Ever since Jacob Kowalski found himself standing in the rain in front of City Hall, arms extended as though he had been about to hug someone, his life had been… weird.
He still had no idea how he’d gotten to City Hall that day, and he didn’t know why he’d been out in the rain without his coat or hat or umbrella. Try though he might he couldn’t even come up with a memory of anything he’d done after being turned down for his loan by Bingley at the bank; it was all just something of a blur. After thinking on it for an hour Jacob concluded he must have had quite a bender, though he couldn’t actually remember going out to the few speakeasies he knew of to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
But how else was he supposed to explain the intense feeling like he’d just lost a very important part of himself?
Jacob had spent his time since trying to forget that feeling. He tried to brush it off with a shrug and a smile when his landlady questioned where he’d been for two days. He tried to tell himself that it was just intense disappointment and blood-chilling dread at the thought of going back to that awful canning factory that had him so off.
And when he went back to the canning factory for that awful job, resigned to a slow death by soul-crushing defeat, well, that was when things started to get really weird.
He was barely through the gate of the factory grounds when a blue coat with legs shoved a suitcase into his chest and nearly sent him flying, much to the annoyance of Jacob’s co-workers who grumbled and grunted as they filed in around him to get to the punch-in machine. Jacob spared a second to try and find the coat-and-legs so he but the suitcase was so heavy that curiosity got the better of him nearly immediately.
Silver, the brightest silver he’d ever seen, glittered up at Jacob from the straw-bedded suitcase. Something about those eggs made his chest constrict - like they were familiar, and he should remember them - and vaguely he wondered why his co-workers weren’t stopping to marvel at them. He reached for the note hesitantly, but just touching the parchment (parchment? What kind of wacko used parchment for writing these days?) made Jacob’s lips twitch into a smile. That smile only grew as he read the neat script of the note.
Jacob barely nodded good-bye to his ex boss on his way out the gates.
He would not be dying in a canning factory anytime soon.
(Jacob kept the note from that suitcase in his jacket’s inner pocket at all times.
Not because it held sentimental value or anything - why would it have sentimental value? The neat script might have brought a smile, but... it was just a clue. Just a clue to what he’d done for two days. The note meant that he’d gone somewhere and spoken to someone after getting turned down, right? He couldn’t have gotten an admirer who was going to throw silver eggs at him just because he’d offered a heartfelt apology to his grandmother – may her memory be for his blessing.
Magic like that didn’t just happen to Jacob Kowalski.)
Jacob sat on his bed three hours later. He stared at the silver eggs in the suitcase, still half afraid they’d disappear if he looked away. Finally he stowed the suitcase under his bed and stuffed several pairs of shoes and a couple spare towels around it. It was a fairly unimaginative disguise but it would have to do. It wasn’t often people were breaking into apartments where he lived - you couldn’t pawn a menorah for much more than a couple dollars.
The disguising done, Jacob went to the 42nd street library to try to figure out what an occamy was and how one got a single occamy eggshell, let alone a suitcase full of them.
The lady at the information desk looked at him over the rims of her eyeglasses as if daring him to ask a stupid question. Jacob swallowed thickly and all but shoved the note at her as proof of his sanity when he did ask.
He was sure the librarian’s sharp glare over her glasses meant something more than the dry, “Silver eggs. Really. Well haven’t you just run into luck of mythological proportions?”
He just couldn’t figure out what that ‘more’ was supposed to be.
The librarian was also looking at someone over his shoulder as she spoke. Her eyes just… weren’t looking at him. Jacob checked over his shoulder as discreetly as possible to figure out what the librarian’s accusing stare had picked for a target.
There was a lady in a long grey coat, but she was hardly standing impatiently while waiting for assistance. In fact she was sitting at one of the desks with a book open and a look of wide-eyed innocence. She shook her head sharply until she noticed that Jacob was looking at her; then she ducked her head back to the book and started hastily flipping pages.
Jacob furrowed his brow and looked back from the lady to the librarian to the lady. But nothing more was forthcoming from either party - the lady stayed stuck in her book and the librarian just kept… well… glaring.
He gave the librarian a final sideways glance and a short nod. “Well. Uh. Thanks.”
Jacob left. He made an appointment with the bank’s loans department that night.
Two days later he went with his briefcase of eggshells and presented them as collateral to a much nicer Mr. Bingley, desk manager of the loans department. Once Mr. Bingley and the bank were satisfied that the eggshells were real silver and checked the weight it was a matter of pleases and thank-yous and would you like some coffees.
And finally, at long last, Jacob walked out with papers confirming the terms of his loan and interest rate, and a file of likely commercial spaces that might fit the needs of a baker.
He was not expecting to be ambushed outside his apartment door by several men with hats pulled down low and coat collars popped around their ears. One held a gun by his hip, pointed squarely at Jacob.
Jacob felt the back of his neck start to sweat. “H-hey now... what’s this about?”
“Rumor has is you gotta a little bit of silver to spare, friend,” said the gunman, motioning at Jacob’s door with the pistol. Two others came up and took hold of his arms. “It must be heavy, eh? We thought we'd help ya with that.”
“Open it,” growled one of the men holding him, shoving him at the door.
Jacob fumbled for his key. “Hey, hey, easy. I know word travels but it also has a way of picking up some exaggerations, you know?” He tried pushing the key into the lock, but his hands shook and it took several tries. The apartment was as threadbare as he'd left it, minus the suitcase of silver eggshells, now safely in the bank. “I don't have anything but a loan.”
The gunman shoved his pistol into Jacob’s cheek. “You think we're stupid, friend?”
“N-no of course not,” Jacob stammered, holding up his loan and file papers. “It’s just a loan! See?”
An arm snatched the loan papers from him, but before anything else could happen there was a sound like thunder, and a blinding light. When Jacob could see again several policemen had filed into his tiny apartment. Two of them were clapping handcuffs on the would-be robbers and shouting orders to stay on the ground and not to move. It took Jacob a second to realize they weren't talking to him and he pulled himself out of he kneeling position he'd automatically taken.
Another policeman stepped over the mess, a notepad and pencil in hand. “You okay, Mr. Kowalski?”
Jacob nodded shakily, looking around. “Yeah, thanks.”
“Good thing your neighbor was home to hear the scuffle, huh?”
A movement caught Jacob’s attention. There was a tall male figure in a long black coat stood in the hallway, surveying their work. He met Jacob’s stunned gaze, smirked briefly and walked away. By the time Jacob got around the crowd in his tiny living space (“Mr. Kowalski, we're gonna need your statement too!”) and into the hallway the man was gone.
Jacob frowned and scratched his head.
“Mr. Kowalski? Your statement? What happened?”
“Who did you say called?” Jacob asked instead.
The policeman floundered and flipped some pages in the notebook. “Uh, a guy called Braves? Or maybe it's supposed to be Davies, the lady at the station ain't the neatest writer.”
Jacob frowned. There was no Davies in his building.
That night Jacob dreamt. He dreamt of feathered snakes and large, spikey white hedgehogs and monkeys that could become invisible. He dreamt of feeding tiny llamas with massive eyes and a giant flying owl’s head on a lion’s body that shimmered in shades of red and gold.
When he woke up he started sketching frantically. He had to get these down, no matter how bad. If he forgot them now he’d never be able to make pastries out of them and they were just too good to miss.
(He couldn’t forget the gangly limbs and gentle hands but those were hardly things he was going to give away to the public.)
Three weeks following the weirdest robbery attempt this side of the pacific, Jacob signed the lease on his bakery. His new bakery would be part of the lower east side, just off the elevated train stop for Canal street and only about twenty minutes from where he lived. It was perfect. It was almost like it had been meant for him - the landlord certainly had perked up when Jacob had told him his name.
Jacob stood outside the empty storefront, keys clutched in his hand. He could already see where he was going to put the display cases and the counter and the cash machine. A place left over so he'd have room to put in a phone for orders once business got hot. Jacob’s eyes teared and he blinked rapidly, scrubbing at them. It was really going to happen. He was going to have a bakery. His grandmother would be so proud. All New York was going to know what her recipes tasted of.
He reached out and gave the frame of the door a pat, then turned to start the walk home. He had plans to make, pastries to dream up.
“HEY! HEY LOOK OUT!”
Jacob looked up, trying to figure out who was shouting, and came face to face with a runaway grocery cart, full of heavy-looking crates and coming straight for him.
Straight for him?!?!
Jacob knew he needed to move, but he felt like he was frozen to the cobblestones. Then he was not on the cobblestones, but shoved up against the frame of his own building. That lady in the gray coat again. The grocery cart screamed by, thankfully not into, them.
She patted his face and up and down his arms and shoulders, muttering so rapidly that Jacob could hardly keep up with what she was saying.
“You lucky son’uva hippogriff. Merlin’s beard, you’re gonna get yourself killed one of these days. And what’m I gonna tell her or Newt if you do?”
“W-what?” Jacob stammered. “What’d you need to tell a newt for?”
The lady pulled back very suddenly. She propped Jacob up against his new store’s door frame, and straightened her coat. “You’re alright. Just... watch where you’re walkin’ next time, ‘kay?”
Jacob reached out, hoping to stop her, but the lady was fast. By the time he got his feet under him and was steady enough to walk again, the lady in her gray coat was gone. It was weird to see her again after that time at the library, trying to figure out what an occamy was. Jacob brushed down his coat and touched the note in his inner pocket, then brightened. Could he make a pastry out of an occamy? They spent so much time coiled up that it shouldn’t be that hard...
Sometimes, when he was dreaming, Jacob remembered a soft voice and curly gold hair, and he knew she was for him. Sometimes he even remembered how her lips felt pressed against his, which was ridiculous. Why'd a girl like that want to be kissing him, anyway?
But he always wound up looking over her shoulder, looking for a blue coat with legs and a suitcase.
Kowalski Bakery had been open for three months and already Jacob had a loyal crowd. Parents brought their children in after school for the niffles with candied fruits spilling out from their ‘pouches’. The delicately coiled occamys, feathered with spun sugar, were his most-ordered when it came to special occasions. He was working on some new trial pastries - a hippopotamus-like body with horns and something like a beard which he thought could be moulded out of a challa dough, and customers were lining up to be testers.
Jacob was even considering hiring a second employee, the bakery was doing so well, though he was pretty sure it was best to wait another few months to see if business stayed steady before jumping in with expansion.
Jacob made change for Ruth Bauer and paused to chat with her for a bit, keeping one eye and one ear out for the remaining few customers in the store. There were a couple boys, probably teenaged, and a beautiful blond in a pink coat who was trailing her fingers over the glass of one of the display cabinets. He’d seen her in the bakery several times. Jacob loved it when she came in. They always smiled at each other and she'd giggle like they shared a secret and buy a niffle.
One of these days Jacob was going to talk to her for real.
The boy closest to the door suddenly grabbed at a handful of cream-filled triumpents, sending several of them flying off their display. He shoved the couple he managed to hold onto in his bag and started quickly for the door.
“Hey!” Jacob shouted, interrupting Ruth’s story about her son Melvin. She startled and whipped around to watch as the boy seized the bakery door handle. Jacob reached out helplessly and hurried to get out from behind the counter. “Hey! Come back here!”
It was useless; he’d never get out in time to-
The boy was just making a run for it outside. But instead of taking off at full tilt, he tripped and fell face-first into the left display window. Jacob stopped nearly as abruptly. “What?”
He blinked rapidly and found himself looking around the ground. What on earth had the kid even tripped on?
The beautiful blond went outside. Jacob watched her bend over the boy and help him up, pulling him back into the bakery. Ruth came up behind Jacob and grabbed his elbow, twining her arm around his supportively. She clucked her tongue at the boy. “A shanda! Shanda! Stealing from a good man, may this be a weight on your head!”
“Here, honey,” said the blond. Her voice was soothing. She removed the triumpents from the boy’s pockets. “He’s very sorry, you know, and ashamed. He’ll never do it again. And his friend won't get any ideas to try.”
Jacob patted Ruth’s hand in what he hoped was a comforting manner. It wasn't like he couldn't afford to give a hungry kid a pastry or two, but he also couldn't afford to have his pastries and displays smashed up. If he got a reputation for being an easy place to steal from- or worse, for violent robbery- nobody would come back.
He drew himself to his full height and tried to loom over the kid. “Yeah? Never do it again, eh?”
“No, sir, never again,” said the boy quickly. He squirmed a bit, as though something was digging into his back. “I promise.”
“Fine then,” Jacob said, as though pronouncing a sentence. “The next time I see you in here you better be paying for something.”
The blond let the boy go and he ran out. Jacob raised an eyebrow at the remaining boy, who stood as if he'd been paralyzed in place. Jacob could sympathize with that feeling. He nonetheless pointed his finger at the kid’s chest.
“You keep your nose clean, kid, and we’ll be just fine.”
The other boy slumped out of his shocked stance and nodded rapidly. “Sir, yes sir, absolutely.”
He was gone in a flash, though the bells above the door echoed for several more seconds. Ruth shook her head. “Someone needs to see their rabbi.”
Jacob chuckled. If those kids were part of the lower east congregation, Rabbi Bernstein would certainly keep them out of further trouble. He turned to the blond to thank her - and maybe he'd really talk to her this time.
She was gone.
Ruth didn't seem to notice, busy picking up the fallen triumpents. Jacob scurried over, bending to help, “Ruth, Ruth, no, stop, let me, you'll put out your back!”
There was some kind of giant snake in his bakery kitchen. A giant feathery blue snake. There was not supposed to be a giant feathery blue snake in his bakery kitchen. That snake was supposed to live in a suitcase, unless this wasn’t one that belonged…
Belonged to whom?
Jacob stood in the doorway and stared. He blinked twice, wondering if that would make the snake go away. It didn’t. The snake just chirped happily. It coiled up tight and then released itself, sliding closer.
Were snakes supposed to chirp? Was a feathery snake poisonous? Jacob licked his lips. He looked around, somewhat frantically, hoping to find something that would help him with the snake. A long stick, or one of his bread boards, or, or, or a teapot.
The snake lunged.
“No jumping on people!”
Jacob jumped back, half in response to the snake and half in response to the sudden voice. His movement felt sluggish, as though time had slowed around him. His arms wheeled, but they moved as slowly as if they were stuck in molasses. The snake was still coming at him, though it too was moving as though through a liquid wall. Jacob tried to look around. What on earth was causing this? Who was that voice? Why was the snake being moved off to the side instead of coming straight at him?
Wait, was the snake shrinking?
Jacob saw the snake stream passed him out of the corner of his eye, and it was definitely looking a lot smaller than it had been when he had walked into his kitchen.
And just like that time sped up to be normal again.
“I’m terribly sorry about that,” said the voice, “it’s awfully bad manners. He is quite young, please don’t be too angry. Shan’t happen again, promise!”
Jacob landed hard against the counter. The breath was knocked out of him and he struggled to find a handhold that would help him turn around, to see where the snake had gone and to figure out who that voice belonged to.
“Going to be in so much trouble…” muttered the voice.
A blue coat with legs disappeared just as Jacob managed to get himself facing forward.
Jacob was starting to get the idea that someone had it out for him. He’d just needed a couple minutes to himself, a walk to distract himself and to shake off a malaise that had settled across him like a blanket ever since that blue coat had disappeared before he could see who it belonged to.
He had not intended to be grabbed up by three too-beautiful women with gold hair that shone almost white in the streetlights and brought down an alley with its moving advertisements and up several flights of stairs to a speakeasy.
“You know, I do appreciate this,” Jacob said, stumbling over his words every time he happened to catch a glance of bright blue eyes, “I mean that. But I’m not exactly in the mood to…”
He trailed off and swallowed thickly when one of the women turned to look at him directly. Another of the women rapped on the door. A peekhole opened and snapped shut just as quickly. The door opened.
Sweet voices murmured thanks and Jacob found himself shepherded inside. Briefly Jacob spared a thought to note that it was kinda weird nobody asked for a password, but then he wouldn’t have questioned these women either.
He was shuffled into a seat by a darkened back corner. One of the three women went to the bar, presumably to order for the table. Jacob licked dry lips and tried to figure out what to say. The other two women were talking softly to themselves.
“This a place you come often?” Jacob finally asked.
“Only occasionally,” said one, smiling.
“We do quite a lot of traveling,” said another.
Jacob nodded. That made perfect sense. He sat up a little straighter and decided he’d wait for them to talk to him again. The third woman came back to the table with a tray of drinks. Well maybe that could be his in. If nothing else Jacob could hold a drink.
“Giggle water?” she asked, holding the cup out.
“Giggle water?” Jacob asked, chortling, “Why, ‘cause drunks giggle?”
He tossed the drink back and laughed once, loudly, and clapped a hand over his mouth. The three women tittered. Each took a drink of their own, but apparently none of those drinks were giggle water because none of them laughed like Jacob had. One of the women handed him another drink.
“Firewhiskey,” she purred.
Jacob sipped his one, cautiously, and found that this was much more to his taste. This was something he could drink all night. All night, easily. He finished his drink much faster than he meant to, but another drink was put in his hands before he could even miss the last.
“Cheers,” Jacob said, sipping from it. His vision blurred violently. “Woah. That was weird,” he muttered.
He started to lift the glass to his lips again. His arm felt heavy. He should probably slow down or have some real water next - he was starting to see things. How else was he supposed to explain the tall human-shaped shadow appearing like an avenging angel at the end of the table?
“He comes with me,” said a man’s voice. It was a low pitched and somewhat gravelly, but for all that is was entirely terrifying.
The three women stood, protesting. They didn’t look very nice anymore. Their features had sharpened, or maybe that was the drink and the light in the bar. The tall figure flicked his hands and Jacob didn’t remember anything after that.
He woke up in his bed with a pounding headache and blurred vision. There was a vial of something viscous on his bedside table with a brief note. It took several tries before Jacob could get his vision straight.
Drink. You’ll feel better.
Jacob looked back at the vial. He uncorked it and sniffed carefully. It didn’t smell like anything. He considered the pros and cons of drinking a strange liquid for a moment, then he shrugged. Well, he couldn’t feel any worse than he did now. Besides- he’d had a potion shoved at him before and it hadn’t hurt him then.
Jacob drank down the vial’s liquid.
He was humming to himself while making breakfast ten minutes later. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt better.
There were strange situations, Jacob decided, and then there was this. He wasn’t able to even really quantify what ‘this’ was. It was just. This.
Coney Island was a long way from Manhattan, but the expense of the subway and the long trip was most worth it in the summer. Jacob had closed his bakery for Independence Day, allowed himself to sleep in, and eventually joined the crowds out on the beach, taking himself on a long walk along the boardwalk and then treating himself to a visit to Luna Park. Towards the end of the day he’d parked himself on the beach and allowed himself to eat everything he normally didn’t treat himself to.
Once the sun began to set he walked out to the end of the pier, through the pier house, to watch it go down uninterrupted. Even after the sky was dark he’d continued to sit, enjoying the warm night air. He finally stood once he realized the amusement park was closed and people were streaming away from the boardwalk.
And there was... this. Jacob backed up against the rail of the pier and face to face with a large sort of a… a hippopotamus? Or a rhinoceros? Or a cross between those, but with tentacles for a mouth and a lot of ridges over its head and horns that Jacob did not want to get intimate with.
Jacob swallowed and looked around wildly. If he shouted repeatedly at the top of his lungs, would anyone hear? Or would it be like one of those dreams where he shouted and shouted and no voice came out?
If it hadn’t been for the sound of the sea crashing against the pier supports and the rough wood under his fingers he might have thought he was dreaming about one of his pastries coming to life, but even at their most real his dreams weren’t like this.
He could never feel his dreams breathing after all, and this creature was definitely breathing on him. It was also squealing and snorting and Jacob thought it sounded happy but what did he know about happy tentacle rhino-hippos? At least it wasn’t stomping on him. It was almost like it was waiting for something. For Jacob.
“O-okay,” Jacob started. He hoped he sounded soothing. Maybe it would let him sit up? “Niiiiiiice rhino-hippo.”
The tentacle rhino-hippo wiggled its face as Jacob pushed himself up inch by inch, leaning over the pier rail. His eyes never left the horns. “Good rhino-hippos don’t want to eat me, right?”
“Newt!” hissed a lady’s voice.
It was a very New York voice, coming from somewhere behind the tentacle rhino-hippo. It sounded familiar, but Jacob was too busy trying not to make a sudden move to try and place it. It also sounded very exasperated when it spoke again.
“Do you know how many laws this is breaking? What if another no-maj comes- There’s hardly anything keeping ‘em from- of all of your creatures you let a graphorn out?”
“I-I didn’t let her out!” The second voice had an accent- British? Jacob thought for a wild moment that he knew that voice, too. “I mean I mostly didn’t. I was just giving her a bath. She got very excited- have you ever tried to tell an excited graphorn they can’t go out?”
“Why was the case open?” asked New York.
It sounded like they were coming closer. Jacob turned his head a little and considered calling out, but then rhino-hippo moved closer and he snapped his mouth shut. Somewhere over by the pier house there was a popping noise.
“I do like to let in light and fresh air in sometimes, you know,” Accent said, “It’s good for my creatures. Anyway I had charms up, nobody came near.”
“Mr. Scamander what is going on?” asked a third voice. Male, gravelly, quite self-assured. It almost masked a second popping noise.
“Queenie!” New York hissed, “What’re you doing here?”
“He started thinkin’ about big rhinoceroses and I felt fear so I thought he needed help. What’re you all doing here? You said we’re not supposed to...” she trailed off and Jacob thought there was something slightly guilty in her tone. “That is…”
Where were all these people needed coming from? Why did this one sound exactly like the beautiful blond from his bakery?
“Awww, Jacob, honey,” she sighed, “You’re always the sweetest.”
“Queenie,” snapped New York.
Why was the tentacle rhino-hippo touching him with a mouth feeler?
Jacob turned his head to the side and shut his eyes tightly against the familiar sensation.
… Wait, what?
“Anyway I have wards,” said New York. Someone scuffled their foot on the cobbles. “They tripped.”
“As did mine,” said Self-assured.
There was a beat.
“Mr. Graves?” asked New York.
“From what I’ve been told, it seemed prudent to keep an eye on him. And from what I’ve seen he has a way of getting himself into situations, created by errant magizoologists or not, so it seems that I was right to,” said Self-assured.
“Again I ask, have you ever tried to stop an excited graphorn? It generally doesn’t work very well,” said Accent. He sounded sort of pouty.
There were now three tentacles touching his face and Jacob had a sudden thought they might have been licking him. Oh God - was he being tested for flavor?
“H-hey out there!” he squeaked. “Um. Could one of you please call off the- the- rhino-hippo thing?”
“Graphorn,” said Accent, “She’s just happy to see you.”
“NEWT!” three New York voices chorused.
“You and your backwards muggle-magic laws,” muttered Accent. Newt. Who named a kid Newt?
Jacob heard something thunk on the wood as it was placed on the floor. Then carefully measured footsteps came steadily closer. “Come on, then, Bridgit.”
