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Not Good for Morale

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Not Good for Morale

Alternatively: That time Percival Graves almost met his soulmate.

Part Three of Off the Path

A Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts One-Shot

By Sif Shadowheart

...

Southern France, Allied Magical Forces Staging Area and Rear-Command; July 1915

The war had already been dragging on for more than a year when a portkey whirled Auror Captain Percival Graves and his hand-picked squad of aurors and fighters from the best New York and MACUSA had to offer from the international portkey office at headquarters and dropped them down in a stone-walled fortress in southern France.

None of them actually knew where they were.

Rumor had it no one, not even the generals in charge of the AMF actually knew the exact location of the staging area currently being used as their rear-command.

Unplottable and warded to the rafters and beyond, it was said that beyond guesses based on the scenes viewable from the windows and roof, not one soul knew where the place was.

It was a bit…unnerving to be honest, even for a species that thrived and depended on secrecy, Percival had to admit.

Though he could see the benefit of it.

If no one knew where the base was, there was no possible way for the location to be leaked to their enemies, which magically consisted of rogues breaking the mandate of the ICW and IAN, and non-magically would be the Central Powers as while all had been told in the Winter of 1913-14 prior to the outbreak of war that magical people would no longer be used to fight muggle wars except in defense of their native lands, the no-maj powers-that-be hadn’t really believed it.

Then war had broken out following an assassination and the no-maj “Central Powers” had learned that the ICW and IAN were deadly serious about their new policy of non-involvement in non-magical wars.

Native wizards and witches could defend their homelands against any aggressor, magical or non-magical, but foreign assistance would not be sent to fight foreign wars on foreign soil.

Humanitarian efforts, yes.  Peacekeeping in non-warzone areas, yes.  Evacuation of magical villages and magical creatures if no-maj battles and offensives grew too close to magical areas, yes.  Even life-saving efforts such as mediwizards and mediwitches and healers inserted among the Red Cross and health corps was allowed.

But they weren’t soldiers or weapons for no-maj powers to command.

Any wanded witch or wizard who joined up with their non-magical country’s military and took part in aggressive action other than defending their native borders could be charged with everything from treason to war crimes to terrorism depending on what they were found guilty of.

Not everyone was happy about the new mandate, but in the era of wars that didn’t just stay contained between one or two parties but spread like a disease across half the globe, Percival could see the wisdom of it.

Letting his power rise for a moment, he blinked and stared at what he could see of the wards on the headquarters of the peacekeeping efforts, medics, healers, and beast handlers stationed elsewhere, holding in a desire to whistle.

With wards like those however, the secrecy of their base, even a Yank could admit, was a bit overkill.

They could apparate or portkey out it looked like, nothing was keeping them there, they weren’t trapped in any way.

But they couldn’t access the land surrounding the stone keep and the only way in was courtesy of a one-way portkey that those pesky rumors again said were made personally by the owner of the keep who’d outfitted the place for a military occupation then turned it over to the AMF.  Well, once he’d gotten done pounding it into even the most stubborn of magical isolationists that a war like the one the muggles were fighting was magical business and their problem no matter how much they’d initially wanted to believe otherwise. And all that despite the adjustments regarding no-maj wars that he’d largely been a driving force behind in the IAN especially whilst his cousin Henry Potter took on the ICW.  If Hadrian Peverell was willing to admit that magical intervention was needed in a no-maj issue, everyone else with sense knew that the problem was of legitimate concern.

Hadrian Peverell, for those actions alone and being willing to step forward even against his own ideals, had earned himself one hell of a reputation among the global magical community – not all of it positive.

Aurors, fighters, and so on, however, who’d it chafed at to let the random groups of lawless wizards hide themselves among the two armies and gleefully spread chaos and dissention and bloodshed, respected the hell out of the kid for being willing to stand up in open session – or so the rumors once again had it – and call out his own Minister for a craven coward before calling for a vote of No-Confidence and installing a Minister with a backbone in his place.

It was the official ruling of the ICW that their member countries were not to take up arms – officially – alongside their muggle counterparts.

Unofficially, with magical people already fighting on both sides of the war, the AMF and its counterpart among the Central Powers, had been cobbled together in August of the previous year and boots were on the ground in Europe by mid-September to hunt down the criminals and prevent them from making things worse than they already were among the no-majs.

It had taken MACUSA much longer to agree to an official intervention, leaving Percival more than a bit frustrated with their leadership, but as the USA itself hadn’t yet taken an official stance on the ongoing war in Europe, he could partially understand it even as he hated knowing that wizards and witches and people he respected had been putting their lives at risk in both the peacekeeping corps and the healing contingent for almost a year already while he was forced to argue with Congress and twiddle his thumbs an ocean away.

Still, he and his fighters were there now and ready to do their part…only they seemed to have portkeyed right into a rather passionate argument between who Percival was dead-certain was one of the prettiest male omegas he’d seen in his life and someone he recognized all too well from auror business prior to the war.

