"When the clouds roll by I’ll come to you,
Then the skies will seem more blue."
From The Doughboy’s Book of Songs (1919)
New York, January 2. 1927
Dear Mr Kowalski,
Please don't be surprised to find this book on your counter. It had to be delivered on Sunday, since I couldn’t risk being seen gifting it to you, or, as things are, taking it into your shop. Everything went tiptop, though. Once I gave the bearer clear and repeated instructions to leave the cash register jolly well alone.
(He may have pilfered a chocolate coin. Bearer 2, who saw to your locks, is adamant that he did. But then, he would. Bearer 2, I regret to say, tends to "grass" on his pals when feeling under-appreciated.)
Still, no pastries were harmed in the making of this delivery.
Anyway. The book. The book is a gift, and, well. It’s a tribute. You’re a good man, Mr Kowalski. And these "critters", as I heard a little boy tell his mother through a clear puff of breath (your New York winter is as I remember it), leaving your shop, all your buns and breads? They are good, too. With no purpose to them other than sweeten, and nurture, and delight. And inspire. They saw me through a year when I often found myself in one-man places, thoughts of war at my heels, and only two things made me glad. One was to write. And the other was to picture you in your little shop, lighting your warmhearted stove at break of day, being what you wanted to be. A baker. And a maker.
I, too, have made – a book. It won’t be famous. Not in the world surrounding you, where "creature" is an insult nine times out of ten and Mr. Lindbergh has a monopoly on wings. But I wrote it to flash some of the same wonder that leavens and rises in your hands, Mr Kowalski. And I hope – really hope – that you will like it, and won’t think me a nuisance.
Wishing you all the best in this newborn year,
Newton (‘Newt’) Scamander
Triage just sent this up. Shall I file it for you?
Report ID: 448-2719-5311
Report date: January 4, 1927
Issued by: S. S. S. S.
Adressed to: Director Graves, D. M. L. E.
Rogue maj presence spotted two days ago at the southwest corner of Spring Street and 6th Avenue. A cursory investigation ascertained that the Kowalski Bakery, a venue recommended by POMA for follow-up surveillance, was entered in the owner’s absence. No verbal magic used. No wand signature. No No-Maj item reported missing. A flagrante delicto-based search produced 1 (one) human hair, crinkly, Venetian blond, and 4 (four) animal hairs, short and black. We have accordingly profiled suspect as a young person of the female persuasion in a sable coat. Inquest postponed pending your decision.
For the Statute of Secrecy Supervision Section,
Quite. "Classified", please, and initial it for good measure.
(Better tell your sister to be careful. Or I’ll wake up to a memo that I had another Goldstein thrown in at the deep end without my informed knowledge, and I won’t be happy.)
QUEEN MABILY GOLDSTEIN, if you HAVE to call on a certain party’s day off, DON’T BREAK INTO THE PREMISES! And sables, Queenie? Sables? I did NOT raise you to accept furs from a bachelor gentleman, no matter his status! Next Sunday you’re helping me sort out the Chicago spell records, missy, AND THAT’S THAT.
New York, January 3. 1927
Dear Mr Scamander,
Here’s round 3 of me trying to answer yours, and I betcha there’ll be a 4th. I’m not much of a writer, see, because I don’t know how to start. Usually, it’s the other end that gets me. I don’t know when to quit. With the war, and with the sweatshop that came after, it took me ages to find the door. But that’s all behind me now.
Okay, it’s not all true that I never write. I had a pen-pal back in ’18, and that was my Grandma Oliwia. When the word got to her that I was enlisting, she told her "doughboy" two things. One was how to make potluck bread with cornmeal and mashed potatoes. And the other was that letters are like little kids: they have their own sense of time, and, sometimes, they take the wild way home.
So I ain’t the type that gets scared when a letter finds him out of the blue, because it’s happened before. Even in Vladivostock, it did.
It’s happened with a gift, too. Fancy that!
So I’m gonna do what I did last year with the letter that made it a year-round Thanksgiving, and the silver egg things that shone like a fairy-tale’s good morning. (I set one aside before I got Sam at the factory to cast them into ingots.) I’m not gonna call the police, and I’m not gonna ask who the heck picked my locks when I had my back turned, leaving my place one book richer. Mister, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say: I have no idea who you are, if you’re just a body that caught sight of my breads and got ideas of his own, and hit the pen. Or if there’s more to the tale and you’re my egg fella. In the end, it don’t matter much. It’s thank you kindly, as the case may be.
Night o’clock now and the brittle dough's all set to rise. Time to leave this where I found yours. I hope your complicated won’t get in the way of my thanks, Mr Scamander, and if Bearer 1 finds his way in again, he’s welcome to the coin in the envelope. But the sweet roll is for you.
Sincere New Year greetings,
Weenie-Wizzies! This Is Your Book Day!
Bring Along the Grown-Ups for Tuesday’s Special Beastie Celebration!
A perfect Twelfth Night gift for any youngster with a love for fantastic pets. Get your copy of Mr Newton Scamander’s new book and, even better! get it signed by the Man With the Blueberry Coat, who has patted Hippos on the head all over the world. Only 2 Dragots, and free pumpkin soda for all!
The Thilly Thunderbird, Main Floor
Dear Miss McDolphin,
I confirm my presence at next Tuesday’s event.
However, while I wrote my book with a general public in mind, I doubt that "tiny tots" are the best target audience. The animals in my book are no toys. With many, there is a terrible cast to their beauty and strength, and you may want to warn the parents about a few entries (see enclosed list).
Also, you do not pet, pat, least of all pit yourself against the average Hippogriff. Ever. What do they teach at that ‘’best’’ school of yours?
Dear Mr Kowalski,
Please. Please, call me Newt.
Thank you for your letter and the roll. It was v. sweet, indeed, and made up for the ban on milk, lemon and tea-leaves other than Mr Folger’s "instant tea-flavoured" abomination in my lodger’s kitchen. And Bearer 1 was quite pleased with the coin – until it melted on him (his stash is a bit close to my tropical quarters), leaving him with a bad case of "sticky paws". Poetic justice, if you ask me.
The book… is my alibi. I mean, I’m really supposed to be in England these days, only I talked my publishers into setting up a promoting tour in New York that I’m doing my best to do. Can’t say it’s been a hoot. I mean, everybody’s been awfully nice, it’s just that I’m not one-hundred-per-cent sure any of them has read my work.
Once – and I’m courting Manhattan-size trouble, quoting you to yourself, but I have to – once, you told me you liked "a good yarn last thing at night". I was faking sleep and you were reading about some fancy cat named Gustavus, your breath laughing a little as you did. Nothing fake about you. Not then, not ever. So I glanced along to where the shiny bed light gathered all around you and the book, and then, just then, I felt – impatient, I guess, because that cat wasn’t "the real deal". At all.
Kneazles, now, that’s another And so I let you in on the deal. Into my bright, vibrant, unique underworld, and the more I shared it with you, the more that sharing dazzled me. Brought it home to me what an outsider I was. You were so very chuffed with everything you saw, and I was chuffed up just watching your chuff, and
Sorry, sorry, I know I’m not making much sense. But not long after, when you were gone and all I had were one-sided memories and a one-way passage to England, I placed my case on my lap and used it as a portable desk. To keep up the sharing. Or get one over Gustavus. Perhaps. All I know is, I never stopped until – well, the sum of it is in your hands.
What I’m trying to say, Mr Kowalski, is that if I am your egg fella, then you owe me nothing. I am in debt to you. You see, you co-hatched my book – so to speak.
All quiet on the Dorset front. Well, nearly. The mater got wind of you hopping it west and owled me for your coordinates. Said she had Plans For You. Thought I’d let you know, given that Mother’s latest plan for me involved challenging Grindelwald to a game of gobstones, using Basilisks’ eyes. Semper paratus and all that. So I told her you were kipping with Graves. He’s a wand-in-the-mud, but he’ll know better than to side with her. Not after she locked the two of us in Fido’s playpen on his last visit.
Have fun, and don’t do anything I would do lady-wise. Or booze-wise. Or otherwise.
Send at once for our fresh-from-the-press selection of curiosa! For mature readers and collectors of wizarding amatory lore. Owl-order only, discretion guaranteed.
Fifty Shades of Greyback by Ana Froddis-Yak. An Ilvermorny good girl learns the art of savage love after she meets the tycoon of Were Incorporated.
Almighty Wands and ‘Dying a Little’: A Glossary of Grindelwaldian Innuendoes by Sigmund Silberbaum. The true – and taboo – story behind G.G.’s irresistible charisma.
Voodoo-Voo, Mam’selle by Mimi Delacour. A sizzling war romance between an undercover Creole warlock and a Belgian milk maid. You’ll never look at a haystack in the same way again!
