Taking a moment to survey the layout of his studio apartment, Newt Scamander perched atop a stack of sturdy boxes.
At least, they were supposed to be sturdy – something Newt found to be not quite so true as the cardboard containers toppled into a heap, taking him along with them. He sighed, and was relieved that there hadn’t been any fragile items in the boxes; only a few heavy books and some of his stationary items. For all his gawkiness, the man recovered smoothly, before re-stacking the boxes he’d knocked over. Newt stared out the window to the streetscape below. He definitely didn’t regret paying a little extra for a nicer apartment.
He spread a flat sheet over mattress, almost bumping his head on the lowered ceiling of the sleeping nook. Though Newt was sure that it was designed that way to create a cozier feel, he was certain that this would be a terrible nuisance in the coming weeks. As he smoothed the creases of the fabric, Newt wondered if the move really was for the best. He would be able to work on his book at least, but working at a museum with tour groups and pratty-mannered schoolchildren was not something he looked forward to. But a job was a job, and money was money. Newt had to pay the rent somehow, even if it meant dealing with people. The only bright side was that he would be able to see Theseus and his (soon to be) family more than just once in a blue moon. But the adjustment was already looking to be hardly anywhere near smooth for him. Being a bit of a social recluse, Newt often found it hard to make new connections – much unlike his friendly, person-magnet of a brother. At least I can cook, he thought.
This was partially true, as he had the culinary prowess of an average university student. It hadn’t improved much, sadly, due in part to his tendency to become so enveloped in his work that he would often neglect proper eating habits for extended periods of time. Those that knew him well enough were often both impressed and disgusted by his ability to survive solely on Bovril and sticks of toast. Newt realized this was probably what he was going to have to do until his job started. He wasn’t planning to dig into his savings account, and came to the conclusion he would probably have to take on a part-time job sometime, as well. Newt found the smallest box and cut it open with a kitchen knife, revealing his stock of densely packed Bovril sachets. He organized them neatly into one of the few kitchen cupboards before opening a packet and dumping its contents into a mug. Newt was far too lazy to go about toasting bread, and added a precise amount of boiling water – just enough so that the mug was filled with a desirable serving, but not too much so as to render the soup flavourless. Clearly, Newt was a professional when it came to Bovril to water ratios. He downed his Bovril quickly, its temperature having no effect whatsoever on his grandmother-worthy tongue; all grandmothers seem to have a special talent where no amount of hot tea or other liquid will scald their tongues.
Settling down on his bed, Newt curled up and opened his favourite book, though he knew he should have been working on his own. He rationalized his procrastination with the fact that he had yet to settle in fully. Surely this had to be ample reason for his rather cantankerous editor, who was far too pushy about deadlines for his taste. Not even making it past the first page, his cellphone rang. Oh. It was Theseus.
He picked up. “Hi Theo.”
“Hey, Newt,” Theseus drawled in his almost-American accent. “How goes it?”
“Alright,” he admitted. There were still a few boxes to be unpacked, time zone adjustments to be had (he’d only been here a day thus far), but otherwise, things appeared to be going along just fine.
“Always the laconic one, hey?” Theseus chuckled before continuing.
“Wanted to see if you’d like to come over for dinner tomorrow, is all. Daisy is nice company, but it would also be nice to talk to someone that isn’t wailing constantly.”
This time it was Newt’s turn to be amused, as he thought of Theseus sitting at home for the past two months with his newborn. Leta had only taken a month off of leave, what with running a new company. He was sure Theseus was glad her business was doing well, but as Theseus too was a workaholic, wasn’t sure how much his older brother was faring during paternity leave.
“Sure,” Newt accepted the invitation, “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
“Bye,” Theseus hung up.
Newt reflected on the call, appreciating the fact that he and his brother could now just choose to ‘make plans’ at the spur of the moment. The only fault Newt could find was that he was scared of children. Children that were of any relation seemed to be an even scarier thing. He didn’t hate them, but had a fear that he was going to do something terribly wrong around them. Really, Newt had no problem with children. Heck, at one point, Newt had even dreamed of having a family of his own. He loved, and still loved, the idea of moving somewhere, perhaps to a nice property, and growing a family. But once Theseus and Leta had brought Daisy into the world, his paranoia of injuring small ones increased in multitudes. He’d decided long ago that he’d rather play it safe. Not that anybody would want to start a family with him, to be sure.
