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The Life and Times of Percival Graves, Alpha in Courting

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Newt wasn't sure what was causing everyone to behave so oddly, but something clearly was.

Queenie had left for the day, having made breakfast for everyone and, for some reason, having pulled Tina aside to whisper somewhat urgently at her while gesturing towards Theseus. She had hugged Newt and told him to be patient with everyone, before flouncing out of the apartment in a cheery manner that was greatly at odds with the hostile manner being displayed by Tina and Theseus.

Now he was alone in the apartment with his brother and Tina, and the vibes he was picking up on were not at all pleasant.

It should be noted at this point that Newt, generally oblivious to things that had nothing to do with his creatures, was not often able to pick up on the behavior patterns of humans; he tended to go about life with the vague optimism that everyone was, at their base, a decent person. This had led to some awkwardness for him, as someone who was, in fact, an asshole, he typically assumed was merely having a bad day. This tended to be in total contradiction to the general assholery the person went about displaying in their day-to-day lives.

Point being, Newt wasn't very good at reading people.

So it spoke volumes that he was able to sense some tension between his brother and Tina. Meaning, their hostility was so thick you could proverbially cut it with a butter knife.

It wasn't dissimilar to the way a hippogriff might handle someone who wasn't obliging in the whole 'bow before me in a polite and slightly fearful manner, mere mortal, or I shall render you a reason to bend over'; Theseus was clearly waiting for Tina to perform some sort of obligatory gesture, and Tina was waiting for something similar from Theseus.

The result was that the two were circling each other in a manner that reminded Newt very strongly of two hippogriffs he had met in the hills of Ireland. He reflected that the two hippogriffs had both been defending a highly valued piece of rock* and neither was willing to concede to the other's defense of the rock as being better than its own defense of said rock.

If Newt were more perceptive, he might have realized that he was, in this instance, that piece of rock. 

As it were, he spent most of the incredibly tense breakfast trying to puzzle out the apparent source of discord, while half-heartedly resisting Theseus' attempts to bundle him into another layer of protective outerwear, i.e., a very puffy jacket and winter accessories.

"You can show him around the headquarters," Tina said as she watched Newt attempt to put his arms to the side; the jacket made such a thing impossible. "I'm sure Theseus would really like-- love even-- to see Graves' office."

"It really is a nice office," Newt said to Theseus. His arms had rebounded from his sides and nearly whacked Theseus in the face. Rather than be discouraged by this, Theseus had a self-satisfied look on his face. It disappeared at Newt's observation about Graves' office.

"I'm sure it's a bit stuffy," Theseus said. "Most offices are."

"No," Newt replied, after some consideration. "It's actually rather airy-- Pickett is very fond of it because it's so breezy."

Theseus wasn't deterred. "I'm sure it has a bit of that stench that big cities often get, then," he said. He began wrapping a scarf around Newt's neck and the general vicinity of his face. It was snowing an awful lot outside, and Newt was susceptible to sniffles.

"Not at all!" Newt said, though this came out muffled due to the durable layers of scarf protecting his mouth. "I think he lights candles or something."

"High end candles," Tina added, helpfully. "The tasteful kind, not the cheap, cloying ones that everyone knows only want to be expensive." 

Theseus, Newt noticed, was scowling at Tina. He couldn't imagine why.

Having to concede to the superiority of Graves' office, Theseus took some comfort in finding a thick cap to put on Newt's head. This required some yanking, as the cap was lined with heavy, but very warm, wool, and wasn't yet willing to reimagine itself as the slightly stretched out piece of headwear it would need to become in order to accommodate Newt's curls. 

As in many situations that involved Theseus, he managed to bend the hat to his will through sheer pig-headedness. 

Newt, normally of a tall and lanky build, at this point in his life could be accurately compared to a marshmallow or any sort of marshmallow-shaped food group. If the numerous layers were unable to keep him warm, at the very least they would insure that, should he fall a great distance, he would bounce.

"We should get going," Tina said, looking at Newt in a way that would have been at home on the face of someone who had just seen a rat eat a snake, rather than the other way around. 

"This is so exciting!" Newt said. 

The garbled sounds that emerged from behind his scarf were not immediately recognizable as 'this is so exciting,' but both Tina and Theseus were used to hearing Newt make muffled comments**. They were, therefore, able to share a dubious look between them that was, aside from the instance with Miss Crabapple, perhaps the first time the two had ever been on the same page.

Both immediately looked away and attempted to pretend that such a thing had not happened. 

___ 

"And this is where I leave you!" Tina said to the brothers.

