Chapter 1: Introductions
Tina walked in nervously, self-conscious of her new haircut. She tugged the ends in a futile attempt to make it grow faster. Shifting her bag to one shoulder, she shook hands with the manager of the human society, Theseus. She was excited to spend her last summer before her second-last year of university amongst animals. Listening intently, she accepted the information packet from Linda's hands, thumbing through them.
"I'll grab your schedule, and we'll get you set up!" Theseus handed her a black vest, a small cyan logo printed in the corner.
"Thanks," Tina smiled in return.
The next two hours were spent for orienteering, where Tina met a shy high school student named Bunty, and another named Claudia, both who worked with the reptiles and birds. With the rabbits and other smaller mammals (to her delight, she found there were plenty of them!), she met an older man named Yusuf, and Leta, Theseus' wife.
"I used to work with the cats," she'd explained, gracefully picking up a lop bunny who'd tried to escape (unsuccessfully) from having its nails trimmed. The black-spotted rabbit wriggled in her arms before she let it down.
"But I'd heard that their urine isn't great when you're expecting so . . ." she rested a hand on the slight bump along her midriff.
Tina caught on. "Oh! Congratulations!"
"Thank you," Leta smiled, smoothing down her glossy brown hair, which tumbled down her neck in a smooth cascade.
Tina was slightly envious of Leta. She was beautiful – on the other hand, Tina had never been referred to as anything but the 'other Goldstein sister', in comparison to her sister Queenie.
Following Theseus, she was lead to the cats and dogs wing, where she met Dennis, a preppy college student. That was where the tour ended, prompting Theseus to hand Tina her schedule.
"Well, that's it," he clapped his hands together in conclusion, as she pumped foamy disinfectant into her palms.
"Mrs. Collins doesn't usually come in at this time, but you'll meet her tomorrow. Otherwise, that's everybody!"
Tina waved goodbye to the people she'd just met, eager for tomorrow.
Tina smacked her alarm clock, thoroughly annoyed by the never ending beeping noise. Drowsily, she shrugged on a thin long-sleeved shirt pair of long grey trouser pants and, for once, non-ankle socks. She wasn't particularly looking to get scarring scratch marks today, but wasn't looking forward to being heatstroke, either. After packing a lunch and ice-filled water bottle, she was on her way.
Introducing herself to Mrs. Collins, Tina consulted her list of tasks quickly. Feed the cats and dogs along the right side, and refill their water levels. Take the ones with blue stickers by their names for walks at 10:30, then those with yellow stickers at 1:00. Give the animals a little love, check the water levels in their bottles, and by 3:30 she'd be on her way to possibly one of the worst part-time jobs ever where she worked as a waitress. I guess this makes up for dealing with entitled customers for 6 hours, she thought.
Dennis gave her a friendly smile as she dropped off her bag in the staff room and they headed to their first morning tasks of the day, exchanging a light conversation. She learned that he was only a year older than she was, and studying engineering. He had sandy blonde hair, and a fair complexion, along with a light and easy-going personality to go along with it. Tina knew he'd be a great colleague to work with.
She started her morning by getting acquainted with the cats she'd be looking after for the upcoming months: Lou, Achilles, Seraphina, Mary, Perci (with an 'i'), and Barebones. Tina also got to know the dogs, delighted that some were named after her favourite book series: Lupin, Terry, Sirius, Sarge, and Rosa. By the time she was done, it was 10:35. Shoot, she quickly grabbed the leashes, assembling Lupin, Sirius, Thunder, Max, and Sayre for their walk.
How convenient. Tina was thankful for whoever had decided to put a dog park right around the corner from the humane society. Crossing roads with animals was her worst nightmare, ever since her hamster had gotten squished by a car when Queenie had let it loose as a toddler. As soon as she got to the park, she watched them with a wary eye, not wanting in the slightest to mess things up. Tina had been playing with both Lupin and Sirius who were the best of friends, when her phone vibrated in her pocket. She stood up and leaned against a tree, double checking that it wasn't her mom or Queenie calling her. Shutting her device off, she noticed a stranger approach one of the dogs, rubbing and petting it all over. Max leaped in Doesn't he know to ask first? she thought. Though none of the dogs were dangerous, Tina was peeved. The man himself could pose a threat to the dogs, too!
