What Newt Gives Tina
For the life of her, Tina Goldstein could not decide whether she looked acceptable or whether she looked ridiculous. She reminded herself that Queenie had tailored this dress just for her, and Queenie would never make her look ridiculous, especially for something like this. And Tina had to admit that this dress was gorgeous. The fabric was a sky-blue silk, embroidered with flower patterns in shimmering silver thread. The boat neckline, the long sleeves that flared at the wrists, and the cinched waist were all aspects to the dress that helped her feel more secure. The only piece of jewelry that she wore was an antique, diamond barrette that she had inherited from her grandmother; that gave her more security than anything.
Gazing at herself in the full-length mirror of the guest room she had been put in, Tina knew that this was the best that she could do. She had less skin on show than she had when she, Newt, Queenie and Jacob had gone to The Blind Pig, but that was most likely a good thing. After all, a grand estate of one of the oldest wizarding families of Great Britain was a far cry from a magical and illegal gin joint in New York City.
But, no matter the circumstances, Tina was not used to wearing such clothing, such luxuriant fabrics and fashionable designs. The only time that she ever wore such clothing was for formal functions at MACUSA or when she went undercover to the underground gin joints and bars around New York City. All her life, Tina had always been about comfort and practicality when it came to clothing; looking beautiful and fashionable were never top priority.
But tonight, she wanted to be beautiful. Because tonight, she was seeing Newt Scamander again after nearly a year.
The British magizoologist had stayed with the Goldstein sisters for about a week following the great obliviating rainstorm that had covered the whole city. During that time, Newt had secured a boat passage back to England and had several meetings with President Picquery and her cabinet. When with the sisters, Newt would continue to show them around his case, tell them the stories of his travels, and teach them about his creatures. Queenie especially found great distraction and therapy in spending time with and feeding the creatures. Tina simply savored the time that she was getting to spend with this man who was making such a clear imprint on her heart.
There were several nights, during that week together, in which both Newt and Tina had nightmares about the recent events (and also old wounds that had been aggravated by those events). Both would find each other in the kitchen, where they would do what they had done right after saying good-bye to Jacob: silently share a cup of tea, and share a tight and warm hug with each other before going to their separate beds.
When the time had come for them to say goodbye at the docks, the air between them became tense and awkward. They were in public, neither wanted to say goodbye, and both had grown to feel something quite substantial for the other that scared them because they couldn't yet define what it was. The only touch shared between the two of them had been Newt tentatively and gently stroking her hair. The only hope of seeing each other again was Newt asking if he could give her a copy of his finished book in person, and her replying that she would like that very much.
Now, that was about to happen. But there was a catch: Newt had no idea that she was in the country. And they hadn't been in contact for over three months.
The chiming of the clock on the mantelpiece almost made Tina jump. Looking at its reflection in the mirror, she saw that seven o'clock in the evening had arrived. Lady Scamander had told her to come down to the party at that time, which would be an hour after it officially started; her boat had only reached England earlier that afternoon, and Lady Scamander had told her to take some time to rest and refresh herself.
But as Tina exited the guest room and made her way down the elegant (and intimidating) hallways (no, they were called 'corridors' here), all she felt now was a stomach full of butterflies and buzzing billywigs. Oh, please let him be happy to see me…
As Tina carefully walked down the grand front staircase, she heard the sounds of animated discussion and lovely piano music playing coming from the ballroom (Mercy Lewis, I'm certainly not in New York anymore). Gulping, Tina made her way down another hal–corridor towards that room as if she were marching to a duel.
Stepping into the vast and gilded room, filled with well-dressed witches and wizards that positively oozed elegance, Tina immediately felt like an awkward and ugly duckling. Her eyes scanned the room for Newt, his mother, something familiar that she could join so she wouldn't feel so out of place. While she couldn't see Newt anywhere in the crowd, Tina spotted his mother a few people away, but she seemed deep in conversation with a group of ladies. Tina didn't want to be rude and interrupt anything, so she resumed her search of the ballroom.
Finally, her eyes alighted on a refreshments table. Might as well get something to try and settle my nerves, she thought. So, she made her way through the crowd as carefully as possible, doing her best not to bump any elbows or spill any drinks. When she had reached her destination, Tina was able to see something new from this angle: a small stage at one end of the ballroom, with several steps leading up to it. The only object on the stage was a table that was piled with several dozen books bound in bright red leather. Tina's heart warmed with pride at the sight.
