It had been the longest seven days of Tina's life. Work had only mildly picked up, which made the bulk of her days plod on slowly, but the nights were worse. She spent most of them without rest – unable to quell the overwhelming anticipation swelling in her heart. In those drawn-out days, the usual August swelter had given way to an unnaturally stormy squall that in Tina's mind seemed to amplify the waiting.
That Friday was no different. Tina woke to the steady roar of rain striking the roof while that sheltered her, while in the distance, rumbles of thunder interwove with the sounds of the city. As she laid, eyes fixated on the ceiling, her mind should have mused how perfect a day it would be to curl up near the window with a good book and a mug of something warm. However, at present, the only thought the rain brought was the hope it wouldn't delay his boat. Tina wasn't sure she could last another day by herself (away from him).
She took extra care that morning as she got ready; soaking in the tub with fragrant oils (ones Queenie left behind), scrubbing away the trials of her previous day with a gentle touch so not to irritate her soft skin. The heat soothed her tight muscles as she lingered long after her fingertips wrinkled with the overabundance of moisture; her body craving a few more minutes of relaxation before her day began. She chose a light-colored skirt over her usual pair of casual slacks – with a high waist and decorative buttons. The blouse she fashioned with it was a simple white cotton garment, and she finished the look with her locket and a jacket to match.
Tina anxiously ventured out into the streets the moment she felt put together (and slightly overdressed), glad to be free of her somber apartment. Thankfully, she remembered the No-Maj umbrella she and her sister always kept for occasions where magic would otherwise be out of the question; a translucent spout that shielded her from the downpour was a little more than a curiosity. Had the weather been less uninspiring and downright miserable to be caught in without such conveniences as an umbrella, Tina may have strolled the whole way to the harbor; thus killing the excess time she knew she would regret eventually. The rain seemed to have no intention of letting up, which compelled Tina to duck into an alley a half block from the brownstone - it provided optimal coverage for the witch or wizard who needed a quick escape. She was pleased to find it barren and promptly drew her wand to Disapparate to the docks.
When she landed on shaking, uneasy feet less than a block from the harbor, she could already make out just how desolate the usually crowded area was. Swiftly, she trotted to shield herself under the canopy, folding her umbrella after a good shake. There were a handful of travelers waiting, just as she, seated sparsely throughout the area on benches; others perched precariously on the metal rail separating them from the sea. Men in uniforms stood in huddles near the customs and baggage areas, whispering among themselves like schoolgirls before they needed to prepare for the plethora of incoming travelers.
It was early yet, that much was obvious by the lack of outgoing voyagers, and Tina mentally kicked herself for being overzealous. She huffed – a roiled act of hot air – and became blatantly aware that her impetuous actions resulted in no breakfast, no coffee, nothing. The emptiness in her stomach felt like it was weighing her down, growling at her in anger, and she dispelled a beaten sigh. Way to go, Goldstein.
With an idle glance, she considered the notion of scavenging for a café nearby where she could, at the very least buy a cup of coffee. The thought seemed to provoke the storm, as a crack of thunder burst and rattled overhead, fierce enough to dissuade her craving for the time being. A soured expression contorted her features, miffed at herself as well as the lousy weather. Tina's eyes searched the line of available seating, finding one close by with room for herself. Next to her an elderly woman sat with her luggage at her feet and a gentle smile on her thin face. Tina paid her little mind, however, busying herself with the sea birds floating wistfully on the breeze.
"I reckon you must be waiting on your fella, huh?"
Tina blinked after realizing the old woman was talking to her. "I'm sorry?" she said, her brow raised in query.
"It's the only reason I can think of for a pretty, young girl like you to be here so early all by herself…"
"What reason?" Tina was struggling to follow the woman's comments, still unsure what she'd initially said.
"Your fella." She said with sweet and somewhat dreamlike smile. "He must be comin' in on that next boat."
Tina stifled a nervous chuckle and scooped her hair behind her ears, not meeting the woman's gaze for fear of her seeing the blush on her cheeks. "He's not my fella," she recanted, and a twinge of sorrow pooled in her chest the second her words fell from her lips.
