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How Newt had managed to lose Pickett already was beyond him; he'd only just stepped onto the ferry in Edinburgh. He glanced around the room full of bustling passengers until he spotted a line of light green in a woman’s coat pocket. She was young, dressed in a sharp beige overcoat. She quietly people-watched. Newt stared at her, dazed, worrying over how to approach her. At that moment, she caught his gaze, smiling timidly from across the room. He hesitantly approached, sitting beside her on an otherwise empty bench. Newt flashed her a nervous smile, “I- I’m so sorry, miss, but I believe my...pet...is in your pocket.”

“Your...pet?” She had an American accent. "What is she doing out here?" Newt wondered. She squinted at him, confused, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the little bowtruckle. She jumped as the twiggy creature came into view. Newt thrust his hands out, cupped to catch Pickett until he noticed her relax.

“Is he...a stick bug?” The woman squinted curiously at the five-inch-tall creature.

“Ah, yes, a variation thereof,” Newt half-lied.

“But...” She analyzed Pickett for a moment, “...he's listening to me. Stick bugs don't listen.” She stated this casually, looking into the bowtruckle’s beady brown eyes.

Newt smiled to himself, amused by her slight eccentricity: “Oh, I assure you, he isn't, though I’m certain he’s quite pleased you haven't squashed him!” He laughed nervously, “My apologies for his behavior...he likes to be warm, and I was, ah... standing outside..." He tilted his head a bit, murmuring to himself: "Still, he's not prone to wandering off...” He watched the woman curiously for a passing moment, shaking his head as he returned from his thoughts, holding his hands out for the bowtruckle.

The woman rested Pickett gently in Newt’s outstretched hands, watching him tuck the creature into his coat pocket. “Oh, that’s alright," she insisted, "I don’t normally like bugs, but he’s...well, cute!” Pickett smiled up at her as he wrapped his fingers around Newt’s pocket. Lucky for Newt, she missed it as she glanced into Newt's blue-green eyes and noted the smattering of freckles that fell across his nose. “Do you collect them?”

Newt flushed mildly at being studied, “Insects?”

The woman nodded, “Yes, do you?”

“Oh, not really...however, I will profess I’m an animal lover.” Newt smiled bashfully. His case rattled; he quickly flipped its brass switch to MUGGLE WORTHY, internally chastising himself for not remembering to do it earlier.

The woman noticed this, slowly breaking into a smile, “You’re lying about the bugs.”

Newt stilled, eyes wide.

“You have more of them in your suitcase, and you LOVE to collect them. Am I right?”

"As right as you can be," he thought, speaking softly with a timid smile: “I do have another creature in there...” The young woman grinned at him, assuming he meant another bug. She let in a breath as if she intended to speak, but hesitated, squinting at the magizoologist. Newt puzzled this together, his eyes darting to meet hers, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I haven't introduced myself! Newt Scamander, Zoologist.” He held his slightly trembling hand out to her.

“Ellandra Belmont.” She shook his hand, noting the gentleness of his grip, “Amateur Botanist and recent Cornell graduate.” She paused, gauging his reaction; it was unconventional for a woman to have a degree. Newt smiled, dazed, forgetting himself, happy to know she was interested in nature. “Secretly, I'm also a writer...” Ella blushed a bit, unsure why she’d divulged this secret to a perfect stranger.

Newt lit up, flashing a grin, “I’m a writer myself. I've been working on a guide to protecting endangered creatures.” Newt was surprised he felt comfortable enough to share this.

“Like this little guy?” Ellandra smiled down at Pickett, looking up at Newt expectantly.

“Exactly. I’m a bit of a...neologist. I’ve named his kind ‘bowtruckles.’”

Ellandra grinned. “Oh, I like that!” She caught Newt’s small, crooked smile, “I’m glad you didn’t name them after yourself. Or...have you...?” She let the rest of the question hang in the air.

Newt blinked: “I’ve never considered naming something after me. It's not something I would do, anyway.”

“You’re not the fame-seeking type,” Ellandra observed.

“Rightly so,” Newt looked away, nervous about being analyzed.

Ellandra noticed his slight flush, deciding she should let the poor man be: “If you’ll excuse me, Mister Scamander, I could use some fresh air.” She stood, taking her suitcase, holding her free hand out to him, “It was very nice meeting you.”

Newt took her hand and shook it gently, smiling in slight awe as he let go. “A pleasure.” As she turned from him, he tried to calm his racing heart.

