Gradence: in canon Credence was promised by Graves that he could live with him when they proved to the wizarding world that Credence was a wizard. Credence spent a lot of time with Graves. A LOT. And then when Grindelwald replaced him he knew something was wrong. He's a smart boy, an imaginative boy, his life turned upside down with magic. So why COULDN'T there be some way you could steal a man's face? (1/2)
So why COULDN’T there be some way you could steal a man’s face? When Grindelwald tries to manipulate him into sex Credence refuses, starts shouting that he’s not Mr. Graves, he’s not HIS Mr. Graves. And the obscurus comes out and fucking TEARS GRINDELWALD APART and reveals Graves trapped somewhere in the apartment. (2/2)
“May I have a flyer?”
“Second Salemers, eh? What do your lot preach?”
There are witches, sir. They can set a curse on you, sir. They marry the Devil, sir, and they carry out his evil deeds in the world against the good and God-fearing people.
They might steal your face and take your place.
“And how does one spot a witch, exactly?”
I – I – Sometimes they have the mark of the Devil upon them, sir. A witch is wicked. A man or a woman.
(Ma says I might be a witch. The Devil is inside me, sir. I’m wicked, sir. You’d better get away before I turn you into a witch, too.)
Dark eyes peer back at him. There is no disgust, or incredulousness, or annoyance. They assess him for a long moment, before he sees something quite unexpected:
“Credence, has anything – unusual ever happened to you? Something you could not explain?”
It is no use that Credence comes home empty handed. His mother sniffs his breath suspiciously and Credence awaits her verdict. Her eyes narrow.
“Thief,” she hisses, and Credence unbuckles his belt. The taste of the sweet pastry he shared with Mr Graves turns sour on his tongue.
The next morning, Credence’s palms are dry and unmarked. There has been another gas leak in one of the factories.
Mr Graves heals his hands, heals his back, heals his legs. He takes him to diners and repairs his clothes with a swish of his wand. When Credence still has a quarter-stack of pamphlets in his grip and the shadows of the skyscrapers shroud the streets, Mr Graves appears with a swirl of misplaced air to take them from him so Credence won’t get into trouble.
“Please,” Mr Graves pleads one night, as he runs the tip of his wand along the rungs of Credence’s ribs, “Come with me. If she does this again – if I couldn’t get here in time – “
The waist of Credence’s trousers is sodden with his blood.
Credence pads through the halls of Mr Graves’ brownstone. He tries his best to be a good houseguest; he makes the bed each morning, he irons Mr Graves’ shirts, he sets the table for their dinner each night. He reads all the books Mr Graves suggests and whispers the information back to himself, determined to learn, determined to fit in. In the evenings, he converses with his host about everything he’s learned that day – Magical History at first, and then all manner of creatures and plants and potions and spells that are so wild and fantastical he knows he isn’t dreaming, because he couldn’t possibly have dreamt of them.
He very determinedly doesn’t think about the little frissons of joy that explode in his chest when Mr Graves’ eyes widen in surprise, the way he smiles when Credence asks him little questions about wandwood and charmwork and magic. Guilt settles behind his lungs, but he likes making Mr Graves’ life easier, likes to thank him through little actions and services.
Steam billows out the open door of the bathroom. Inside, Mr Graves stands at the sink, frowning as he turns his head this way and that, examining his reflection. A straight razor and a brush sit on the counter. Credence twists his fingers anxiously in the doorway.
“Mr Graves,” he says, shyly, “Won’t you let me do that for you?”
Percival adorns Credence’s body with a dozen lovely bites and soft bruises that Credence will later trace with a sweet smile, every mark treasured. His caresses are roses blossoming across his skin, his palms the trellis from which they bloom. He savours the way Percival’s eyelashes tremble, how his hands cradle him reverently. Each kiss against his skin is baptism, every brush of his fingertips is communion, and the look on his face when Credence sinks onto his thighs is absolution. If the worship of his body is religion, Percival is the high priest, guarding the temple of his body jealously for himself alone.
Credence has no more nightmares. There are no more mysterious gas explosions. Sometimes he wakes up, three in the morning, the pillow beneath his cheek wet and a monster sitting atop his chest. He imagines there are white eyes staring down at him from the darkness.
Percival nuzzles him sleepily, tugs him a little closer, presses a soft kiss to the skin of his bare shoulder. Credence winds his arms around him and closes his eyes.
Credence spends sunsoaked afternoons curled in the armchairs of their living room, long limbs tucked up and dripping curls of hair hiding his face as he sits engrossed in a textbook.
He has signed the forms Percival brought him; his name is now Credence Jones, an acknowledged Squib. Only he and Percival know better; Credence could probably power every spell in the Woolworth building for a week before feeling even the slightest drain on his magic. But he finds he quite likes being hidden away in Percival’s apartment, safe and secure and high above anyone who desires to hurt him or use his immense power for their own gain.
His eye catches on something long and complicated. Polyjuice Potion, it reads, and he skims it disinterestedly before flipping across to the much friendlier sounding Dragonfly Brew, which promises to give the drinker wings.
When Percival doesn’t come home one night, Credence doesn’t worry overmuch. He is used to his strange hours, waking up as the sun rises and Percival stumbles into bed.
His side of the bed is still cool in the morning, the sheets still carefully drawn up.
Credence spends the day fretting, at first burning breakfast, then attempting to wipe down the skirting boards. He manages to set the curtains on fire and has a heartstopping moment of terror when he can’t remember the Aguamenti spell and Percival isn’t there to help. The sun sinks over the horizon and Credence is pacing the hallway, agitated.
The key rattles in the lock and Percival walks in. Credence rushes at him with a cry, peppers him with kisses and soft touches. “Where were you?” he cries, clutching on the fabric of his coat, tears shining in the corners of his eyes.
“There was a case,” Percival says, oddly, stilted. “I’m sorry, dear.”
Credence sleeps fitfully that night. There is a knot wound tight behind his breastbone; it swells each time he inhales, crushes his lungs and his throat.
When he wakes up he is exhausted. The New York Ghost speculates on recent magical currents running the length of the island of Manhattan. Credence worries over Percival, pouring his coffee and packing him lunch. Percival looks at him blankly, presses a cool kiss against his forehead, and swirls away with silent Apparition.
Percival’s hands are heavy as they bracket his upper arms. He looms over him, caging him in against the back of the sofa. No, Credence thinks, heart thudding heavy in his chest. Blood rushes in his ears. Percival kisses him, but their teeth click together and Credence cries out, pulling away and bringing his hand to his mouth.
“You hurt me,” he says.
Percival blinks at him and his eyes narrow. His grip on Credence’s arms tightens and he draws himself in. “I’m sorry, dear one,” he croons. “You’re just – you’re so beautiful, you know I can’t possibly control myself around you. I’m sorry. Won’t you forgive me? Don’t you love me?”
Credence feels like the flame of a candle in a church, suffocated.
No, he thinks. This is not right.
– the Polyjuice Potion, which is a complex and time-consuming concoction. It enables the consumer to assume the physical appearance of another person as long as they have first procured the part of that individual’s body to add to the brew –
Credence closes the book slowly. His hands are shaking.
Oily smoke curls up from beneath his fingernails. Credence eyes it calmly, cold and unafraid.