Tina’s warned her a thousand times. But that’s what Tina did best, worry.
And Queenie wasn’t about to let her sister’s excess worry stop her from going ahead with plans. Which, at the moment aren’t very elaborate, but are very focused on their goal. Namely, one Jacob Kowalski.
It wasn’t no harm at all to go visiting a bakery. Even MACUSA couldn’t fault her for that.
Bless Teenie’s heart though, she’d given her a list of various excuses to use if an agent stopped her. Always the cautious one, even now.
Orchard Street was a bustle of people coming and going, but amidst the grime and disarray, one shopfront stood out from the rest. Perhaps it was the new paint, not yet worn down by the years, the golden letters still shining with a luster nothing else around still had. Even the car outfront stood out, its paint still gleaming and bright against the drab gray all around.
Queenie had prepared herself for, well, anything. It’s not like he could remember her, not really. But maybe, maybe they could still be something. Wasn’t no harm in interacting with a No-Maj for necessary daily business, right? Her eyes caught the little sign tucked in the corner of the front window and she had to bite back a smile.
Oh Teenie was not going to be happy with this.
She tried not to seem too overly excited as she brushed past the line waiting to make their purchases and went inside. The bell rang and she took a deep breath, trying to pick out his thoughts from everyone else.
Ah, there he was. She turned, trying not to smile too much. Even without hearing his thoughts, she could see it in his face. He did remember something! Oh her heart was about to burst.
….I thought I’d dreamed her up. But no, real and breathing. Ain’t that something. He quirked a smile. Maybe my luck really is looking up .
Crossing the space between them, Queenie walked over to the counter. “Mr. Kowalski?” she asked.
He blinked, looking around him. “Oh. Yeah. That’s me.”
She giggled. Still just as adorable.
“I was a wondering ‘bout that sign you’ve got in your window. About needing some help?”
He took a deep breath, his mind still a jumble of disbelief.
“Ah. You got someone looking for a job?”
“Me.” Oh it was adorable the way his face brightened at the word. “I could use a little extra on the side, in the evenings, if you’re interested.”
He cleared his throat. “Ah yeah, uh...what’s your experience?”
“Well, I’ve done some stuff around the house, but I’m willing to be taught. I ain’t seen all the kinds of pastries you’ve made before, after all!”
His cheeks went redder and she was having to resist reaching out to him. She was lucky enough he even remembered what he could of her, she shouldn’t push it.
“You uh, free Monday?”
She nodded, her cheeks aching from how she smiled. “To start? Of course!”
“Great. I’ll uh…” Jacob held out a hand, trying to be formal about it all. “I’ll see you then.”
She took the hand and the moment she did, it took every ounce of willpower not to pull him close counter-be-damned and tell him everything. About her world. About magic. About how she ain’t ever going to find another man like him so she’d break multiple laws to even try this.
But perhaps it’s Teenie’s scolding voice in her mind, or common sense, though they could be irritatingly similar at times, that made her stop herself.
“I can’t wait, Mr. Kowalski.”
Dear Mr. Kowalski,
First of all, I’d like to apologise for my rather brief and vague letter to you before when I delivered the Occamy eggshells into your care. I didn’t feel it safe to say anything until I left New York as much as I wanted to. I’m afraid I’ve already caused enough trouble in your town but fear I cannot continue without assuring myself that you are doing well.
I’ve done plenty of studies on the oblivative properties of the venom, but in such a large scale it’s always possible to miscalculate. I may have intentionally neglected to mention to Madam Picquery some of the details, those of which I am sharing right now with you in hopes that my studies are correct. While the venom does indeed wipe the memories, diluted as it was in the rain, I chose not to mention that it mostly removes bad memories. I do most dearly hope that your time spent with me does not fall on that spectrum, but if it does you may dismiss this letter as the ramblings of a madman and worry not.
But if I indeed am correct, you, Mr. Jacob Kowalski, should remember. How much, I am uncertain. Perhaps you have strange dreams of a man with a suitcase full of magical creatures that seem too fantastical to be true. I am here to tell you, whether you believe me or not, that those events did indeed happen and that whatever you remember of them is the truth. A truth that may not be believed by your average person, mind you, but a truth of myself and the world I live in. I would warn you not to speak of such things, but the fact remains that only a certain kind of person would remotely believe you. To most of the world, we are but fantasy and fairytale. Unicorns and dragons and the like may appear in children’s storybooks, but you’d struggle to find an adult who truly believed them to be real.