Seeing her approaching, the man stood up hastily, brushing the grass off his knees he'd gathered whilst rolling in the grass alongside Lupin and Max. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously, an apologetic look on his face.
"So sorry, I-"
Flustered and upset that she could've lost her volunteer position, Tina demanded,
"Who are you?"
She stared intently at him. Oh, he's kinda cute. Not now, Tina! She shook her head.
"N-Newt Scamander, and you are?" He blinked, looking back at her expectantly but not quite meeting her eyes.
Whoa. His eyes are so . . . fascinating.
"Tina Goldstein–" She trailed off. Scamander. Where had she heard that name before? Mortified, she took a step back. He must be related to Theseus. Murphy's law sure had it out for her.
"Ah, you must be the new volunteer at the shelter," he said, more to himself.
Newt flashed her an awkward smile. Tina felt absolutely embarrassed. The best thing to do now is apologize and move on. Hopefully he doesn't know Theseus, this is a dream, he'll forget and I'll (sadly) never see this man again.
"Yeah," Tina replied, "Sorry for freaking out at you," she added quietly.
The man was visibly surprised; usually people got mad at him for getting in their way, or for causing an annoyance. Usually he was the one apologizing.
"Don't worry, but we probably have to gather all the dogs now," he pointed out. She noticed he had a soft British accent, unlike Theseus whose she hadn't picked up on.
During their conversation, Tina had neglected to notice the dogs had run off. She went into full-on panic mode, and activated complete concentration. Neither her or Newt said a word as they both managed to wrangle all the dogs back together, and Newt even offered to walk Tina back to the shelter. What a gentleman, she thought. As they walked to the shelter, Tina snuck glances of Newt's face, wondering how old he was. Now that she thought about it, why had he been at the dog park? Tina furrowed her brows in confusion.
"I was just about to drop by to say hello to Theseus," he explained, as if he'd read her thoughts, somehow.
"Oh," she gripped Thunder's leash a little tighter as he tried to run away.
"How long will you be volunteering for?" Newt cringed immediately. He didn't want to sound like some desperate old chump that you'd meet at the bar. Newt was just curious, but it felt like anytime he tried to make conversation it came out wrong.
"Just for the summer, I'm still in school," she replied.
Newt stayed silent as he held the door open for her and the dogs.
"That'll be nice, I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other, then," he flashed a quick smile, horrified how awkwardly his observation had come out. Tina didn't seem to mind.
"I guess so." I guess so. I wouldn't mind that.
Tina abhorred her job as a waitress, but this evening's service had been especially difficult. Balancing a set of used dishes on her arms, she brought them away from now cleared table. She was sad that tomorrow would be her last volunteer shift at the shelter, it had been something she had enjoyed immensely. She glanced at the clock; 9:45, half an hour left. As a large rambunctious group showed themselves at the door, she began to regret her decision to cover Kayla's shift.
"Hello," she sighed as she bent down to pick up a few menus.
"Feel free to seat yourselves." Tina gestured to the room full of empty tables.
Thankfully, the party seated themselves quickly so that she could get their orders in. They left within an hour, although it wasn't soon enough. Exhausted, Tina started up her car, ready to get home in time to catch the re-runs of her favorite sitcom. Maybe the episode that always made her crack up would be showing. She smiled at the thought of seeing her favorite character do that funny dance.
Her eyelids felt heavy, and she tried her best to keep them open. As a heavy rain started to fall, she pulled over to the side of the road when a large truck almost ran her over due to her half-consciousness. She stood up, the cool rain helping to awaken her. But as soon as the first drops hit her face, the headlights of a car shone on her face. She turned as she saw a figure approach her. I probably look ridiculous, she realized.