The elderly woman shook her head, with a playful line on her lips. There was a cheerful gleam in her dark eyes, swirling with life's wisdom. "My dear, that boat is coming all the way across that wide ocean from England— is he coming to see you?"
"Yes," Tina swallowed.
The soft smile returned to the woman's face and she nodded in a satisfied manner. "Then my bet is, he's your fella…" she shrugged "…or at the very least, you're his gal…"
She said no more on the matter, apparently pleased with the paradigms she'd given and turned her attention back to the sea view before them.
Tina was sure her mouth was hanging open ever so slightly, and her mind was a raging river of questions. Usually a blatant assumption about the aspects of something so personal to her, such as the woman next to her just made, would've rubbed Tina the wrong way. Instead, her frayed nerves latched onto the words the woman had told her, clinging to them, as though they were a valuable life source. She found herself suddenly filled with an excess of hope and longing that she'd known she had been fighting back. A part of her (a large part) wanted the strange woman's premise to be true; she wanted to be his gal, he, her fella. There had been hints in his letters that they had been exchanging the last eighteen months, subtle things - but Tina had keen senses and caught onto most of them. Dearest Tina…she recalled… not just: Tina. That was how he'd started the last several letters to her and remained the most gripping evidence that maybe she was, in fact, already his gal.
An almost electric jolt shot through her, causing her heart to pound against the wall of her chest in a rapid pace, as those unbelievably palpable notions took shape in her mind. She did her best to calm herself with a few deep breaths, not wanting to cause a scene even if her audience was scant.
The rain hadn't waned, but it's incessant torrent failed to deter travelers who started to take shelter under the overhang to wait for their ship. Some had luggage grasped securely in hand, others were simply there, it seemed, to greet incoming persons. Tina kept her sharp eyes on the horizon, longing to see the vessel that would bring Newt to her. A veil of mist and fog clouded the line where the sky met the sea; even Lady Liberty herself was difficult to make out in the haze. Time felt locked in the same obscurity as the landscape. It was as though the boat would never come, lost in a maelstrom of clouds and rain. Little did her eyes stray from the choppy, gray waters stretching out before her, unyielding in her pursuit to see him again. Patience was not her strongest suit – Queenie, on the other hand, was a master at it – but she refused to leave, no matter how loudly her empty stomach growled or how uncomfortable the wooden bench she sat on was.
In a sound that split the air, the bass call of an approaching ship rang not a minute later. The far away noise caused the crowd surrounding her to rise in a collective, avid gasp. Tina had never heard a more awe-inspiring horn – a siren call of sorts that had her fighting back the need to run to the gangplank. She did, however, stand to place herself along the railing in front of her to better watch the distant ship cut through the waves with ease.
By some turn of fate, the rain slowed to a gentle mist while overhead the dark clouds broke, creating fissures of golden sun. A fresh and welcomed warmth carried in the breeze, tussling Tina's hair in a graceful helix. She smiled into the soft wind and the spray that kissed her cheeks (from either the rain or sea; she wasn't sure).
A second blow of the ship's horn bellowed into the air, louder. The ship was so close now - Newt was so close now. That similar compulsion boiled inside her again, and for a second time, Tina had to resist the urge to run to the front of the harbor. She did not dare to act on her errant heart, even if she wanted to; it would do her little good if those feelings were solely her own. A worrisome semblance worked through her, one that Tina quickly snuffed out for the fear of it being true. She hoped it wasn't true.
The boat's horn sounded for a final time, signaling that it was – at last – stationed in its port. Crewmembers rushed to settle the gangplanks and to see to the other chores thus insuring the safety of those disembarking. Tina watched the operation restlessly, worrying her bottom lip to the point of pain. Her foot was inadvertently tapping a rhythm in sync with her fervent heart out of both excitement and apprehension. The passengers, much to her distaste, ambled off the boat at a snail's pace, while the men checking passes seemed to hold no regard for time, proceeding through their evaluations just as sluggishly. They were being overly thorough in their examination of luggage as well (in Tina's opinion), causing the already stagnant line to stop entirely.
