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Of Nifflers and Nargles

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When Newt hears about the Hippogriff, he rushes to Hogwarts immediately to speak with Dumbledore. Tina reminds him that he isn’t as young as he once was, and that he shouldn’t exert himself, but he won’t hear it. He boards the train, joints creaking as he settles into place, and opens the Prophet. Of course the front page article is about Black, the escaped convict. As an escaped convict himself, he can’t help but wonder… but no, that was because of Grindelwald, this man almost certainly is actually a criminal.

He disembarks at Hogsmeade station and boards a carriage up to the grounds. Even after all these years, his heart leaps at the first sight of the school, but… what is he doing here? He is an old man; he does not belong here. There is no way he can save this Hippogriff. Just like he couldn’t save Amina. Couldn’t save Credence, couldn’t save anybody –

No. He recognizes this. Dementors.

Heart pounding, he reaches for his wand –

He can’t protect anyone, nearly got Tina killed, abandoned Pickett –

No. He closes his eyes, envisions Tina as she looked all those years ago, radiant in sparkling white, eyes twinkling and hair dark under a filmy veil as light as air. He imagines her smiling up at him –

“EXPECTO PATRONUM!”

The Thunderbird leaps from his wand, ethereal in the dim afternoon light (the sun sets so early now), and circles the carriage, scattering the shadows he had not seen closing in. He sits back, breathing hard. Tina is right – he is not a young man anymore, and this has taken more out of him than it would have done in times past. Suddenly the carriage stutters to a halt. What now? He looks out into the gathering dark and sees a tall figure in a pointed hat – and opens the door.

“Who are you? You have breached the defenses of Hogwarts! Show yourself!”

“Minerva, it’s just me. Newt.”

“Oh.” She breathes out a relieved sigh. “Newton. You always have had a way of making an entrance.” She smiles at him. “Well, go on. Professor Dumbledore is expecting you. I trust you remember where his office is.”

“Of course.” He gives her a crooked smile. “I’m sorry if I gave you a fright, Minerva.” She shakes her head and walks away.

The carriage trundles on and deposits Newt at the great front doors of the school. He looks up, taking in their elaborate carvings – wings and claws and swords and wands, wizards and flying beasts, battles and quidditch matches – and of course, in each corner, rampant, each House’s mascot. He smiles at the badger on the lower right before entering through a sally port beside it. Once inside, he traverses the familiar corridors, smiling as black-clad students rush by. He doesn’t see Rolf (the youngest of his grandchildren and the only one still at school), but perhaps he will have time to visit the seventh-year after his talk with Dumbledore. Lost in thought, he doesn’t see the slightly rumpled man clad in patched brown robes until they’ve collided. Inkwells, quills, parchment, and books tumble to the floor.

“So sorry,” he says as he and the man wave their wands, and the ink flies back into newly reconstituted inkwells and the lot of it neatly settles back into the man’s arms. He glances into the man’s face and his breath catches. Scars, sallow skin – just this morning he noted, with a glance at his calendar, that it is nearly the full moon – this can mean only one thing. He is surprised, momentarily, but of course Dumbledore, who has always stood up for the underdog, would offer this man a job. It was probably the only one he was able to get, because –

– because of him. Because of the Werewolf Register. Because somehow, even at the age of 50, he was still young enough and naive enough to underestimate human cruelty. He should have known the Register, intended as a way to keep track of werewolves so as to better help them, would be used as an instrument of discrimination and harm. He has been trying for decades to abolish it, but to no avail.

“I’m sorry,” he says again, softly this time. The man looks at him quizzically for a moment, seems about to say something, and then hurries on.

Bereft, he continues along the corridor. Perhaps the Dementors have returned, he muses, as he reflects bitterly on all the pain he has caused while trying ineffectually to do good.

“Excuse me, sir, is that a Bowtruckle?”

He turns. The creature before him is small and luminescent, with blue eyes as large as a mooncalf’s and ethereal like a fairy. She can’t be more than twelve. He can’t help but smile, and gently removes the small green creature from his lapel.

“That it is. Would you like to hold him?”

The girl’s eyes widen even further and she nods enthusiastically. He gently places Cork into her outstretched hands and her face breaks into a grin. As the Bowtruckle moves over the back of her hand, she expertly moves her other one up for him to step onto. “He says his name’s Cork. How lovely!”

Newt’s eyes widen. How – ?

“By the way, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Luna Lovegood, from Ottery St. Catchpole. We grow dirigible plums there, did you know? Oh. Some people call me Loony.” She extends a very small hand, still balancing Cork on her other one.