Fantastic Babes and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander. The perfect terrain map for the cosmopolitan gay dog!
Contact MM. Booklegger & Smutelf, Tin Man Alley, Brooklyn.
I’m afraid there has been some misunderstanding.
Hot socks, Newt! Thanks for Tuesday night! It was swell seeing you again – once they’d peeled the kiddies off your legs and arms, aww. You looked spiffy! Tina thought you did, and she’s real proud of you for making good on the book. Just saying. But, honey, can you do a girl a huge favor?
It’s Jacob. Teen doesn’t want me to visit him too often, on account of it’s still no go, even if Mr Graves has been a big sweetheart, looking the other way. But he – Jacob, I mean – has set up that Koffeeski Happy Hour, eleven to noon. That’s when he’ll give you a cup of coffee across the counter, free gratis for nothing, and talk a bit more with you. I went once, but… the gents at the counter, see, they want to talk to me. It’s not practical. So I been thinking, if I bring Newt along, he can keep the gents off and I can have a word with Jacob – no spilling, promise – honor bright!
Can you? Please? When you’re not too busy with the book and the beasties?
Work’s calling – gotta run!
Ever been to Coney Island at the peak of July?
It was the one time for me, before the War. Coney was still quiet then, private, like, with only three or four rides on the Bowery. Nothing like today, when every good must be cranked up to a hundred an hour to bring the nickels home, and the Sunday Joes are packed like beach sardines on the sand. Back then, the beach was off reservation. But Baba Liwia had saved for a treat, and she and I had a bet that if I kept my wits (and my tummy) about me on the Red Devil, she’d buy me a frankfurter after. I loved frankfurters best after my Grandma, her paczki, and Gentle Jesus (who produced five thousand of them on a good day and turned down the nickels), and I rode that coaster out. But when I got my land legs back, I couldn’t speak at first. My head was like a jackpot of sky and sun and long splashes of colour.
Buddy, that book of yours? It’s the ride. The jackpot. All over again.
I read it yesterday night and today first thing, waiting for the milk, and again at lunch. Some places, it wasn’t like reading. More like I could see right through the page and what was behind stared back at me. And I knew them. The little black guy and Old Man Whiskers, with his silver coat of hair, I knew them! And, next thing I knew, I was seeing me on the ice, bolting like I was still Private Kowalski of the 8th Division and this was Siberia, 1920. But… the air was clean. It wasn’t bleeding. Or tasting like rot and frozen iron.
And there was somebody there that made them all right, the cold and the bolting. Real close he was, his face a breath or two away, right next to me on the ice, even if I couldn’t make out any of it. And he cheering me. Newt, I never was a skinny kid, and today I’m a roly-poly man, but in that dream-picture? It felt like my heart was a big guy on its own.
I’ve only felt something like this once or twice, with a sweet young dame that comes to look at the bread. But that’s neither here nor there.
So I have to ask. Newt… was it the War? Were you there, with me, when it was so bad half the lads were chopping their brains in two and keeping half of it for what wasn’t there, so the other could hold up? Like, say, an underworld. With no man allowed, only creatures that are good and clever and bolt for the fun of it – not dear life. Because if you did, and it kinda vaporized on me, then it’s okay. It’s okay, pal. A body does what a body gotta do to see himself safe, and if it ends in a book or a bread that will make folks smile, that’s the okayest thing.
I sure would smile to see all of that friend’s face.
"Queen Mabily" is my take on Queenie's official name. "Mabily" is the medieval version of Mabel, quoted by Chaucer and considered by some Shakespearian scholars as the inspiration for Queen Mab.
Cassandra and Her Cat Gustavus is the book (with a charming period cover) that Jacob reads in bed at the Goldsteins'. According to Pottermore, it's one of Queenie's.
I've sent Jacob to Siberia along with the 8th Division of the American Expeditionary Force because the commanding officer was one General Graves. Yep.:)
I didn't want to handwave Queenie's crush on Jacob, but I promise that the fic will not ditch her on the roadside with a broken heart. I love her much too much.
If you're giving this rarepair a go, thank you kindly!
Your mother is indulging the misguided notion that I have taken you under my wing. Somehow, I doubt that the man who saw through my Doppelganger captor (while everyone else let him chat up young unfortunates and order bretzel on his coffee breaks) needs a minder. Tell her so, and feel free to call on me otherwise. Case-free, if possible.
Since her brief to me included a note to you, I have asked Miss Goldstein to pass it on.
Truly yours (and self),
I’m sending this care of the Delta Hotel, where you said you were a boarder. Why, I have no idea. I only saw the place once, after it went all-out Ragnarok on poor J. K., and it looked gloomier than a troll’s Christmas list. Why don’t you room with us? We’ll pass you off as our southern brother.*
Your book is great. And it’s great that kids are loving it. Who knows, perhaps they’ll make it a schoolbook some day?
All good things,
*I can be a sister to you, Newt, if that’s what you want. Comes with the territory, when it comes to me.
I wish you’d tell me when and where you’re leaving. It is highly inconvenient, having to ask Theseus for your whereabouts, when on most days there’s no saying where he might be. That Herr Grindelwald could have picked another decade for his hoity-toity crusade. All it’s done so far has been to keep your brother away and bring in those beastly taxes. Yes, Newt, I’m using the b-word. I have every reason to. Four nests down with the foot-and-beak disease, and Balin is moulting again, poor dear. Your father too, but that’s par for the course.
On top of it, Abraxias Malfoy has just unplaced his order for a Blue-Fledged yearling, saying that he "favours peacocks" instead. Peacocks. Unbelievable. And asking for his deposit back. The gall of that flaxen-haired ninny!
Which brings me to my point. Since you are in wizarding America, I expect you to make the most of it. They have girls over there, Newton. In case this slipped your notice (much does). Perfectly nice girls, with fathers in the broom business and the corporate Patronus business, who would love nothing better than a son-in-law with an Old World pedigree. (V. sensible of them. Look where inbreeding has left the Malfoys.) And it’s not as if the estate couldn’t do with a little remodeling, which I certainly cannot afford, not with the Ministry pinching my best mounts for the war effort and Certain People favouring honking featherdusters for their lawns.
Somebody has to do the honourable thing, dear.
(And we both know about your brother’s lifestyle. "Bit of whoopee in the gunroom" probably sums it best.)
Now, Mrs Wanderbell – a friend of your godmother’s, and quite the hostess in New York – has offered to throw a little launch party for your book. She has a daughter and that daughter has friends. I want you to go there, and then I want you to write back and give me chapter and verse on the young ladies. Do buy a new coat and, Newt, do try not to mention the dung beetles at meals.
Saturday, eleven, bakery. I’m in.
Look, it’s not my fault I was late at the show yesterday. I know I’d said five, and the tickets are selling like hot cakes, but Mr K. was real slow. Sorta dopey. You’d never of thought he’d downed five cups of joe with the guy I spoke of, that came with the doll I spoke of before. (Guy was shifty. Spoke like Stan Laurel on the wireless and wouldn’t look me once in the eye. Made me suspishous that he’d he’d put a Mickey Finn in Mr K’s coffee as himself drank none of it, and a fine strong brew it was.) All three kept talking and not talking. More like, Guy would start and stop, and Mr K. would say ‘Oh’ like he’d just won the baseball pool, and then Doll would say something very fast, all dimples. At first. Then no dimples. It’s a phony world.
Mr K. couldn’t string two and two together after. Baked the cinammon rolls at macaron heat and these babies came out all gooey-like. Guess who had to do another batch? And the inventory? Yours truly, that’s right. Boss just pawed at his neck and grinned. (Could of been that Guy slipped him a poisoned dart, then, like that crazy gang story you and I read in the Mirror.) But he did say I could have all of next Sat p.m. So I say we try that jazz talkie again, and have ourselves a nice stroll and supper first. Eh, chick?
I hope you like the orkid. It cost me a pretty dime.
Tonight I made a thunderbird,
It came to me right after you’d left. It had been such bright fun, meeting with you again, I was fit to burst with it and I didn’t want to let it get by. But I’m not a thinking man, Newt. I’m not big-knuckled up there like you. My craft is in my hands, and they were itching for a shape to bake that brightness in in as a keepsake, come what may. (More of that may to come.) And so I softened my butter and took a measure of flour and spices, and the dark brown sugar I’d meant to cook with tonight’s sausage, and I made a giant ginger bird. A thunderbread!
I stayed long after Henry and I had closed shop, waiting for the bread to rise. Like the bird, last time I saw the magic. My face ached from smiling, but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t, Newt. Just the shock of you here, you hauling that blessed case right up and onto my marble slab. I kept figuring that some little guy or other was on the run again, and once I think I called: "C’mon, buddy. Plenty o’warmth and comfort for two." All the way loud. But there was nothing.