I suppose I am getting away from the point, so sorry. The point being, you have brushed with the magical world which I am from. The government of the magical people in America would prefer to keep you in the dark and not encourage friendship and the like with your kind, but I could not in good faith do that to someone I thought very truly of as a dear friend.
So, if you do remember me, Mr. Kowalski. If you do at all remember an odd man with an odd case full of beasts. Please, send your letter in return with this owl and it will find me wherever in my travels I am. Thankfully, I don’t believe one stray owl delivering post to a muggle will draw suspicion and so, I may in some way, communicate with you the wonder of my world without bringing harm to you.
Yours, Newt Scamander
Non-magical baking was far harder than Queenie anticipated.
It was Monday evening, and Jacob had sent home the rest of his staff for the day, leaving them alone. It was something Queenie had a feeling Jacob would have never been bold enough to do, but something about being his “dream girl” had driven him to take a chance. Queenie couldn’t be happier.
She’d dressed down, which for her still meant she was more put together than a good majority of the folk in town, but the dress now had smudges of flour and dustings of sugar all over it. No-Maj cooking, she was learning, tended to result in far more of the ingredients ending up on the baker than she expected.
Jacob had started working her through a pastry called a faworki, something that resulted in a little snake like twist of fried dough that was clearly meant to be an Occamy.
“Okay, so you’re gonna want a ball of dough the size of a baseball.”
“A what now?”
Luckily, her lack of knowledge on No-Maj sports was easily laughed off.
“Like this, about the size of your fist.”
He leaned over, their shoulders brushing, as he helped add a bit more dough to the ball she held in her hand. She smiled over at him.
“This is far more fancy than what I’ve done before, so sorry if I’m slow.”
Jacob shook his head. “You’re listening, that’s what’s important. Ain’t gonna get the result you want if you rush it. “
She could tell, he took great pride in showing someone else something he clearly cherished. He’d told her about his family, and these recipes were an extended part of that. What his grandmother had imparted to him was not only the recipes, but a true love of baking. It was nice, seeing this different side of him.
“Roll it thin, like this, see?”
He’d stepped around her, his arms circling her waist and helping her grip on the rolling pin. As much as she tried not to pry, some of his thoughts were too precious to miss out on. Like right now, he was wavering between trying to be smooth and confident and trying not to appear as embarrassed as he felt.
She nudged her hand over against his, the two barely fitting side by side on the rolling pin handles.
“I’m beginning to think you make these with magic, you know.”
She said it jokingly, but the response both in his thoughts and words, gave her pause.
“Oh I wish I could. Much faster that way, you know.”
Oh come now, we all know the most magical thing here is you, sweetheart.
She started as she heard it, but then realized he’d not said it aloud and tried to play it off. As much as she wanted to encourage the idea, she couldn’t tell him. At least, not outright.
“You really think magic would make it faster?”
Jacob laughed and it made a warmth spread out from her heart, radiating out as if it was indeed magic.
“Oh I don’t know. I think I like it this way best.”
His arms tightened under the pretense of gripping the rolling pin again, but she knew better. She let her hands settle next to his and leaned just a little back into his arms.
“You know, I think I like it this way best too.”
Dear Mr. Scamander,
I gotta admit, I ain’t ever thought I’d be getting mail from an owl. But, if what you say is true, it sounds like this isn’t the strangest thing I’ve done as of late. I daresay I thought I might have just dreamed it all, but I ain’t got the imagination for stuff like this. Your magical case and its creatures are far more amazing than anything I could think up!
Thanks to your contribution, I was indeed able to secure a loan and start up the bakery. It’s been doing very well and the “muggles” as you call us are really eating up the crazy little animals I make my pastries into.
I can’t remember all the names right, but I do think I’ve got a few. Something bit my neck, though that’s healed up by now. The Occamy was that little snake that got real big that we had to trap in a teapot to make small, right? And I remember that rain bird you called Frank. There was something like a rhinoceros that I remember chasing me up a tree. There was that little furry black guy that almost got us arrested as jewel thieves. And that white monkey that could disappear, I think you called him Dougal? You also had a little green twig with a face that was quite fond of you.
