Dinnertime came quicker than both men expected. True to her words, Gertrude knocked on their door to call them downstairs. Credence had given his breakfast to a new orphan that showed up at the church that morning and hadn’t eaten anything all day so he was starving. Gertrude led them to a large dining room and showed them their seats. As they sat down she made delicious looking food appear on the table with a snap of her small fingers. Credence couldn’t believe that all that food was for them.
“C-can I start eating, Newt?” Credence stuttered, still not used to address the other man so informally.
“Of course, Credence! You don’t need to ask…go on, eat up!” Newt replied right away, grabbing Credence’s plate and filling it with food.
Credence smiled as Newt prepared his plate. It felt nice to have someone care about him. For a second, it almost made him forget where he was and what was going to happen tomorrow, but the savory aroma of the stew in front of him brought him back. His stomach started turning… but he was so hungry. He grabbed a spoon and a fork and started eating. Soon enough his hunger got the best of him and he mindlessly devoured the food. Mary Lou always told him that gluttony was a sin, but he was already a sinner, so might as well have a nice meal.
Newt couldn’t help but stare lovingly at the younger man. He had been through so much and definitely deserved some happiness. He couldn’t deny that he was nervous though. Percival Graves didn’t have the reputation of being the warmest of men and Credence didn’t need any more pain. He could take it, but not Credence. In that moment Newt decided to do whatever it took to protect him.
They finished their dinner in silence and in the end Credence was surprised to see all the dirty dishes disappearing. He had no idea where they had gone…were they magical plates?
Even though they didn’t need Gertrude’s help getting back to their bedroom, she insisted on showing them the way once more. Just like prisoners, Credence noted, they didn’t seem to be allowed anywhere else in the manor. Not that he would ever dare to explore the other rooms anyway.
When they got back to their bedroom, the fireplace was on, casting a warm, orange glow across the room. Credence couldn’t remember the last time he slept somewhere so cozy. It may be the first time. Newt had made himself comfortable, laying down against the headboard. He seemed almost relaxed but with a certain sadness in his eyes, the contradiction really confusing Credence. He wanted to ask him what was wrong but he wasn’t sure how to bring it up.
“Credence, sit here with me for a minute. You look like you want to say something. Y-you don’t need to censor yourself with me…” Newt said, sensing Credence’s mood. Credence blushed and tried to not make eye contact but sat down at the end of the bed anyways, doing whatever he could to take up as little space as possible.
“Is something wrong?” Credence whispered “I-I mean…you look calm but also sad? I guess I’m just w-worried.” He continued, a little louder. Newt sat up and got closer to Credence, tentatively reaching out for his hand. Credence resisted flinching once Newt held his hand, drawing little, calming circles with his thumb. It worked because, soon enough, Credence felt himself relaxing and enjoying the tender touch.
“It means a lot that you’re worrying about me, but there’s no need for that. I’m okay and you’ll be too. It’s just…I miss my creatures, you know? I wasn’t allowed to bring them with me. Not even Pickett…” Newt replied, lowering his eyes at the last sentence, following his thumb’s movements on Credence’s hand. Credence dared to look up, noticing the way Newt’s brows were furrowed. He didn’t know what Newt was talking about and neither who Pickett was but his confusion must have been written on his face because Newt continued “Pickett is one of my Bowtruckles, my favourite one actually…but I will deny this if you ever repeat it! Oh right, you have no idea what a Bowtruckle is, do you?” Credence shook his head. “So a Bowtruckle is sort of a twig-like little thing that protects trees used to make wands…they’re fascinating creatures really. I wish you had the chance to meet them…Pickett would like you.” Newt explained with a twinkle in his eye.
“I understand you. I had a cat once. He was shiny and black and so little. He was just a baby, lost on the street and I loved him a lot. B-but Ma killed him, she said black cats were evil and only witches liked them. It was my fault…I sh-should have known. I could have tried to save him.” Credence whispered, his voice trembling and eyes getting redder at the memory. Newt could feel his heart breaking. He couldn’t imagine what Credence had gone through.
“Credence, no! Don’t say that…none of that was your fault. None of it! I-is it okay to give you a hug?” Credence shyly nodded and Newt enveloped him in his arms. “I’m sorry you had to go through that…you didn’t deserve any of it.” Newt whispered in Credence’s ear, a shiver going down the boy’s back. As they pulled away he ran his hand through Credence’s inky black hair in a way he hoped was comforting. “What if we tried to get some sleep, huh? Are you okay with sharing the bed?” Credence nodded and Newt got up to look for something to wear in his suitcase. “I’ll get dressed in the bathroom to give you some privacy, let me know when you’re done, okay?”
Credence walked slowly towards his own suitcase finding his nightshirt right away. Even though the room’s temperature was pleasing, he still stood in front of the fireplace as he took his clothes off. He shuddered at his reflection in the mirror on top of the fire. Ma had been right. How could anyone find him interesting? His skin was white and paper thin and his torso blemished with scars from countless beatings. He looked away, not standing his image anymore. He finished putting on his too short, shabby nightshirt and walked towards the bathroom, gently knocking. Newt opened the door right away, obviously having finished getting ready before him. He wore a warm shirt and pants that seemed new. Then again, in comparison with Credence’s clothes, everything Newt wore looked brand new. Newt’s whole semblance went dark for a fraction of a second, as he stared at Credence. How did that boy survive New York’s chilly winter?
“Aren’t you cold? I’m sure there’s something warmer here you can wear…or maybe we could call Gertrude? I’m sure she would find something…” Credence shook his head violently, not wanting to bother anyone. His expression must have been really easy to read because Newt continued “Hey, look at me, I’d be happy to find you something warm. You’re not bothering anyone you hear?”
“T-thank you, but I’m okay…r-really.” Credence couldn’t help but give a shy little smile. He didn’t remember the last time someone worried about him like this. Newt decided not to push anymore, giving Credence a reassuring smile in return.
Both men lied down on the bed, under the thick, smooth covers. Credence breathed in the flowery aroma of the bed sheets. He didn’t know what kind it was but it felt fresh compared to the ashy smell of the fireplace. Credence thought he would be too nervous to fall asleep but he had never slept in such a comfortable place and he was so tired, he quickly fell into a light slumber.
Newt tried to fall asleep but to no avail. He kept tossing and turning, hoping he wasn’t bothering Credence. He had hopefully managed to maintain an air of certainty around Credence, but the truth is that he was terrified. He had no idea what was going to happen tomorrow nor if he would be able to protect Credence. He turned to the younger man, reaching out to brush some of his hair out of his face. Unsurprisingly, Credence was freezing cold and Newt chastised himself for not getting him some warmer clothes anyway. He placed his arm across Credence’s hips, trying to pull him to himself. Credence stirred in his sleep, waking up slightly and groggily looking at Newt.
“I’m sorry for waking you up, Credence. You’re freezing, come here. It’s okay…is it okay with you too?” Newt said gently pulling Credence, carefully positioning his head on his own chest as he slowly nodded his consent. Credence could already feel his body getting warmer thanks to Newt’s body heat. In no time he was falling asleep again, lulled by Newt’s steady heartbeat. Newt calmed down as he listened to Credence’s deep, sleepy breathing, falling into a dreamless sleep too.