Newton Artemis Fido Scamander most certainly did not have a crush on one Percival Graves, the Director of Magical Security - until he did, that is.
Newt hadn’t had a crush on anyone for years, in fact, until a good three months after the Grindelwald incident. A good three months after they found Graves. Newt had been brought in to consult on a trafficking ring that broke out during the chaos of cleaning up Grindelwald’s mess and MACUSA had instantly asked for his return. He had come back, knowing he’d probably end up meeting the man behind the face that Grindelwald had stolen -
Only to find out he was on sick leave, re-cooperating from the trauma of being held prisoner. What trauma specifically, be it psychological or physically, no one could say. Nor could they say how long he’d be gone.
So imagine Newt’s surprise when he’s knee deep in a raid - spells flying, creatures howling from their cages and panicking, lashing out through the bars and suddenly, he appears. He spots Graves entering the chamber from across the chaos and for a heart stopping second, Newt can’t move. His face is so familiar, and every moment he blinks, he can see Grindelwald’s exasperated expression as he sentenced him to death. But every time he opens his eyes, he see Percival Graves. And while the face is the same, nothing else is.
Grindelwald had moved like a peacock, strutting his power and the richness of Graves’ body like a man flaunting a pricey car. Graves moved like a panther; smooth, steadfast, assured of his capabilities but also cautious enough to know that didn’t ensure a painless fight. His eyes were deep and focused. He scanned the chaos at hand with a sheer, calm calculation that set Newt at ease.
And when he announced his entrance finally to the group at large, it was not flashy or wasteful. He bound and gagged three criminals before the rest even realized he was attacking them at all.
He attacked not just for himself, but for his flock. He cast spells that assisted those aurors that were struggling the most first - the outnumbered or exhausted or wounded. And once assured of their safety, then moved onto the rest. He wasn’t flashy. He didn’t try to eliminate everyone on his own, although Newt had a small inkling that he could. Instead, he worked with his aurors. He attacked just as much as he defended, moving slow and precisely. It wasn’t a race, after all. The safety of his team was most important.
And so while it was a sluggish fight, it was predominantly a success, with minimal injuries occurring after the fact.
“Well done,” he said, his voice rough like whiskey and warming Newt’s chest just the same. Newt watched as he clapped a strong hand onto Abernathy’s shoulder and squeezed, encouraging, before turning to the room at large. “Everyone, begin transporting these men to headquarters. We’ve a long night of paperwork ahead of us.”
“Of course, sir!”
And then Graves turned to look at him.
“Mr. Scamander, yes? I was informed you were assisting with this case. Are you alright?” Graves asked, approaching him all the while, and Newt couldn’t help but feel pinned beneath the wolfish focus of those eyes. He swallowed, about the speak, when Graves’ gaze slid suddenly over Newt’s shoulder.
He received no more notice than that. Suddenly, Graves was in front of him, shoving him aside. Newt stumbled into a nearby table, off balance, then whirled to take in what had set Graves off.
A nundu stood where Newt had once stood, blood on it’s claws. Were it not for the cruel muzzle the criminals had placed upon the creature’s snout, Graves would probably have been struck dead by the creature’s poisons. Newt, too.
Graves had managed to back away somewhat, but Newt could see where the nundu had struck him - sleeve torn and muddled red at the forearm. Graves had both his hands out, both making him seem large while also giving the nundu sight of both his hands and what they were doing.
Newt rose to his feet quickly, mouth open to direct Graves, when the man then turned his open palms to him and shook his head - shushing him with his eyes. It was then he realized the man must have already warned back his aurors, too, because they were frozen in a semi-ring around him, wands drawn but frozen as they watched.
The nundu was growling, it’s huge throat swollen in angry and its thorny mane bristling. Newt felt his heart constrict, torn between directing Graves regardless of the man’s request for silence and telling him not to harm the nundu.
But neither predator attacked, nor seemed to attend to - both just staring each other down. It was then, Newt realized, that Graves was gently easing a wandless spell through the air between them. It sunk into the creature gradually, easing it into a calm stupor incrementally instead of all at once lest the spell panic the beast. Newt watched, wide-eyed, as the director calmly eased the creature to the ground - falling into a kneel in time with the moment that the creature laid down, keeping eye contact until it was finally fully slack, eyes closed, restful and at peace.
“Sir, that was amazing,” one of the aurors whispered, awed.
“Yes it was,” Newt whispered.
Graves leaned forward, hands searching out the crevices of the muzzle, frowning as though displeased as Newt approached. The man looked up at him once before leaning back on his haunches and turning his attention back to the beast.
“My apologies, Mr. Scamander. I am well aware of your expertise, but I did not think warning you would give you enough time to react - I hope I did not hurt you.”
“N-no, I’m quite alright. You… Thank you for not harming him. Another man might have killed him without another thought if they were staring down a nundu.”
“It’s not the creature’s fault he’s here. A spell must have shattered the door to his cage. Spooked him. We got too close and he was acting on instinct. He didn’t advance any further after the initial swipe - he didn’t want to hurt anyone,” Graves said, eyes on the creature as he spoke. “Can hardly fault him for trying to protect himself. Far from home, surrounded by hostile people and then exposed to the fight that just happened. And then he was muzzled. I don’t strike a man if I have a knife and he doesn’t. Goes the same for creatures. Just doesn’t seem right.”
Newt blinked, stock-still in the face of the last words he had expected to hear.
“I wish we could loosen this,” Graves said, fingers trailing over the places where the muzzle bit cruelly into the creature’s jaws, “But until he’s somewhere more managable, I don’t think that’s an option - for all of our sake’s, his included. I apologize though, Mr. Scamander. I know you’re likely not comfortable with that.”
Newt jerked, shook himself of his daze and said, “N-No, not at all. You’re right, it’s best for all of us, the nundu included, until I can get him somewhere safe.”
And when Graves rose to his feet, they were suddenly so close. Newt felt his breath hitch. He watched as Graves ran a hand over his wound, sewing the ragged mess shut, before looking ever so slightly up to look at Newt.
“Are you sure you’re alright, Mr. Scamander?” Graves asked. “You look a little shell shocked.”
Newt nodded quickly, too quickly to be smooth.
“Good. We should start noting and moving these creatures somewhere safe, then. I’d be happy to lend you a hand, if you need the assistance,” Graves said, clapping Newt on the back as he had done the aurors. “The faster we get them somewhere more like home, the better - right?”
And when Graves smiled at him, Newt felt his breath catch in his lungs. Oh no, he thought. He’s perfect.