By Carolina Hobot (alias Lila Tulip)
Word Count: 2300
Summary: The real Percival Graves knew Credence before Grindelwald stole his face and identity. It started with Percival Graves ensuring the young man had truly forgotten Tina’s display of magic, but sympathy for Credence’s situation blossomed and Graves found himself embroiled in Credence’s well-being.
Notes: This story is just my exercise into what happened to the real Mr Percival Graves as that went unanswered in both the screenplay and film. Thus this little story was born. Here I speculate that Graves must have met Credence based on the timeline of the screenplay, which implies Grindelwald reached America after Newt. It is a short look into his life before Grindelwald (and eventually during and afterwards). All supposition and head canons!
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them belong to Mrs J.K. Rowling. I am only playing for no profit!
Percival Graves wasn’t a cruel man, but he believed in his job and part of that was upholding Rappaport’s Law even when it seemed terribly cruel.
Miss Goldstein’s actions had been noble, yet they could have exposed the magical world to the bigotry of the No-Majes. Unlike that fanatic Grindelwald, Graves had no desire to ignite a war with the No-Majes. Thankfully, a team of Aurors and Obliviators had succeeded in burying the incident. Graves still wondered why she had risked her entire career to throw a spell at that odious Barebone woman, the very lady who was attempting to lead a renewed hunt against witches and wizards, thereby not the wisest choice if deciding to reveal magic to a No-Maj!
Miss Goldstein’s breech of magical secrecy had been an act of absolute madness, in Graves’ opinion. Or at least that is what he used to wonder, because right at this moment Graves was committing a breach of Rappaport’s Law that was far worse.
Apparating into a quiet alleyway, he cast a furtive look around his surroundings. As ever, the alley remained deserted unless you counted the rats. Graves was such a man who wouldn’t be surprised if any of those rats scuttling away from the intruder to their alley happened to be Animagi, registered or not.
Pushing aside his paranoia, justified or not, Graves cast a Notice-Me-Not spell and strode from the alley. The main street was poorly lit, and close by, Graves saw the New Salem Philanthropic Society church. The windows were nearly all black, apart from one at the top and one at the bottom where Graves knew the kitchen was located. A yellow glow spilled from them, and occasionally he glimpsed a figure moving inside. Cautious despite his charm of concealment, Graves checked the road and glanced to the other side.
Good, he was there.
Seeing no cars coming, Graves hastily crossed the road, ice forming as the temperature dropped. Reaching the curb, he removed his concealment charm before entering the alley. Narrow and filthy like all alleys, it served their purpose well enough. No one who cared to keep their life would glance too long into an alley they had no business going down.
This alley was close to the Salem church, only one over and surrounded by buildings where people had closed their curtains against the darkness and cold of the night. Very little light escaped the curtains, and what did formed tiny tendrils that did nothing to dispel the inky blackness of the alley.
The street lights helped illuminate the mouth of the alley, and just outside the orange glow stood the cause of Graves’ own brand of madness.
Credence Barebone, the same boy that Tina Goldstein had thrown away her career for and endangered their society, now awaited the next person to risk their career over him.
“Credence?” whispered Graves.
The hunched-over young man glanced up, expression hopeful at the worry evident in Graves’ voice. It twisted Graves’ heart to see how broken he was, lapping up any sign of positive attention or affection, no matter how measly.
“Yes, Mr. Graves?”
“No one saw you leave?”
“No, Mr. Graves, Ma is busy with her meeting and Chastity is helping. My sister Modesty is on duty in the kitchen tonight.”
“Excellent. How are you, Credence?”
As Graves walked up, Credence ducked his head again. Sighing, Graves took the boy’s hand, feeling the rough bandage wrapped around the calloused palms. He did not miss the hastily stifled gasp. Turning Credence’s hands so the streetlights could illuminate them, Graves saw red seeping through the sloppily bound rags, and gently unwound them.
He hissed at the angry welts. The wounds had ruptured the skin, the marks from a belt – Credence’s own, Graves knew – deep and cruel. Blood sluggishly escaped them, turning Graves’ questioning fingers sticky and red.
“What for, this time?” Graves winced at the anger that he couldn’t control.
Credence flinched in response and swallowed heavily. “I am sorry, Mr. Graves, but Ma said I hadn’t handed out enough leaflets. I swear I did not tell her of you.” Earnest eyes now met his, tears gathering at the corners.
How broken and terrified this young man was, transformed by his sadistic mother into nothing more than a child who expected only violence from others, and when offered kindness was scared of losing it.
Why did she hate Credence so? He was a kind man despite his upbringing, lacking the devout hatred of his mother’s crusade against witchcraft. Graves could not understand, and Credence had been unable to tell him satisfactorily, so far.
“I know you have not informed your mother of us, Credence. Please do not be afraid. I am not angry at you, but at your mother. She should not have done this.”
Credence nodded, still unsure. Graves sighed at the sight while he debated his options. He couldn’t heal Credence without giving away what he was, yet how could he leave Credence to suffer?
Unless he didn’t heal Credence and merely helped him on the way? Yes, of course. It was a clear violation of Rappaport’s Law, but…Graves smiled wryly, for he had broken the law already. He might as well trample over the shards and hopefully bury them before anyone noticed – wizard, witch, or No-Maj alike.
Raising one stained hand, Graves cradled Credence’s neck and pulled the young man close, into a tight hug. Credence stiffened then relaxed, desperately huddling into the odd embrace. His lean body shuddered, his breath coming in quick huffs against Graves’ shoulder where the lad had lain his cheek.
Rage filled Graves at the desperate manner Credence sought this paltry affection. He was starving for the loving touch of a family member so much that he accepted Graves’ awkward embrace with no questions. For a few heartbeats, Graves understood Grindelwald’s crazed desire to bring war between the No-Majes and them.
