See, the first time that Newt got lost in Asclepius’ hospital and ended up in Graves’ highly warded highly secret room, he could chalk it up to a strange set of coincidences. An accident, maybe. He took a few wrong turns, a couple of wrong staircases, somehow got an overly pushy snidget soft toy foisted on him by an insistent gift shop, and ended up explaining his theory of flight magic to a comatose director for… a while? He kind of lost track of the time. The charmed window had rolled over to a balmy sunset by the time the door reappeared and the snidget chivvied him out of the room, but Newt hadn’t thought it was that long.
But that’s beside the point. The first time it happened, Newt thought it was an accident. A one off at the very least - he was hardly in the habit of visiting the hospital and wandering off by himself. He wasn’t, in fact, anywhere near the hospital, and Graves wasn’t on his mind, and the door leading out of the gents on MACUSA’s third floor was not supposed to lead to a familiar room with a familiar occupant in the single bed.
The snidget - Steve, it was a stuffed toy but it was a remarkably animated stuffed toy and it deserved a name - wormed its way out of his pocket and chirrupped hopefully at him. He looked over his shoulder but without much optimism; the door he had just walked through was, indeed, gone.
“My apologies, Mr Graves,” Newt said to the sleeping figure. “I won’t be a moment, sorry for disturbing you.” He ushered the snidget away to the furthest corner and lowered his voice.
“Now, listen,” he told it as sternly as he could manage. “You can’t make a habit of kidnapping people like this. I can’t make a habit of being kidnapped like this. I got in enough trouble last time, thank you, so take me back.”
“Back, Steve. I’m not leaving my case in the Auror department by itself.”
Steve gave a low, despondent whistle and landed back on his shoulder, but at least the door rematerialised. How, exactly, it managed to drop him off halfway across the city at the Woolworth’s building Newt didn’t know, but it seemed petty to question it at this point.
He quashed the feelings of guilt about leaving Graves behind. The man had the best care MACUSA could give him, and really, Newt was a complete stranger. He shouldn’t be interfering. What he should be doing is reporting the hole in the wards to Tina or at the very least working out exactly what magic was powering Steve and how it was connected to the hospital. Somehow Newt was never very good at doing what he should, and somehow it was strangely difficult to put Graves out of his mind and focus on the various forms and legislation Tina needed him to run through.
Somehow he wasn’t surprised that walking out the door an hour later with his coat on and his case in hand did not, in fact, lead him to the apparition point.
“Hello again, Mr Graves,” he greeted with a feeling of cautious relief. He’d hoped to be able to come back, but it never did to count on such things. “I’m sorry for leaving so suddenly earlier, but I’m free for the evening if you don’t mind me staying.” He slipped his coat off and hung it on the hook that materialised from the wall and walked over to his chair by the bed without needing prompting. Steve, whizzing in lazy circles around his head, looked insufferably proud.
“I brought my notes this time,” Newt said conversationally as he opened his case. “I won’t be a moment.”
It was… nice, would be the best way to describe it. Newt had his notes, had Steve trying to make a nest out of his hair (and Newt really needed to check on Steve’s animation charms, this was getting ridiculous), Pickett sat on his shoulder and fussily untangling Steve’s work, and Graves’ sleeping form as his patient audience. He was mostly in the editing stage by this point, condensing entire notebooks of research down into a short entry for each creature he’d come across -
“ - but I was thinking, maybe, of leaving this one as a sort of quick reference encyclopedia book and writing more in depth books on each species, what do you think? Or maybe not each species but maybe the groups of them, each continent perhaps - no those books would be too big. Maybe I should just make the entries longer and stick to one book. One giant book. I could put expandable charms on each section so you could tap your wand to the creature’s name and get a whole chapter dedicated to them, how amazing would that be? A mite impractical, but maybe for special editions… “
It was nice to talk it over with Graves. It helped Newt organise his thoughts, and let’s face it, he liked talking about his creatures. He just very rarely found someone who would listen, and maybe it was a bit unfair to be taking advantage of Graves like this but… Well. It was nice.
So the first time was an accident, the second time lasted all of a minute, and the third time went long into the night before the sleepy snidget started tugging Newt towards the door. He left reluctantly, still juggling papers on lethifolds and wondering whether to include the eyewitness account he’d been given or stick to his own research.