“What did you expect me to do, Theseus?!”  The pretty omega shouted – Percival mentally slapped himself upside the head as his mother wasn’t there to do it for him as he almost devolved to ogling.  Guinevere Graves neé Steward had raised each and every one of her sons to be gentlewizards, whether alpha or beta, and would have his hide for staring. “Abduct him?!  Bind him?! Lock him up and throw away the key?! He’s a grown wizard and a Hufflepuff! Of course with his brother and most of the wizards – and more than a few witches – he loves or admires off fighting this senseless war he would enlist!  We’re just lucky they sent him to the Eastern Front to help with that asinine dragon initiative rather than labeled him as a medic and sent him to the trenches of the Western Front!”

“I expected you to look after him!”  Theseus Scamander, Percival’s nominal counterpart both with the British DMLE and with their contingent with the AMF, bellowed right back at the British omegan wizard who, after further study, looked to have at least some Native American heritage…which was odd to say the least as rarely did they interact with outsiders, the magical natives, let alone move to Britain.  It cleared up a few things, however, over how a wizard with dual citizenship between Britain and MACUSA had successfully been taken seriously by IAN, if the omega was who he thought he was. Though he could certainly say that Scamander’s red-headed temper was still in full bloom even after a year at war. “He’s supposed to be at Castelobruxo studying under that odd wizarding naturalist, not in the fucking Ukraine!  Circe’s tits, Harry! You’re his best-friend! If he was going to enlist you should’ve…” Scamander abruptly shut up at the instantly deadly look on his opponent’s face.

“Should have what?”  Rather than the shout from earlier, the tone from the omega was so low and quiet it was nearly a hiss.  Mercy Lewis. If that had been directed at him, it might’ve even given him pause and there wasn’t much on this earth that scared him except for his mother’s wrath and the carnage muggle weaponry was capable of.  “Should have left my son, my brother, to be raised by distant relatives? Abandoned them as they’ve been abandoned before? Risked leaving them orphans, again?” A soft snort of derision was worse than any scathing commentary, in Percival’s opinion, at least coming from that wizard.  “Is that what I should have done in order to save your brother from following your example? Because I haven’t done enough to save your ungrateful hides already?”

“Harry, no.”  Scamander swiftly back peddled.  “No, no one could ever say you haven’t given your all for the war effort.  I just…”

“You’re not the only one terrified out of his wits that Newt won’t come back, Theseus.”  Harry told him coldly. “You’re not the only one that would mourn him or who worries. How did you think he’s been handling things since you up and enlisted among the peacekeeping squadrons?  Who did you think has held him together while he nearly broke apart for worrying? But I’m not a single, free alpha able to just forego my responsibilities at home to go off and play war hero.  Try and remember that next time you get your tail in a twist, won’t you?” With one last huff, the omega spun, eyed up his audience of Yanks like they were utterly inconsequential, and apparated away with barely more than a soft pip of displaced air.

“Ah…”  Scamander rubbed one hand over his suddenly aged face.  “Sorry you all witnessed that. My apologies.”

“Was that…?”  One of the rawer recruits Percival had brought with him asked, excitement laden in their tone as they nearly bounced in place.

“Yes.”  Scamander sighed.  “Yes, that was Harry Peverell, owner of this keep, inventor nonpareil, and best friend of my little brother and eternal pain in my arse.  I do hope you enjoyed the show, I’m afraid if you’re in and out of here much you’ll get to see a lot of them as he delivers new supplies and portkeys and finds a new reason to chew someone up and spit them out.”

“I shouldn’t have fought with him in the hall.”

It was much later that night, Percival having settled his squad into their assigned bunks in one of the barrack dormitories with orders to be ready to deploy the next morning before finding his own quarters – which, apparently – he shared with a currently-morose Theseus Scamander.

Though despite rations and shortages, as the redhead had firewhiskey the bed assignment could’ve been worse.

A bit of an alcohol-soaked sleep was better than the nerves-ridden nothing-at-all he would get otherwise.

“Not very well done of you, no.”  Percival wasn’t going to pander to his British counterpart.  “Not good for discipline or morale.”

“Harry’s under a lot of stress.”  Theseus attempted to find his way to an explanation.  “The papers are accusing him of all kinds of things. Being a war-profiteer because of his inventions being in such high demand.  That he could’ve used his powers to prevent the war, that he should be fighting personally,” he winced, downing another shot. “And he’s not the only one.  They tend to vacillate on whether all of us who could be fighting should be on the frontlines fighting to end things sooner rather than trying to keep it contained to the trenches and away from civilians or if we shouldn’t be involved at all.”

“That’s politics.”  Percival jerked a shoulder as he knocked back his own shot, waving off the offer of another.  “Never satisfied.”

“Truer words.”

They clinked their last shots then canceled their lumos charms, falling backward onto their tiny single-beds in the equally tiny room.

Still, it could be worse.

Given the horror stories Percival had heard about what was going on all across Europe among the no-majs, civilians and soldiers alike, it could've been a lot worse than a tiny cot in a tiny stone room and the worry of battle in the morning.

And he was right: it was a lot worse.

So much so that in later years he couldn’t even find the words to describe it.

But, he’d never been overly eloquent, so perhaps that wasn’t a surprise.