Chapter 1: The Time With the Skele-Gro
“I’m sorry, you can’t see her. Doctor’s orders, until she’s in better condition to have visitors.”
Tina had heard that a couple of times throughout the day, but this was the first time she’d been truly angry about it. Just outside her hospital room she could see Newt standing in front of a nurse, case in hand, avoiding eye contact whenever he could. Meanwhile, the nurse was not budging; her arms were crossed over her chest, and her lips were set in a tight line across her face.
It was more irritating to look at her than to focus on the deep, unbearable ache in her shoulder and arm from the Skele-gro at work.
“Please, Miss, I’m her friend. I would really just like to make sure she’s alright for myself,” Newt said, though Tina knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere, not in this hospital and not with that polite tone of voice. The staff around here responded to nothing less than orders and threats.
“She’s fine. And I’ve been told to let no one in but family and her superiors at MACUSA, of which you are neither. Good day, sir,” the nurse said firmly, and Tina could see Newt’s shoulders slump the slightest bit.
And then, she saw an arm wind its way around Newt’s waist, and she saw the redhead stiffen and look up in shock to someone standing just outside of Tina’s angle of view.
“What about family of her superiors? Surely you wouldn’t turn my betrothed away from seeing his friend,” a new voice said, and Tina decided that one of two things was happening: one, the Skele-gro was laced with something that was giving her hallucinations, or the spell she’d been hit with was making her lose her mind.
She did not just hear Mr. Graves, her ill-humored, often cantankerous boss, refer to Newt Scamander as his betrothed. It was like trying to picture Picquery in a Flapper dress; something in her brain just shut down and didn’t allow it to fully set in.
But no. She blinked a few times, and she still saw that arm wound around Newt’s slender waist possessively, saw the shock on the nurse’s face, and saw Newt looking more flustered than she thought she’d ever seen him- and that was saying something, considering how easily flustered he was.
“So sorry, Mr. Graves. I…didn’t know,” the nurse stuttered out. “Of course you can go in, Mr. Scamander. You should have said something, honey.”
The nurse left and Mr. Graves finally came into view, steering a shocked-still Newt into the room with a hand at the small of his back. “Keep the animals in the case while you’re here, darling,” Mr. Graves said softly with a smirk, the last word practically dripping playful sarcasm. He turned and walked away, whistling a soft tune, hands in his pockets as if nothing had happened. For a moment, Tina and Newt just stared at each other, Newt blushing up to the tips on his ears, the silence too stunned to be awkward.
“…What just happened?” Tina finally asked, and Newt stuttered for a few seconds, seeming to struggle for the words.
“I don’t know, but I think I just got engaged…?”
Chapter 2: The Time With the Black Market Bowtruckles
It wasn’t the type of establishment Tina wanted to spend any time in. This was the seediest of bars, with people who she could probably arrest five times over on every side of her- and worse, all she could do was watch as Newt tried to ‘negotiate’ with the sleaziest man in the whole room.
That man knew her too well from her years as an Auror. She was in disguise a few seats down, here to just keep an eye on things and make sure Newt didn’t get in over his head; if the man realized who she was, the whole deal might get called off.
The man in question had three Bowtruckles for sale, and Newt was pretending to be exactly the buyer the man was looking for- someone with bad intentions. In truth, Newt just wanted to get them out of the horrible situation and rehabilitate them.
“No deal,” the man said to Newt, chewing on the end of his cigar with a smug smirk. “You ain’t got nothin’ worth tradin’ for these little beauties. I clocked ‘em at pickin’ a MACUSA lock in 21 seconds, flat. Faster when ya threaten ‘em.”
To his credit, Newt didn’t flinch at the words, though Tina knew the description had to be killing him inside.
“Eight Occamy eggshells. That’s the most I can do,” Newt said, though Tina swallowed hard at the way his tone wavered the slightest bit. To Newt, his own voice probably sounded firm and stubborn- but these were the kind of men who could smell a single drop of blood in the water.
“I’ll tell you what,” the man said, and then he reached across the gap between them and slid his hand up Newt’s thigh. Newt twitched and went stiff like he’d been hit with a curse, and Tina was already getting ready to move as the man continued talking. “You put that mouth to use at somethin’ other than pretty words, plus the Occamy shells, and we’ll have a deal.”