"Whatcha want ta drink, dearie?"
Tina turned at the sound of the kind and squeaky voice, and saw an aged female house-elf behind the refreshments table. She stood on a stool and wore an elegant tea-towel as her garment.
"Oh, um…" Tina began to respond as she looked down at the bottle and punch bowls, looking for something familiar. But she found nothing, and remembered that she was in a completely different country.
"I would recommend the Nymphenberry wine, miss," said a kind voice to her left.
Tina turned and saw a slim man in his forties standing beside her. He had an auburn beard and hair, bright blue eyes behind half-moon-shaped glasses, and deep purple dress-robes. Seeing that his expression and demeanor were friendly, Tina nodded to the house elf behind the table. With a smile, the elf snapped her fingers. A large but elegant bottle of cobalt liquid lifted from the table, and poured its contents into a small wine glass. Tina took the full glass and took a sip; it was exactly to her taste and liking.
"Thank you very much," she said to the kind man, and held out her right hand to him. "I'm Porpentina Goldstein."
"Charmed, Miss Goldstein," said the man, taking her hand in his as his eyes lit up in recognition of her name. "Professor Albus Dumbledore."
Tina instantly recognized the name, and smiled at him. "Oh! You were Mr. Scamander's teacher at Hogwarts, right?"
"Yes, in Transfiguration," said Professor Dumbledore with a smile. "He always did well in the subject, but his best subjects were Herbology and, of course, Care of Magical Creatures."
Tina laughed. "That's not at all surprising."
"But even in the subjects he least liked, Newt always worked hard," Professor Dumbledore said with a fond smile. "A true Hufflepuff, and that is a high compliment."
Tina nodded. Though Newt had never liked to discuss the circumstances of his expulsion – or his close friendship with a certain female student – in his letters, it seemed that his fondness for his school had never wavered. He had delighted in telling her all about each Hogwarts house, his common room near the kitchens, the way going to each class felt like an adventure, and the beautiful grounds surrounding the magnificent castle.
"Now, tell me about yourself, my dear," said Professor Dumbledore kindly. "You went to the lovely Ilvermorny, I take it?"
Tina and Dumbledore fell into easy conversation after that, the focus of it being Tina's own education and career. Seeing the way that Professor Dumbledore seemed genuinely interested and really listened to her, Tina could tell immediately that this man was an excellent teacher. This was something that she had already learned from Newt. She knew that it was thanks to Professor Dumbledore that Newt had been able to keep his wand and been able to take his N.E.W.T.'s the summer after his formal expulsion. But speaking to him now, Tina could now say with complete certainty how lucky Newt was to have this man as a teacher and a friend.
Their conversation ended when a voice coming from the make-shift stage sounded across the ballroom. "May I have everyone's attention, please?"
Tina looked towards the stage, and recognized the man calling everybody's attention as Newt's older brother, Theseus. She had met him when her when her ship had arrived in Liverpool; he had met her once she'd gotten through customs and apparated her to his family's country home.
It was very easy to see that he and Newt were brothers; both had the same green eyes, the same reddish-brown locks, and freckly complexion. But Theseus was taller, broader, always maintained the posture of a soldier, and exuded a confidence that Newt did not have. While Newt was a man who approached the world on the defensive, with his hunched posture and his difficulty maintaining eye contact, Theseus was clearly a man who faced the world ready and unafraid of anything that came his way.
The chatter having died down at his words, Theseus continued with the ease of a man who had no problems or qualms about speaking in front of a crowd of people.
"On behalf of my family, thank you all for coming. This truly is a proud occasion for us, and frankly, for all of the magical community. For I believe that this little but beautiful book represents a new age of helping and understanding these extraordinary – excuse me, fantastic – beasts." He suddenly got a mischievous smile on his face. "And perhaps it makes sense that it was written by a little boy who tried to set up his bedroom in our hippogriff stables every other night."
The room filled with amused chuckles, and Tina smiled, enjoying the image of Newt as a little boy stealing every opportunity to be with magical creatures.
"So, without any further ado, here is the man of the moment but always my baby brother to me: Newt Scamander."