There was lots more in your case, but my mind spins when I try to remember them all. I ain’t sure if this will get to ya, as I’ve never sent a letter via owl before, but I remember ya, Newt. First friend I’ve ever had over here in the States.
Yours, Jacob Kowalski
For once, Queenie felt underdressed as she passed by the line of well-to-do ladies and gents queued up for the shop.
It was in late April, and something had clearly increased the interest in the little bakery off Orchard Street.
“Queenie!” he called out over the head of the crowd, she gave him a little wave and quickened her pace.
“What’s all the hubub? I ain’t ever seen it like this before!”
Jacob couldn’t keep from smiling, grabbing her gently by the arm and leading her past the line and into the backroom. He held out a small scrap of paper.
Kowalski’s Quality Baked Goods charm and delight. If you have a fancy for fantastic, this little shop on Orchard Street is a must-stop. Mr. Kowalski’s whimsical creatures will enchant your next party or event.
“You won’t believe it, Queenie. Someone’s been talkin’ us up. And when I got here, there was already a line started. Most of them are having their lady point out favorites and I suspect the gents will be back to order some for gifts.”
Queenie looked to the line then back over. Sure enough, it seemed that the ladies were pointing out their favorite of the “whimsical creatures.”
“Although,” Jacob continued, holding up his sheet of orders. “We’ve already had so many orders for parties too. We’re going to have to put in some extra hours to get it all done.”
“I can come in this weekend, if you’d like.”
His smile was brimming and overflowing, like it just couldn’t smile wide enough to fit his mood.
“Oh Queenie, you don’t have’ta.”
“But I wanna. I can bring Teenie by too. She ain’t much of a cook, but she’s a whiz with paperwork. I bet she could get your orders in order in a jiffy!”
If possible, Jacob smiled wider.
“Really? You’d do that for me?”
“Of course. I ain’t gonna leave you to do all this by yourself. I know you’ve got the boys but…”
They didn’t have quite the finesse needed for the smaller details. Even hers weren’t nothing compared to Jacob’s skill.
“Well, if you could…”
He still didn’t seem to want to bother her. It was sweet, really.
“Pretty please? You can take more orders if we have more people working on it.”
She would say it was that reason that got him to cave, but she could see it in his eyes. He was honestly just so happy she even volunteered for it, he just couldn’t quite believe it.
You’re too good for me, darlin’.
Queenie’s cheeks pinked at the thought, and she tried not to listen anymore for fear it’d only make it harder to pretend she didn’t hear.
“If you insist.”
She turned, taking both of his hands firmly into her own and giving them a squeeze.
“I do. I promise. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here helping you out.”
He blushed at the words, and cleared his throat.
“Right. Well, I should treat you to something for your trouble. How ‘bout, we go to the park on Tuesday afternoon? Just you and me?”
Queenie had to bite back a smile. Look at him being all brave and asking her out!
“Oh, you don’t have someone else you’d rather be spending the day with?”
His look could have melted butter.
“Nah. You’re the only one for me.”
She forgot herself at that, unable to keep from hugging him tight. “Jacob, you’re just the sweetest.”
Queenie leaned back, taking in his wide eyes and red face. But that soft little smile was there, timid yet clearly so happy.
“I still don’t know what I did to have you, Queenie. I’m just a baker.”
She smiled, soft and reassuring. Oh how she wished she could tell him, tell him how if it wasn’t for him, so many things in her world would be different right now. Tell him that his dreams of magical creatures weren’t dreams after all. While MACUSA didn’t see it that way, Queenie knew that without Jacob things could have been a whole lot worse. He was a brave brave man, not just a baker.
“The sweetest baker I know,” she replied.
He rubbed the side of his neck, something she was noticing he always did around her as if something about her tugged his memories back. But he shook it off, giving her a warm smile and reluctantly pulling away from her embrace.
“Wow. Uh…thank you,” he cleared his throat and tried to will down his blush. “Well, uh, this baker needs to be baking. Care to help?”
She giggled. “Of course.”
I am most pleased to hear that you do recollect our grand adventures together! Yes, I can assure you that the events you listed to me indeed did happen, though I remain your sole witness to the majority of them. I’m very glad to hear that your Murtlap bite has healed completely as well.