I wish you’d stayed longer, you and Queenie. But I get that she’s gotta be careful. She’s a real nice girl and I sure hope they didn’t give her what for at that crazy capitol place where she works.
Speaking of. It’s been eating on me, that you’ve gone and taken a room at the Delta. Jesus, that joint! Been there myself when I knew and had no better. Heck, it’s where you and Miss G. – the other one, the sister – tracked me again, right? That how you got the address? But, Newt, it ain’t for you. Whoever it is that got you here, they need to treat you better, you being a man of letters and all.
Or you need to shake that dirt off your feet and rest them here.
I mean it, Newt. Plenty of room upstairs where I live. And I could help with the animals, same as I did that night, feeding them and all. I’d love that. You didn’t say how long you’re staying but, long or short, you got an open voucher at Kowalski’s. Think on it?
Now I’m gonna glaze that bread, and I’m gonna stick a bit of candied orange for the eye. And then, I’m gonna wrap it in waxed paper and store it for you. Careful! Gingerbread’s fickle quick to dry up, and it spoils past a fortnight.
Top of the day to you, pal.
Is your head better? Is it something I did? I know I have this knack for talking too much – talk the hind legs off a ‘griff, Tease’s words – v. annoying – but you said you wanted the other fellows gone, and so did I. All of them. And Jacob was ever so chuffed! Nothing can keep him away from the sunny memories, Queenie, no rain, no drug of any sort. Not our Jacob. And they made his face so warm and excited – lit up by the gold inside, like Niffty’s treasure cave. Did you see it? I know I did.
But I saw you too. Saw you wipe your eyes, Queenie, with that paper bag you Accioed on the sly. Don’t think I didn’t.
I only have a fortnight left on my leave. Please, let us not part two sad people. Let me know what I can do.
Mr Graves, sir,
If I may bring the enclosed to your attention…
Head Supervisor and Clerk-in-Command
Wand Permit Office
Magical Congress of the United States
Dear Mr Abernathy,
Please to note that I ain’t showing up at work today and won’t be all of the week, since my health requires a change of scene. I’ll be at Cagliostro’s Café, Chicago. Only don’t write me there, seeing that I’ll be undercover as a cigarette girl.
My best thanks for your understanding,
Mrs A. J. Wanderbell
Miss Louella Wanderbell
request the pleasure of your company on January the Twentieth, One Thousand Twenty-Seven,
to honor Mr Newt Scamander‘s poetic suite, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Opening Talk by Mr William Carlos Williams
A Themed Buffet Will Be Served At 7PM
Wanderbell Chateau, 660 Fifth Avenue, New York - RSVP
Excuse the choppy writing, as I’m doing the same on a train. Head’s better. I swear. Just, it got a bit of a bang from all the reading back there I’d never planned on. Silly me, forgetting that minds can be loudest when happy too.
You ask what you can do? Well, honey, here’s me telling you.
Don’t go back to England. Go back to Jacob’s. And when you see him again, take him up on the offer he’s gonna make you, first chance he gets. Trust me. You were his first Portkey into magic, Newt. You still are.
And I’m not a taker.
Whatever you think you’re doing, you will cease, desist and proceed directly to my office for a cup of coffee. Your sister is in no small degree of concern.
Dear Mr Graves,
Can’t. Your owl is fast, but the 20th Century Limited don't stop for love or money.
Please don’t blame this on Tina. I was just helping sort out the spell records, and it’s not like they was classified stuff or something. Besides, your people got it wrong.
You have no brief, no training, no partner, and – I pray to Oz – no idea of the hazards an unattached young witch could face at Cagliostro’s. My "people", as you say, have spent five weeks tracing back Mr De Soto’s Transfiguration spells. What could they possibly have got wrong?
You will use the return ticket herewith, Queenie, or there’ll be hell to pay.
Percival Gregory Saturnus Graves
Oh no! The full-name signature! Gee, what’s a girI to do?
Sure they got it wrong. Turning gigglewater into sloe gin, to pump into the No-Maj black market? Nah. Only works if you chase it with a shot of Felix Felicis. Not worth the production cost. Now, the way I dig it, your Mr D. is into distribution, and he’s using an Extension charm to make portable speakeasies. Like, a matchbox. You know. So when the No-Maj please bursts in, it can be slipped into that cute basket thing that’s held by a vapid blonde. You know. Like me.
You’re not vapid. You’re anything but – not the woman who kept her wits about, smuggled three Most Wanted out of MACUSA and heard my all-but-last breath across three walls. Or I wouldn’t have offered you a job.
The offer stands. But I can’t let you turn it into an off-and-on escapade, when the stakes involved go way beyond your needs or my pride. This I was taught last year. I am trusting you to dig it today.
You know why I turned it down. I had other prospects at the time, and I made no secret of them – to you and Teenie. (Also, the dragonhide coats. They itch. My family has, like, a case history with dragons.) But I appreciated it.
Look, I get it. Me not telling you to mind your own yard when I have both feet in it. But I ain’t coming back. Not yet. Not when I gotta do something I can bank against all the empty in me – you know? But I’ll tell you what.
I’m at the Hotel Blake, same block as Cagliostro’s. And the groom there has a chum who knows a bookie whose sister is necking with Mr D.’s right hand. I’m only two eyebats away from a job. So I’ll stick it here today, and you can find me a booze Auror to work with. Deal? I gotta buy an undercover camiknicker, anyhow.
Percy, you slacker. Yes, permission to skip the Imbolc Security Detail meeting. Lee will cover for you. But you’d better be back next week, lest I suffer alone through the actual gala.
So good to hear from you! I’m all agog about the new book – Omen, Oracles & the Goat sounds like an absolute eyecatcher – goat’s milk baths are back in trend, did I tell you? So it’s bound to be every bit as successful as Hogwarts: A History. Are you sure you don’t want to winter here? We’d be all fluttery to have you. (I’ve had Jeanne Beauvais re-do the guest suite in a natty peacock blue pattern. Peacocks are the dernier cri in Pure-Blood decoration, I hear!)
Speaking of goats and suites, we had young Newton over yesterday. Don’t thank me, dear! It is my pride and pleasure to oblige you. And your godson is a fine young buck. A teeny bit shy, maybe? He seemed to have trouble remembering names. Called my poor Lou "Miss Lobelia" all evening – the girl was ever so mortified. But he’s very bright, I’m sure.
I was hoping for a juicy debate between him and Mr Carlos Williams, who gave us a devastatingly clever analysis of his book. Newton, I regret to say, looked unimpressed. He answered my query about collage with ‘Well, it’s a glossary, so it tends to follow the alphabetical order’,
which I found the teeniest wee bit rude. And while we all cheered Mr W.’s exquisite tribute poem
I have stolen
in the cuss box
he objected that Nifflers, as a species, do not apologize. But then, he might have been distracted by the buffet. I noticed that he couldn’t keep his eyes off it.
It was a nice buffet, mind you– quite plain, as befits a literary soirée - all French cheese and those funny, animal-shaped breads from Kowalski. I’m not sure who or what Kowalski is, but they make these dandy little breads that Lou and her friends keep raving about, so I had her order two dozens for the cheese. They were actually quite good. Newton certainly seemed to think so: he Disapparated half-way through the evening, just when Lou was spelling up the phonograph, and where do you think I found him? In the kitchen, dear. Clasping hands with the caterer, no less. I guess he was congratulating the man, which was very sweet and democratic of him, only I wish he’d congratulated poor Mr W. first.
Anyway, he told me "I’ll come tomorrow, first thing", which I found a teeny bit odd, since we’d just had him here. But he was looking past my shoulder, so it was a lit-tle hard to offer him the suite, especially as he then shook my hand, still beaming, and said "Goodbye and thanks awfully, and, and, goodbye". Ah, the Art of the British Paradox.
Anyway it was quite a successful evening. Even the caterer seemed to think so: he refused my tip.
All the very best to you, darling, and do tell me about the new book. I can’t wait to patronize it here!
Young Henry is not quite an OC: we see him all of two seconds in the final scene, when Jacob directs him to the storage room.
If his chickadee forgives him, they'll give The Jazz Singer another, slightly anachronistic, go (it came out in October, not January, 1927). And forget about that crazy gang storiy in the New York Daily Mirror, the most sensationalistic among the newspapers owned by Randolph Hearst, he of Citizen Kane fame.
The 20th Century Limited had the biggest rep as the train that ran from New York to Chicago in eighteen hours. The tickets were expensive, but I'm going with the widespread fanon that No Maj dollars, although outlawed, are a low-rate currency.