Newt had been recovered from his layers, and was now standing pink faced with his brother and best friend in the large, yet almost claustrophobic, entry room to MACUSA. Tina was beginning to back away from the brothers, having done her duty and ensured that Newt wouldn't suffocate on 100% cotton yarn. 

She was smiling very happily, Newt noticed. Tina often smiled, but he didn't think he had ever seen her smile so widely when at MACUSA. Not even when he showed her his latest rescue.

Now that he thought about it, she tended to get a bit of a cagey look to her when he put his suitcase down to show her some new creature. It wasn't dissimilar to the look he'd seen a kneazle display when presented with a bath and no immediate exit. He didn't understand why she would look so cagey-- it wasn't as if he'd ever pull a bath from his case. 

Tina was an interesting person, Newt reflected as he watched her walk at a quick pace away from them. 

He continued to think this as he watched her break into a run towards the elevator.

Newt turned to his brother, who was looking around at the various aurors and lower-level bureaucracy members in a bit of predatory manner. 

"Well," Newt said cheerfully, "what would you like to see first? There's the cafeteria," he suggested, hopefully, as he suspected that today was free cookie Wednesday. "Just over there. To your left a bit. Right on the way to all of the interesting things."

Theseus smiled at a group of strutting aurors that passed by. The smile was not a friendly one; it wouldn't even have passed for a cautionary one, which dangerous people often use in place of friendly smiles. There was a distinct promise of pain and suffering in the smile, one which left the execution of said pain and suffering entirely to the viewer's imagination.

One of the aurors-- a co-author of the Graves' Mandate, in fact-- paled and tried to figure out why the smile reminded him of Director Graves before the alpha had had his coffee.

"I'm sure the kitchens are lovely," Theseus said, having laid the foundations of hierarchy according to Theseus. "Say, are they on the way to Percival's office, by chance?"

"Mmm, no, I don't think so." 

"What a shame!" Theseus said, though his tone of voice suggested the opposite. 

Newt tried to figure out why he was having flashbacks to life at Hogwarts, particularly around the time any balls or dances were being held.

He couldn't make sense of it, and instead focused his thoughts on figuring out whether or not the cook had set aside a Pickett-sized cookie.

This had become somewhat of a tradition of Wednesdays, and Newt would be disappointed if it ended.

__

"Auror Goldstein," Graves called as he headed towards his office. 

Said auror froze. 

Her body appeared much as if it wanted not to have stopped. Her back had hunched forward and one leg was lifted in the air; all in all, she was posed to begin running madly for the nearest exist.

Graves took no notice of this, as most people took on similar poses when he stopped them in the hallway.

There was some mumbling from the auror.

"What was that?" Graves asked. Not that he particularly cared, he just knew that he was in for a rough few days and, on a petty level, wanted to see Tina squirm a bit. "Your voice is oddly muffled, Auror Goldstein." 

More mumbling. 

Tina stared determinedly at the ground as her boss slowly made his way in front of her. The ground, she mused, was a reliable thing. It supported you went you were walking and, more importantly, when it was about to hit you in the face, you saw it. 

Graves always gave the sense of being about to hit you in the face, but for some reason you never really saw it coming until after the fact.

"And what are you up to on this fine day?" Graves asked. Once again, it was clear that he didn't particularly care what she was up to. He was just closing in on his target.

Mumbling with a bit of shoulder hunching commenced.

"Ah yes," Graves said, coming to a stop in front of Tina. "Lovely. And where is," he paused, closing his eyes as if to prepare himself for a threat, "Theseus Longbottom?"

Some mumbling and marked avoidance of eye contact.^  

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that." This was something that Graves actually cared to hear about, and as such he didn't attempt to ask another vaguely threatening question.

"He's here with Newt, so hell if I know," Tina whispered to the decorative plant in the corner. It waved at her in what might have been considered a flirtatious manner. She immediately directed her attention to slightly less lively plant a few feet away.

"Auror Goldstein," Graves said, beginning to become exasperated, "I have this strange suspicion that I'd be able to understand you better if you were to speak-- oh, I don't know-- to my face, perhaps?"

Tina attempted to raise her gaze to Graves, and made it all the way up to his scarf. He hadn't had the chance to take off his outer-layers in his office yet. The first thing he'd done upon arriving at the MACUSA headquarters had been to set up shop in a slightly shady corner in order to wait for Tina.

Not in a creepy way, of course.

"I said," Tina repeated to the scarf, "I don't really know. He's here." She paused. "With Newt." Another pause. "So really, I think your best bet is the kitchen." 

Graves stared at her. His left eye started to twitch, just so.