A peeved breath forced itself out of Tina's pressed lips as her patience began to wear thin.
The elderly woman who'd shared her bench stood, and shuffled to stand alongside the witch at the railing. "Best of luck with your fella, my dear."
Tina bit back the urge to argue once more that Newt was not her fella, but instead she matched the woman's kind smile. "Do you need help with your things?"
The older woman appeared feeble, but she waved dismissively with a quiet chuckle. "No child, but thank you for keeping an old woman company."
A softer, more gentle smile unfurled at her eyes as she watched the old woman shuffle off into the clamor, suit case in hand. When her form disappeared in the sea of faces and bodies, Tina searched the crowd with newfound vigor but it wasn't his face she spotted first.
Before the row of tables where men fretfully examined case after case, Tina's eyes caught sight of auburn hair blowing in the breeze (long and wild, precisely how she liked it). The mere sight of him put to sleep months of loneliness and self-doubt; all of it drifted away, far out to sea. Her frustration collapsed in on itself in that moment, leaving a void that ardor rushed to fill. He was caught in a crowd, scooting along in his usual duck footed amble, looking somewhat irked at the amount of people so close to him. There was a firm grimace on his wide lips, which fell the moment he clasped eyes with Tina, and she smiled big and bright just for him. Quickly, his pace turned into a jog, and before she knew what had happened, he was there, throwing his arms around her, pulling her tight against his chest. Tina's feet left the ground as he spun her happily, nuzzling his grin into the crook of her neck. Newt's sudden amorous embrace prompted a delighted giggle out of Tina's mouth as an overwhelming sense of adoration enveloped her.
"Oh, Tina, forgive me," he said a little breathless, but in a dreamlike bravado that curled tendrils around her rapid heart.
Newt sat her feet back onto the ground gently, but didn't give up his soft hold. "I've just missed you so." His eyes were radiant even in the dull light of day; his irises glistened as if it were the first time he'd ever seen her.
Tina kept her arms resting upon his shoulders, and had to stifle the want to tug playfully at the hair she found at the back of his neck. Even in the murky twilight between rain and sun that fell around them, Newt filled her world with all the light and warmth she could ever need.
"I've missed you, too," she finally managed.
His eyes crinkled at the corners as a beguiled expression erupted his freckled face with a smile. He never looked away from her, nor she him. Tina briefly acknowledged the whim that anyone watching would think them a pair of lovers, and suddenly she felt her cheeks grow hot. Newt lowered his hands from her waist, seeing the color riding high on Tina's face, and stepped back to retrieve his case. She wanted to frown at the abrupt loss of him, but he swiftly remedied the anguish the moment he offered her his arm.
Maybe the old woman was right, she mused with a satisfied smile, taking his arm all too willingly.
The harbor was still a bustling mess of travelers, and neither of them needed to say how much they longed to be free from the chaos. Newt led the way with nimble strides out from under the canopy of steel and into the open air of New York City. He stopped there, on the sidewalk, glancing around with a curious smirk. The weather was much improved; Tina noticed right away, the downpour had ceased its tyranny, leaving over saturated streets.
"What would you like to do?" Tina asked him, watching the muscles in his face work his wide lips into a grand smile.
"I wish for you to show me all your favorite things New York has to offer," he declared after a moment of thought. "All of your favorite shops and café's— any place that brings you joy, I wish to see."
His feather light words wrapped Tina in a whirling sense of wonder - intoxicated with his blithe demeanor. So many places rushed to the forefront of her mind, and she sifted through each of them with surgical precision trying to decide which location to introduce to him first.
"Have you eaten yet?" Tina asked, feeling her stomach grumble in protest.
"I haven't, actually." Newt pressed his palm to his belly. "What did you have in mind?"
She responded with a smirk, and pulled Newt along with her as she scoured the block for somewhere to eat. They found a hot dog cart nearby, much to Tina's delight, and the Magizoologist bought them both one. They walked as they ate their meal, paying little attention to anything other than each other. Months had passed since they'd last had the pleasure of the other's company, but it was as if no time had passed at all. Conversation blossomed, light and easy, no forced smiles or stifled laughs; they were comfortable.