Newt’s voice was actually kinda soothing, if Jacob thought about it. The tentacles slowly stopped licking at his face, and the creature whined.
“Yes, I know. I know. Me, too. But you still have to let Jacob down and come back in, please.”
The tentacle rhino-hip- the graphorn- took a step back. Jacob gulped down air and dared to open one eye, trying to see if the creature was really going away and get a look at his rescuers. Was Beauty really there?
The graphorn snorted a stream of air and reached its tentacles towards Jacob again. A blue coat with legs pet the graphorn’s head soothingly. The Newt person had a mess of curly hair and his forehead was pressed against the graphorn’s ridges. He kept sneaking glances in Jacob’s direction. He also stood by a suitcase, which lay open on the ground. Jacob peeled himself from the rail and wondered what good that suitcase was supposed to do.
“I know you miss him,” said Newt, “But we can’t. Come on, now, that’s a good girl.”
With a last stamp of a fore-leg and a pouty-sounding squeal, the graphorn dove directly into the suitcase. Jacob sucked in a sharp breath and was proud that he managed to stay upright. Newt closed the suitcase behind her and picked it up. He didn’t look at Jacob directly, staying in profile, though his face sort of tilted in Jacob’s direction.
In the dim light provided by the moon and the lights on the boardwalk his high cheekbones and gave him the look of someone not entirely human. Behind him stood a lady in the grey coat, the Beauty from the bakery, and the tall guy Jacob knew he’d seen in the hallway of his apartment building after the world’s weirdest robbery attempt.
“Sorry about that,” said Newt, “It’s just we’re- they’re all missing you.” He glanced sharply over at the other three, then back in Jacob’s general direction. “Well. Anyway. Sorry.”
He spun and started walking rapidly towards the mouth of the alley, head down and shoulders up rigidly around his ears.
“Newt…” New York started. She reached out and snagged his free hand. He stopped abruptly, though he didn’t turn around. New York looked distressed, darting glances back at Jacob. Jacob couldn’t figure out why- they were all strangers.
“Not while I’m still here, please,” said Newt. “I can’t watch it again.”
Tall and Self-assured- they’d called him Graves?- stepped forward and touched Newt’s shoulder. Newt’s shoulders slumped. Jacob found himself taking a step forward without meaning to. He wanted to make that slump go away.
Queenie put her hand out in a silent stay back. Her other arm was wrapped around Tina.
He’d never asked for Queenie’s name before. He’d not really met Tina. So how did he know their names? Why did he have a pastry of the graphorn in his shop?
Queenie looked over at Jacob with wide, hopeful eyes. “What was that, honey?”
Now everyone but Newt was looking at him, though Newt was so tense again that it made Jacob’s neck muscles hurt in sympathy. Graves had a small frown tugging at his lips and Tina looked a bit like she wanted to faint.
“I’ve seen her before,” Jacob said, staring at the back of Newt’s head. “The graphorn. She was... littler. Younger?”
“Jacob- ” Tina started. Her eyes darted up at Graves.
Queenie grabbed for Tina’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “Mr. Graves-”
Graves gave a tiny, indecipherable shake of his head.
“Hang on, where’s Pickett?” Jacob asked, ignoring them, “I thought he didn’t like his tree.”
A little green head popped out from over Newt’s shoulder. Newt spun to face Jacob at last, knocking both Graves and Tina’s hand from their holds on him. Pickett squeaked his annoyance but it went ignored.
For the first time Newt’s eyes intently sought Jacob’s and their gazes locked. Jacob took another step forward, which Newt matched. Newt’s hand was tight around the case handle - Jacob was sure his knuckles were white.
“You- Jacob…” Newt started.
Jacob laughed. He stumbled forward again until he and Newt were nearly touching. He laughed again and wrapped Newt up in his arms, lifting him from the wooden pier. Newt made no move to get away or even to brace himself on Jacob. His legs flailed slightly. His lips twitched like he was trying to smile- or not to smile, maybe.
Jacob grinned up at him. “How about that? I remember.”