A huge ball of energy nearly took him off his feet, knocking him back down a few steps. He had not been expecting it, so it took him a few moments to figure out that the ball of energy was, in fact, his assistant, Bunty.
“Oh, Newt you brought company...” Her voice trailed off as she looked from him to Theseus, her face showing nothing but concern.
“Best get inside … we have a lot to discuss, and my front stoop is not the best place for it.” He gestured toward the front hallway.
Bunty shot him a questioning look, eyes wide, “Newt?”
“Just...” he gestured. This wasn't the time. He felt exposed: the world right now was, by its existence, a threat...very real and very close.
He silently moved towards Bunty, who drew back to let his party enter the modest size flat.
Looking around, he half expected to see everything where he had left it in his haste. It seemed like a lifetime since he had last been within these walls: how could it only be a few days, how could everything change so dramatically, in such a small, insignificant amount of time?
He turned to look at his brother, nodding in the direction of his living room, Theseus moved towards the sofa, silently moving the pile of abandoned papers neatly with a silent flick of his wand. He was followed by Jacob, the empty look mirrored in both sets of eyes as they sunk down into the battered furniture.
Neither man had spoken a word since leaving Hogwarts grounds...not that any of them felt like talking much, but the two of them had walked without even looking where their feet were taking them.
Under orders to stay out of sight...and out of the ministry...Newt had been at a loss for where to go. His brother’s house seemed the obvious choice, but Theseus was in no fit state to mingle with muggles and memories, and Jacob looked as if he was in no fit state for anything. Newt had never seen anyone look so lost. So where was he supposed to take them all?
“Take them to that wonderful little flat of yours! We all know that you have more enchantments and spells protecting your little menagerie, that even I find it difficult to find you sometimes. Take them all...yes, even your muggle friend, Newt.” Dumbledore had prompted.
And so that was what they did. Newt had wrangled them all to his house, much to the confusion of Bunty, who eyed the house guests with both reverence and caution.
Her eyes lingered over his shoulder, a look of sadness crept over her face, it was brief before her normal disposition was restored. She pushed past him and reached up to grab at something. Newt whipped around confused, wondering what had made her react in such a way,
Spinning around, he saw Bunty reach up towards Tina, who lingered in the door frame, shadowed by the quiet girl with the dark hair, always watching. She looked just as lost as Theseus,
Tina gave him a startled look...he should have warned them about Bunty.
He should have told Tina about Bunty... he had mentioned her before … hadn’t he?
He was searching his mind, trying to piece together the broken memory of the days before. Had he said anything in letters?
Putting quill to paper seemed such a bizarre thing to him at this moment. He felt so detached from everything: empty. He started towards Tina, who had moved her hand towards her wand, on guard, and as sharp as ever, particularly after the latest events.
Bunty reached up, removing the small curled-up, furry object from Tina’s grip carefully.
Niffler yawned, and reluctantly let go, tiny digits unwrapping from the button of his new protector’s blouse, and looking at Newt accusingly.
“Well come on trouble...let's get you back in your nest,” said Bunty, wrapping hands around the disapproving beast.
Tina smiled weakly at the woman who had just invaded her personal space, Newt could tell that it was forced...it didn’t reach her eyes.
“You must be Miss Tina,” Bunty looked across at Newt, there it was again that sad haunted look.
“I’m Mr Scamander's assistant, Bunty. He will, no doubt, forget to introduce me I know what he’s like when he gets one of his heads on...stubborn thing he is!” She ushered everyone into the sitting room.
“Come on, everyone in! I don’t need to know the whatnots of the situation.” She glanced past the two women still standing in the doorway, shooing them in as she closed the door behind them.
Newt caught her eye for a tenth of a second, but Bunty hid her face under her flopping hair, trying to get away as quickly as possible. “Best let you jinx the door, Newt, and I best get this one down...then I shall bring us all something to drink..” Bunty looked down at the floor, “By the looks of it, something a bit stronger than tea.” She scuttled past him, eyes downcast.
Newt watched her turn and head down to the basement, the sound of her fussing over the Niffler floated up the stairs as she disappeared into the dim light. He turned, gently putting his case down, and removing his overcoat, throwing it over the coat rack that stood in the corner.
Raising his wand he pointed it at the door, muttering incantations under his breath. He was aware that he was not alone: Tina had also raised her wand, following his lead, her normally steady hand shaking.
“Do you think that will hold ...” she asked quietly, her eyes finding his for the first time in what felt like years, instead of the mere few hours of shocking reality.