Tina started to stand, but then someone else took off his hat and approached the pair- a very familiar someone in a long dark coat, with dark hair combed back. Percival Graves grabbed the man’s hand off Newt’s thigh in a grip that looked immensely painful even from this far away.
“I’ll make you a deal, you lowlife,” he growled. “Keep your hands off what’s mine, hand over the illegal beasts, and I won’t break every bone in your hands and cart you off to a cell at MACUSA.”
Half the bar was watching now, some amused, some discreetly trying to make an exit- and some just stunned silent, much like Tina. She hadn’t even known Graves was here- she’d told him what she and Newt planned to do, but he’d just grunted and dismissed her so soundly that she hadn’t even thought he’d been listening.
“Okay, okay, you can have the damn weeds!” the man said, using his free hand to grab a wiggling leather pouch from his belt and toss it at Newt. Newt caught it and immediately shot Graves a grateful look before making a hasty retreat to check on the welfare of the animals.
Graves just let go of the man, gave him a stern look of warning, and only glanced at Tina slyly before he followed Newt’s path out the door.
Tina was beginning to question her sanity, yet again. And question Graves’ sanity. She turned to the bartender and ordered a drink to take with her before following the two men out of the bar- she was far too sober for this.
Chapter 3: The Time With the Ukrainian Ironbelly
“Why is there a Ukrainian Ironbelly in Central Park again?” Graves asked Newt as the three of them took in the situation- the dragon was a hulking shadow of a beast, luckily standing in the darkest, thickest part of the trees in the middle of the park at midnight, where they had little worry of No-Maj’s coming by.
But the dragon surely wouldn’t stay there, and that was the problem. They couldn’t have a ten-foot tall dragon flying around New York City.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I just recognized the call,” Newt said with a shrug, looking to Tina. “Are there any…dragon traffickers around here? He’s still young, he might have been smuggled in.”
“Is this really the time to be discussing the ‘how’? We need to get this dragon into your suitcase before it’s seen!” Tina hissed in return, and then she sighed. “I sound crazy. I’m actually asking you to stuff another deadly creature in that case of yours and carry it around like a pet.”
“Well, the alternative is a little bit messier,” Newt pointed out, and Tina gave him a look.
“Now isn’t the time to get snarky with me. Now is the time for dragon taming, and you’re the only dragon tamer I see here, Mr. Scamander.”
“Technically I don’t ‘tame’ them-“
“Newt,” Graves said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Can we do this before he burns half the park down, as opposed to after?”
“Right, right. Just…stay behind me, alright? Don’t do anything unless I say to. And try not to make sudden movements,” Newt said, and then he started forward, moving slowly and carefully toward the restless dragon. As they got closer, Tina saw a glint of light off a metal cuff around the dragon’s neck- he’d been chained, then.
But not chained well enough, it seemed.
“That’s quite enough racket for tonight,” Newt said to the dragon, as if it could understand. “Time to settle down.”
The dragon snorted smoke out of its nostrils and focused large, golden eyes on Newt. Newt made a low chirping noise, almost like a loud purr, and the dragon huffed out a breath of steam- but it seemed to be working. The dragon was slowly lowering its wings, settling closer to the ground.
And then, Graves tripped over a root and stumbled forward.
The dragon reared up with a screech, glaring at Graves and opening its mouth, surely about to breath a stream of fire- but Newt acted immediately. He grabbed Graves by the back of the neck and forced him down to his knees, holding him there more roughly than Tina had ever seen him handle his animals.
“You stay down,” Newt ordered with no room for argument in his tone, and then he leaned in a bit closer and lowered his voice. “Play along. He sees you as a threat. I have to make it seem like you’re my mate and I have control of you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me-“ Graves started to say, but Newt shook him once, firmly, much like one would scold a dog by holding it by the scruff of the neck.
“No. I said down, and quiet,” he demanded, and for the first time, Tina was actually impressed by how aggressive he was acting.
Impressed, and barely holding back her laughter at the sight of the magizoologist holding her boss in place like an animal that had misbehaved. Though the moment Graves seemed to stop resisting the hold, she saw Newt’s hand relax, more of a gentle pressure to keep him in place.
But shockingly enough, it was working. The dragon looked between Graves and Newt a few times, and seemed satisfied by the show of control; it settled down again, and with his free hand, Newt set his suitcase down and opened it up.
“I’ve got fresh meat in there. You must be hungry,” he said to the dragon. “In you go.”
The dragon took one more look at the way Newt was effortlessly holding Graves in place, and then it took a nose dive right into the suitcase. Newt kicked the case closed, and immediately let go of Graves. The change was immediate; as Graves stood up, rubbing the back of his neck, Newt was back to his stammering, awkward self, his face tinged red even in the dark.
“So sorry. He, uh…would have set you on fire, and I thought this was likely a preferable alternative,” Newt said, the authoritative tone completely gone as he smiled shyly at Graves.
Meanwhile, Graves was looking…flustered. Not upset, but embarrassed, and irritated. He opened his mouth to say something, and then seemed to change his mind before starting to speak again.
“No harm done,” he muttered to Newt, and then he looked at Tina sharply. “Not a word of this to anyone or I’ll have you in Wand Permits for a year.”
Tina couldn’t hold it back anymore. She started laughing so hard her eyes watered with tears, much to the chagrin of both men.
Chapter 4: The Time With the Near Death Experience
Tina liked being on the other side of the doorway even less than being the one in the hospital bed.
She was sitting in the hallway outside Newt’s room, the door closed ominously, and all she could do was wait for any word from the nurse. All she knew was that Newt had knocked on the door of her apartment and nearly fell inside when she opened the door. He’d been shaking like a leaf, sweating, unnaturally pale, holding his bleeding hand close to his chest, and muttering about Acromantula venom.
She’d barely managed to keep him upright long enough to apparate him to MACUSA’s hospital of choice. He’d been whisked away by concerned doctors almost immediately, and she hadn’t heard anything since.
She didn’t know much about Acromantula venom, and now she regretted not reading up more on the creatures in Newt’s case. Then again, some of the creatures had little to nothing written about them- which was exactly what Newt was trying to fix.
For good reason, it seemed.
Tina looked up when she heard fast, near-panicked footsteps, and she stood when she saw Percival Graves coming down the hall like a man possessed. “Mr. Graves-“ she started, though the words got caught in her throat when his dark eyes focused on her.
“Tell me what happened,” he demanded, and she shrugged helplessly.
“I think he got bit by an Acromantula. He wasn’t making much sense,” she said, and he scoffed and turned to the two nurses standing by the door going over charts.
“Let me in there.”
One of the nurses frowned. “The doctor is still working, Mr. Graves. If you’re not directly related, then-“
“You’re going to let me in to see my fiancé right now, or you won’t have a job in about ten seconds,” Graves nearly growled, a heavy emphasis on the word ‘fiancé’.
Tina honestly hadn’t expected him to pull that trick again- people were going to start thinking he was serious, and that would lead to all sorts of awkward situations. But she wasn’t about to stand in his way right now, not when he had that furious, determined look on his face.
And the nurse wasn’t interested in fighting him on it, either. She swallowed hard and opened the door with a wave of her wand, and Graves immediately strode past her into the room.
Tina went to the doorway- not inside the room, though, much to the annoyance of the ever-watching nurses- and watched as Graves went right to the bedside. Newt seemed to be unconscious, though he looked marginally better than he had when he stumbled into Tina’s apartment.
“How is he?” Graves demanded of the surprised doctor.
“A bite from an immature Acromantula. With antivenom and bedrest, he’ll be fine,” the doctor said, and the tension seemed to drain from Graves’ shoulders- and from Tina, too.
She didn’t know what she would have done if Newt hadn’t made it.
And judging by the way Graves was reacting, he was just as upset at the thought. It was strange how close of friends they’d become lately, and all over this silly ‘fiancé’ act.
She tried to quell the suspicion she felt that ‘friends’ was the wrong word when Graves pulled a chair up to the bedside and stubbornly sat down. She was reading too much into things, she knew it.
Chapter 5: The Time With the Engagement Rings
“We’re looking for something...understated. Nothing flashy.”
Tina tried not to let the nearby conversation distract her. It was easier said than done; she was trying to break into a very well sealed safe, all while listening to her boss pretend to be shopping for engagement rings with her best friend.