Their stomachs were full by the time their idle stroll lead them to the first of Tina's preferred sites – a bookstore, she and Queenie spent many afternoons getting lost in the sea of pages. The exterior of the wizarding establishment was cloaked by the illusion of a rundown grocery. Inside the shelves stretched from floor to ceiling, weighted down by all manner of spell books and charm compendiums; volume after volume that strained to infinity. A faint but rich smell of aged parchment lingered in the air – a pleasant scent that both inhaled with admiration. Near the middle of the store, Tina found a stack of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which she greeted with glee and no small amount of pride. She wandered the long aisles in a dreamlike stupor, idly brushing a delicate touch along the textured spines as she passed them. Unsurprisingly, she rediscovered Newt at the front of the shop where several owls were perched in the window. The Magizoologist was drawn to them like a magnet; the bound pages surrounding them losing their luster the moment creatures were in sight. Each owl had its name etched onto a plate decorating its perch, and Newt spoke to them as if they could really understand him.
Tina couldn't take her eyes off of him, watching fondly as he fed the birds treats he pulled from the pocket of his suit coat, and each animal expressed its thanks in a bray of hoots and coos. Once the owls were properly fed, Tina took Newt to a number of popular wizarding spots to fill what remained of their day. First after the bookstore was the potion's shop cleverly hidden in the back of an apothecary, then came a fashionable boutique that sold everything from Ilvermorny robes to heavy cloaks of dragon's skin. As the sun was beginning its slow decent into the horizon, Tina lead Newt to one final place that she adored: a bakery called Kowalski's.
Honeyed smells of pastries perfumed the interior of the quaint No-Maj shop. Bountiful collections of breads and sweets enveloped them. Newt quickly took to the display of creature pastries, examining them with a scientific eye and a delighted chuckle.
Jacob bounded around the counter, excitement flooding his face upon seeing the quirky Magizoologist.
"Hey, pal!" The stout baker bellowed as he pulled Newt into a quick hug. "How have you been?"
Newt didn't shy away from the man's embrace, in fact he returned the gesture with the same enthusiasm. "Well, and yourself?"
Jacob grinned, "Busy. Busy, and happy."
Tina beamed at him. The joy he plainly emitted could only mean that Queenie felt the same.
Newt cast the baker a grin, the ghost of its crooked counterpart playing below the surface, bringing to life his lips and eyes. "That is so very good to hear."
The room fell into a comfortable silence as Jacob fished in his pockets for a set of keys. "I was just about to close the shop," he told them, giving the ring of keys a playful jingle. "Why don't youse stay for dinner? I know Queenie would be over the moon to have ya join us!" Jacob smiled wider. "She can even tell ya the good news."
There was a peculiar gleam in his eye that Tina couldn't read completely before he turned to the front door.
The apartment over the bakery was simple: a two-bedroom dwelling with a moderate-sized living, kitchen and dining space. It was similar to Tina's flat, in that the decor was clearly Queenie's handy work. She had it primped and arranged to create a cozy utopia of patterned wallpaper, decorative pillows, and an overall feeling that radiated 'home, sweet home.' All the furniture was second hand at best, but her sister's knack for household charms had breathed a new life into each chair and table, and gave the illusion of being far newer.
The trio found Queenie at the stove, wand in hand, as she prepared a meal, humming to the happy tune on the wireless. There was a new glow about her, Tina noticed right away, happily draped in domestic bliss. Before anyone could utter so much as a hello, Queenie gasped excitedly and ran to scoop her sister into her arms. Tina pulled her close, blossoming in the sunshine that was her sister's embrace. Newt was next; Queenie slid easily from her sibling's arms and into his for a quick, friendly hug.
"Oh what a surprise!" She sang with delight. "I've missed ya Teenie, and you're certainly a sight for sore eyes, Mr. Scamander." She gave him a wink, eyeing Tina pointedly before turning back to her stove. "Sit down, make yourselves cozy. Grub should be ready soon."