He wanted to smile. He wanted to reassure. He wanted to tell her that everything would be fine. He wanted to...but he could not...It would be a lie. He felt hopeless, and a silver tongue was exactly what had gotten them all into this situation to start with.
“It will if we keep the spells up,” he said, sliding his wand back into his pocket. “Dumbledore wanted us here. My house is very secure, plus...” he sighed, rubbing at his neck, “our best defence is laying low. He has yet to rally here. He avoids confrontation with what he knows well.”
He held her gaze for a moment, “We are not safe, don’t ever forget that, Tina. We won't be until we all get back what we lost.” He looked up at the woman behind Tina. “All of us,” he said in her direction, aware she had been listening to there exchange.
“Nagini, is it not?” he asked cautiously. He had seen her change, back in the vaults. He knew what she was, and how scared she was right now...unsure if she was safe...if she were human or beast to these strangers.
Tina had scooped the girl up in her wake, protecting her in the same way that she had Credence, her instinct to protect jumping to the forefront.
In all the chaos, the maladictus had been ripped from the closest thing she had to a family and dropped into the middle of sadness and chaos. She nodded, still unsure of her place in all this.
“We will get him back,” Newt said quietly, stepping forward and offering her his hand.
She stared at him, questioning his gesture before she offered her slim hand in return.
“My name is Newt,” he said quietly “you are free to call this your home as long as you want...” he gestured around. “I wish I could welcome you in happier times.”
The girl glanced at him, trying to read him. He had seen it before in more than one person or beast: she was torn between fight and flight. He wasn’t surprised...she had every right to distrust all wizards.
Tina reached out and placed a hand on the woman's shoulder, Nagini looked at it before covering it with her own fingers, sinking into the hug that Tina offered up.
Tina’s eyes caught his, and he could read the repressed sadness her big brown eyes He knew she would hold it deep inside till she was alone, for her new ward’s sake...protective to the last.
Tina whispered into the hug, too quiet for Newt to make out: a secret shared between the two women, not meant for his ears.
“Thank you,” Nagini said breaking from Tina’s hug. She moved silently into Newt’s drawing room, sinking into the large chair across from the fire, eyes flicking over her surroundings. Newt watched the three lost souls in his messy, dusty, worn-down room, trying not to think of the one that had silently slid back to his side.
“Not to pick your generosity apart, but isn’t this only a two bed flat, if I recall?” She removed her coat and hung it next to his, gesturing around her.
“Yes, but small spaces are something that I see more of a challenge than a full stop.” He nodded at his case.
“You can’t expect us all to stay in that case Newt!”
He liked hearing his name on her lips.
“I wouldn’t expect that for a moment.” He sighed, “No, I shall do a bit of structural shuffling, move the walls a bit.” She was watching him with such a curious look, it almost overshadowed the sadness that was on the verge of tipping the edge.
“I suppose, if you can make Arizona in a shoebox, a few more rooms won’t be much of a struggle.” She tried to smile...it almost worked this time.
He wanted to say something, anything that would push that sadness away, but he could not find the words or the actions that could take away her pain until he had addressed his own demons.
And that was the problem: his demons not only had names...they also had specific jobs and a retirement fund. His thoughts were not his own...not right now. Paranoia, insecurities...they were nothing compared with the vast nothingness of the unknown he now faced.
He broke the eye contact and headed to the kitchen, casting a sideward glance at his brother.
Theseus had his head cocked to the side as he stared out the window, now nursing at a glass of god knows what.
Bunty fussed over Jacob, trying to convince him to take a drink, but Jacob seemed to discombobulate to care.
Newt?" The soft whisper of his name from her lips played on the edge of his conscious mind, rousing him from his thoughts.
He was tired. More tired than he had been in a very long time: his body wanted to stop...HE wanted to stop.
“Newt.” It wasn’t a question now...it was a full stop encroaching on his mind. He couldn’t let himself get caught up in her wake: it was his job, he needed to do the protecting, it was his turn to make sure everyone was alright...to take the lead.
“Newt,” she said quietly, moving between him his gaze he hadn’t even realised he was holding over the players in his living room.
Her eyes held his, a look of worry and fear flashed over them. She let slip slightly, breaking down the wall one bit at a time.
“We all need sleep, come on,” she said gently.
Tina was right, She was always right, even when she was wrong.
He nodded slowly, making to walk towards the hallway again. Tina made to follow but he held up his hand. “It's ok, I have this.”
She looked bemused, but let him go.
He was grateful as he headed to his second floor, wand raised. She needed to rest, and he needed to stop thinking about anything, anything at all, for just a few moments.