Ellandra wandered onto the top deck of the ferry, taking in the sea air with deep breaths. She tried to calm her nerves: "You’ll never see him again," she insisted to herself, but the thought only made her heart sink. She sighed, restless, making her way back to the lower deck. On her way to the stern, she headed through a narrow hallway of closed doors. Near its end, she recognized Newt’s voice ahead of her. She slowed down, following the sound to a small doorway, slightly ajar. She tiptoed over, glancing inside to see Newt kneeling down amongst mops and buckets. She quickly averted her gaze, setting her luggage down by the door as she prepared to ask him if he needed help. She heard him mumbling, and a strange metallic sound rang out - coins? Ella peered in again, this time seeing him holding a black, badger-like creature in both hands.

“You are the most mischievous niffler I have ever known...” He held it upside down with one hand, tickling its tummy with the other. A gold ring joined an impossibly large pile of coins and jewelry as it dropped from the creature’s stomach pouch. Newt was grinning ear-to-ear, exceedingly expressive when he didn’t know he was being observed. He chuckled as he tickled the valuables away from the niffler, Ellandra giggling in response. She clasped her hand over her mouth as she realized what she'd done.

Newt started, spinning around to spot Ella, immediately turning red: “Oh! Miss Belmont!” He gently stuffed the niffler into his open case "Merlin, why didn’t I shut the door?" the wizard fretted. He closed and locked the case, looking like he’d been caught stealing. “H-how long have you been standing there?” He rose to face her.

“Only a moment,” Ellandra smiled softly, charmed by his timidness.

“Ah.” He let out a quiet breath, shifting his messy, cider-colored hair, looking lost.

“What was that?” She pointed to his case.

Newt wrung his hands, stepping toward her, “That...was a niffler. A creature similar to a platypus or badger, with a predilection for anything shiny.”

“Like a crow?”

“Hm?” Newt peeked up from behind his hair, pressing his lips into a line.

“Crows collect things that shine,” she explained.

He nodded, “Ah, yes. Quite like that.”

“Is it safe for him to be in there?” Her brow furrowed.

“Oh, yes, perfectly safe! He likes to nestle into my clothes,” he lied somewhat convincingly.

Ellandra eyed him, “Are you sure, Mister Scamander?”

He seemed to be wrestling with something as he stood there, running his fingers through his hair. He developed with a convincing lie: “I’d prefer for him to have some space to run, but...as you can see...” he motioned to the heaping pile of coins and jewelry on the floor, “he’s quite the troublemaker.”

Ellandra laughed, imagining what other mischief this man must get into, “With your record so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if another creature came out of that case and started for someone's lunch!”

"If only you knew," Newt thought to himself, chuckling: “It's a definite possibility...”

Ellandra shifted in the doorway, sure she didn’t want to go, but not wanting to intrude further on Newt. “Well, I'm off, Mister Scamander. Maybe we'll see each other later.”

“B-before you go...” Newt seemed smaller than her, though he was the taller of the two, “Just curious - what brings you to Sweden, Miss Belmont?”

Ellandra was surprised by his searching gaze, waiting a breath before leaning lithely against the doorway, “I’m studying plant species on the southwest coast, in part because it’s convenient; I have relatives there. It’s the most serene place...” She smiled, remembering the fields of grain and summer cottages. “What brings you to Sweden, Mister Scamander?”

“Please, call me Newt,” he blurted without thinking, smiling bashfully.

“Newt,” she echoed warmly.

He felt a surge of electricity hearing his name come from her lips, his fingers twitching in a response he wasn't sure he wanted to understand. He made a hesitant step toward her, “Well, as I’ve mentioned, I’m a Zoologist. I’ve spent the last few months traveling the world, observing and sometimes rescuing creatures. Many are endangered, others rare, or unnamed. I have a habit of adopting a few along the way, as you can see...” He smiled almost guiltily, looking to the floor before glancing back at her, eyes alight, “Many of those I care for are the last of their kind. I - I truly love my creatures.”

Ellandra stepped toward him, intrigued, “Would you tell me more about them?”

Newt froze, calculating the risk before acquiescing: “Oh, well, certainly! But I wouldn’t want to keep you, Miss Belmont.” He looked a bit troubled.

“Ella,” she gently insisted.

“Ella,” Newt echoed, quickly hiding a smile.

“I wouldn’t mind you keeping me,” she began; Newt took in a low breath. “I’d love to hear more about your creatures.” She glowed with enthusiasm, still maintaining her poise. Newt wondered what her parents were like.

“Of- of course," he replied softly, "let me just...” Newt rushed to his case, picking it up and resting it on a low shelf, flipping the brass switch to MUGGLE WORTHY. Ellandra assumed he was locking it.

The danger of exposure averted, Newt gave himself a little nod. He turned to Ella, “After you, Miss Belmont.” They strolled to the nearby rear deck, settling down on a set of white chairs at a table by the water. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud, seabirds calling out. Voices could be heard chatting on the upper deck, a quiet din reaching out from inside the ship. Their deck of choice was empty apart from them.