"Excuse me, miss?" The voice sounded vaguely familiar to Tina. She turned around, shielding her eyes from the glaring yellow lights.
"Are you okay?" The man asked.
"So sorry," Tina said, getting ready to get back into her car.
"I really didn't mean to trouble you," she added. The man reached out to grab her arm.
"Tina?" Tina prayed that it wasn't her boss. That would be an awkward tale to tell.
"Are you okay?" The man asked again.
"Sorry," he noticed her confused expression.
Oh. oh. Tina had grown closer with all of the employees at the shelter since she'd begun volunteering there, but especially Newt. They'd shared their love of all animals, and she'd helped him when he frequently came in to bring new creatures to the shelter. He was four years her senior, and had lived in England for the past four years, explaining his light accent. Admittedly, she still thought that he was cute, but would be horrified if he found out.
"Don't mind me," she laughed before continuing, "Just waking myself up. I'm a little tired. Almost got run over by a truck because I was practically asleep."
Newt looked at her with concern before offering quietly, "I'm heading in the same direction as you are, so if you want, I can drive alongside you if you'd like."
"That is, if you want," he hastened to add.
Tina, welcoming any sort of help and not wanting another close call accepted his offer, hopping into her car. Soon enough, they reached Tina's home. Newt even saw her to the door, which not even Tina's last boyfriend, Achilles, had done. To be fair they hadn't lasted long so there wasn't much that could have been said about that relationship.
"Thanks, Newt. Come in for a cup of coffee?" He tried to politely decline.
"It is quite late, and I don't want to disturb–"
"No no," Tina cut him off, assuring the man that it wouldn't cause her any disturbance.
She happily set to humming about the kitchen, quickly drawing two ceramic mugs from the cupboard and setting her coffee machine to work.
Yes, Tina would admit that she had splurged on a nice machine, but she figured she'd already had enough cups of coffees worth an equivalent value to make up the amount of money she had to spend on it.
Shoving aside a stack of books on the loveseat, she offered Newt a mug as she sat on the opposite side of the loveseat, facing him. An awkward silence filled the space, interrupted only by the occasional sipping of coffee. Newt glanced about the room, recognizing the title of the top book in the stack Tina had moved to the ground. Mentioning that he'd enjoyed that novel, Tina and Newt both discovered they were fans of the same series, about a magical boy who'd been destined to beat the most fearsome, dark wizard of his time.
Tina had been surprised to learn that there was another spin-off book that had been written and illustrated, of one of the textbooks that first-year students of the series had needed, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. They engaged in a lively debate over who the female protagonist should have ended up with, and whether or not one of the professors had been good or bad. In the end, Newt had gotten up to leave as the clock struck one, promising to lend Tina his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Handing him his black and yellow striped scarf and coat, Tina saw him to the door.
"See you tomorrow, Newt," she smiled, the light overhead casting a soft glow on her face.
He blushed, although she could not notice in the darkness.
"Bye, Tina." Though Tina's tired body compelled her to go inside and sleep, she lingered a little longer until she heard him drive off, wondering if there was something in fate after all.
The next day, she arrived at work for her last shift, greeted eagerly by all her colleagues; after all, she had baked cupcakes for all of them, and who didn't enjoy free baked goods? Tina looked around but couldn't spot Newt. She was disappointed, but wouldn't admit it, so she decided not to pursue the matter. Besides, Newt has his own life, too.
Tina enjoyed her last day, and promised Theseus she would look into volunteering at least once a month. Claudia and Leta both gave her large hugs as she left. It was a bittersweet end to her summer, but in the end, she didn't regret a single moment of it.
Believe it or not, there's still another part! Thanks for reading my dump of fluff and procrastination! Bonus points: see if you can guess what show Tina was talking about!
Thanks for reading, and another huge thanks to the editor of this part, A. M. Franklin, and hoped you liked it!