As soon as my manuscript is finalized and printed, I expect to be visiting again. I do hope I can pop by and we can catch up on all that has happened since. The Occamy that hatched in your care is growing up to be surprisingly sweet and far less nippy than its siblings. I have a feeling it might have been your involvement with him that has warranted the change in demeanor.
Also, I may be able to procure something to appease Madam Picquery in regards to your un-oblivated status. My brother made mention of some muggles who served in the war with him that they were able to obtain secondary citizenship rights for due to their heavy contributions to our cause. We can also look into your family history and see if we can find any magical folk in your lineage that could earn you enough status to keep them at bay. Either way, I would keep on the down-low until we can sort something out.
I hope this letter finds you well and your bakery thriving.
Yours, Newt Scamander
It wasn’t until Teenie was there with them that Queenie truly realized how odd it was for Newt to not be.
Her sister had told her he planned to visit once his book was complete, promising to deliver a copy in person when it was. But that would still be quite a ways off, and for now it was just the three of them.
Despite her previous protesting of the matter, and her withering look when Queenie had told her she’d taken up a job there, she’d been surprisingly willing to come along on that Saturday.
She missed it too, Queenie could tell. That adventure and wonder that came when those two strange men showed up in their lives.
“You need to hire yourself an accountant,” Tina said to them as her eyes narrowed at the ledger. “With this influx of orders, you can afford one and it’ll keep you free to actually bake.”
It was her polite way of saying she thought he was no good at the accounting. Years of MACUSA paperwork had made Teenie quite the stickler for each and every form being filled out just right, a habit that was handy on a day like today.
“I was thinkin’ of maybe investing some in the stocks, you know? Figured my luck’s not run out yet.”
Queenie caught the dark look on her sister’s face at the words, and she quietly excused herself from Jacob’s side at the counter to go over to her.
“What’s wrong, Teenie?”
She frowned, her eyes darting to him then back to her.
“He shouldn’t invest in the stocks.”
Queenie blinked. It wasn’t like her sister to care about No-Maj finances like that.
“And I’m gonna guess you’ve got a reason for that, don’tcha?”
Tina sighed. “A reason I’m not supposed to know about.”
Queenie shot Jacob a glance, then called over to him. “We’re gonna step out for a bit of fresh air. Be right back!”
She grabbed her sister by the elbow and steered her out of the room. The moment they were outside, she came to abrupt stop.
Tina frowned, rubbing between her eyes. “That prophecy we had submitted recently. The one that got set off?”
Queenie remembered the incident. It had been a few weeks previously and despite MACUSA denying that any such prophecy keeping was not something done, just about everyone who worked there knew it was. So when one started yelling out of the blue during transfer from one place to another, they were all expected to look the other way.
“What’s that got to do with Jacob?”
“The No-Maj stock market was in it. Something bad is going to happen to that in two years.”
She frowned. How were they supposed to convince him to not invest without telling him why? They slowly walked back inside, their voices low.
“Say you’ve got some friend that knows this, that you trust,” Queenie suggested.
“Will that work?”
“Teenie, I wanna tell him about our world so much. Tell him that we know and have him trust us, but…”
“But you know you can’t. And I’m proud of you for holding to that, even if you are still toeing the line.”
“My interaction with him is deemed necessary by my job.”
Queenie almost laughed at the unimpressed look that got from her. She flitted back over to the counter, grabbing up another piece of dough and starting to knead it as she smiled at him.
“Okay, we’re back.”
“Good, I’m not sure how I’m going to get this much done without you.”
She had to bite back a smile, already planning on replicating some of his trays of finished pastries when he wasn’t looking.
“Mr. Kowalski?” Tina’s voice cut in. “I don’t think the stock market is a good investment option. I’ve heard that it could be a bit shaky in a few years and I’d hate to see you lose out over it.”
He blinked. “A bit shaky? Huh. I’ve heard nothing but good news from it. You sure?”
Queenie took a deep breath. She was going to have to find a way to convince him not to do it.
“Yeah, Teenie’s got this friend into that kinda thing. She was rambling on about it to me the other day, but I ain’t able to follow it all. But if she says it’s gonna be bad, I’d listen.”