It was more than a little surreal.
“Right, right. A man of your stature, can’t have anything that draws too much attention, am I right?” the jeweler said with a nod, all his attention on the ‘couple’ standing on the other side of the case.
“Well, that and there are some beasts that are quite upset by bright colors,” Newt pointed out.
“So nothing charmed to glow or flash then,” the jeweler said.
His attention was fully on Graves and Newt as Tina slipped behind the other counter. There were rumors the jeweler was dealing on the side in Unicorn blood, a highly illegal healing concoction; Tina was determined to find out for sure, and who else to drag into it but her usual accomplices?
She wasn’t sure when exactly Graves and Newt had becomes her ‘usual accomplices’, but she wasn’t going to think on it too hard right now. Not when she needed to unweave the web of locking spells on this safe without drawing attention.
“Silver is good,” Graves was saying to the jeweler, playing the part perfectly of the attentive, doting fiancé. “Maybe with a mother of pearl inlay? That’s what’s in your wand, right?”
Tina risked a glance at them only to see the shy surprise on Newt’s face, as if he hadn’t expected Graves to have noticed what materials his wand was made of.
“Uh. Yes,” Newt said, and Tina hoped the redhead’s nervousness didn’t give them away. She was whispering her way through the spells, and she almost had the defenses unraveled.
“And silver and black will do fine for mine,” Graves continued, unperturbed by Newt being flustered yet again.
“Alright then. Here, let’s get the rough drafts, then,” the jeweler said, and Tina glanced over to see him wave his wand over two plain silver rings. By the time he finished the spell, one was inlaid with a narrow center band of mother of pearl, and the other had elegant, thin, black designs etched across the surface.
The safe clicked open, and the jeweler spun around just as she saw the vials of Unicorn blood inside.
“Mr. Haverly, you’re under arrest for the possession and sale of an illegal substance,” Graves said, pulling out his wand and restraining the enraged jeweler with a graceful twirl of his wand. Tina took the vials out of the safe and put them in her bag to take them back as evidence.
“Good job,” Newt said to her with a smile, and she sighed with relief.
“You too,” she said, taking hold of the jeweler’s elbow. “Come on. You’ve got a trial to get to.”
She started out, pausing for a moment when she could have sworn she saw Graves swipe the rings off the counter and pocket them.
Maybe she was just imagining things.
Chapter 6: +1: The Time With No Excuse
Tina was having a bad morning. She had a pile of paperwork in her hands, and for some reason, Graves hadn’t come to meet with her like he said he would. She needed to go over these reports with him, and it wasn’t like him to miss meetings.
So yes, she was angry. Angry enough that when she went upstairs to find out why Graves had missed their appointment, knocking on his office door before storming inside wasn’t even a fleeting thought in her mind.
She realized her mistake about two steps past the doorway, when she realized that she was seeing something she probably shouldn’t be seeing.
Newt was on his back on Graves’ desk, his clothes in disarray and his hair messier than usual, with distinctive red marks on his neck that spoke of a less than innocent interlude here- as if having Graves hovering over him like some kind of predator wasn’t incriminating enough. Graves’ necktie was loosened, his hand was shoved up under Newt’s untucked shirt, and he was busy adding another mark to the pale skin of Newt’s throat when Tina’s footsteps stopped him cold.
He lifted his head and sighed, but didn’t look at her. For his part, Newt was blushing horribly and still breathless.
“Ms. Goldstein…do you make a habit of entering private offices without knocking, or is this a special occasion?”
Tina couldn’t seem to form words in her head that made sense, let alone get them to her tongue to actually voice them. Because that was definitely Percival Graves, holding Newt Scamander pinned down on a desk and ravishing him like a man starving for it.
And Newt definitely didn’t look like he was complaining, other than the fact that his hands were over his face in mortification now.
“I….I, uh…” she managed, her cheeks bright red as she took a step back toward the open door. “I’ll just…leave, then.”
Graves groaned in irritation. “Leave faster, please.”
Tina backed out the door, and it slammed shut in her face. She just stared at it for a few long moments before she turned and numbly started to walk back down the hall, not even sure where she was going.
…now that she thought about it, she really should have seen this coming. After all, they had been wearing the engagement rings for the past two days.