Graves is an auror, a junior just started but already making a name for himself. He falls in love with Newt (slowly, all at once, always and without ever being able to stop) but is waiting to propose until he gets promoted and can offer Newt more than just a ramshackle apartment and a meagre junior’s pay.
Newt doesn’t care. To Newt, marriage is a promise to face life’s trials together, he’d say yes if Graves proposed with a piece of string to wind round his finger. But it matters to Graves and so Graves waits; he won’t be a junior for long, and he’s almost saved enough to move to a real house with a real garden for Newts creatures and all the little things Graves feels that Newt deserves.
Newt still winds a glowing length of spell-thread around his ring finger from Graves’ wand, and Graves still ties off the enchantment and anchors it to their love, because this is their life and their life is made of little gestures and gentle touches and strawberry-sweet kisses in the golden sun.
Newt finds Credence as a small child, tiny and underfed, cowering in the hate sickened squalor of Mary Lou Barebone’s brutish care. When he takes Credence away, it has nothing to do with the angry wisps of obscurus that is developing within him and everything to do with the way he reaches for Newt’s hand with something like fear and something like hope and something like a little boy in need of help.
He brings Credence home to the overfilled, cramped apartment that he shares with Graves, pushing stacks of books out of the way and emptying out a trunk of old clothes to transfigure it into a bed. Credence sits on the edge of his desk and swings his legs and Newt narrates the book he’s writing, stopping to explain every other sentence what dragons are, how they use magic to twist the air currents and help them fly, how many eggs they have in a clutch - eggs, does Credence want eggs for lunch? Egg in shell with buttered soldiers to dip in the yolk?
Credence ducks his head and nods shyly behind his fringe, not used to being asked his opinion. And not really sure what buttered soldiers are either, but if Mr Newt made it, then he knows he’ll like it. Because Mr Newt is like that and Credence loves Mr Newt.
And this could be the story. Graves could come home and find Newt waiting with big eyes and that hopeful, excited, slightly guilty expression that says he’s found a new stray. Graves could sigh and say, what have you rescued now, and, just tell me it won’t eat the roof again, and when Newt beckons Credence in Credence could hide behind the door and refuse to come out.
He’s shy, Newt could say, and take Graves by the hand to lead him into the kitchen. Credence - Credence, this is Graves, he won’t hurt you. I promise he won’t. Newt could bend down, lift Credence up under the arms and balance him on his hip. He’d stay behind the door for now and say, Do you want to meet him? and he’d wait until Credence, solemnly slow and with great deliberation, nods.
When Newt emerges, Credence in his arms and joy on his face, Graves could be there to feel his breath catch in his throat and his life reshape and resettle into husband and father and dad.
This could be the story.
This is not the story.
Graves is away this week, this one week of all weeks he’s the unlucky junior sent to shadow Picquery at the ICW conference in Nairobi. Graves is away, and when Grindelwald follows the trail of the obscurus he was tracking and prowls closer to Credence and closer to Newt - well. Graves is away.
Picquery gets tipped off that Graves is being investigated for treason. He’s just a junior. He’s good at what he does, one of the most promising they’ve had for a long time, but she has no particular reason to suspect the investigation is false. By the time she returns, enough evidence has been uncovered that Graves is arrested the moment his feet touch the ground. He’s led away, not even told what it is he’s done, not given any chance to protest or deny - how can he deny? That’s his face been used to commit crimes, his voice recorded plotting in the dark, how can he deny that? What reason would anyone have for impersonating a junior auror? What defence could Graves ever provide?
The wizarding prison of America is deep in the swamps of Louisiana, guarded by ghosts and spirits and crocodile gods. Graves shivers against the rain that seeps into his cell and kicks off the grasping letiche that haunt the prison for easy prey. He waits. He counts the days in scratch marks on the wall. He runs his sentence down, counting another day, another week, another month another year - and every day a little bit more of him dies.
He counts his sentence to the last day.
He counts his sentence beyond the last day when he’s days, weeks, months overdue for release.
He counts the days since food was last left by the rusted metal grate that marks the entrance to his cell.
He counts and counts and counts until he’s counted the days, the patterns, the flares of magic through the runic wards -
He should have been released over a year ago by the time he breaks out, but then, he should never have been arrested to begin with.
(yes, I will continue this one. Consider this part one.)
I love how he’s a fighter, he didn’t let being disliked by the others in No Mercy get him down, instead he used that to prove he belonged there and worked so hard and I am so thankful and so grateful that he made it through.