The reverse little mermaid AU
Where Graves is a merman (I’m thinking black tail, white stripes around his hips, maybe a hint of yellow in his fins for that angel fish vibe) and Newt is the human on the land who falls in love with the sea.
Because the sea has sea serpents that can change their size, feathered manta rays that can curl up into a tiny cocoon, sentient bits of kelp that talk shit and have attachment issues. The sea is awesome.
Then Graves gets himself tangled in a net, the daft idiot, and almost drowns himself on the beach until Newt manages to cut him free. Graves’ memories of the event are fuzzy - his eyes don’t work so well out of water - but now that Newt knows about mermen, about Graves, he’s determined to find him.
What he finds instead is Grindelwald, a washed up mermaid with a dull tail and jagged, torn fins. Grindelwald proposes a trade: his tail for Newt’s legs. Newt agrees. Unfortunately for Grindelwald, Newt winds up with a fabulous gold tail (just the slightest hint of red) but Grindelwald’s legs are bowed and gnarly, as warped by his dark magic as his tail was. He blames Newt for the treachery and Newt escapes into the sea.
Then Newt kinda just flails, because this whole merman thing? Is new. And confusing. And it doesn’t come with a map, so he’s a touch lost. But it’s all good! He finds a small piece of sentient kelp that calls itself Pickett, and Pickett attaches himself to his ear and alternates between tying tiny little braids into his hair and squeaking exasperated instructions about how Newt should avoid getting his fool self killed.
They end up at MACUSA, the towering and imposing underwater city. Their attempts to sneak in are foiled by the captain of the guard - a rather dashing, rather familiar character we know and love that answers to Graves.
Well. I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
Except whoops, just as the angry-but-caring guard starts to realise that the lovable-but-snarky rule breaker is in fact the guy that saved his life and that Graves is madly in love with, BAM. Grindelwald happens.
He’s been busy with those legs, and he’s back on the scene with CANNONS and WARSHIPS and DEPTH CHARGES and all the exploding things he could find on the land. And it turns out that Graves is the one who got him banished and Grindelwald’s back for revenge against all of MACUSA and no one can stop him because mermen know jack shit about explosives.
Except. Newt knows. And Newt was kinda the guy who gave Grindelwald his legs so, oops.
Cue dramatic music please, let’s have a scene where Newt surges up towards a slowly falling explosive. Dull booms in the background, echoing screams as MACUSA falls, we see Graves looking around wildly for where Newt has gone and we see (but can’t hear) him screaming when he notices Newt swimming up.
Pickett grips tighter to Newt’s hair. On the surface, Grindelwald stands on his boat and laughs. Newt glances back once to Graves, then stares forwards again, jaw set in determination. He grips the bomb tighter.
The music rises to its climax, brass instruments and string instruments and percussion to back it all up.
Newt swings the explosive into the ship and -
The scene cuts to Graves, the music falls to something that aches, something with cellos low and mourning, and Graves is briefly illuminated by the light of the explosion. He mouths a single, disbelieving no, shaking his head in denial. Debris rains down from above and Graves swims forwards, desperate and hurting. We follow his gaze and we see Newt, lax in the water, silhouetted against the sunlight above.
Newt drifts. His arms are limp. His tail coils on the current, fins brushing against each other. Pickett, curled around his ear, turns away from the camera and holds onto the tiny braids in his hair. Graves swims up from below and cradles Newt, bridle style, against his chest, but Newt’s eyes are closed.
The music trails off into nothing. We are left with the pair of them seen from behind, the camera slowly panning away. Just before the screen dims, Graves hunches his shoulder and buries his face in Newt’s chest. There is a sound, though we can’t really hear it, echoing through the water as the screen fades to black: