Newt did not expect to come home and see another him leaning over kitchen table. His doppelganger was staring right at him, grinning ear to ear.
It looked wrong and it only got worse.
His doppelganger's voice filled the room, a higher pitch than normal.
"Newt your home late" His doppelganger walked around the counter with a twirl in his step. "This is so unlike you"
Newt stood in the doorway, his eyes darting around the room and his mind is racing. He wanted to drop his jaw in outrage but he knew better. He broke into a run to the left, pointing his wand at the flower pot. The flower pot shoots forward at the doppelganger, nearly missing him. It hits the wall instead.
"That's not very nice" His doppelganger strided forward with intent.
Newt darted behind a chair Theseus talked him into getting and yelled "IMPENDENTIA". His doppelganger blocks it with a non-verbal shield charm.
Newt feels Picket moving across his arm in fright. He would calm Picket down but his assailant fired on his makeshift cover, punching a hole in his brother's favorite chair. Theseus will not let him hear the end of it.
Picket clutched his collar and Newt felt restricted. He could feel the case in his left hand shake. His creatures are getting restless and he doesn't want to chase and protect them at the same time.
"Newtie you falling asleep back there?" his attacker sounds bored.
Newt rolled his eyes and rushed ahead yelling STUPEFY. The doppelganger yelled RELASHIO and redirects Newt's spell. It hits a vase on the opposite side of the room and Newt realises who this is.
Newt yells ACCIO SWOOPING EVIL and the doppelganger cocks an eyebrow. A moment passes and nothing enters the room. The doppelganger realizes Newt's play but it's too late.
Newt traps him in the Swooping Evil's embrace. He started to carry the swooping evil on his person after New York.
He moves forward with his wand raised. His doppelganger starts laughing. He's excited(?)
Newt points and swishes his wand. He says HOMINION REVEALIO in a quieter more determined voice.
The doppelganger shifts forms. Leta Lestrange appears in his clothes, still smiling. Her hair is colored and shorter than the last time he saw her.
"Newtie you used to do the same thing in 3rd year. I was teaching you how to duel and you didn't take it seriously."
Newt is front of her. She's looking at his chin. His heart returned to normal but it feels heavier now.
Leta leans in and whispers "Unfortunately you can't tickle Gellert into submission like you did me". She winks at him and Newt's heart sinks.
Leta struggles within the Swooping Evil's embrace.
"Newt it's great that you finally found one of these. It would be even better if i don't have to examine one from the inside."
"Where's Bunty?" Newt looks at her.
"honestly that's the first thing you say to me? No hello Leta, No you look great Leta, No you wear my clothes better than i do Leta" Leta ends with a childish pout.
This act was more tolerable when they were younger.
"Leta if you hurt her I will…" Newt is unable to finish. Leta just stares at him
"Newt relax. I just gave her the night off".
Newt was not expecting that response.
Leta speaks candidly "Yeah i gave her the night off. Killing her just felt like a waste and imperiosing her felt like too much work".
Newt stares into her eyes but Leta doesn't flinch.
"Newt your legimancy needs work. I'm telling the truth and we could just check. Let me go and we could apparate there together."
Newt considers it and retracts the Swooping Evil. Leta does a shake and stretches her arms. Her wand is on the floor and she bends down to pick it up. Newt summons it before she gets there, placing it in his coat.
Leta rolls her eyes and puts her hand out. Newt pauses it and reaches for it. Their hands meet and a POP is audible in the background.
They arrive on a residential building, still holding hands. Newt crouches down and looks down, seeing Bunty through her apartment window. Newt breathes a sigh of relief and Leta is wearing her "I told her so" face.
Before she starts Newt raises his hand and counts down. She sighs and they apparate again.
When they returned to Newt's apartment Leta makes her way to Newt's couch. She sits and puts her legs on Newt's coffee table. She pats the spot next to her but Newt ignores it.
Newt moves towards the chair with a hole and puts it upright. "What do you want Leta?"
Leta crosses her arms "I just missed you that's all"
Newt scoffs "why now?"
Leta snaps her fingers at her coat on the counter. "I liked your book."
Newt moves to her coat and searches one of the pockets. He finds a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. Newt flips through the pages and sees notes in the margins. He recognized her tiny scrawl. She wrote down comments about which animal was cuter or who could outrace who. It reminded him of the notes they passed in History of Magic. He felt a smile form on the corner of his month.
Leta must have noticed because her fingers slipped in between his. Leta is right beside him and his heart moves faster.