The real William Carlos Williams probably kept well away from literary soirées of the Wanderbell sort. But I wanted to submit poor Newt to a Modernist reading of his book, and both Elliot and Pound were in Europe at the time. (I do find Mr W.'s works magical, in and of themselves.)
(Apologies for the delay in posting, RL has been... very real, work-wise. Things should get quieter by the end of the month! And comments are always a boost.:))
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Wherever you’re "busting the blighters" next, I need you to Floo back by way of New York and call on Newt. He is being contrary. And Mr Graves is being aggravating. "Incommunicado pending further return" is not what I call an answer, least of all when asked about your brother. Who, as Bathilda informs me, is busy being a sandwich man. I wish you children would keep me posted as to your career plans.
Are you sure you won’t be home for Imbolc, dear? Mr Graves is welcome to join you if he is re-communicado and doesn’t mind sharing your quarters. I’m using the guest bathroom to stock up on Flobberworms.
Coffee’s on the stove, plenty of paczki to go. Gotta deal with the public health fellas this morning, but we can grab a bite at 12 if you’re in? Catch Miss Brooks on the radio?
Rather! Feeding time’s 12 for the Graphorns, but we can use an Extendable Ear. If you don’t mind, that is. Joining me. And helping me convince Dougal that the invisible Miss Brooks is not a Demidolls.
Newt! Was that a joke? Like, an American joke? We’ll make a Big Apple man outta you yet! Pull on that ear, pal, I’m closing shop in five.
Dear Mr. Scamander,
This letter to inform you that your request for an extension to your one-month leave has been denied.
As you may recall, Ministry servants are expected to take no more than three weeks’ annual pay off at a time. Bending the rule once is one thing. Bending it twice sounds like the onset of unspeakable debauchery. To quote the Minister himself, when shown your application, ‘there is a time for personal reasons, and there is a time for public duty
and not being a walking Confringo’.
Please report at the earliest convenience to clarify your situation.
Wizard Resources and Management Department
Ministry of Magic
Sending Niffty to you as he just shuffled up to me, ducking his beak, and held out a ball of silver paper in its paw. Little scallywag. Not the chocolate slabs, though, so I’ll check his stash out in a jiffy. And then, I’d better start making amends to Carlos.
Aw, poor little guy. It’s just what makes him tick, Newt! Not gonna give him a licking for a ticking! Never mind about the chocolate, I’m baking us apple pie tonight.
(Oh, so Carlos knows about Nifflers, does he? Who’s he – friend of yours?)
Oh, no, no, no, no. Merlin help me, no. Just a poet chap I met the other day. Worthword Carlos Wordsworth, I think? Didn’t catch his name. I have one Niffler-savvy friend here in New York, and he is currently working his own magic on apples.
And we’re done here. I’ve arranged for Queenie to travel ahead, as I need to tie up a few red tapes with our men and women in Chicago. Your sister is fine. Truly. And she is to report to me exclusively. Should Abernathy pester her, or you, reroute him straight to me. Even better: tell him I need a complete summary of the Imbolc memos for Monday.
Meanwhile, owl the memos to Auror Central, Ill., will you? It’s that time of the year again.
You’re a genius! Boy-oh-man, are you! I did just what you said – left the Ashwinder eggs in the oven 28 minutes on the clock, then took them out and shoved the choux in. They came out a right good crop, golden crisp and smelling like a hundred bucks. Don’t knock the plate over when you climb out.
I’m so glad! And it helps me too, you know – to ascertain the heat released and absorbed in egg-friendly habitats such as, well. Your oven. If I can find them a domestic purpose, perhaps rally The Witch's Friend, the Ministry may reconsider the insta-freezing ban and give the breed a chance. All thanks to the choux!
That’s great news. Use the oven all you want. Ain’t no one can take that memory from me when you’re gone – it will be top of the chart, Newt. And stay there. Whatever comes.
Well, I'm not leaving quite yet. I mean, really, it’s no use trying to book a Portkey any time near Imbolc and the No-Maj boats are packed. And the Puffskeins might get seasick. And I do want to see the Aquarium with you. For, you know. Research.
Dear Mr Graves,
You said to report to you for archiving and stuff, but I’m not sure what to tell you that you don’t know already! Also, I’ve never done reports. Well, there was that WizBiz survey on the new candlestick telephones which I still say are a waste of resources – who needs candlelight to ring an Operator, even on night shifts? – but all you had to do was tick a box. Will this do?
Miss Queenie Goldstein thanks Mr Percival Graves for a perfectly delightful undercover booze week-end where all the right people were taken in and only six No Majs got Obliviated. She was a bit worried that her skills might come down to zero, what with the Chi accent and catching a head cold in that saloon skirt, but it was a piece of cake and she’s okay with the pinch, which was a professional hazard and not worth Mr G. socking the buster. Miss Goldstein also wishes to congratulate Mr G. on being a grand undercover thug, although he might want to at least try sipping his Flaming Gin and, yes, he could dance the Fwooper Hop real neat if only he would learn. He’s not that old.
I do feel better, but I’d still rather not be an Auror. My job is what it is, Mr Graves, but it’s a people job. You get to talking, not all the time but you do, and you get to knowing folks. And sometimes it feels like a small-people victory, having fixed Java for twelve the way they never taught you in Potions or charmed the quill sharpener right. And so I’ll stick to it for now. But I know it’s not all I can do, and, if you ever need Legi help some time or other, I could work the case? Maybe?
Dashing this off as the Ilvermorny Council insists I stay for another 48 hours. Their library is stacked with Wampus lore, etc., so I thought I’d better take advantage of the offer. But no longer. Not with Imbolc Night on Thursday, which
(Sorry, the Quidditch coach wanted a word on Erumpent attack moves. Let me make a fresh start.)
About Imbolc. There’s one thing I didn’t tell you, Jacob, and it’s rather important so I want you to read this carefully. It’s not just a feast of fires. It’s about the return of warmth in the dead of winter, and, more than anything else, it’s a home feast. This we tend to forget – it’s all fireworks and firewhisky, these enlightened days – but I like to remember. When I was a schoolboy at Hogwarts, my Head of House had this phoenix I told you about, and on Imbolc Night he gave it the run of our common room. It sang and it shone, so brightly that it moved our yellow walls to a golden sheen. For many of us home lay a country away, but on that night there was a hearth for all.
Jacob, you asked if I’d be at MACUSA on Thursday. The answer is no. My friends will attend the ceremony, I dare say. There’ll be speeches and bonfires, and President Picquery will bless the blackthorn, pour the milk before an all-wizard crowd. But the only fire I want to see is lit in your stove, with the little round opening that shines like a rose window and the good smells warming up.
I’ll be seeing you in two days.
Mr Graves thanks Miss Goldstein for a perfectly adequate report, the most refreshing to have graced his in-box yet. As its self-appointed editor, Mr Graves wishes to emphasize that, while Miss G.’s skills were crucial to the success of Operation Booze Week-End, her physical integrity is and should be considered of equal note with his. Should Miss G. agree to act as a consulting Legilimens, she and Mr Graves will work together on the understanding that they have each other’s back and, as a result, share socking privileges.
I’m afraid the Imbolc gala is too austere for dancing, Queenie. But in case you and Tina want to see the Fire Rites, I have written you up for the inner circle.
With my best regards,
The Levicorpus Lounge
Will Be at its Brightest on Imbolc Night
Minnie Firebolt and her All-Girl Orchestra
Dinner at 7 p.m.
Dancing at 9 p.m.
Drinks at discretion!
Look, I get it. You’re in a miff, because I went and had old Graves update me on your Muggle… chum while you were away gathering beast intel, so I could check him out. Behind your back – poor form, I grant you. But did I have a choice?
You’ve blockaded yourself, and you won’t tell anyone home where you are and what you’re planning to do. Your visa is on its last legs. The Ministry’s breathing dragonfire down our collective necks. No, strike that. The Ministry’s two sparks away from making you redundant, Newt. What then?
Your Jacob looks a decent sort. No argument here. Steady. Jolly firm handshake. In any other circumstances, I’d give you the old blessing and talk the mater around. But, Newt, he’s off the reservation. You know what I mean – you know about their laws. If you stay, you’ll have to register with MACUSA and there’s no way they’ll let you bunk with him, even less wed him. Newt, Merlin’s sake! You can smuggle a case, but you can’t smuggle a lifetime, little brother, and I don’t have the clout to negotiate one for you.
What will you do if they march you out? Ask that man to give up everything he’s built up here to follow – what? Does he even know how you feel about him? Do you?
On the verso, my quarters for tonight. No use booking a hotel, since I’m Flooing back at break of dawn. Come and have a drink. Come talk to me, brother. Please. I’m not here to drag you away kicking and screaming to the nearest eligible deb, I’m here for you. Just Tease and Frog, as it’s always been.