His single status was a bit of a sore subject amongst him and his friends. Newt had no qualms whatsoever about not having a significant other, but it did get quite annoying when your friends had grown so desperate to the point of trying to convince you to get into speed dating. Newt shuddered as he thought of the horrors that would have to be endured at such an event. He knew that his friends (mostly Marian) meant well, but it did grow to be tiresome. Newt groaned as he remembered he now lived in the same city as Marian. Back at home, his mother would be pestering him, trying to set her up with her friends’ daughters. Now, he’d have to endure the same torture, but with Marian’s friends. Perhaps he’d just make up a girlfriend to relieve himself of all the trouble. Newt stared upwards into the darkness, the sound of traffic keeping him awake. He swung his legs over to the side of his bed and stood up, promptly banging his head in the process. To hell with whoever designed this, he thought.
Flipping open his phone, he was startled as it started playing its default ringtone. Unless it was a telemarketer or he was the unlucky victim of a prank call, there was only one person Newt knew of that would dare to call him at this hour.
“Hiya, Newt,” he smiled, his guess having been spot on.
“Did the move go good for you? Did you eat Bovril for supper? It’s not healthy, you know. Also, Jacob said he’d drop by to bring you a few pastries for lunch and to take you out. I know you haven’t left your apartment for over 24 hours, Newt.”
“The move was fine, and please thank Jacob in advance,” he dodged the question about his dietary choices.
“Make sure you eat balanced meals going forward,” was all she replied, knowing full well that her guess had been correct.
“Thank you, Queenie.”
“We’re accustomed to a heavy-salt diet, so be sure to try and cut down,” she informed him.
“I will,” he promised wearily.
Queenie’s new obsession was with healthy foods. She’d really fallen down the rabbithole, and her motherly nature didn’t stop short of making sure not only her family but her friends were eating healthily. Others may have been annoyed at this, but Newt knew that she really meant well.
“You must be exhausted,” Newt yawned audibly over the receiver, sure that Queenie would hear it.
Queenie continued, “I’ve a good variety of herbal teas that I picked up from the farmers’ market the other weekend, and I’ll be sure to send over a box of the valerian one with Jacob tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Queenie.”
“Oh!” she gasped, remembering something she was going to tell him.
“We’re going apple picking mid-October, and Jacob wanted to know if you’d like to come. It’s a pretty big party, so we do have to book a time slot before the good ones fill up,” she informed him.
Newt didn’t like these kinds of events, but he had moved to New York to be able to spend more time with family and friends.
“Leta and Thes are also coming, and so is Tina. You two should get along well.” Leta and Queenie were great friends, as were their children. Newt wasn’t surprised, really.
He’d heard of Tina, Queenie’s sister, on a few occasions from Queenie, as well as from Theseus, who was good friends with Tina. From what he had gathered, their relationship was similar to his and Queenie’s. Theseus had been Tina’s mentor.
“I should be able to come,” he said.
“That’ll be a great event! I know it’s still not yet for a month to come, but you have to plan these kinds of things in advance,” she explained.
“Thanks, Queenie,” he yawned again.
“Cya, Newt,” he hung up.
Queenie really was sweet, and was looking after the best interest of all. The happy-go-lucky type, she was one to make friends quickly. Everything about her – from her bouncy curls to wide smile – was cheerful. But when she became too overexcited over anything, she often had to make sure that everyone knew, a trait which grew from annoying to enduring the better one knew her.
Jacob was much more laid back, making them a good match. Newt had met Queenie, a year his senior, when she and Jacob were on their way to their honeymoon destination, and he on his way to his first-ever dig. Their flight had been delayed for four hours, and with nothing to do during the layover, had made smalltalk with one another. They soon became fast friends, and Queenie often was someone that Newt would call. She usually knew why she was calling, and had an exact answer for him. It could be said that Queenie and Newt were soulmates – not the romantic kind, as that title belonged to Jacob and Queenie, who certainly were a match made in heaven, but the platonic sort. Newt didn’t believe much in the whole ‘soulmate’ concept, but he would certainly use it to describe Jacob and Queenie’s relationship. Rather a convenient term, ‘soulmate’, he mused.
For many, Jacob and Queenie’s relationship was something that small children would dream of. Imagine being married to your perfect counterpart! Their white-bricked townhome with the black trim and flower boxes defined perfectly their lives and relationship: perfect. Cassian, their four-year old, was a jovial ball of energy. It seemed like only yesterday when Jacob had called him, notifying Newt that he and his wife had adopted a son. Newt had been shocked by the sudden event, but had known that the pair would be great parents. And indeed they were, as Cassian was a happy child to say the least, and often invited cheek pinches by strangers on the streets, only to welcome more pats and coos from adults with his slight lisp.
Newt decided it was much too late to be up, so he turned in for the night. His book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was tucked under his pillow. That night, his dream consisted of a strange concoction of Bovril, toddlers, and speed dating. He awoke the next morning, wondering if there wasn’t something in the sounds of traffic causing bizarre effects on one’s sleep after all.