"You did good Newtie. But I'm mad you didn't mention me at all. Not even a dedication." She said coyly.
"It's not like you helped" Newt takes her bait but avoids her eyes by flipping through the pages.
"Please, I gave you the idea in the first place. If it wasn't for me you'd be resigned to being an office drone like your father." Her tone was haughty.
Newt had a retort that he actually became an office drone after the war but it never left his mouth. He found a page with different notes than Leta's. The ink was green while hers was red and the tone was off.
It had humor like hers but the comment had a more analytical bent. What was written scared him more than Leta's desire to ride an Erumpent.
"Gellert liked your book too. One day he found your copy and asked to borrow it. We spent a few hours just chatting about it." Leta was nonchalant.
Newt winces when she said Grindelwald's first name.
"I see your on first name basis with a fanatic."
Leta laughed. "He prefers the term radical thinker."
They stood in silence. Leta breaks it by putting her hand on his chest and shoves him lightly. Newt gulps and looks at her in the eyes.
"Does he make you happy?" Newt tried to keep his voice straight while speaking.
Leta's face was filled with disgust.
"Ewwwwwww!. Newt I knew him since I was 9. He worked for my father for a few years. Even Grindelwald the Mad Seer had to pay rent."
She slaps him on his shoulder twice. She did this when he would give her the wrong ingredients in Potions. She rubs his shoulder afterwards.
"Our relationship is many things but never that."
She moves closer but Newt moves back. Leta looks confused but says nothing. Newt puts on a brave face.
"It could be worse Leta. You could have slept with Abraxas Malfoy."
Leta folds her arms and laughs.
"Don't let his golden locks fool you, he's quite the pig." Newt smiles at this and Leta notices.
"You were always cute when you are jealous". She moves forward again but Newt remains where he is.
"Leta isn't it about time you told me what are you doing here?"
Leta is surprised but regains her composure. "Newt I told you I missed you."
Newt crosses his arms and stares at the wall. "You haven't reached out in 8 years. Not a letter, nor even a Howler. Why now?"
"Newt if you wanted to hear me scream, you don't need a howler".
"Leta!" Newt is agitated. Leta avoids his eyes.
"Newt being on the run doesn't leave much time for a regular correspondence. Besides after what happened in Romania I thought it would best we didn't speak right away."
She moves forward and holds his hands. Newt's hands were shaking.
"I'm not here to hurt you Newt. The duel before was just a bit a fun. I had to see how the man who defeated Grindelwald stacked up. The newspapers got it wrong. You're good but Gellert is on a whole other level".
"I wish they would stop saying that. I just got lucky. Tina did most of the work." Leta glances at Newt when he mentioned Tina but he didn't notice. He was watching her thumb grace his palm and trying not to let it show how much he missed her touch.
"You were always too modest. Gellert didn't see that swooping evil coming and neither did I. But get a new move tho, you can't use the same trick thrice and expect it to work."
"What does Grindelwald want with me?"
Leta stares at his shirt collar while she talks.
"He's curious about you. Lover of creatures, writer of books, war veteran, hogwarts dropout, my first boyfriend, Dumbledore's biggest fan. Your quite interesting."
"So Grindelwald sent you all this way for an autograph?"
Their eyes meet.
"He and I thought you might be a good addition to the team"
Newt laughs but Leta is sincere.
"Thanks Leta. I've never been called a fanatic before".
Newt stops and looks at her. Leta doesn't look away.
"Newt you and him aren't so different. If you and him just talk it out, he'd change your mind about everything."
Newt takes his hand and rummages through his coat pocket. He produces her wand and hands it to her. Leta hesitates before taking it.
"I doubt that. If you need to go back to Grindelwald with some progress, you can torture me a bit and bring him back a picture of it. You already shot me with a Crucio once before but I'd prefer a Stupefy if you please."
Leta is livid. She hasn't been this angry since he was expelled in the winter of 7th year. She coils her arm like a snake and sends a spell that knocks him on his ass.
Before Newt can get up she pins him down. Her knees in his chest, her wand at his throat. Just like Romania.
Newt waits for lightning to jolt through his body but it doesn't come. Instead Leta adjusts herself and leans forward, kissing him with intent.
This is just like Romania but in reverse order. Newt isn't ashamed to say he missed this. He tastes blood running from his lip. Leta was fond of marking him hers.
Leta kisses his nose and smiles at Newt. Time folds around them and they are 12 sneaking up the Astronomy tower after curfew, 15 and having a picnic behind his mother's hippogriff stables, and 20 enjoying each other's company by the fire in Romania.