"It's free cookie Wednesday," Tina said slowly. She didn't think Graves was the sort to appreciate free cookie Wednesday. Worse, he was probably the sort to say something ridiculous along the lines of '8AM is too early to consume cookies, you immature failure at adulthood.'

"He's here?" For some reason, Graves hadn't imagined an angry Theseus at his workplace. 

The mental image wasn't pleasant. 

"I wasn't about to leave him at my apartment," Tina said. "I think my landlady goes in there when Queenie and I go to work," she added, sotto voce. "I swear that my reports moved from the coffee table to the kitchen counter."

"So you brought him here?" Graves wasn't hysterical, he was merely concerned.

"Of course, Queenie sometimes comes home for lunch," Tina continued, far more concerned with her landlady's nosiness than the fact that Graves' new arch-nemesis might currently be receiving a free cookie with Graves' intended. "But then again, she's been going over to Ja-- I-ah, that is, Queenie hasn't been going any where. Nope. No where at all. Especially not to a pastry shop ha ha. That's ridiculous." 

The more practical side of Graves took the time to mentally file away the realization that he needed to retrain his team on subterfuge, as their abilities at deceit appeared to leave a lot to be desired. 

The rest of Graves was too focused on the fact that Theseus was at MACUSA to really care. And he was here with Newt, to make matters worse.

Surely there was a protocol for something like this. A building-wide lock down, perhaps? 

No measure was too much, Graves felt. Particularly when necessary against a man with a disposition like bulldog and the self-restraint of a five-year-old.

Perhaps he should just continue on to his office and try to catch Newt once the omega had wandered off towards the nearest source of trouble and or chaos. It wouldn't take long; Newt did this regularly. Or, even better: if he waited long enough, Prima was bound to appear. She definitely wouldn't leave him to deal with her husband by himself. That was just asking for a war between Britain and America, and she damn well knew it. 

So, yes. Hide-- that is, wait in his office. Yes. Wait in the safety of his breezy, comfortable office. Like the respected auror he was, yes.

...

That said, maybe now was a good time to confront Theseus. Y'know, to face his fears and what not. 

Graves tended to approach life much the way he approached answering the door. That is, he opened it without considering too long the possibility of bodily harm to himself. Under that mindset, it occurred to Graves that he might as well track down the Scamander brothers and deal with whatever fresh hell Theseus had crafted for him (and his employees, the poor wretches).  

Newt always said something along the lines of it being better to die one death than the thousand deaths of a coward, though Graves thought that Newt used this as an excuse to approach obviously dangerous creatures with an unbecomingly optimistic air.

Regardless, Newt had a point.

Graves walked past Tina in a quick, purposeful way that was more suggestive of a stride than a walk. One could even go so far as to refer to it as a march.

It was determined is what the narrator is trying to say.

"Where are you going?" Tina asked. She felt a vague sense of deja vu when Graves ignored her and turned in the direction of the cafeteria. 

No one listened to her here.

__

Theseus watched his brother feed a surprisingly adorable bowtruckle sized cookie to Pickett. 

He wasn't thrilled to be at MACUSA, to be honest. But there was fresh meat-- ah, that is, there were new persons upon whom he could impose his will. That was a plus.

But Graves was here, waiting to engage his baby brother in conversation like the bastard he was. 

That was a decided negative.

"The cafeteria is one of Pickett's favorite places," Newt confided to him. "The cook here normally makes him a plate." Some noise erupted from the little green creature currently gorging itself on chocolatey goodness. "Yes, his cookies are good, aren't they? Don't tell him I said this," Newt's voice lowered, "but they're on par with Jacob's." 

There was a shocked sound from the bowtruckle. It began to chitter at Newt in a heated manner, pointedly throwing its cookie to the floor. It then turned from Newt as if betrayed.

As he watched the cookie meet its untimely demise via the tile, Theseus reflected on the fact that Newt gravitated towards creatures that were oddly dramatic. 

There had been that one dragon Newt had been so fond of-- the one that set fire to everything whenever the littlest thing when wrong. Never mind the little bird dragon thing that would pretend to die anytime something didn't go its way.

He wondered what could possibly have led to Newt preferring the dramatic creatures over the more sensible ones. 

Surely nothing he'd done, Theseus decided. He was a rather mellow person, if he did say so himself.

"Where to now?" he asked, interrupting the lecture Newt was giving to Pickett about small problems entailing small reactions.

Newt paused. "Well," he said, "there's Tina's desk. I've been meaning to check in on the hole Horatio left behind. It's really interesting," he added, smiling at Theseus' tie. "It's still smoking, according to Tina. Fascinating!"