She could see him wavering and reached out to put a hand on his arm. He blinked.
“Trust me, okay?”
And somehow her pleading look was magic enough to do the job.
“Okay, if you say so.”
“Promise. Teenie knows best.”
Her sister snorted at that. “About time you started believing that, Queenie.”
I’ll be glad to get a copy of your book if nothing else but then I can put names to all these strange ideas in my head. Not like I can go calling them that, but it’d be nice to know ‘em anyway.
I don’t know how your world’s papers work, but my family came from Poland. Don’t know if you’ve got wizard-folk there too. I suppose you do. I have to admit, if you told me my grandmother was magical I’d probably believe it. She was quite the lady.
I ain’t brushing elbows with anyone that should cause trouble and the bakery is doing very well. There’s a familiar face here besides me as well. I’m assuming she’s from your world because I doubt she could be anything but magical and she took to me something fierce. She hasn’t mentioned anything, but I suppose that could be due to all your government issues. Though if I’ve gotta move over to your country to marry her, then I would. She’s quite something.
I hope all your creatures are doing well.
It’s a brisk spring day when their date arrived and Queenie dolled herself up more than usual for the occasion.
Teenie gave her a warning glare as she stepped out the door, but her thoughts betrayed her with a quiet good luck, Queenie . It seemed, their little brush with adventure had given her sister all the more reason to look the other way when rules were being broken.
Then again, considering how many rules Newt broke, it’s no wonder.
They start out side by side, chatting about everything and nothing all at once. As they neared the zoo, Jacob got an odd look on his face and chuckled quietly to himself.
“What’s so funny?”
He shook his head. “I was just remembering something about a friend of mine.”
She raised an eyebrow. “A friend? Who?”
Jacob waved a hand. “Some guy, I think his name was Newt.”
Queenie came to an abrupt halt at the name, her eyes going wide. “Newt?”
But oblivious to the impact that single name held, he carried on unaware.
“Yeah, he had some job with animals. Can’t remember what. But you should’ve seen him trying to impress a lady rhino with a mating dance.” He chuckled again. “It was a riot.”
She narrowed her eyes, trying to see if his mind gave any more hints to what he did or didn’t know. But it was too fuzzy. It was like every time she tried to read him lately, all she could get was a quiet litany of beats that she thought must just be his heart.
As much as she wanted to pry, wanted to see where the line between dream and reality blurred when it came to their previous time together, she knew that it would potentially risk all of the new relationship she’d begun with him.
Even without remembering much, even just thinking she was some wonderful girl that waltzed out of his dreams and into his life, he’d gravitated back to her as if she was a bright star whose orbit he could never quite escape. She would have to settle for that, build from that. To start talking about magic and beasts that were mythical by No-Maj standards might trigger a memory, but it also might cause a rift.
As a Legilimens, she was very much aware that even the slightest tampering with of memories could go wrong if not done properly. And whether he thought it was a dream or faded memory, the last thing she wanted was for him to lose what little remembrance of that time he had.
He was looking at her strangely and she realized she must have been staring.
“Oh! Sorry. I just had someone I knew named Newt that worked with animals too and I was wondering if it might be the same guy.”
Jacob looked around at the clusters of people passing them by before giving her a small smile. “Hey, maybe. It is a small world, after all.”
They stood there in silence for a bit, and Queenie tried once again to see if his mind gave away anything. But no, it was still just that soft pitter-patter.
“Do you…” He stopped himself abruptly and cleared his throat. “You ever just meet someone and feel this little wave of déjà vu?”
She swallowed, hoping her voice won’t waiver. “Yeah?”
Slowly, quietly, he reached out and took her hand and gently cradled it in his own. “I feel like I’ve known you before you ever walked through that door sometimes. Almost like I was waiting for you to come.”
He looked up at her, his crooked little smile crinkling his moustache up on one side. “I ain’t ever felt like that before, so I kept wondering. Maybe this is what they mean when they say you just know. You know somehow that she’s the one.”
She melted at the words, her mind nothing but that same little beat in his. Pitter-patter. Like a heartbeat.
“Oh Jacob, I knew I ain’t ever gonna find anyone like you.”
“There’s loads like me,” he replied, letting go of her hand to gesture behind him.
“No,” she breathed, edging closer to him. “No, there’s only one like you.”