Leta notices the blood in her mouth and wipes it. Newt laughs and Leta gives him a look before joining him.
When the laughing dies down, Leta runs her hand across his chest and she finds the scar she was looking for.
"I volunteered to come recruit you because Gellert wanted to send cousin Vidia instead. She's better at casting the Crucio curse and she's never saw your value. She's also not good at articulating what Gellert's endgame is."
Newt moves them to lean against the wall. His first instinct is to cocoon her with his arms. He would be her shield against the world but he knows better now. She wraps her arms around his waist and lays her head on his chest.
"He's looking to change the world. You can help keep us on track. Be our better angel and help us avoid our own worst impulses."
Newt touches a strand of hair running down the side of her face and tucks it behind her ear. Leta smiles and closed her eyes.
"Given you're wanted for war crimes and military espionage, I've done a terrible job being your better angel.
"Newt you've changed. You've gotten better at saying no to me."
Leta opens her eyes to find Newt leaning in with a smile on his face.
"You've been gone for 8 years. I was bound to change even a little. Casting Crucio on me helped."
Leta rolls her eyes.
"Is this gonna be a thing now? You're gonna keep bringing it up to prove a point. What do you want me to say? Exactly how does one apologize for casting the unforgivable curse? It's not like I imperioused you."
Newt is about to speak but Leta puts her hand on his mouth. She lowers her voice.
"Newt I can't take back what I did. It was the only option and I didn't have fun watching you squirm. I wasn't wringing my hands and cackling like a muggle fairy tale villain. You deserve to be angry and to hate me but know that I didn't cast it lightly."
Leta paused and turned away. She was never good at apologies. Newt would love to kiss her fingers right now but that wouldn't help.
"You are good at many spells but Crucio wasn't one of them. I didn't suffer long term effects besides some more-than-usual twitching."
Leta doesn't take the bait. She still avoids his gaze and he leans in, talking to her collarbone.
"I was more upset because you left without saying goodbye. I hated that you didn't tell me what was going on. I would've helped you."
Leta scoffs and mutters "You would have stopped me".
Newt responds "Same thing".
Leta turns to him and her expression is a mix of anger and hurt. Newt raises his hand and tries to touch her cheek. Leta is unresponsive and he retracts it. Leta moves away from him and crosses her legs.
"You weren't supposed to be in Romania. I was hoping you wouldn't be in the middle of it but the whole Ironbelly operation depended on you. I kept thinking Gellert and Dumbledore were testing my resolve through you."
Their eyes meet. Newt sighs.
"That's me always getting in the way."
A ghost of a smile appears on Leta.
"It wasn't all bad. You looked good in uniform and with a haircut. I got to see dragons in person. We made good surrogate parents to a Demiguise. If your mom saw that she'd be asking about grandkids."
Leta appears wistful.
"Being with you made me happy. When i was with you all of our dreams came flowing back. You were temptation and I kept prolonging my mission just to spend another day with you. It was great but not enough. I made my choice."
Newt considers her words and realizes if she was so assured about her choices she wouldn't be here telling him all this. Knowing Leta if he tried telling her that, she'd deny it and start arguing about it. They'd be in this spot all night so he tries a different tact.
"Leta were you with Grindelwald when he escaped?"
"No I was in Prague, attending a fabulous dinner party. Cousin Vidia was assessing if the host would be a good patron for the cause. I was there for support and if need be, entice the host".
Leta baits him but Newt pushes down his dread and presses on.
"He's looking for someone Leta. Do you know who it is?
"The boy you found in New York, Credence. And no I can't tell you where he is going."
Newt has something to say but he's not sure how to say it. He looks away and starts playing mental chess, trying to find the right move forward.
Pickett decides to peak out of Newt's coat pocket. Newt honestly forgot Pickett was still on his person. He wonder why Pickett didn't pop up sooner. Did he honestly sleep through all of the fighting?
Leta perks up when she see him. She always liked bowtruckles and comes closer.
"Hey Sweetie did you have a good nap?" Leta is honestly cooing at Pickett and Newt is suprised. He hasn't seen this side of her since she met Dougal in Romania. Demiguises are raised with both parents but Dougal lost his before he wandered into Newt's tent. He became Newt's responsibility and later Leta's when she popped up.
She liked to spoil him and made Newt be the disciplinarian. A total flip from how Newt saw their lives as potential parents.