Newt took up little space as he sat across from her, his legs tucked together. He still anxiously avoided her gaze, though he was secretly fascinated by Ella’s lovely face and long, flowing hair as she sat facing him. Once she got him talking, Newt spent the next half hour detailing his travels across the world, forgetting his nervousness as he became wrapped up in stories about the creatures he had come to care for. He carefully described those he encountered as if they were muggle creatures, circumventing details that alluded to magic.

“My mother raised horses, and I bonded with them more than I did with people...” He was somewhat embarrassed by this statement, imagining his family’s hippogriffs rather than horses. He peeked at Ellandra from behind a swath of ginger hair.

She rested her arms on the table, leaning closer, “I understand that perfectly. I’ve never been especially social myself. It's odd that I'm so talkative with you...I spent a lot of my childhood in the trees. I always felt connected to nature.” She found herself staring into space, recalling her childhood adventures.

Newt gazed at her, overtaken by the urge to take her nearby hand in his. His heart told him she was a kindred soul. His fingers twitched as he resisted, observing her far-away gaze before noting the few freckles on her nose, and finally her naturally rosy lips. He flushed slightly, inhaling sharply as he returned to the present.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Once they’d parted and he’d climbed back into his hidden case, Newt spent the next hour remembering the details of her: her smile, her laugh, the way she held her hands together. He barely saw his creatures as he fed them their lunch, far from his usual attentive self. Eventually, he wandered back to his small shed stuffed with potions, plants, and gardening tools. There, he busied himself with potion-making until the ferry docked in Göteborg.

Ellandra slipped on her long, beige coat, taking her suitcase in hand, joining the throng of chatty people leaving the ship. She looked behind her, and through the crowd ahead of her, hoping to spot a head of messy cider hair. Newt was out of view. Minutes passed until Ellandra made it to the shore, still searching, thinking she was being subtle.

A blonde woman with a thick Swedish accent approached her: “Do you need help, miss?”

“Oh, no, thank you,” Ellandra flushed, hurrying away from the mob of people, down a quiet cobblestone walkway that bordered the water. Just as the crowd behind her fell out of view, a bright light flashed from a side street ahead of her. A loud swishing and a grunt resounded from the alley. Ella considered heading back, nervous about approaching whatever mischief was ahead when she heard a gruff voice shout: “I’ll have your case, Mister Scamander!”

"Newt Scamander!" She thought, rushing to the alley as quietly as she could. She peered around a stone wall only to spot Newt Scamander facing off with a muscular, potato-faced man with wiry brown hair. They both held out... "Sticks?" Ellandra wondered, "What are they fighting with sticks for?"

“Expulso!” The strange man roared, and the barrel beside Newt exploded. Fortunately, he leaped out of the way, a dusting of ash on the side of his face the only result of the man’s attack. Ellandra looked on in incredulous panic.

“Expelliarmus!” Newt exclaimed, his voice steadier than Ella had ever heard it before.

The other man’s wand still trained on Newt, he hurriedly shouted “Protego!” Newt’s wand flew from his hand, landing on the cobblestones between them. Newt nearly cursed. His attacker flashed a menacing grin. Knowing Newt’s protection was gone, Ellandra stepped out of hiding. The cider-haired man glanced toward her movement, eyes wide as he recognized her. The other man was still fixated on Newt’s wand, beginning an incantation: “acc-“

“Wait!” Ellandra shouted, cutting him off. "Why am I doing this?" She asked herself, "I don’t have one of those sticks...wands? Are they wands, like from the stories?" The large man sneered at her, “I see you’ve got a doll, Scamander!”

Chapter Text

The burly stranger gave Ellandra a menacing scowl: "You his girl, poppet?"

She glanced over at Newt. He crept toward his fallen wand behind the man's back, eyes trained on him. Ella gave him time, terrified, but maintaining an undaunted facade. She flashed Newt's attacker a venomous smile, "Why, you stuck on him?"

The stranger scowled, impatient: "Well, aren't you a fuckin' pill? Muggle bitch..." As he lifted his wand toward her, Newt darted for where his lay on the cobblestones. Ella slowly stepped back, fear strangling her heart. The burly man recited an incantation, hate painted across his face: “Avada-“

“Expelliarmus!” Newt shouted not far behind the man’s shoulder, sending his wand flying toward Ellandra. Before the stunned expression had fully formed on the man’s face, Newt spoke firmly: “Petrificus totalus!” The stranger’s body went completely stiff; he fell onto his back as if made of stone.