That’s so sweet and thoughtful of you. We’re not exactly Imbolc girls – being raised in the Kabbalah, both – only Pa had a mix-and-stir attitude with tradition, calling it eclecticism, and Tina takes after him – and she says she needs to keep an eye on things, anyways, so thank you kindly and we'll be there!
It's too bad about the dancing. Say, why don’t you join us after? Teenie and I are going to the Lounge - best wizz jazz and nettle juleps, and it’s a nice clean joint. No socking on the cards. Honor bright! We'd love to have you.
Having given the matter serious consideration, I think that we can, indeed, skip the Pouring of the Milk. An early night may be to the benefit of our foreign guests. And Security will be less of a bother if cows are not involved.
I shall meet with you in the Lobby in an hour’s time.
(Sera, how the hell does one dance the Fwooper Hop?)
I’m not fifteen anymore. Just stay away, Theseus.
Tease, I’m outside the door.
Please take me home.
While Louise Brooks had to wait until the Forties to launch her own show, her first radio appearance dates back to 1926, in "Emo's Movie Broadcast".
The candlestick telephone was, in fact, quite the trend in 1920s' Muggle offices (it owed its name to its long vertical neck).
We don't know much about the Pagan version of Imbolc, but it seems that it involved lighting fires and pouring milk on the ground as rites of fertility. Blackthorn was celebrated. Cows at MACUSA is just me being silly.:)
Was Dumbledore Head of a specific House in the late 1910s? I'm not sure Rowling ever cleared up that point, but wouldn't be surprised if he'd chosen Hufflepuff when pressed to take charge. We're talking post-Ariana Dumbledore, a man bent on cultivating humility, caring and loyalty.
Bless Some Like It Hot for reminding me that all-female jazz bands were in full swing by the late 1920s!
Well, well, well. Look what the owl brought in.
Someone had a copacetic evening, hmm?
The Levicorpus Lounge to MACUSA High Command
With Their Compliments
Table #17 (Mr Graves)
3 Nettle Juleps………………………………..………15 Drag.
3 Imbolc Celebratory Menus……………….....….60 Drag.
1 bottle Mage Blanc de Blancs 1908……..........44 Drag.
2 Brandy Brooms……………………………………...9 Drag.
2 Witch’s Tipples………………………..………….…9 Drag.
2 Salem Sides………………………………………....12 Drag.
2 Lobe-Blasters………………………………………..8 Drag.
1 table………………………………………....………56 Drag.
Total : 213 Dragots
You wild kid, you, Percy.
Dear Miss Goldstein,
Please accept my deepest, heart-deep gratitude for your help yesterday. You were, as we say, a brick (that’s lingo for spiffing). And I’m still sorry that I ruined your midnight fun by having you rig up emergency Portkeys rather than honour me with a dance. I’d have asked Graves*, if he hadn’t been so busy hoofin’ it on the floor.
Journey home was A-1, bless you. I had to report in the wake of arrival, but made sure Newt was fed and watered first, along with his crew. He hasn’t spoken much. From what I’ve gathered, he did or said something rash to his host, grasped his case and bolted. Keeps saying it’s all his fault. (But then, he knows how I’d react if it had been the other fellow playing rash without a by-your-leave. As things are, I hope there’ll be no hard feelings on his side. I liked the little I saw of him.)
Little siblings, eh? Out of the crib into the cauldron fire, Miss Goldstein, and all we can do is try to soothe the burn. At least he is safe. And dashed lucky in his choice of friends.
*Not for a dance, mind you.
Mr Graves, Percival, I’ve left a banana on your desk. Please to eat it first thing, on account of it has potassium and I don’t hold with "hair of the crup", not after a gentleman’s first-ever binge. (I’m sorry, it kinda flashed itself to my attention.) Also we had a great Imbolc time – I loved it all, the ducky dinner and the drinks, all the drinks, and you telling me about your Grampa and how he proposed to your Gran with a two-leaf clover, I loved that story. Just wish Tina could have heard it – too bad she had to App’rate back to M-A to take care of that unlocked – what, Teenie? - Oh yes, and thanks for seeing me home in a yellow cabbage. (I still don’t get the No-Maj slang!) But that’s enough of me prattling. You take care of yourself, now, for a ch… you do, and if you need an extra cup of Java, just send me a rat.
(And I loved the dancing best! See? That you have it in you? We brought the house down, Mr Graves, Percival, we did!)
The letter inside this one – can you see your way to sending it to Newt?
You’re such a nice lady and I don’t want to cause trouble for you at work. Heck, no. But I don’t know who else to turn to. See, Newt thinks he’s made me mad. And now he’s left my digs, taking the creatures with him, and left me no clue how to get through to him.
Hell, I’d let your kind take me in and zonk me out again – in a heartbeat – if I could leave word for him in-between.
So I’m taking a chance, Miss Queenie, seeing that there’s no one here to dive-and-roll me into that great big building of yours. I’ll just slip this under the door. It’s got your name on it and URGENT, and if a body opens it, and the other letter, they’ll find it’s nothing political. Just a guy aiming to set things right. But perhaps they won’t – perhaps they’ll just figure it’s owl mail got dropped by mistake.
I’m kinda desperate here, Miss Queenie.
Newt, dear Newt, your turn to read every word, start to finish. Please, Newt. Don’t you bail on this.
First, I’m so damn sorry.
I never meant to raise bad blood between the two of us.
You know I ain’t a fella to back down from a fight, or shy of taking one to the scene when I gotta. But that’s not why I shoved you. And, truth is, I didn’t at first. Not when you took my hand – us sitting on the ground to watch the fire in my stove’s window, going like a heart – nor when you kissed it. Didn’t shake a whit. I’ll be level with you, Newt: the War, it took me places where touching a man right close, his hand, his face even, was the real deal. When it’s hell outside and the fellas inside the only piece of human at hand, still in one piece, you stop reckoning about dos and don’ts, and you cling to human any which way. I seen officers with their faces still pitch-black from the gunpowder rock a man to their chest to keep him warm, and I tell you, it’s fellas like that made me believe in the day after.
And, Newt, I been in their shoes. I’ve done it once with a boy from Frisco – a fine lad, sunfreckles all over his neck and shoulders, as I recall from washing at crack of dawn – that missed home so awful bad he went and sliced off his middle fingers. Figured they’d send him back then if he couldn’t pull a trigger good. That boy, he made my heart tender. I held him after he’d slunk away and they found him two days after. Even when he kissed my mouth for comfort, his warm-soft from all the crying he’d done due to the rot settling in his arm and him being told it was no good. Why, everybody was here and looking, and I never got bull from them if it was the right kinda kiss.
Maybe that’s why Mildred wouldn’t keep steady with me. I think she knew, somehow, what the War had done to me. Opened a door in my heart and flesh that shut her out, sort of.
But. But, Newt. That was then. When you gave me that kiss, saying how you wanted no other mate for life, you meant from now on. And – that’s the hard part, Newt – your words scared me. See, now’s different. You love a guy now, you got one way of making it a public thing. You gotta be a fairy. Bleach your hair and call yourself Mae West and go perform at the Bowery, where they hold the big Pansy Balls nowadays. Your nice blue coat with the flaring tails? That’s the sissy’s badge, they’ll say. And, Newt, they won’t all hate you, but they won’t trust that you’re a fighter too. An explorer. They won’t believe that you’re mother and father both to your beasts. And the people who come in here and buy my breads, all the nice ladies and the decent folks, they’ll be thinking, oh, Mr Kowalski’s the real man. The other, he’s the lady. And, Newt, I don’t know. I got no beef with the queer men. It takes guts, in my book, to rouge your cheeks and come out in the open like they do. But it’s not you. And the other way is just to hide, hide, hide. On top all the hiding that would come from me being a No-Maj.
You’re so frank, Newt. It’s what got me smitten with you in the first place. You got no idea how to live the lie. And I don’t wanna be the reason why you try and fail, and take a crack from your folks at home or the cop here round the corner.
Jesus, God, I’m choked up just writing about it.
Please forgive me for the hurt.
Please be safe and well.
My first-ever binge, and my first-ever Whisperer in twenty years of office correspondence. Your kind thought alone was a pepper-up, but I have duly eaten the banana. It is seeing me through the Imbolc Morrow and its batch of far-from-first offenses. (You would think the younger wizarding public knew better than to invest in fiendyfire-crackers by now. If only.)
I am of two minds about my own sending. This letter was brought to me at 8 by one of our cleaners. I haven’t opened it, but my head is sober enough that it can hazard a guess as to who used a No-Maj fountain-pen to address it. And if I am straight with myself, and with you, I don’t like it. I loathe – forgive my bluntless – to think that it might upset you. That, whatever that man wants, it might take the edge off a joy that comes so naturally to you. That brave, beautiful, radiant joy of yours, which, once found again, deserves to be safeguarded.