If Grindelwald had at that instant suggested they seek vengeance against this vile woman who beat her adopted son mercilessly, then Graves would have gladly done so with a song in his heart. Credence’s hands were still cradled by Graves’, in-between the tight clasp of their bodies, and it took a whimper of pain to stop Graves’ insane desire to watch Mrs. Barebone burn for her crime.
“Credence, do not be afraid, your suffering shall soon be over. Keep your palms turned upwards and don’t move them.”
“Yes, Mr. Graves,” murmured the young man obediently.
Graves shifted so his right hand now covered Credence’s left. Focusing on his power, Graves thought of healing, of light and warmth, of knitting torn insides, stopping blood from seeping from rent flesh, and mending broken skin. His breathing was steady, a slow inhale and exhale, his hate-fuelled desire to dispense pain and death turned to a yearning to be gentle and to heal.
Graves moved his hand over Credence’s. It tingled with power, and he felt so calm that Graves’ left hand loosened on Credence’s neck, still restraining, but gentler. As he trailed over the terrible welts, Graves’ power trickled out of him like a steady stream. Graves heard Credence sigh and relax more against him.
“Just once more, Credence, then it shall be over.”
“Oh.” His disappointment was obvious at losing these shared sensations of peace.
Graves repeated his actions on Credence’s right hand, and stepped away. Credence followed him briefly before stopping. Graves’ heart ached and he wished he could comfort Credence more.
Credence’s mournful expression changed when he examined his hands. His sharp inhale tore the fragile fabric of the night.
“Mr Graves?” Awe and fear mingled together as he showed his hands to Graves.
Graves swallowed thickly as he witnessed his handiwork. He had only meant to prevent infection from setting in, and encourage the healing process. However, in his attempt to heal Credence and show the boy some kindness, he had let his powers run amok.
The ruined skin on both of Credence’s palms was fully mended, and even the bloodstains were gone, removed by Graves’ nonverbal command.
There was no No-Maj explanation for this.
Credence was staring at him yet…while there was a little fear, there was also wonder.
“Sir…Mr. Graves, are you an angel?”
Credence’s faith was admirable in light of all his suffering, or perhaps strengthened by it? Graves was uncertain. His own faith had been eroded by the criminals he chased, by the sometimes petty, oftentimes grey or evil injustices he had witnessed through his years as an Auror and now as Head of Magical Law Enforcement. Thus, it was refreshing to see Credence’s hope in the face of all the suffering he had endured. Even when Graves caught flashes of great anger (justifiable in his opinion) inside the boy, as if he was struggling to contain the rage under his thin and ill-fitting suit, Graves deemed it nothing to be worried overmuch by. It surely was a natural expression of Credence’s suffering.
“No, Credence, I am not. I suspect you know what I am, but we must not speak it aloud. There are those who would use the knowledge for great harm.”
Your mother for one, my enemies for another, and the Government I serve as the final addition to the party.
Credence nodded, his eyes shining with tears of wonder in the streetlights.
“Why help me, Mr. Graves?”
Why am I helping you? mused Graves. Because I thought I could simply walk away after checking if you had indeed forgotten Tina’s foolish use of magic, but since my initial visit I have only wished to help. You were beaten and cold when I saw you, and nothing has changed.
I have, though.
My selfish interest in protecting my people devolved into caring for an abused No-Maj, who for the first time in years burrowed past my better judgement – or cold indifference.
I never questioned the full ramification or even morality of Rappaport’s Law, until my visits with you. The No-Majes have done nothing to help you because they don’t know or do not care. I do know, yet I am supposed to not care. However, I do care, but am not allowed do anything. How is that just? Your God would judge it unjust and demand I act to rectify the situation.
Graves nearly laughed at the ridiculousness of the thought. That he would follow Credence’s Holy Book more than his fellow No-Majes was a surprise, to say the least. Graves pinched the bridge of his nose to shake the thought and gain more time. He saw Credence shift, but stay quiet as he waited for a response, eyes still wide.
Credence’s awe over every kindness shown to him, along with his earnest gratefulness, filled Graves with a renewed determination to repay with more kindness. He wanted Credence to know some untainted happiness, and that gentleness existed even for him. Somehow Credence had whittled away at the hard shell Graves had formed over the years of being an Auror.
For an instant, Graves wondered if this was how it would feel to have a son.
Graves did not confess his introspections, for it was too much for him to cope with yet, let alone divulge to the boy.
“Because you do not deserve to be beaten, Credence; no one does,” replied Graves finally, with a heavy sigh.
Credence blinked in surprise at such a statement and the sentiment behind it. He looked hopeful then, similar to when Graves smuggled him food bought from a street vendor.
“Can I go with you?” he asked. Tentatively he added, “And Modesty?”
“No, but…” Graves added hurriedly as he made another hasty decision, “you will be able to leave. Soon.”
Credence’s fallen expression transformed again into hope tinged with wariness. Graves would lead the No-Maj police here, he would find evidence that would bring Mrs. Barebone down and then he would discreetly assist Credence and his sister in escaping.
No one need ever know the truth—President Picquery or the No-Majes.
“Just wait a little longer, Credence. I need to go away on important business, but upon my return we shall discuss your future. Can you trust me?”
Credence nodded. “Yes, Mr. Graves, you always keep your word.”
Graves smiled, happiness sliding into his breast. “Then return quietly to your mother, but say nothing to anybody, not even your sister.”
“Yes, Mr. Graves.”
“Goodnight, Credence.” Watching Credence return to his abusive home was not so painful this time. Graves would save Credence and his sister – and coincidentally all those children under Mrs Barebone’s thumb. That it would benefit his society, as well, was a blessing.
First, however, he had to deal with Gellert Grindelwald.