Ellandra gasped, frozen in place, eyes wide with disbelief as she stared at Newt’s petrified attacker. “How did you-? What was he-?” The events of the last sixty seconds were a lot for a muggle to take in. She slowly shook her head as Newt carefully approached her, leaving his case behind him on the side of the alley. He held his wandless hand out slightly, as if to prove he wasn’t a threat, a habit undoubtedly developed through interactions with magical beasts. He studied her with silent worry. She finally looked away from the petrified man, noticing Newt’s coat had been slashed on his forearm, blood seeping through the exposed linen shirt underneath. “Newt!” She strode toward him, taking his arm gingerly in her hands. His breathing was still unsteady from the duel, becoming even more so as he felt her touch, his hair mussed up in a way Ellandra found strangely flattering.

“Oh,“ Newt was just noticing the wound. “It’s nothing,” he breathed, surveying her with great concern. “I just need to know you're alright...and that you’ll never risk your life for me again!” He exclaimed as sternly as he could. It wasn't in his nature to be stern.

Ella gave him a small smile, conspicuously ignoring his last statement: “I’m - I’m fine. Let me take a look at this,” she said of his wound. Ella pulled his torn shirt away from the open gash in his forearm, assessing it: “I think I could patch this up…”

Newt glanced at her, pressing his lips together, his breath steadier: “No need.” He pointed his wand at the gash, licking his lips as he concentrated, murmuring “episkey.” Ellandra pulled her fingers away, looking on in awe as his wound healed in a matter of seconds. "Reparo," he breathed, aiming his wand at the torn part of his shirt. She watched his shirtsleeve knit itself together, followed by his blue peacoat.

Thinking, Newt pressed his lips firmly together, giving himself a nod. He trotted over to his case which lay on the side of the alley. Unlatching it, he swung it open and, without a pause, stepped gingerly inside. Newt disappeared out of view as Ellandra looked on in disbelief. Suddenly, his arm came out of the case, his hand making a gesture for her to follow. Ellandra sighed, laughing under her breath: "Well, it probably can’t get any stranger!" She crossed the alley, stepping carefully into his case. She planted a foot on one of the rungs of a ladder, following it down into Newt’s homey, herb-scented shed.

The wizard was shuffling through papers on a small desk. Finding a blank one, he dipped a quill into a bottle of ink. Newt began writing, deep in concentration. An array of gardening tools were hooked to the wall in front of him. Ella took in her surroundings: boots, overalls, and jackets hung on the far wall, a couple similar items absentmindedly left in other places. “He must be quite the traveler,” Ella thought to herself. One shelf housed dozens of empty bottles and vials, while two others held what looked like fifty full ones. Some of these shone, while others swirled with color. Rows and rows of small drawers lined one corner of the little shed. Ellandra wondered what they held. Two dozen unique potted plants sat on the numerous shelves, many of them in glass domes, one of them sporting pink blossoms. "Christmas cactus," Ellandra recalled.

Newt took a deep breath, still writing, “As you can see, I haven’t been entirely honest with you, Ella. I...”

“Carry a magic wand and have a suitcase that’s actually a shed in disguise?” she suggested.

He nodded, chuckling, carefully dipping his quill in ink as he explained further, “Quite right. And my creatures...they aren’t ordinary creatures. They're magical beasts” he admitted, scrawling on the parchment again. “As a wizard, I’m expected to keep my powers - and those of these creatures - a secret from muggles like yourself.”

“Muggles?”

“Non-magic folk,” he stated absently, distracted by his writing.

Ellandra tried to put all of this information together, “As a non-magic person...what does that mean for me? Will I get in trouble for knowing you’re a wizard?”

“No, certainly not. Well...in the States, possibly, but throughout Europe, no - and never with me. You’re safe with me.” He whistled, and a large owl with speckled brown feathers and what looked like big black ears flew in from the unlit doorway on the wall opposite Ella. It landed on the table by Newt’s right arm, letting out a deep “hoot,” its orange eyes trained on him.

Ella watched the owl, intrigued, still smiling at Newt’s assurance, her brow furrowing as the rest of what he’d said sunk in: “Why America?” Ellandra imagined herself getting pinched upon returning home.

Newt licked his lips, frowning, folding up his now finished letter. “In America, they have very backwards laws about contact between wizards and muggles...or no-majs, as they’re called there. They’re not allowed to befriend each other or marry, which I find mildly absurd.”

“That’s quite the understatement, Mister Scamander!” Ellandra was appalled and uncharacteristically indignant.

Newt flinched at being called by his formal name again but said nothing, uncertain why it bothered him. “Why is it like that there?”

He hesitated before turning to look at her, uneased by the expression on her face, “Your country has puritanical roots. I-I’m sure you can guess what that means for witches and wizards there.” Ellandra cringed as images of witchcraft trials and hangings came to mind. Newt dropped his head, unsure what to say, studying the floor instead of her face.