But the letter is yours, Queenie. And whether to hex or heed it must be your decision.
I trust you to do the right thing. Just – let me know you’re well?
(Apparently, we brought the table down. But yes, it was the greatest fun I’ve had in years – provided I behaved like a gentleman through it all. Or I shall rue more than a maiden hangover.)
There is currently a Bubo Americanus in the Owlery, with a letter for you. Please come and retrieve it without delay. And please, please, please, direct your non-professional mail henceforth to your home address! Fraternizing with foreign correspondents is not what we want for our boarders.
What next, an international birds’ union?
Wizard Resources and Management Department
Ministry of Magic
I hope I’m doing the right thing. Boy, do I hope so! But he – well, that man, except you make it sound like he’s a rotter and he’s not! He’s a good strong man, only he’s walled up and all in knots, and so he’s calling out. Surely, you and I can dig that? And if it were you, wouldn't you take it out of your time and comfort, to help a friend out of a rut? I think we both know the answer to that.
But I’m also doing my best not to fail you. See, Madam Rappaport says it’s wrong to "imperil the segregation between the American wizarding and No-Maj communities", but Newt is a Brit. Where's the harm in 'gregating them, when it's plain they're both hankering for it? Also, to "limit communication with No-Majs to the necessary". If the heart ain’t a necessary, then I don’t know what is! So I’ve sent on the letter in the man’s letter (in your letter) via Bat who, may I say, is not an office owl. She’s mine. Grandpa’s gift when I came of age, because he said a good owl is worth far more than rubies. If she gets caught, Percival, it’s all on me.
But she won’t. She’s an honorary Goldstein. Bred to fly by, come hail or high water.
So hush worrying about me
, honey. I’m not one little bit upset. Last year, see, I thought my joy was all tied up to one fella. I was such a kid, I thought him smiling meant I was the cat’s meow to him! And because he smiled every time I came by, I never reckoned it was just me calling up his sweet thoughts of another. I was, like, in a Bubble-Head Charm (me being a bubbly girl and all, only you said it sweeter). And when the bubble popped… sure, it hurt, but it did me good. I’d been so keen on seeing a No-Maj close, I’d forgotten how strength and goodness can be found elsewhere, closer even, right in our world. That it just takes – listening good.
Oh my, here am I prattling! Again! It’s your own fault for being such a gent. Yes, in the cabbage too. And the Lounge. And on the floor. Actually, the two witches and the wizard Hopping next to us, they kinda thought it a pity!
Yours sincerely too,
(Perhaps we could do it again, then? If I swear to make it a teetotal binge?)
Dear, dearest Jacob,
The owl is called Batsheva and she’ll expect a treat. You won’t be able to bake one, and she’s likely used to eating some ‘instant worm-flavored’ ersatz, being a NY city owl. But if you’ll let her into your storage room, she may rid you of a mouse or two. A fine courrier and scavenger, from the look of her.
Sweet Merlin, and now Niffty’s giving me the Stare. He’s so
He misses you so much. It’s breaking my heart to see him hold his eager little paw out for the letter. He’s even offered to trade a brass button for it. And the Mooncalves will swing their heads to and fro on feeding hour, waiting for me to hum a jazz tune. And the Occamies have claimed your old sweater for their nest, the one you made me wear against the cold at night and I never returned. They huddle and cuddle in it, and I like to think it’s your body warmth they feel, too, along mine.
Things are not just the same without you.
Things have been – I have been – an aeon of chaos. Jacob, there were days I didn’t know what to feel – grief, loss – anger at myself, at you for letting me get away with getting close, before you turned me down. It’s happened once before. In my school years. I thought I’d been wrong to think that I had grown, I had changed enough to let myself love again someone I trusted. And you are so – steadfast and single-minded, Jacob, in your generosity, I did what I always do, let my words scarper. Ah, well, I’m just no good at keeping things behind latches!
But I should have stayed, that night. It wasn’t fair, to bolt at you only to bolt away next thing without letting you have your say. And I thank you from the heart, Jacob, for your letter. It’s cleared the chaos – partly. I’m not sure I get all of it. Fairies, yes, we have some too but we use them mostly for consensual Christmas decorating. (See my book.) And I’d have to wear a dress and put on make-up? I mean, we do have robes, but they’re getting a bit rococo, although Mother insists on my father wearing one on Hogwarts’ Alumni days. I don’t quite understand the bit about cops either.
What I do understand is that you shoved me as a way to protect me. To keep me from the harm that would befall me if we mated in your world. Well, mine is otherwise. Take my elder brother – he’s more of a ladies’ man, but he’s had the odd fling with a fellow Auror, once or twice, and my mother is bent on matchmaking for him and Director Graves. Or my godmother, Aunt Bathilda. She’s been Firecalling me – Tease asked her to, before they dispatched him out again – and telling me all about the woman she loved when she was younger, and how she’d just made up her mind to speak the M-word when her Kendra died accidentally. Jacob, that was a year before our century started!
So it’s hard, iron hard, not to beg you to come and be with me. Here, where nobody will look twice at you or take any crack whatsoever if we join hands and a make a new kinship. But – it would be wrong. Because I’ve set my mind on live souls living where they belong. And I can’t ask you to unroot yourself for me. To give up your business, your breads, your Friday night craps evenings, the whole American magic – a woman summed it once for me and she was evil, but she was right, too, about the movie theatres and the wireless, and the automobiles – your entire habitat, Jacob.
And there’s danger, here, for Muggles. Grindelwald is still at large and bent on mischief. In New York, at least, you are safe: it may have been a dark wizard’s hideout, but MACUSA is still doing a half-decent job of shielding it.
It was selfish of me to pitch my happiness against your safety. I, too, am sorry, Jacob.
But I’m glad that you wrote me. And selfishly, beyond-words glad that we had this time together. I’m hoarding the map of it, Jacob, to be explored and explored again, and never Obliviated.
Albus, dear boy,
Why it is that young men – strapping young lads, too, and of sound mind (well, not my Gellert, but it’s all down to those bleaching charms, I say, made him balmy on the crumpet) – will get into such scraps of the heart, I don’t know. But more of that infra.
Albus, I need another sound mind to plot with. I take it you haven’t taken to bleach yet? Good. You’re a white-headed boy all by yourself, and will leave your mark on the times to come. Oh, you will! But for now, I need you to stop being a dunderhead and call on Godric’s Hollow, glasses and all. If you won’t do it for me, do it for young Newt. You know, my godson. You helped him once, not so long ago, and now’s the time to repeat History. I can’t explain it all here, but he’s gone and written his own American tragedy, and here am I trying to wrap my old head around that ridiculous Rappaport’s Law, which has more twists and turns to it than the Hogwarts stairs. If anybody can out-twist it, Albus, we both know who that is.
Quickly does it, my boy. There’ll be tea and raspberry jam for your trouble.
(I hope Wildeism will forgive me if Graves and Queenie end up a lit-tle more than brother and sister!)
Jacob's letter owes much to George Chauncey's essay on gay New York in the 1900s to 1920s, and the centrality of the "fairy" - the effeminate man - as a homosexual figure. One that made it possible for the "queer man" to be seen and, up to a point, integrated within New York's cultural life, but was felt by many as too restrictive and stifling.
Does Newt own an owl? We never see one in his suitcase, and my personal headcanon is that he doesn't, or hasn't for a while. When traveling, he keeps his mail to a minimum (I'm not sure Theseus or his parents knew about his jaunt to New York!), and when at home, he uses the Ministry owls. He might, of course, be in touch with other scientists. But since he appears to be a pioneer Magizoologist (didn't he, in fact, coin the word?), these exchanges may not be so frequent or widespread. So Queenie here is doing a double solid in lending Bat to the boys.
Thanks again to all of you who left kudos and comments! You, like Bat, are the best.
Sorry for the delay, RL and traveling put a few spokes in my wheel! Thanks to any and all still following this, and double thanks to Luthienberen for cheering me on through all of this romp - you're the best.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You can talk risks and hazards till you’re blue in the face, and I’ll still stand by my word. If they’ll let you and me be a we, where you live, then they can paint a moving target on my back – plenty of room! – and I’ll take it from there. Come on, Newt! I’ve been in a six years’ rodeo your Mister Dark had nothing on, trust me, I can keep my eyes out. Just, tell me they won’t give you the icy mitt on account of me being a working-man with no liquid assets in their currency. But if they’ll take one that’s hard at work, and will have your back, rain or blizzard, why, I’m as good as gone.