Just as promised, the meal was ready in a matter of minutes and the blonde witch swiftly gave her wand a flick and the table transfigured to sit the four of them comfortably. Tina couldn't recall the last time she'd had food so tasty. Queenie had made a hearty roast that nearly melted on the tongue, soaking Tina's taste buds in savory juices, while a mixture of steamed vegetables cleansed her palate. Jacob treated the meal with fresh bread that he and Newt used to mop up the rich gravy, while Tina and Queenie ate it with a spread of butter. Following dinner was dessert, Jacob's favorite strudel.
Dining once more with the three of them stirred fond memories deep in Tina's mind of the first time they'd shared a meal, December last. There was no denying what a turning point that had been in each of their lives; forever changed all because Newt let a single creature elude him. Jacob and Queenie were a reflection of their past selves, trapped in a lover's gaze, silently singing ballads to one another as they ate. Newt's demeanor was improved, which Tina suspected was because he wasn't being held against his will this time. Rarely did his eyes stray from Tina too long. He looked ethereal in the flicker of the golden candle light, and Tina, too, had trouble focusing on anything other than him.
"Should we tell them?" Jacob murmured to his wife, taking her hand across the table.
Queenie grinned as wide as humanly possible, visibly bouncing in her seat from the excitement exuding from her very being. "I'm going to have a baby!"
Tina almost spit her iced tea all over the table, but managed to swallow instead.
"What? Really?" She felt her expression twist, though she wasn't sure it if was a look of excitement or surprise.
"We just found out yesterday," she informed them. "Jacob and I was plannin' on poppin' over later to tell ya, Teen, honest."
Newt shifted in his chair to give Queenie a friendly peck on the cheek, issuing her his congratulations.
"I'm going to be an aunt?" Slowly a smile crept onto Tina's face as the thrill steadily began to take root.
Queenie nodded, blond ringlets bouncing. "Mmhm!"
Tina lunged for her sister, swiftly pulling her into her arms, unable to force away the happy tears. A million different thoughts were flying about in her brain, so fast that Tina was sure Queenie wouldn't be able to keep up with them all. The little girl she'd raised was truly a woman at that moment when Tina chanced a good look at her; beautiful, happy, and a mother to be. It didn't matter if Tina felt her sister and husband were rushing things, she let the excitement flow through her, and not just for the sake of Queenie.
The remainder of the evening passed in a light atmosphere, made stronger by the couple's happiness. Time seemed frozen as they discussed possible baby names, whether they hoped for a boy or a girl, and what aspirations they had for their unborn child. Queenie insisted she didn't care either way if it was a boy or girl, while Jacob mentioned more than once he didn't care either, as long as they enjoyed baking just as much as he did and shared the magical gift from his wife's side of the family. Conversation began to lull as the words turned into yawns and Newt and Tina took the liberty of dismissing themselves so the Kowalski's could spend the rest of the night alone.
Tina took hold of Newt and Apparated them back across town to her home with ease, waving her wand to fill the room with light. A fond smirk – however, faint – pulled at Newt's lips finding little had changed about the interior of her apartment. Pieces of Miss Goldstein (Kowalski now) still peppered the humble flat- scattered here and there – something he figured accounted as Tina's method of coping without Queenie's actual presence. Those seemingly trifle barbels were her security blanket, a way of keeping herself tethered to reality. A gentle, but nonetheless irritating, pang of grief worked through him as the image of Tina being alone all the time settled into his mind's eye. The smirk on his face faded into a phantom frown; she didn't even get a Kneazle like he'd suggested.
"You can sleep in Queenie's old bed." Tina nodded pointedly as she shucked off her jacket. "Make yourself at home."
Newt forced a quick half-smile as he worked his long limbs from his suit coat. "Thank you, Tina." A slight grimace worked itself back onto his features as he loosened his bow tie. "You wouldn't mind if I went to see to my creatures— I promise to be quick." He didn't want to leave her alone any more than he had to.
She gave him a gracious wave of assent. "Go on. I'll make us some tea?"
Newt felt the smile return to his cheeks. "Yes, please. Thank you."