A long moment passed in uncomfortable silence.

“What kind of owl is that?”

“What?” Newt peeked up, surprised by the sudden change of topic. “Oh- a Eurasian eagle owl. Greg.”

“Greg?” Ellandra laughed, “That’s a very human name.”

Newt broke into a small, crooked smile: “It suits him.” Handing his letter to the owl, he spoke softly: “Now, Greg, bring this to the Swedish ministry as quickly as you can!” The owl stared at Newt, the letter in its beak. “Off you go!” the wizard insisted, giving the bird a small nod, watching with a smile as Greg leaped from the table, spreading his wings and swooping past Ellandra. Her hair fluttered out of the way as he soared from the case with a final “hoot.” Ella giggled, smiling in awe, looking to Newt, her gaze lingering on his face. He had a glimmer in his eye as he stood looking through the roof-passage, his hands tucked into his pockets in a comfortable way. He looked soft and more approachable than he had before, sporting a long-sleeved white button-up and ochre tweed vest, his woolen armor tossed on a stool next to Ellandra. “I found Greg in a Lithuanian forest,” Newt divulged, glancing her way, “We bonded straight away.”

“He seems very loyal,” Ella observed. “And smart. You’ve trained him to bring letters to people?”

Newt chuckled, “This may sound strange, Miss Belmont, but it’s common in the wizarding world for owls to deliver post.”

Ellandra squinted, “Huh. Okay.” She laughed under her breath. "Not the strangest thing I’ve heard today," she thought to herself.

Newt gave a small nod, turning to shuffle some vials around and avoid her gaze.

In the silence, Ella realized what Newt had called her a moment before. “Newt?” She said his name softly.

He looked up, turning to her, struck by her change in tone. “You can call me Ella.”

“Oh,” he smiled, somewhat flustered, his grip on a vial loosening dangerously, “of course.” He hid behind a cascade of cider hair, but couldn’t stop himself from gazing at her from beneath it. He finally looked away, flushing red enough that she could see it, setting the vial by the others that were now pseudo-organized. Ella smiled to herself as Newt began to speak: “Ella...it was kind of you to help me back there. Not anyone would risk their life for a stranger.”

Ella smirked, observing the wizard, “Something tells me you would.”

His expression proved her right: “That’s...that’s beside the point...”

She stepped closer to him, only a foot of distance between them. Newt lost his train of thought, his fingers beginning to tremble the smallest bit as he started to imagine reaching for her face. He didn’t know why he was even having the thought.

“My gut tells me you saved my life back there, when that man was about to cast that spell...” She looked down, not sure if she wanted to hear the truth.

“I did,” Newt confessed quietly, his voice scarcely audible as he continued: “He was casting a...killing curse.”

Tears welled up in Ellandra’s eyes as the severity of the encounter finally hit her: “Oh...” She took in an unsteady breath. Newt moved closer in response, now just inches from her. His hands trembled restlessly as he debated what to do. After a pause, he held her arms just above her elbows, solemn as he worried over her. Ellandra spoke quietly, “Do wizards often try to...kill muggles?” She looked up at him, scared.

“No, no,” he murmured, blinking, fighting tears of his own now, tucking her hair behind her ear without thinking, resting his hand back on her arm: “The killing curse is unforgivable. That man is one owl away from a long stay at the most secure wizard prison in the world.”

“Oh...okay. Good.” Ellandra relaxed a bit, stepping back, wiping her eyes, embarrassed.

Hesitantly, Newt stepped closer again. When Ella didn’t move away, he spoke softly, taking her hand in his before he could stop himself: “You were very, very brave.” She flushed, smiling sadly, squeezing his hand for a moment before letting it go.

Newt backed away, his hand tingling, cheeks on fire, clumsily changing the subject: “We really ought to move somewhere safer. It seems my case has become a collector’s item…” Despite the possibility of danger, Newt was quite calm. He was much more worried about Ellandra's wellbeing than any potential threats to his case.

Ella perked up: “Oh, of course! Hmm...well, I- I have a room waiting for me at the Lord and-”

“Lantern?”

She smiled a bit, “How did you know?”

Newt nervously returned her smile, “I’ve been there before. Let me take you.”

Ella wasn't sure why, but she felt relieved knowing he’d still be close at hand: “Is it safe enough for your case there?”

Newt pressed his lips together as he considered it, nodding, “I’m positive.” He started for his coat.

The Lord & Lantern, nestled on a side-street just off the main square, had a black sign with gold lettering that read “Härskare & Lantern.” An image of a decadently-dressed man holding a lantern was engraved above the name. Ella and Newt checked in, the wizard trailing behind her as she found her room. “I just need a couple minutes...is that alright?” Ellandra asked.