Theseus wasn't sure that he wanted evidence of his brother's constant interaction with things capable of burning a hole into him. Proud as he was of his brother's career choice, there was a willing obliviousness that Theseus preferred to employ in most matters concerning Newt and a dangerous, likely angry, creature.

"That, uh, does sound interesting," Theseus lied. "Why exactly is there a hole, now?" 

Newt proceeded to explain the Horatio Situation, which caused Theseus to pale a bit. 

"Why don't you show me to the training area?" Theseus suggested. He didn't particularly care to see proof of Horatio's venom, nor did he want to run into Tina. He'd had the uncomfortable realization last night that he, perhaps, hadn't been fair to her the other day. But he was knee deep in a feud at this point, so it was probably best just to avoid her for the time being. 

"Oh," Newt said. "There's really not that much there. Just some aurors who are training."

"Yes, but I'd like to see what he-who-shall-not-be-named has taught them," Theseus said. 

"Grindelwald? Oh, I don't think he had much to do with their training when he was impersonating Graves."

Theseus paused. He was starting to feel that Graves hadn't been exactly forthcoming about those few months when he'd stopped mailing Theseus. "... that wasn't who I meant," he finally said.

"Huh."

"I just want to see what they're capable of here," Theseus continued. The predatory look from earlier was back, and his hand had strayed to his wand in a thoughtful, though not pleasantly so, manner. "None of the aurors back home will spar with me, for some reason."

"If you're sure, then." Newt looked a bit disappointed. He figured that he'd be able to show Theseus the hole later.

Horatio would probably need to see it as well. The acromantula needed to have a serious talking to about overreactions, and Newt felt that this would best be done when faced with the three-foot hole behind Tina's desk.

___ 

While Newt and the other one weren't in the cafeteria when Graves arrived, it didn't take him long to track the two down.

He merely had to follow the trail of increasingly distressed and battered aurors to the training room.

"He just came out of no where," one was saying. He was being supported by two other aurors. 

"We have to go back for Billy!" another was shouting. "Billy!"

"It's too late for Billy, Marta!" someone hissed.

"No! Not Billy!" Marta attempted to escape her friend, presumably to go off in rescue of the unfortunate Billy. "Billy! BILLY!"

Graves had first met Theseus at an auror conference. He remembered that the training facility where the conference had been held had featured similar scenes on the days that Theseus had decided to spar.  

This was promising, Graves thought. For two reasons. One, he was clearly on the right track to hunting down the two omegas. More importantly, Theseus was probably wasting all of his energy ensuring that the American alphas had a healthy fear of him.

Graves continued on with a more optimistic attitude, pushing his way past aurors in various states of trauma.

When he got to the training room, he opened the door to reveal a smug looking Theseus (never promising) smiling at a several aurors who were laying on the ground, groaning. Sitting in a corner with his favored bowtruckle was Newt. He was the only one in the room aside from Theseus who didn't appear to be in pain.

"Newt," Graves called. Then, a bit more reluctantly, "Theseus. I'm glad I found the two of you."

Theseus froze and turned slowly to face Graves.

Don't hit him, a voice cautioned him. It was the voice of common sense, a ratty looking figure that was a bit emaciated; it didn't receive a lot of day-to-day attention from Theseus. Picquery said no more hitting. She was very clear on that account.

"Mr. Graves!" Dear Merlin, did Newt have to sound that excited? "Are you here to spar with Theseus?" 

"... No," Graves replied. 

"Oh," Newt said. He was a bit surprised. All of the aurors were having such a fun time going a round or two with his brother.

"I was actually hoping to run into... the two of you." Theseus noted that Graves likely meant to say something more along the lines of "you" rather than "the two of you," and had to take several deep breaths so as to not attempt to maul the other man. 

Graves gave a pointed look to the aurors twitching on the ground. They stared at him, not sure if he was here to save them or finish off what Theseus started.

"Alone," Graves ground out when his look wasn't immediately registered. Normally, any sort of look caused aurors to flee from him, so this was a bit unprecedented.

The aurors began crawling out of the room gratefully. One of them, Billy as it happened, crawled over to Graves and began kissing his feet.

"Oh, thank you, kind, generous boss who I've never once complained about!" he wailed. "Your mercy is unparalleled, unlimited! You have rescued us from--"

"Shut it," another auror hissed as she hastily crawled towards the door. "Get out before he changes his mind, Billy!"

Billy reluctantly crawled out with his companions. Graves felt an immense sense of relief; he was a bit discomfited by having an employee choose to be in his presence, never mind praise him. 

Alone now, the three stood in the training room, staring at one another. Newt was the first to break the silence.

Newt beamed at Graves. Or rather at his scarf. "I forgot! You and Theseus are old friends, aren't you?" 