He remembers the names he used to be called and feels a pang of sympathy for this small blonde creature. He reaches out and shakes her hand. “Newt Scamander. I’m pleased to meet you.”

Her mouth falls open and her face lights up. “Newt Scamander! But you’re – you wrote Fantastic Beasts! Did you really travel all those places?” She’s bouncing up and down now, and before he can answer, she continues – “it must have been lovely finding all those beasts! Did you discover any new ones? I don’t suppose you spotted a Crumple-Horned Snorkack? My father says they’ve never been found – but one day I’ll find it! I’m going to travel the world just as you have!”

“Really?” asks Newt, excited over her enthusiasm. “You’d like to become a magizoologist?”

“I’d love to! Oh, it would be grand!”

“Well, Miss Lovegood,” his face breaking into a smile again. “I’ve got an appointment with Professor Dumbledore, so unfortunately I’ve got to go. But if you’d like to write to me, you are quite welcome to do so.”

“I’d love to!”

He takes out a scrap of parchment and writes:

Newt Scamander
12 The Moor
Puddletown, Dorchester

And hands it to her. She grins, thanks him, gently hands Cork over, and flounces away.

Two weeks later, he receives a letter from Luna Lovegood, Ravenclaw Tower, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She talks of nargles and of classes and of the spells she’s mastered, but little hints let him know that she’s lonely; the other children find her strange. His heart goes out to her; he knows what that’s like. He recounts to her his travels, and tells her of his life with Tina; how fierce she is, yet how kind; how she named a Kneazle Mauler. Luna muses, once, that she hopes she finds someone so lovely one day; Newt assures her that she will. When Luna mentions, in passing, having lost her mother three years previously, Newt is heartbroken – he had no idea. He asks Tina, who lost her own parents as a child, to write to her, and of course she does.

He is overjoyed when Luna tells him, in June, that Buckbeak is free, but heartbroken again when he learns what has happened to the young man with the spilled inkwells. He resolves to write to him, as well – hoping his owl will find the man with no address, merely “Remus John Lupin.” It does.

When Luna writes excitedly of having friends, he is worried at first, particularly when he reads in her letters her adoration for a vivacious redhead – he remembers how love and affection can blind a person to manipulation when one is otherwise so alone. But it quickly becomes clear that the redhead (Charlie Weasley’s little sister, it turns out) is nothing but kind to Luna, and the same is true for the boy who might nearly be a squib but whose talent with magical plants is just beginning to shine, and for the hapless trio who always seem to end up in the middle of everything, reminding him of his trip to New York all those years ago.

In her fourth year, she hints at secret yet exciting proceedings, and he does not pry, but he marvels as he senses her gentle fragility turning to gentle strength. In June, when he hears of Luna’s exploits in the Department of Mysteries, Tina is beside herself – “They could have gotten killed! Yes, Newt, of course I remember I was an Auror, but they’re only children!” – but Newt’s heart swells with pride.

Luna’s fifth year begins less eventfully, but Newt smiles at the thought of her commentating a Quidditch match, and is excited to hear that she met an actual vampire – and at a party, no less! Hogwarts is certainly still as strange and wonderful as he remembers. It’s only a few months later when his heart breaks as he learns that Hogwarts will never be the same again – nothing will be, really, without Albus Dumbledore. His words so many years ago were a lie – he knew exactly why Dumbledore had stood up for him, why he’d stood up for so many others. Dumbledore saw his students for who they were, each and every one of them. Dumbledore cared.

“You care, too, Newt,” Tina says softly. “I believe in many ways you carry on his legacy.” But he dissolves in her arms because he has lived for one hundred years in a world that contained Albus Dumbledore, and now it does not, and he cannot imagine it.

The next year, Hogwarts is taken over. Letters don’t always get through, but when they do, they are full only of chipper pleasantries, upbeat updates on food and quills and other unimportant things. But through them runs a thrum of danger, and – resistance. He is sure of it. He is proven right when word leaks out, through the grapevine, of graffiti on the walls of Hogwarts – Dumbledore’s Army, Still Recruiting.

At Christmas the letters stop, and he is gripped with a terror he has not known since the days of Grindelwald’s ascent to power. Charlie Weasley visits him; his sister had sent him to tell Newt what has happened (it is too dangerous to send a letter – it could be intercepted). He tells himself that worrying means you suffer twice, but the terror, a ball of tension in the pit of his stomach, is always there – but so is Tina, arms ready to close around him when the terror spills over and he cries into her shoulder.