Newt nodded, a bit shy, “of course.” He took an awkward step back. Ellandra unlocked her double doors. "Why are they double doors?" she wondered in passing, slipping into her room, shutting them behind her. She sighed, tossing her suitcase onto the large, tidy bed, stopping suddenly as she took in the size of the room. “Why is it so big?” she wondered, taking a moment to realize she’d checked in with Newt by her arm. “Oh, they must have thought we...” She flushed at the thought, smiling to herself. The walls were covered in patterned cream wallpaper. A hip-height, dark wooden dresser sat under a large window on the far wall, matching the door. The window only offered a view of an alley, but the sun shone warmly through it to the oak floorboards. Cream-colored curtains matching the walls hung around the window, and a small pot of crimson cyclamens sat atop the dresser.

Ellandra opened her suitcase, found her toiletries bag, and brought it to the bathroom. Switching the overhead light on, she saw herself for the first time in hours. Her hair somewhat disheveled, she noted her flushed appearance, almost laughing at herself. She took out her hair brush, moving it through her shoulder-length waves, humming a cheerful tune until they were tidy. She took out a tube of lipstick, dabbing a light layer on as she wondered what Newt must be doing.

Newt used his wand to straighten his bowtie, nervously running his fingers through his messy hair, leaning against the wall opposite Ellandra’s doors. "Why am I so nervous?" He asked himself this before noticing Pickett crawling down his arm. He reached it out a bit, watching Pickett fondly, holding his palm out for the bowtruckle to stand on: “Hello, Pickett!” He smiled, and Pickett smiled back. Newt lifted him closer to his face, “What do you think of Ella?”

The bowtruckle thought for a second, smiling again. Newt chuckled, “I agree.”

One of Ellandra’s doors opened, “Newt?” She whisked out of view.

Newt tucked Pickett back into his pocket, tentatively approaching her doorway, slipping inside, shutting the door behind him. Ella looked up from her open suitcase. Newt noticed her hair shone more than before, her lips just a little bit redder. He took in a deep breath, uttering a soft “hello,” gazing at her for a long moment.

He finally snapped out of it, blushing, painfully aware of himself. Catching Ellandra’s gratified smile, his heart leaped. He stepped farther into the large room and rested his case on the floor, unlatching it clumsily.

He left it ajar as he stood, turning to face his fair companion, avoiding her gaze. “I believe you have some creatures to meet. F-Follow me.” He swiftly turned away from her, climbing carefully into his case. Ella followed close behind, charmed by his timidness. He took her through the messy shed she’d come to know, to the creatures’ enclosures, feeding them as they went along. The first of the creatures were calm around Ellandra; Newt delighted in this. As they made their way to the occamy enclosure, Newt gave her a warning glance: “Be careful. Occamies tend to be aggressive when approached, but are particularly so when protecting eggs. You may want to stay back.” Ellandra backed up a few steps, gazing at the fifteen-foot long, two-legged, feathered serpentine creature with blue and violet coloring. Ella avoided meeting her gaze in case that would provoke her. The occamy bristled at the sight of her. Newt distracted the massive creature by opening a nearby cage full of rats, throwing one to her. She quickly caught it in her beak, swallowing it whole. This went on until she backed away, wrapping herself around her nest. “They’re under immense threat in the Far East, as their eggs are made of pure silver,” Newt noted.

Ella peered past the occamy’s enormous, circled body, spotting a small patch of glimmering silver behind it, looking up at Newt: “They’re beautiful.”

He nodded, smirking, “Exactly.”

When they came across a tree full of bowtruckles, he stopped. “Pickett really should be with the others, but he’s convinced they’ll bully him.” Newt took Pickett from his pocket, holding him up in front of his face. Pickett looked extremely reluctant. “Come on, Pickett, give me a smile,” Newt pleaded. Pickett stuck his tongue out at Newt.

“At least give it a try,” Newt insisted. He held his hand out to the small tree: “Alright, back on your hop.” Pickett stubbornly refused, clinging to Newt’s hand. Newt sighed, pulling him back a bit. “He has some attachment issues,” Newt revealed with a small smile, “Now go on, Pickett. They’re not going to bully you, come on.” Newt lifted his hand right next to a branch, but Pickett walked back up it, away from the tree, utterly refusing to go. “This is exactly why they accuse me of favoritism...” Newt remarked, returning Pickett to his vest pocket with little fuss.