You speak of the life I have, Newt, like you ain’t the one made it possible. So what, so that’s one life. You – we – can make plenty others. My pals, yeah, they’re good people, and my folks are buried here around. But we Kowalskis were ramblers ever before we touched ground. It’s in our blood to hit the road. I did it once in ’18, and I’ll do it again if the ride ends in us meeting for good. Any time. Any glad time, Newt.
(I figure Bat has forgiven me for going and tying my note to her leg! She’s clicking her beak as I write – either for this or the minced meat on the sideboard. I’m making croquettes. Wish I could share, but they get dry and crumbledy when on hold.)
My name will likely ring a bell with you – possibly an alarm. The last time ‘we’ met, as I recall, I was not myself and you were a prisoner. Hardly a sterling introduction.
Yet I would be grateful if you agreed to see me in person at the day and hour of your choosing. I suggest the Automat in Chestnut Street, two blocks away from yours. It has the advantage of a No-Maj neighbourhood and a loud radio, two excellent things for a private talk.
This parchment will self-destruct in five seconds. Just give my owl your answer – a nod or a shake will do. If the latter, you have my word that I shall not trouble you again.
With my sincere regards,
Alas! It appears that you have one more rogue within these walls. Much as I know your iron rule that all should stay the Easter holiday in Hogwarts, and bow to its wisdom, I must decline. My oldest living friend requires my presence in terms that cannot be denied – for her request concerns a former Hogwarts student, who was quite unfairly expelled by your predecessor. You, Armando, are the last man to put your well-being before that of our charges. Would you expect less of me?
On the plus side, Miss Bagshot’s strawberry plants are the best and brightest in wizarding England. Quite scrumptious to the eye and taste buds. I’ll go on a wild guess here and say that she would not be adverse to sending you a few cuttings.
I did it! I mindread my first ghost today! Golly, I’m so pumped up – you were right, it’s totally feasible, only you gotta keep the cobwebs off your head.
Now for my report. The old silly had no idea who Gigi is, only thought the twentieth century had gone to the dogs and here was a nice, clean, whitewashed fella like him, all set to bring back the glorious days. Of horse wagons, that is, and riding the Sasquatch trail well into sunset. So I mindtold him that we’d take care of the horse end of business, and never ever to let anyone through the South Portal again.
Meet me on the roof at noon? To celebrate? My team’s broken out the root beer already!
My dear Jacob (if I may),
Newt has finally come home and to his senses, and told me all about you. Once started, he simply couldn’t stop, as is his wont, and spent all of Sunday waving his arms about and saying ‘Bugger!’ when the door bell rang. I feel as if I knew you already! He’s also told me of your plans to marry. Well, Jacob, you’ll find us a plain English, plain wizard, plain-speaking lot, but plain is as plain does, and so let me plainly say: welcome in the family.
Now, my dear man, let’s have none of this tommyrot about class. I was a farmer’s daughter when I married Ned Scamander, and, believe me, he was glad enough to have a fiancée who called a spade a shovel and didn’t wait in bed for her morning pumpkin juice. England is an open-armed market for young men of an active persuasion. Bakers, too. Especially bakers. Why, when my elder boy went to Hogwarts, he was offered moldy bread at his very first meal. Moldy bread, I tell you! Really, a man could invest in a nice, cosy little shop at Hogsmeade – such a picturesque spot, too, only four inches of snow at winter – and live like King Arthur on his revenues. Only a gobstone’s throw from here, too, now we’ve upgraded our fireplace.
But more of that when you come to visit. Now, Newt has a four day’s leave on Beltane, three weeks from today. If you can book your passage, he will make certain to fetch you at the Muggle dock and bring you here. Do say yes, and make a mother’s heart glad.
With all best wishes,
(We should also have a word about the American bank system.)
Here are this month’s words. I’ve tried to keep them short and punchy, like you said. Also 100 per cent pure No-Maj. Except that Grindelman spent his three months here investigating the Bronx, they’ll mean jack to him and his pals.
Chrusciki - that’s one of mine. Knot pastry, batter fried in oil, light as air. Would go nicely with a levitating spell.
Jukebox – I don’t think your kind has them as of yet. It’s a music box you kinda feed nickels to, so it puts out the swing. Perhaps that jinx you spoke of, that makes the adversary’s ears go kah-boom.
Svoyi Kodziri – a card game my next-door neighbour, Mr Loutine, is awful fond of. You know exactly what cards the other party has, and you use that to try and flatten him. You can’t bluff your way out with this one, which is why it never got popular on the block, but I like the sound of it.
Horsefeathers !– Something you say when you won’t buy none of what the other party’s saying. Newt loves that one. Dunno how you’d Latinize it, though.
Here’s hoping they’re up to scratch. I don’t have in mind to stay in New York forever, sir, but here or there, or anywhere else, you can count on me.
My dear boy,
Galumphin’ Godric! That Rappaport lady was a clever one. It’s taken us six cream teas dosed with Pepperup to find the chink in her law – and Albus here was no help at all. Yes, I was. No, you weren’t. All you did was utter cryptic hogwash about knots and not-knots, and distract me by demonstrating with your beard. Well, he did help around page 420. But the main thing, dear lad, is we’ve found the knot chink. The yes-chink, I mean.
Now, the Rappaport Law is much more than a mere you-this-way-and-we-that-way. It was written to protect, secure and fortify the American wizarding community against all odds. And – because the past is never Obliviated, but keeps haunting the present indeed– it was written with the Salem horrors still fresh in the writer’s mind. Therefore, one of the first decrees you will find is that no wizard or witch shall again be taken from their rightfully wedded spouse. Mistress Emily meant ‘rightfully magical and magically wedded spouse’ but – as Albus helpfully remarked – she did not write so.
So here’s the trick. You can’t marry your young man in wizarding America. That is, you cannot enter and stay there if your purpose is to marry a No-Maj. But if you and Jacob tie the knot here in England, then return to America as a newlyweds, well… then, to part you would be to sever a wizard from his rightfully wedded American spouse. Ha! Take that, little Emmy! I think I’d better keep custody of the teapot, Miss Bagshot.
So here’s our gift to you, my dear lad. Now up from the dumps with you, and go get your ever after so we old geezers may have a new excuse to celebrate. Love etcetera, Auntie Batty. There! Now give me your arm, Albus, I think I’m too peppered-up to – wait, is that quill still writing?
Look, can tell your Pop it’s okay and I’m not gonna be on welfare? He was pretty mad last time we spoke, like it was my fault Mr K. gave me such short notice. Anyways he (Mr K.) apologized, on account of he might not be moving out quite yet, on account of he’s got himself engaged. So it must be the blonde after all, seeing that she came back and kept the smile on – only she was hooked to a salt-and-pepper gent with a tie pin, and an emerald in it as big as the Ritz.
Yeah, I dunno, chick. I guess it’s what them papers call Modern Times.
Sending on the Beltane memo and our closure rates for the month. Eighteen cases boxed and the Deathly Hello gang behind bars – it seems your big idea has truly paid off!
All my congratulations,
(Yes, you may take her out in your new car. Yes, you may fly the car. Yes, she is still to be home by midnight. Yes, I will be a sister to you
if you can muster up that legendary braveness and pop the question.)
I know the dock – I was headed there last year, remember? Don’t worry, there’ll be a gangly British wizard in a blueberry blue jacket waiting to whisk you off your feet. No hitch along the way, I promise. No escapologist in the case, and, as a matter of fact, no case. They’re all at the House, playing and frisking and running Mother generally ragged, but she says it’s all in a day’s work. I think the Diricawls are planning a welcome dance.
Mother’s putting you in Tease’s room because he’s only coming for Beltane dinner. Says you’re welcome to his pink coat if you want to ‘leg it at the Hunt Ball’, which is really his little joke. He knows that I would deny him as a brother if he chased anything four-footed.
I can’t believe it’s only been three months and we’re getting two options! Yes, I know we said we’ll discuss them when you’re here. But I want you to know – wherever, whatever, whenever. Or, as Mother would say, bring out the saddle and I’ll bring the Hippogriff.
I’ll be seeing you next week, Jacob.
With all my heart,
Care to explain yourself?
I don’t know why Director Graves has persistently, all of the last six months, dismissed my reports as to the No-Maj Jacob Kowalski and his potential interaction with wizards. Only last week my team spotted a great horned owl, wingspan 90 cm, female, making rounds before his window. Mr Graves’s opinion that it was "probably a large bat" I find injurious to the last degree.
Since you, Madam President, personally entrusted Mr Kowalski to my surveillance, I have no choice but to deliver the matter into your hands.