Leta reaches out and Pickett looks at her waringly. She looks at Newt and Newt shrugs in response. Leta is dismayed but Newt opens his hand for her. Pickett climbs from his fingers to hers and she raises him to her lips.
"Mommy's not gonna hurt you. Me and Daddy were fighting but we're making up. Right Newt?"
Newt sees his chance.
"Did you ever meet him. Credence I mean?"
"No but I know what he wants. He's looking for his family."
Newt's confused and starts thinking out loud.
"He was an orphan in the states. His adopted mother was a Snatcher. It's more likely that his birth family was in the states but I guess he could have easily been an immigrant….So this is Grindelwald's scheme...Create some cock and bull story to prey on Credence's need for answers."
Newt is irate and locks eyes with Leta. Pickett hides in her hair.
"Credence isn't going to be lied too. He would learn about his heritage and he would help bring about a new world order. A future where people like him and me could be free."
Newt softens and reaches for her hand.
"Lettie, I know what your searching for but you won't find it with Grindelwald."
Leta takes a breath.
"You haven't called me that in so long."
Newt kisses her hand.
"Credence had a mother who never saw his worth. Grindelwald only sees what he could use. Credence deserves more than that. You can't turn back the clock but you could stop him from making your mistakes."
Leta's eyes narrow and Newt feels like he's on ice with a shark swimming underneath.
"Newt what mistakes are you referring to?"
Newt felt the ice crack beneath him.
"It's in the past. I can talk to Theseus. He's an auror now and Travers is grooming him to take over the department. Travers really doesn't like me but Theseus should be able to convince him of your worth."
"This morning you and Theseus didn't seem to be on good terms. Shame I was hoping he'd be with you. I always wanted a night with both Scamander boys."
This isn't the first time she's said this so Newt ignores it. He is stumped by what she said first and Leta takes pity on him.
"At 10 am you arrived at the ministry for your 10:15 appointment with Travers. But at 10:10 one of your nifflers got loose and you spent the next 20 minutes coaxing it from a secretary's desk. Personally I think you let it out on purpose just to delay your meeting."
Newt figures it out. "You were following me"
"Well yeah. How'd you think I knew where'd you live? I've been following you for 4 days."
Newt just grunts in response and rubs his hands on his face. He's feels tired and it's been a long night. It feels like hours passed since he first came home and found a doppelganger in his kitchen. He moves to the couch and sits down while Leta keeps talking. She follows him and puts a pillow under his head.
She runs her fingers through his hair while speaking.
"Newt you should have said something. We would have went to bed sooner. I can tell you how I stole your hair for the polyjuice in the morning."
Newt laughs and reaches for Pickett on Leta's shoulder. He tickles him with his fingers.
"I probably left some hair on the park bench yesterday. This little fella got scared of a muggle and her dog and hid in my hair."
Leta scrunches her nose at him.
"Spoilsport. Finding those strands were harder than you think. Afterwards I just bought an old pair of clothes and transfigured it to look like yours."
"And here i thought you came through a window and stole a pair of mine."
Leta leans in closer.
"If that's what you're into we can try it later."
They spend a moment looking at each other. Newt enjoys the sound of Leta's voice but he liked these silent moments better.
"Leta do all your seductions go like this or am I just special?"
Newt can't tell if Leta looks angry or sad.
"Newt you are special and this isn't a seduction. It's a reunion and I'm enjoying it. Aren't you?"
Newt prefered it when the mood was lighter.
"I do. Honestly I'm glad to see you. We should do this more often. Hopefully with less subterfuge."
Leta comes closer and curls in his arms. She puts her head near his chest and Newt gingerly rubs her sides. Pickett looks snug sleeping on her shoulder.
"Well Newt if you come with me tomorrow we can spend most days with each other. We might be on separate assignments from time to time but we'll find our way back to each other. We have before."
Newt gingerly picks Pickett up and levitates him to the coffee table. Leta claps quietly.
"Would I be your subordinate then?"
Leta raises herself up so her head is closer to Newt's shoulder. She better positions herself on Newt's lap and Newt blushes.
"Technically yes but I prefer calling you a partner. Besides how would that be any different from when we were at school?"
Newt gives a weak laugh and closes his eyes.
"Leta you could take my bed in the room and I'll sleep on the couch. I'll give you the tour of the creatures tomorrow."
Leta looks hurt.
"I thought we'd be sharing a bed Newt."
Newt's groggy and didn't notice her tone.