In June, the world bursts open again – Luna is alive! She is free! As he reads her letter, though, his happiness mixes with horror and anger as she relates all that has befallen her. His eyes close and he’s back on the subway tracks, lightning cracking like a whip from Grindelwald’s wand and coursing through him, searing –

“Newt. Look at me.” Tina is crouching in front of him, pressing a piece of ice into his hand. “Newt, you’re here, on The Moor. In Puddletown. In Dorchester. It’s nineteen-ninety-eight. Grindelwald is dead. He was found at Nurmengard last fall; you remember.”

“Yes,” he says shakily, clutching the ice in one hand and Tina’s fingers in the other. “Yes.”

“Newt,” says Tina. “She’ll be okay. She has you.”

(When he find out that she also has the magipsychiatrists of St. Mungos, he suggests to Tina that they seek out such help as well. “What does it matter now?” Tina says wearily. “It matters,” he says.)

It’s only a few weeks later when another letter arrives from Luna – jubilant, this time – the Dark Lord has been defeated! Hogwarts is in shambles but it has prevailed. She speaks of the sacrifices made by all the students and professors who lost their lives that night (tragically, the young werewolf and his wife are among them), but there is a hint of a different kind of sorrow in her letter, and he cannot figure out the cause.

Until two weeks later, when Charlie’s sister’s face is splashed across the front of the gossip section of the Prophet above the byline of (who else?) Rita Skeeter and below the headline “The Boy Who Loved,” and he understands. It is then that he tells her about Leta. She is only the fourth person – after his brother, his wife, and his sister-in-law (whom he had not exactly told, but no matter) – to know the whole story. He knows that it is different – her Ginny (no, not hers) isn’t a taker – but he wants her to know that he understands how she is hurting.

The next year, he watches through letters as Hogwarts repairs itself, and moves on. How the students, finally, recognize the harm caused by enmity with Slytherin, and attempt to heal an ancient rift (perhaps, if they had done so a century earlier, things would not have played out as they did with Leta – but no, then he would not have his Tina, and that is unthinkable). He smiles along with her as she teases him about N.E.W.T. classes and N.E.W.T. exams, and he makes the trek back to Hogwarts for her graduation. And then she is off – exploring the world, as she had told him she would so many years ago. He consoles her as she finally accepts, after years of searching, that Crumple-Horned Snorkacks may not be real after all. He admits, but only to himself, that he had started to hope they were as well.

It is Passover, and he is sitting next to his sister-in-law on the back porch of her house the day after the first Seder meal, watching the kids fly around the yard laughing. He watches Rolf trying to teach the youngest Scamanders and Kowalskis Quidditch. Rolf is a young man now; as old as Newt was when he took that fateful trip to New York, Newt realizes. He feels Queenie gently riffling through his memories, glancing over lines on parchment and flashes of white-blonde hair and dirigible plum earrings.

“Newt,” she says softly. “I rather think she’d get along with Rolf, don’t you?”

His eyes widen. Of course. How has he never seen it before? They have the same quiet strength, the same love of the absurd, the same disregard for the norms of society and of course, the same love of magical creatures. They’ve both spent the better part of the past several years traveling the world in search of fantastic beasts – they’d make excellent traveling companions! Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Queenie roll her eyes. He raises his eyebrows. She just smiles and shakes her head.

He introduces them, and as predicted, Luna and Rolf not only quickly agree to travel together, but become fast friends. Newt is shocked when, one day, as the pair are having tea with him on a rare break from their adventures, they lean toward each other and kiss.

“But I thought you liked girls!” He exclaims, and Tina dissolves into a fit of stifled laughter.

“I like everyone,” says Luna simply, and smiles beatifically.

It is three years later (but somehow, it feels so much shorter), when Newt finds himself sitting in the afternoon sunlight, Tina by his side (her hands folded in her lap and somehow still breathtaking at the age of 109), looking up at the couple standing in the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves twined into the posts of their wedding canopy. His grandson, grown into a handsome and capable young man, and Luna, as ethereal as she was at age twelve but now carrying herself with the maturity of someone who has seen all the horrors the world has to offer and has decided still to view the world with wonder, stand face to face, gently clasping one another’s hands and exuding quiet strength.

He takes Tina’s hand as he lets the vows and blessings enter his head as murmurs, remembering his wedding to Tina all those years ago and marveling at all that has happened since. When Rolf stomps on the glass goblet beneath his foot with youthful determination, and as the guests around him cheer as the goblet shatters, Newt’s heart swells so much that he feels like it might burst.