Before they reached the snowy enclosure that housed a young girl’s obscurus, Newt stopped Ella by grabbing her shoulders, insisting: “Wait here!” He jogged to his shed, returning with his coat, offering it to Ellandra: “Here. It’s cold in there.” Ella smiled, giving him a soft “thanks,” slipping the too-big peacoat on. Ella smiled to herself as she noticed it smelled of grass, soil, and honey. When the obscurus came into view, Ella gave Newt an inquisitive look: “What is that?” The black, liquid-like mass swirled, suspended in midair above the snow.

Ella stepped closer, snow crunching beneath her feet, feeling its sinister, restless energy wash over her. She looked back to Newt, silently asking if he felt it, too. He nodded, looking somewhat distraught: “That’s...an Obscurus. There used to be more of them, but they still exist. Before wizards went into hiding, when we were still being hunted by Muggles, young witches and wizards sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. Instead of learning to harness or control their powers, they developed what was called an obscurus. It’s a powerful dark force that bursts forth from its host - called an Obscurial - and attacks without restraint. It’s extremely difficult to separate from the host; most wizards wouldn’t bother attempting it...I did.” Ellandra looked up at him, wide-eyed. Newt took no notice, “This obscurus lived inside a young Sundanese girl. She...died. I couldn't save her." Newt frowned deeply, his heart sinking. Ellandra put her hand on his shoulder. He leaned into her touch.

There was a great pain in his eyes as he recalled his next encounter with an obscurial: “It used to be believed that no obscurial had survived past the age of ten. In December, I went to New York City and happened across an obscurial that was in his teens. I’m still not sure how he managed to survive for that long with such a powerful darkness inside of him. His name was Credence. His obscurus lashed out, destroying buildings and...killing. I tried to stop it, but a very dark, powerful wizard named Gellert Grindelwald taunted the boy’s obscurus out.”

Newt looked increasingly troubled as he continued: “Grindelwald was responsible for a number of horrific attacks in Eastern Europe before stealing the identity of America’s Director of Magical Security, Percival Graves. With Grindelwald’s encouragement, Credence’s obscurus went on a rampage through New York. I followed him to a subway tunnel; about a dozen aurors came behind me - highly-trained dark-wizard-catchers, you could say. He was rapidly shifting between his human and obscurial forms. A friend and I did our best to coax his humanity out, to help him, but Grindelwald had other ideas. To the aurors at the scene, Grindelwald appeared to be their boss, Percival Graves...the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at MACUSA.”

“MACUSA?”

“The Magical Congress of the United States of America,” Newt recited hurriedly, “The equivalent of MACUSA in most other countries is a Ministry of Magic.” Ella recalled Newt sending Greg to the Swedish Ministry. Newt returned to his story: “Grindelwald, posing as Director Graves, battled me over Credence's obscurus. Fighting Grindelwald was the most dangerous duel of my life thus far,” he admitted soberly, “but I wasn’t going to lie down and let Credence be killed.” He was tense, his lower lip trembling as he recalled the moment with horror.

“Newt…” Ellandra rested her hand on his shoulder again. His body seemed to relax a bit under her touch, though his brow remained furrowed.

Newt continued: “Grindelwald drew out Credence’s obscurus. He wanted to use it to expose wizardkind 'for the greater good.' He wanted to lift the International Statute of Secrecy, and make muggles subordinate to wizards. It was thought that Grindelwald failed, and Credence died by the hand of the MACUSA aurors. I thought I had failed, but...I saw a small tendril of an obscurus float away into the air. I think Credence may have survived. He may be out there, somewhere.”

Ellandra’s hand dropped from his shoulder: “I'm sorry that happened, Newt. But, you were very brave.""Braver than me today..." she thought. "I can't help but wonder...I know his obscurus was wreaking havoc, but you say it could be separated from him...they didn’t have to try and kill him, did they?”

“No, they didn’t, but I understand why they did it...they didn't believe he could be saved, and his obscurus had caused immense destruction - even death. They had no reason to trust my judgment.” Newt looked thoroughly distraught, “I knew Grindelwald wasn’t Percival Graves when he turned on his aurors. For a moment, he fought fifteen of them - and me - without breaking a sweat. Only an extremely powerful wizard could take on that many highly-skilled wizards at once. I managed to catch him with one of my creatures and cast a Revelio spell on him. That finally exposed him as Grindelwald. MACUSA’s President, Seraphina Picquery, arrived just in time to arrest him. The muggles of New York had seen far too much...I...had to wipe their memories…” Newt’s voice grew quiet and somber, “There's a tale in that, for another time.”

