The Library of Illusions excerpt: A surprise for you

(NaNoWriMo 2017; FBAWTFT fluff with a side of Gradence)

“You said you had something to show me, Credence?” Percival asks. Credence’s eyes light up and he stands, nodding. “Wait here,” he says, pushing out his chair. He hurries off into Newt’s case, which they have once again decided to keep on the floor of the Goldsteins’ closet. Queenie resumes explaining to Newt the details of the newest pastry creature at Kowalski’s Bakery. Credence is gone for a while and Percival considers whether or to ask for another cup of coffee, or perhaps just a square of chocolate. Tina and Queenie are rehashing what sounds like an ongoing exchange about magical baking when Credence returns.

He elbows his way out of the closet, closely followed by a floating crate. Percival sets down his coffee cup and turns almost fully around in his chair. “Oh, don’t look yet,” Credence says, directing the box’s trajectory with one hand. Percival does not turn back around, his brows canting upward and a smile growing on his face. “Percival,” Credence protests, moving the crate partially behind his back, though he has a tiny smile of his own.

“I have not seen you do magic like that before,” Percival says warmly. The others have noticed the direction of Percival’s attention, and Tina breaks into a huge smile. “Are you doing that without a wand? That’s incredible, Credence!”

“What? Oh, yes, I am.” Credence looks at the floating crate, which hangs stable and obedient in the air. Something moves inside it but it remains steady. “That was not the point,” he says, his cheeks turning pink under the sudden attention of the entire room. “I wanted to surprise you with this. Close your eyes, please, Percival?” Percival closes his eyes, still grinning like a child. Credence flushes darker and shrugs off the others’ attention to focus on moving the crate. He makes it float gently to the ground next to Percival’s chair.

Percival hears the crate lid open. Queenie makes a delighted noise just before something warm and soft lands in his lap. He opens his eyes and looks down into the bright eyes of two incredibly fluffy black and silver kittens. They have huge paws and tufted ears, and though they look mostly like large cats, Percival knows immediately these must be part kneazle. “Hello there,” he says softly, holding up a hand for them to sniff. The darker kitten bats at his hand with both paws and nearly topples off his lap. Percival steadies her with one hand and rubs the other lighter-colored kitten under the chin. She puts a paw on his chest and leans up toward his face, purring. She only uses one paw because she only has three legs.

“You have very good balance,” he says, and she slowly blinks her electric blue eyes, leaning hard into his scratching fingers.

“We rescued them,” Credence says and sets a third kitten on Percival’s shoulder. That kitten immediately sticks his whiskers in Percival’s ear and mews loudly. Percival chuckles and looks at Credence, whose eyes crinkle up at the corners in a suppressed smile. “Someone abandoned them in London. We had the space for them, and you said you wanted a cat.”

“They’re adorable,” Queenie gushes, scooping the kitten off Percival’s shoulder and cradling it against her chest. “Look at him, Teen!” Percival’s precise words were that he wanted a kneazle, not a cat. From the self-satisfied curve of Credence’s eyes, Percival expects the misquote is deliberate.

“How did you end up with them if they were abandoned in London?”
“I found them,” Credence says. He picks up the last two kneazles out of the crate, a fourth kitten and an even fluffier adult roughly the size of a small hunting dog.

“I was looking for a shop in the side streets off Diagon Alley. It looked like a crup or something had gone after them.” Credence adjusts the adult kneazle and lets Queenie take the final squirming kitten. The mother kneazle looks even more obviously magical, with a regal, heavy-jawed face and a thick silver mane and tufted tail. She has an uneven patch of fur on one shoulder, revealing a mostly healed version of what must have been a nasty wound. Credence needs both hands to steady her properly, looking like he is wearing a rippling fur stole. The kneazle pushes her front paws against his shoulder to survey the room. Like the three-legged kitten, the mother kneazle has electric blue eyes. The darker-furred kitten keeps leaping to the floor and back to Percival’s lap again, chasing his fingers.

“Did the crup go after this one?” Percival asks, indicating the silvery three-legged kitten, who is now rubbing her head under Percival’s chin. “Must have,” Credence says, stroking the mother kneazle’s back lightly with his thumb. The darker kitten leaps from Percival’s lap onto the table, and Newt intervenes before she can knock over any of the coffee cups. “It had been too long since the injury to save her leg,” Newt says, scooping up the playful kitten, “but she’s doing very well so far. I think she likes you.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Percival says, running both hands down the silver kitten’s back. 

“We’ve been calling that one Sugar Cube,” Newt says. “We don’t let her eat them,” Credence adds hastily, “but she does like to play with them. She spreads them all over the floor whenever Newt leaves the dish out.” Newt looks at him sidelong and Credence grins cheekily.
“You leave the sugar dish open?” Percival asks Newt, who sighs, trying to keep the dark kitten from squirming out of his arms.

“I don’t,” Newt says. “She has learned how to take the lid off the dish.”
“Clever girl,” Percival says to the kitten. She perks her ears and looks him in the face again, nose to nose, her whiskers ticking his cheeks. She must approve of whatever she sees. She mews and goes back to rubbing her little head on his jaw. “You’re welcome,” he says, and catches Credence and Newt exchanging a quick smile.