“Oh stop fussing, I’m going, I’m going - I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr Graves, have a good night - good grief Steve calm down - “
The door closed behind him with hurried but silent force and Newt blinked owlishly at the deserted alley he found himself in. It seemed to be one of the back exits to the MACUSA building; the sunken cellar door behind him was layered with enough muggle repellents to give him a headache just standing there. He peered suspiciously at Steve. “How, exactly, are you managing this?” he asked the stuffed toy. If it even was a stuffed toy. Steve tucked himself into Newt’s pocket with Pickett and refused to answer.
He didn’t answer the fourth time, when Newt stumbled through a door in his flat and arrived in Graves’ room half dressed with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth, or the fifth time when Newt carried a steaming mug of tea and a sandwich through to what should have been his living room. By the sixth time, Newt had started keeping his notes shrunk in his pocket rather than his case; times seven and eight he’d added an expansion charm, a thermos of tea and a portable cooking stove and regaled Graves with stories of misadventures in local cuisine as he put together a basic stew. Chili, that’s all Newt was saying. Entirely unreasonable quantities of hot chili.
“You know,” he remarked, somewhere around time ten - eleven? - that he’d set up camp in the corner of Graves’ room, “I think I spend more time here than in my actual flat. Between here and the case, I do wonder why I’m paying the rent on it.” He lent forward, chin resting on his knees and wrists loosely crossed over his ankles. Graves was - as ever - still and silent, but Newt had managed to add a few bits and pieces. Weightless charms, to reduce the risk of bedsores. Tweaks to the lighting charms on the ceiling, to better mimic the sun and the rhythm of the day. A bit of a breeze. Smells, outdoor smells - people tended to overlook smell, but it was one of the most important senses. If Graves was even a little aware of his surroundings, Newt thought he should have some better smells around than sterile hospital linen.
He could do more, if he wasn’t worried about tripping the monitoring wards. Turning artificial spaces into natural habitats was what Newt did, what he was good at, and Asclepius’ hospital was all but overflowing with ambient magic that existed to heal - Newt could have turned the cramped room into open Savannah plains if he could convince the hospital it would help Graves. He itched to, occasionally; maybe not plains, but maybe New York? Maybe Graves would prefer the feel of his city, the sounds of busy streets and the rumbling grind of daily life. Newt would like to ask him.
Steve perked up suddenly, interrupting Newt’s thoughts as he took wing and hovered by the door that melted out of the wall. And there, ultimately, was the only thing stopping Newt from moving in: the irregular check ups from Graves’ doctors and guards. Technically, Newt wasn’t supposed to be there. Even if he was eighty seven percent sure that it was the hospital itself that kept dragging him back, Newt doubted that the aurors would take kindly to his intrusion.
“I’ve got to go,” he told Graves regretfully as he moved over to the anchor stones he’d placed around the bed. A wave of his wand collected them and cancelled the atmosphere charms he’d been running, and he felt the walls sigh as Asclepius’ resettled the usual window illusions and wards into place. “We need to talk about your sentient buildings when you wake up though, because I’m starting to lean towards your hospital being possessed. In a good way - did I tell you about the Lares spirits I met? You’d like those, I think.”
He stopped for a moment, staring at Graves and wondering if Graves would, in fact, like them. Newt knew nothing about Graves. He could infer a lot from the auror’s near devotion to him - from Tina’s devotion - and from the harsh persona Grindelwald had pulled on to impersonate him, but.
Graves was pale, in a way that said he was usually tanned but had been kept away from the sun for too long. His hair was dark brown, not black, and it fanned around his head on the pillow. There were furrows etched into his forehead and the beginnings of crows feet at the edge of his eyes, and Newt pushed a stray strand of hair back and wondered if they were from anger or stress. If you worry you suffer twice, but even Newt can’t help but worry when his creatures are in danger and if what Tina said was true - well, maybe Graves worried for his aurors the same as Newt did for his creatures?
“If you’d only wake up,” he whispered, allowing his fingers to rest in Graves’ surprisingly soft hair, “I could ask.”
Steve flittered urgently at the door. Newt couldn’t hear the footsteps on the other side of the wall, but he knew better than to push his luck. He picked up his case and slipped through the door and into an innocuous back street just as the wards peeled back to allow the aurors into the room.