Glad I could see you, and meet your fiancé under better auspices. Merlin’s beard! Our Newt getting engaged. Seems it was only yesterday that I pretended to be a Hippo and carried you around the yard on my back, belching out grunts (oh yes, that’s going in my speech). Who’d have prophesied you would beat me to the hitching post?
To the heart of the matter. I don’t know what your plans are (old song), but if you act on Aunt Batty’s cue and follow hubby back to New York, you’ll need a job. Not to mention a permit for your creatures. Now, Percival Graves is obviously hoarding a card or two up his sleeve, and I’m not talking Exploding Snap here. If worst comes to best, go see him. He owes you one, and he’s an old MACUSA horse – can fit you where you won’t have to toil at the grind – maybe oversee the breeding bizz there or something.
Meanwhile, little brother, enjoy your Beltane hol. And your man – in all decency and decorum, of course.
Why, yes, I certainly can.
If Arcanus will be so good as to reopen his file, he will find a confidential report from me at the very bottom, dating back to last year. In which I certify upon my honor – and I shall do it again, Sera, publicly if I must – that the No-Maj J. Kowalski has proved impervious to Obliviating. A clear sign that he has powerful, if so far inactive traces of magic in his blood. Squibs are rare, but not unheard of in our country, and I therefore diagnosed Mr Kowalski as one. Apparently, my report has escaped Arcanus’s notice – a forgivable lapse, given his extremely busy agenda as Supervisor.
Having established that nothing short of a Cruciatus could erase Mr Kowalski’s memories of us, I recruited him. It was a bold step, granted, and one that I should have made known to you. But time was of the essence. Our discovery of the Deathly Hello gang had just emerged in the wake of the Chicago crackdown. It was then that I formed a bold idea – that of tying our new offensive spells not to traditional Latin words, that are easy enough to identify and use as a basis for counter-spells, but to ordinary No-Maj words.
Our enemy’s flaw lies in his prejudice – as I once heard you say before the International Confederation. Grindelwald’s makes him blind, and it has made his thugs mostly deaf. So far they have lacked every clue as to the spells we’re using. The more No-Maj allies we gain – carefully, and with every due proviso – the more they lose. Last month, you were speaking of awarding me the Phoenix of Honor. If there is any justice in MACUSA, Mr Kowalski, who has taken a major personal risk in providing the words of the spells, is entitled to one.
I know that your mandate is ending next year, Seraphina. And I spoke my mind when I said I would campaign for you again with everything I have. But the time has come to make a choice. Either make an exception to a rule written in fear and trembling, and show us how the times have changed. Or send Arcanus’s team to bring in Mr Kowalski. In which case my resignation and my person will be at your disposal.
You are henceforth the first honorary member of the wizarding American community and, as such, will be sworn in the Council Chamber a month from now. Since Director Graves will be acting as your Guarantor, he will acquaint you with all necessary details.
Federal Identity Commissioner
Magical Congress of the United States
Prospero’s wand! You drive a hard deal, Mr Realpolitik. But I’ll have you know two can play the game.
Any exception doubles as a precedent. You know that. I did, four years ago, the first Southern witch to run against a Founder’s great-great-great-brat. And our people know it too. I do this, I take that first crack at fear and run with the ink still fresh on the enclosed – then I run as the candidate who let the No-Maj in to win one over on G. and buff her international credit again. I run a loser, Percy, and fear may well win the day. This is not an option.
But the Deathly Hello is a precedent, too. One that will fester and spread, and I would be a fool to deny it.
We need a win. We have to win – not only next year, but every year right after, with every ally we can garner home and abroad. And, make no mistake, we need a nationwide political win, lest our people crack at the seams and Grindelwald have a new field day.
Meaning, mister, that I’m going to toughen the pot.
I shall sign this parchment on the day I declare my candidacy to the position of Supreme Mugwump and yours to this presidency. Yes, you – a fighter, a Graves, a man who survived the closest possible encounter with Grindelwald, and the second toughest good-looker among MACUSA’s High Command. And our best bid today.
Meet your crossroads, Percy. Stand by your ethics, finish what you have started, take that crack to its breakthrough end two years from now, or twelve – or stay in the comfort zone of execution. Your choice.
And that’s me suited up! Raised my dad’s lavender frock coat from the mothballs, bit tight under the arms, but the colour’s a right good match for yours. Top hat, Grandma’s garnet ring, that she told me never to give away but to moj zabko (my little frog, that’s, well, Kowalski for darling), and the cheesecake recipe for your ma. Which she keeps calling a rarebit toast, so she’s in for a surprise.
Oh, and, Newt, I am baking our wedding cake. Call it a point of honor!
We’re doing the wise thing, yeah. Wedding at yours, hand-fasting here, honeymoon where Dougal Sees us best. Better safe than apart. Then you can spend next year here with me, sweetheart, see if you take to the US way, and if you don’t, I’ll hit the road with you. Any which road. It’s not like traveling’s an issue, now I’ve had the oven connected to the Floo Network. Heck, ask Miss Queenie - she's had me rehearse "Scamander House, Hippogriff Hill" until it was a safe bet I wouldn’t end up in the Appalachians, among the scavengers!
One more journey, moj zabko, but this one ends in lovers meeting.
No, Mr Scamander, no! This is not how we do things here! You cannot resign in a PS. PSes, as stated in chapter 6 of your mandatory handbook, How to Drill your Quill: The Magical Clerk’s Guide to Proper Behaviour, are for errata, addenda, punctilia, et a few strictly regulated caetera. And what do you mean, you intend to be a "temporary half-Briton"? One simply cannot be a half, Mr Scamander! Make up your mind!
Wizard Resources and Management Department
Ministry of Magic
PS Where should we send your new tax form as a married man?
Save the Date
For the wedding of
& Jacob Kowalski
5 September (Saint Mungo’s Day) 1927
Scamander House, Dorset
My dearest Queenie,
Do you think we could go together – your arm in mine, your step to mine, every step of the way, do you? Make their date our date too? And the date after that, and the next, all the tomorrows we can save, you and I? Do you – can you see me as I do, your lover and your husband – a thanksgiver for every strength you’ve shown me, and a wisher for the privilege to call on mine when you need it?
Do you, my golden girl?
With all my love,
I do! I do, oh I do! Hot dog (as Tina would say), that I do, honey!
Really, you are the naughtiest. A cruise to Borabora, you sly creature, and you never told me! At least, say you’re travelling first class – the safest way, my dear, now all the nouveaux-mages teem up on the sun deck to eat their ready-spelled sandwiches, so utterly vulgar. Still, what a coincidence, that you should be leaving just when we arrive! Lou and I will be right sorry to miss you.
Speaking of coincidences, I have the curiousest little story to tell you. Yesterday I was taking a stroll in Greenwitch Village, having met with a new poet, quite a bright young thing, and guess who I saw? Your very own Newton! All spick-and-span, fresh as a new-minted Dragot, and walking hand in hand with another man. They didn’t see me – they were much too busy looking happy, not to mention at each other - but I made a point of waving at Newt. You know me, Bathilda – I am nothing if not forgiving.
The other gentleman sparked a certain deja vu, but, darling, I can’t for the love of Oz place him. Ah, the toll of a life devoted to making friends and influencing the arts! You’ll have to refresh my mind.
owl bulbul quetzal macaw bird-of-paradise send me word when in Borabora, dear. We femmes de lettres must keep up the drill! If not, who else? Eh? Who still writes letters, in this day and age?
Bathilda's and Albus's solution for Newt was partly inspired by the story of Natasha Trethewey's parents. The Poet Laureate's white father met her black mother in 1965, when they were both students in a Southern state that banned interracial marriages. So they tricked the law by getting married in Ohio, then returning to live in Mississipi.
The "Deathly Hello" gang and its ridiculous name is a wink to my utter bafflement, at fourteen, upon learning that Hitler's American partisans dubbed themselves the Silver Shirts. Seriously?
Seraphina Picquery's presidential term canonically ended in 1928. I have no doubt that she lived a full and active life thereafter, and that she and Graves remained friends through it all. My headcanon for this Percival is that he did play leader for the next twelve years, leaving a considerable dent in the Rappaport Law and banking up the Maj/No-Maj Alliance as collateral against the upcoming war. In 1939 he resigned, and he and Queenie took up the good fight again. (Queenie had a copacetic time at MACUSA High Command, implementing many changes in ye olde bureaucratic system that bore their fruit. The Ministry of Magic, sadly, did not follow suit.)
While Mungo is an old British name, possibly a nickname meaning "most dear", it might be that its wizarding counterpart is derived from mongoose. A frail yet brave and enduring beast, that would be dear to Newt's heart.
What Newt and Jacob did and where they ended up in their HEA is up to your fancy. You have my word (and Mrs Wanderbell's) that happy they were, very much and very ever, in their hard-earned skyblue days.