"You can transfigure a cot out of one of the chairs. Use the one you punched a hole through."
Leta moves off his lap and sits next to him.
"Newt are you afraid of me?"
This is the question Newt has been dreading all night. It's the question he doesn't know how to answer and the available options don't appeal to him.
The truth then.
"Leta I loved you since I was 16 and probably before that. Every future I dreamed off had you in it. I missed you everyday after I was expelled and felt like it was a miracle seeing you in Romania again. I was crushed when you left and seeing you here feels like I…
Newt can't find the words but Leta knows what to say.
" died just a little?"
"Did Grindelwald teach you that or did you teach him?"
Leta doesn't answer and looks away. Newt holds her hand but Leta is unresponsive. He decides to continue anyway.
"I did die a little when i saw you but I felt alive too. I've been empty since you left and now I feel whole because you are close by. I had a million and one things I wanted to tell you and now I can't think of any of them."
Newt kisses her hand and Leta lays her head on his shoulder.
"When I look at you I see the Leta I've always known. But now I also see this version of you that scares me and I can't reconcile the two yet."
Newt kisses her forehead and Leta finally looks at him.
"Newt I was heading on this path long before I met you. This has always been apart of me, you always just ignored it. You can't do that anymore and I need you to see me for me."
Newt wipes the tears from her eyes. Leta clears her throat.
"Newt we should burn the house down. Go grab your creatures and a new set of clothes. We can't have you running to America with just the shirt on your back".
Leta starts asking about what insurance he has and takes his silence as he doesn't have any. Newt is hearing every third word but the anger from before comes back: he's sick of having Leta pop up and then leave.
"Leta would you come with me?"
Leta stops and narrows her eyes.
"Newt I can't. They'll hunt us down. It's easier if you go on your own. We can make it look like we got into a fight and it got out of control. It's a long shot but both the ministry and Grindelwald might be fooled."
Newt swallows and looks her in the eye.
"Then I'll go with you."
A moment passes as neither speaks.
Leta launches herself on him, pushing him on his back. She climbs on top and pins him down. She kisses him more gently this time and smiles when she pauses for breath.
"Newt how's your french?"
Newt is surprised but has a feeling he knows where this is headed. He pulls her closer and interrupts her train of thought.
"Newt not that kind...but I can tutor you on the way."
"Are we going to the Lestrange ancestral home?"
"Yes Credence will meet us there. You remember Tansy my old-house elf? She's there taking care of Clarissa. Tansy will love to see you again."
"Clarissa wouldn't. She never approved of us."
"Stepmother never approved of anything I did. Don't take it personally. It's not like we are going to have sex in front of her….on second thought.."
Leta smiles but Newt just stares at her.
"Newt I just got you back. I'm not gonna let her ruin it. I wasted enough time trying to get her to love me. I won't let her get in the way of us. Not her, not anyone else, not again."
Leta doesn't answer and avoids Newt's eye. She focuses on his shirt buttons and doesn't look up. Newt swears if she keeps staring she might burn a hole in it.
Leta is annoyed. She never liked people using her full name. Newt pulls her closer and uses his jacket as a blanket. He could transfigure a makeshift bed but this is more romantic.
"I just thought we should talk more tomorrow and sleep while it's still dark out. We can debate morality and philosophy over breakfast. You still like toast with jam?"
"I always will Newtie. This reminds me of our nights in Romania. We were in a tent jam-packed with your creatures and a cot smaller than this couch. I woke up the next morning with sores I didn't intend."
"Ok ok. I'll aparate us to the bedroom when your asleep."
"Newt you were closing your eyes first."
"Well you can't carry me while apparating. We'll smack into the dresser."
"Remember last time you tried to carry me and apparate, we did smack into a tree. Thankfully a patch of snow broke our fall."
"That was planned."
"You barely beat me at Wizard's chess. How where you supposed to know which tree had a patch of snow in front of it?"
Leta would go on longer but Newt grabs her and apparates anyway. They land on the floor in his bedroom and laughs.
Newt kisses Leta. He pulls her close and gives in to the swelling in his heart. Leta grabs the coverspread and the pillows and set the floor up for them.
Leta starts telling him about French weather and places to visit. Newt drifts off and fights this sense of dread approaching. Leta is back in his life which is what he always wanted. She just brings Grindelwald into his life and he doubts meeting him will go as smoothly as Leta hopes.
Ultimately despair follows Leta and he wonders how it would manifest. All the more reason to enjoy this moment and let tomorrow's problems be solved tomorrow.