Tina's stomach and heart filled with butterflies again as she applauded with everyone else, her eyes growing warm as they searched for Newt. She didn't have to search for long. In the next moment, the man who had captured her heart walked up the few steps and across the stage to his brother. Though he wore perfectly-tailored dress robes of dark blue, he still walked the same way and held himself the same way as he had when she'd last seen him. Her heart warmed, and she felt herself beaming whole-heartedly.
When he came to his brother, Newt shyly accepted the one-armed hug that the older man gave him. Theseus then gave him a gentle shove forward, as his way of telling him to say a few words to the guests. Tina, who dreaded public speaking herself, completely empathized as she saw Newt visibly gulp and clasped his hands together tightly. She wished, more than anything, that she could stand beside him and just hold his hand through it.
"Um…" Newt began, shifting from one foot to another. "As my brother said, th-thank you very much for coming."
While hearing his voice again filled Tina's chest with even more warmth, her empathy grew as she heard him beginning to stutter. She could also see how much effort it took for him to keep his eyes scanning the crowd rather than on his own feet.
"This book was…was truly something that…w-was a labor of love and…and th–"
His eyes had been scanning over and above the crowd restlessly and awkwardly, as if searching for some reprieve from this trying experience of public speaking (which Tina could understand completely). But his words came to an abrupt stop when his eyes alighted on her. Their eyes met, and he seemed to freeze in shock. Tina felt her heart practically ramming against her ribcage fit to fracture each bone, but she didn't look away. Keeping eye contact with him, Tina gave him what she hoped was a happy and encouraging smile.
Thankfully, it seemed to work, for he resumed speaking a little more easily after that. "…And the experiences I went through in writing this book were truly the best of my life." Never once did he take his eyes off of Tina. "And if this little book succeeds in helping only one of you to see these beautiful creatures the way that I do…well, that would be just wonderful. Thank you."
The guests applauded, and Professor Dumbledore tactfully took Tina's glass from her so that she wouldn't make a mess before she applauded right along with them. She watched Newt break eye contact with her so he could give an awkward bow (a low one thanks to the forceful pat on the back that Theseus gave him). Once that was done, Newt practically ran off the stage.
For a wild moment, Tina thought (hoped) that he might be rushing towards her. But it seemed that Newt had actually rushed right out of the ballroom, for she couldn't see him anymore.
Tina felt her spirits being pulled forcefully back down to earth, and the smile slid off her face. She took her drink back from Professor Dumbledore and downed the rest of it in one gulp. After she had handed her empty glass back to the friendly house-elf, Professor Dumbledore kindly took her hand.
"Don't you worry, Miss Goldstein," he said with a smile. "He'll seek you out and be thrilled to see you again."
"I hope so," said Tina softly, squeezing his hand gratefully before pulling hers back. "It's just…been a while since I've heard from him…After he left New York, we exchanged letters quite frequently. Then, in his last letter to me, he wrote that he really needed to concentrate on finishing his book and meet his deadline…that was just over three months ago, and…well, a lot could happen in that time…"
She hadn't meant to start spouting out her insecurities to a man she had met less than an hour ago. But the older man had proven himself a good man and a genuine listener, and Tina's nerves were starting to get the best of her. And after over three months of silence and never a hint of anything beyond strong friendship in his letters, those insecurities had certainly had enough soil in which to flower.
"Nothing that you fear has happened, my dear," said Dumbledore, his expression and tone certain. "I saw the way that my former pupil's eyes positively lit up when he saw you. And if Newt Scamander is one thing, it is a man who could never contrive what he feels." His eyes suddenly caught sight of something just over Tina's left shoulder, and a very satisfied smile lit up his face. "It was lovely to meet you, Miss Goldstein."
The young auror was now completely confused, but before she could say anything in response, two things happened simultaneously: A warm and calloused hand took her left one, and a very familiar voice spoke just over her left shoulder: "Would you excuse us, please, Professor?"
Her heart warmed and swelled at such a rate that Tina thought it a miracle that her feet didn't lift right off the ground. Newt!
Tina barely had a chance to register her shock and happiness before she felt herself being pulled away from Professor Dumbledore. She only just managed to turn her head and say to the now chuckling man, "It was lovely to meet you, too," before she felt herself being literally dragged away from him and out of the ballroom.
A/N: This was originally going to be a oneshot, like its predecessor, but it became too long and I got more ideas so it will have a second part, which I will post as soon as possible. Until then, stay tuned, review, and Happy Holidays to all!