was. He wasn’t prepared for when she threw her arms around him in a tight embrace.

She didn’t say anything, but the message was well received.