Tina watched him descend into his world of beasts with her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Surprisingly, the warmth he brought to her dismal apartment didn't disappear when he did. She let loose a grin she'd been too embarrassed to show (especially to him) that she'd been fighting back all day. In his absence for those months, she hadn't truly realized the effect Newt had on her; spending the day with him had coiled a profound feeling in her that Tina had never experienced the like of. It was so much stronger than what she felt dancing with him at Jacob and Queenie's wedding – similar, but so much stronger.
Newt emerged from his magical case no more than a half-hour later, gracing her with a soft, sweet smile. He thanked her again as he joined her at the table with his steaming mug of tea. The work worn sight of him tickled her, and she grinned taking him in: sleeves rolled to his elbows, revealing a plethora of scars and freckles, dirt on his nose and cheek, his hair a charming messy halo. He seemed so at ease sitting at her table, content as he was with his creatures, and it gave Tina a sense of hope.
"So, how long are you going to be gone?" It was a topic they both had spent the day avoiding, but a question Tina had been itching to ask nonetheless. A while she figured, anything less hardly called for a social visit.
Newt's focus fell to his mug, wetting his lips before he spoke. "Six months."
Tina winced inwardly.
"The Dragon Corps is requesting I go and give lectures on how to properly manage the beasts to the new recruits. I'm apparently the best they've ever had." He paused to take a drink and Tina couldn't help but to be transfixed with the muscles of his neck as he swallowed. "They're stationed all over the world you see, and I've been called to each faction."
He wore the face of a man called to serve, who'd already seen his share of the fight. When he looked at her again, his eyes were distant and his features somber. Tina valiantly tried to mask the concern flooding onto her face, though she wasn't sure she succeeded.
"You'll be working with dragons at least," Tina said in the lightest tone she could muster. "Who better than you?"
Newt's eyes were back on his mug, absently running his finger on it's ceramic lip but he managed to conjure the smallest of smiles. The gangly spill of his hair hid most of his ruefulness, but Tina could feel it pouring from him, heavy like the rain that morning.
"It sounds far more interesting than my job has been lately," she confessed casually, hoping to coax Newt from his thoughts.
"Why's that?" He asked.
Tina shrugged. "Dunno. There hasn't been much dark arts activity recently. I'm sure something will pick up— this isn't the first time the Department has had a break…"
Newt's expression shifted to one of confusion; his brows creased into a firm line on his forehead.
"Odd…that's not the case at the Ministry. My brother hasn't told me much, but with Grindlewald back in Azkaban there's been a spike in his followers." Newt sighed, looking grim once more. "And it's not just England. There's been attacks and riots all across Europe; slayings of Muggles and wizards. I'm surprised it hasn't reached America as well."
An altogether troubling feeling settled in Tina's stomach at the news. The lack of action State-side was concerning; it was as though they were collectively waiting for the opportune moment to strike (she'd have to remember to tell Graves to shore up their defenses just in case). What bothered her more than anything was the fact Newt was planning to go on a half-year journey around the globe while the world was in disarray.
"Newt." Tina swallowed, hearing the crack in her voice. "This excursion you're being called away to - there aren't riots or attacks happening in any of those locations, are there?"
She held her breath, waiting for his answer, releasing it only when he reached to take her hand in his. Tina suddenly felt a calming wave of safety wash over her at the feel of his rough fingertips gently brushing over her skin.
"Don't worry, Tina," he said, meeting her eyes. "I'm certain I'll be fine."
A/N: Forgive me for not getting this posted on Sunday. I was in Ohio all weekend with my friends and too tired to move when I got back home early this morning. Fortunately this is one of the few long chapters in this story, so hopefully that will make up for the delay! I promise that chapter three will be up next Sunday, as scheduled! Thank you all for being so patient!
Furthermore, you can follow me on Tumblr at fandom-non-sense
That is where you can keep up with my progress, check out my favorite works by other talented authors and even find a link to keep me caffeinated so I write quicker ;).
Also HUGE thank you and shout out to my betas onebethatatime and katiehavok. They are the true heroes here and I owe them both so much for making these chapters readable.