"What was your relationship with the Obscurial?"
She squinted, eyes moving from the photograph on the table to the woman sat opposite her. The room was too bright. Her hands were chained to a cold metal chair, a stainless steel table between herself and Madam Picquery. In all of her 17 years, she'd never done anything to warrant an interrogation from the President herself.
"I met him when I was 9, at the orphanage." She started, eyes flickering back to the boy in the photograph. It was taken from a distance; he was on a busy street corner, eyes moving from the crowd to someone just outside the frame.
Zelda hid behind her parents, her mother holding a large pot of soup while her father talked to the headmistress of the place. Mrs Hutchins took their winter coats before leading them into a small kitchen. Zelda found herself passing bowls of soup to the children, muttering "you're welcome" as they went to sit down. He was near the end of the line, eyes downcast and cheeks hollow. He looked out of place, unwelcome. Zelda's curiosity was peaked, but in the car on the way home, her parents wouldn't say anything other than "they're less fortunate than you are, Zelda." as the means to end the conversation.
It quickly became routine, every Friday and Saturday the Mayfields would head to the Lower East Side to feed the children at the orphanage, (which the press quickly picked up on and labeled as a new campaign tactic for her father, who was up for Senate re election) and every Friday and Saturday Zelda would notice the boy, Credence, sitting by himself at the far end of one of the tables. She would sit next to him as he ate, trying to talk to him but getting nothing in return.
One night in the Spring, Zelda was in the hallway hanging her coat up next to her parents' when she noticed some of the older boys crowding around at the end of the hallway. They were shoving something; no, someone, and whispering harsh words at him, some laughing at the others. Zelda slipped her wand, a birthday present from her parents who were so pleased at her selection to Ilvermorny, into her hand and pointed it at the boys, muttering a jinx which made the small group jump back, and rushed over to Credence who was now on the floor, his knees pressed to his chest. "Are you okay?" she asked, pulling a small embroidered handkerchief from her pocket and dabbing it at a small cut on his cheek, putting light pressure to stop the blood. He flinched and his hand reached up for hers holding the cloth. She let him take hold of it, his eyes coming up to meet hers. "Why did you-" he started, and Zelda stood up, offering her hand to help him up as well. He didn't take it, but stood up next to her. "I don't like bullies," she shrugged, walking back into the kitchen.
Late summer was hot in the city, and Mrs Hutchins had allowed the children to eat supper in the small fenced yard behind the house to escape the heat from the kitchen. Zelda and Credence were at the end of the table, this becoming another part of the routine for them. They would eat, she would talk, he would listen. They were sitting near a corner of the yard, Credence picking at blades of grass, Zelda talking about, well, Credence wasn't really sure, when they heard her mother calling for her. She stopped, turned her head to the door, and back to him before leaning in and hugging him. He froze, panicked. He didn't have time to react before she let go and stood up, and he looked up at her. "See you next week." She said, walking back inside.
Zelda's eyes moved to a small folder next to Madame Picquery, labeled Mayfield, Z . "I'm sure you already know that I left for Ilvermorny though, so I never saw him after that." she said, eyes back up to meet the President's.
"Until a year ago," she challenged, a tiny smirk on her lips. The President didn't like losing, and certainly not to a little girl. "You left school and came back. Why?"
"My mom didn't think it was safe anymore. With all the Grindelwald attacks, she thought that maybe he would start attacking schools so she had me come back to Manhattan," she shrugged.
"And you never made contact with Mr Barebones?"
"I tried, honestly. I went to a few of those gatherings, but I could never get close to him with that woman around."
The President placed two more photographs on the table, one was an official portrait of someone, and the other was one of Credence and the man together in an alley.
"Have you ever seen this man?" she asked, pointing to the portrait.
Zelda shook her head, "Only in the papers. Never in person."
The man in the portrait changed into another man, and Zelda stifled a gasp.
"Percival Graves," the President started "was my head of Security, trying to gain the trust of Credence so we could find the Obscurial who we thought was a little girl. Mr Graves, however, turned out to be-"
"Grindelwald." Zelda finished, eyes wide. He was here, in New York.
Madame Picquery nodded, "We've captured him, but during his apprehension, under my orders, the Obscurial was destroyed. We've brought you here because this was found in the house where Mr Barebones was staying."
A small piece of white cloth was placed on the table next to the first picture of Credence, and eyes pricked Zelda's eyes. Her initials were faded but still embroidered on the handkerchief, the one she'd used to clean up his blood.
"He probably thought I abandonded him," she whispered, staring sadly at the photograph. "I wonder if he hated me."