Theseus exchanged a look with Graves. The look said, with no uncertainty, 'we are not currently friends you bastard^^.'

"Yes," Graves said, maintaining eye contact with the older of the two omegas. "Yes, we are."

The two glared at each other while Newt looked between the two of them, confused.

"Err," Newt said. He was once again reminded of the two hippogriffs. "Is everything okay?" he ventured.

Absolutely," Graves said, in chorus to Theseus' "Just dandy." 

Newt continued to look between the two of them, not entirely sure that he believed them. Still, if they said so...

Another brief silence popped up, and Graves took his chance to attempt to subtly boot Theseus from the interaction.

"How has your morning been?" he asked Newt. It was a bit gruff, as Graves didn't have much experience asking people how their mornings had been.

Newt smiled and managed, inexplicably, to begin talking about hippogriffs. It tied into Graves' question, but Theseus took a moment to be impressed at his brother's ability to turn most conversations into a discussion on magical creatures.

Theseus tried to ignore the way Graves was looking at his brother. It was hard to do this, largely because Graves, now that his attention was on Newt, appeared entirely unaware of Theseus' presence. Worse, he was staring at Newt in that stupid way that that prat Malfoy used to in the Great Hall.

Ugh.

"-- and I was rather surprised to find that the rock serves a major purpose in their mating habits," Newt was saying. "For a group of creatures that fly, a rock seemed a bit strange--" he stopped himself and flushed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Graves. I'm sure you don't want to hear about the mating habits of hippogriffs."

Graves didn't really care what he was hearing about, so long as he was hearing it from Newt. "It's fascinating," he said. His face did suggest that he was fascinated, though it wasn't likely due to the subject of mating hippogriffs.

Newt once again beamed at Graves. "Oh, but I should have asked how you were doing. And," Newt became excited, "I meant to tell you how well your lock has worked! Niffler hasn't escaped once since Ja- err, Queenie put it on for me."

All three men, the alpha and the two omegas, turned to look at the case in Newt's hand. A statement like that one typically proved itself wrong shortly after being uttered, particularly in the case of Niffler.

When no Niffler was immediately forthcoming, Graves took the opportunity to step in closer to Newt. "I'm glad it's working," he said. His stomach didn't flutter at the smile Newt gave him in response to that. Not at all.

Focus, man. Focus.

If Theseus' instructions on a British courting were correct, and Graves had reason to doubt that they were, now would be the time to bow to Newt and thank him for receiving his gift. Bowing seemed a bit excessive, but the British did have a king and all that nobility, so that was probably why. 

Seeing Graves step closer to his brother, Theseus realized that this conversation was not going the direction that he'd intended it to go. Right as Graves began to lean forward into his bow, Theseus stepped in. He attempted to discreetly place himself between Graves and Newt, which was a challenge as there wasn't much space left between the two. 

Graves looked ready to throttle him.

"Newt was going to show me Tina's hole," Theseus said cheerfully, not at all ashamed at this blatant interference.

This produced a scandalized look from Graves, until Newt chimed in with an excited, "I think that it's grown to about three feet since Horatio-- err," he stopped, remembering Tina's adamant 'do not discuss this with anyone, Newt, by which I mean do not discuss this with Mr. Graves.' He coughed and tried to pretend he hadn't said anything incriminating.

Graves felt a bit of relief at the realization that this hole was not the one he'd first thought of. He didn't think he'd ever be glad to hear of Horatio's spree in the office, but right now he damn well was.

"Lead the way, Mr. Scamander. I'm sure Auror Goldstein will be happy to see us," he said dryly. He glared at Theseus, still a bit sore over the interrupted bow.

___

Tina was not, in fact, happy to see them.

This was to no one's surprise, except perhaps Newt's.

___

 

* - Hippogriffs are generally considered to be very civilized creatures. While most believe that this is due to their custom of bowing to one another or being bowed to, which is perhaps a more accurate description of their interactions with others, prominent sociologists and mazoologists believe that the view of hippogriffs as civilized is due to their ardent defense of pieces of rock. Defending random, valuable pieces of rock is a hallmark tradition of most humans, and has led to the creation of most all notable civilizations. 

** - Newt often spoke with his head facing down or in a direction away from the person to whom he was speaking. In other instances, Newt tended to have his nose, if not literally than at least figuratively, in some creature-related task. This led to a lot of muffled speech, which both Tina and Theseus had large amounts of exposure to. At this point, they were experts at translating it.

^ - This avoidance went so far as to avoid eye contact with Graves' shoes, which is typically the mark of someone who feels guilty about something. 

^^ - There were several other things this look said, but none are appropriate to repeat.