Suddenly, his hand reached out, cupping her cheek with a slight tremble. He let his hand settle, sliding down as he let his thumb gently trace her lips.
Pitter-patter. No, it wasn’t a heartbeat. Pitter-patter . It was rain. He remembered the rain.
Queenie wasn’t certain who moved first. It was as if their very bodies remembered, each of them pulled into the other’s orbit, gravity drawing them together as it had once before.
Their lips crashed together and this time it’s wet not because of any rain. But little damp trails streaked down her face all the same. It’s so silly to be crying now, but she can’t help it.
They’d found their way back and this time she wasn’t ever letting go.
I am somehow very unsurprised to learn that a certain someone has found you again. Despite her sister’s best efforts, I’m sure. But if she has, Jacob Kowalski, you don’t dare let her go. That woman would stare down a dragon if it meant being with you again. And yes, in my world there are very real dragons she could do just that to.
I won’t mention a name, in case this letter falls into MACUSA’s hand somehow, but I’m glad to hear she has. If there is anything you need, Jacob, it’s a giver, not a taker. That’s something that very woman told me once and I fear it holds equally true for you as well as I.
While at the Ministry getting my manuscript sorted, I popped down to the records offices to see what I could do about your situation. Right now, I am pleased to say, that there is a very distantly related great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of yours that was a muggle-born who attended Koldovstoretz school in Russia in her time. I asked what I could do about procuring her descendant a registration number and, much to my shock that something got done around here in a timely fashion, I am including that with all the paperwork you need to officially register as part of our community. Hopefully this ensures your ability to proceed with your relationships with our kind and resolves you of any need to be oblivated.
I’ll also be sending a future package of books that I would advise as good reading to bring yourself up to date on our world and its affairs. If, as you indeed have implied in a previous letter, you do indeed to make good on that idea of marriage, this would enable you to dodge most of MACUSA’s complaints in the future.
Hopefully, as my manuscript edges ever closer to publication, I will be joining you and the girls in New York soon and I will do my best to catch you up on anything else in person.
P.S. If you haven’t made a Mooncalf into a bread loaf yet, please consider it. They were those little goat-like creatures with the large eyes I had you feeding and upon seeing them resting recently I was struck with how fitting a bread their shape is. Cheers.
“No, the eyes need to be a bit bigger.”
His fingers brush against hers as he reaches in to pinch the dough and smooth it out.
She giggled. “Looks kind of silly, don’tcha think?”
“Well, mooncalves were funny creatures.”
She stared and his face goes from confused to crimson.
“You...you know their name.”
He awkwardly rubbed at his neck. “Queenie, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
She stood up from her stool, it scraping loud against the floor.
“What is it?” she breathed, her heart hammering so loud in her chest she can hardly hear a thing. But what she can hear only causes her pulse to quicken.
I don’t wanna get you in trouble, but if Newt says it should be safe. Then I’m willing to risk it.
“There’s been this fellow, that friend of mine, Newt?” She nodded and he continued. “See, he’s been sending me letters. And, I’m pretty sure now, at least by what he’s told me, that I can safely tell ya now.”
Queenie reached out to him, her hands leaving powdered flour where they gripped his arms. She wasn’t even mad, how could she be? She could hear his thoughts, and knew, knew he’d only kept his own memories dawning on him safe so she could be.
He chuckled, reaching up to wipe a smudge of flour off her cheek.
“I don’t remember it that clearly, but...I do. Remember. Those creatures. Newt. His crazy suitcase that had whole worlds inside it. The more he told me, the more I could remember.” Jacob reached up his other hand and cupped her face gently in it. “And you. Even Newt didn’t need to remind me that I was crazy about you.”
He barely got the words off his tongue before she’d thrown her arms around his neck and kissed him, her heart ready to burst with joy.
This time, she could hear his thoughts loud and clear, and it was no longer just the sound of rain.
Tina’s gonna kill me and Newt. But I’d face down a dragon too, if it meant having this. A thousand dragons.
Queenie chuckled, leaning back and tapping him on the nose.
“You think my sister’s scarier than a dragon?”
Jacob just grinned. “Oh, definitely. Although I haven’t met a dragon yet.”
Queenie smiled. “Then we’ll definitely have to fix that.”