As Newt finished his story, they both gazed at the floating obscurus, Ella all the more affected by his words as she watched the dark entity float before her. Newt hung his head, thoroughly distraught as he remembered Frank's obliviating rain, envisioning Jacob Kowalski’s heartbroken face just before he lost his memory. Newt had suppressed this memory, and many related ones for months, throwing himself into his research. Until this day, he’d avoided the obscurus enclosure altogether, concerned that it would remind him of all he’d lost, and all that was much too far away. He began to shiver, only partly because of the cold, tears welling up in his eyes, his shoulders falling.

Ella murmured a gentle “come here," lifting herself up to wrap her arms around his neck. He let out a quiet huff of air, quite unused to human touch, hugging her lightly, letting himself bury his face into her neck. Ella felt a dampness on his lashes as they strained against her throat. Newt whispered “I’m sorry,” trembling against her, alarmed by the potency of his own emotions. She cradled the nape of his neck with one hand, her fingers gliding into his cider hair, “There’s no need to be sorry.” He swallowed hard, tightening his grip on her, swallowing a dismal sound. “I’ve got you,” she reassured him - exactly what he needed to hear. He nodded solemnly against her skin, boundaries beginning to fall between them.

Newt smiled brokenly against her throat, his breath warm as it buffeted against her neck. Ella stroked his hair; he let out a quiet sigh. A minute passed before he pulled away a bit, wiping the tears from his eyes with the backs of his hands, blinking, offering an embarrassed half-smile. Ella half-smiled back. She squeezed his hand to offer some comfort, soon letting go. Knowing he was a shy creature, she gazed at the hovering obscurus instead of him, giving him time to collect himself. A long moment of silence passed before he bashfully took her hand again, leading her to the mooncalf enclosure for a cheerful distraction.

As they fed the remaining creatures, the mood gradually lightened. Newt told Ella much of what remained to be said of his misadventures in New York. He described capturing his escaped creatures, and the friends he’d made along the way. He noted Queenie’s warm confidence, Tina’s perseverance, Jacob’s unexpected loyalty, and everything they did for him. He glowed, smiling fondly as he told her of these far-away friends. Ella wished she could meet them. "Maybe I will one day," she thought.

Chapter Text

Ella sat alone in The Lord & Lantern’s small breakfast nook. The birds had only just begun to sing. She sat right next to an open window, enjoying the light summer air. As she sipped at a small cup of tea, she was somewhat restless, her fingers tapping on the tabletop in front of her. The events of the day before had altered her entire worldview. Ella knew that, as a muggle, she didn’t belong in the wizarding world, but she couldn’t help but be intrigued by it. She pictured Newt’s occamy bristling its massive wings, and the smiles of his adorable mooncalves, wondering at the existence of such awe-inspiring magical creatures.

As if on cue, an owl swooped from the sky, landing on the windowsill beside her. She almost spat her tea, choking a bit: “Greg?”

The owl stared at her with his big orange eyes, cocking his head to the side, a letter in his beak. She gingerly took the letter from him. “Newton Scamander,” it said in perfect penmanship. She turned it around to see a wax seal that shined like gold in the fresh sunlight. Pressed inside it was an image of a pheonix surrounded by three crowns.

Newt approached the small doorway, only half within view of Ella when he stopped to take her in. He noticed she remained unaware of him, preoccupied with an envelope. Newt spotted Greg and knew the envelope must be his. He chuckled softly to himself, taking a mental picture of her sitting in the morning sun, draped in a rose-colored dress that gave her a quite alluring glow. He wet his lips without realizing it, feeling a tightness in his chest. Too dazed to use his wand, he straightened his bowtie with his hands, leaning into the doorway as Ellandra examined a wax seal: “I see the Ministry replied to my letter.”

Ella jumped a bit, finally spotting him.

He winced, fretting, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!" Newt stepped across the small room, resting in the seat across from her.

“It's alright. Do you want some tea?” Ella asked as she handed the envelope to Newt. He smiled at her familiar tone, taking the letter, his hand brushing against hers. Ella felt a flare inside her somewhere and could’ve sworn she caught a smirk playing at Newt’s lips. He almost seemed to nod to himself, speaking softly, “No, thank you, I’ve had some.” He carefully opened the envelope, pulling out a neatly folded letter.

Ella sipped her tea as she watched him wet his lips, inquisitively inspecting the letter’s contents. A minute of silence passed before Newt folded it back up, tucking it into his mahogany vest pocket with a somewhat vexed expression. “They want me to meet with them as soon as possible. I have to make a trip to Stockholm.”

Ella nodded glumly, looking down at her hands where they rest on her teacup, “This is it, then, isn’t it?”

“I- I certainly hope not. Not if you’d like to come with me,” Newt offered, smiling timidly up at her, his blue-green eyes warm as he caught her unsure expression. “Ella,” he swallowed, timidly regarding her, “I...quite enjoy your company.”

She looked up at him, their gazes meeting for a second as they read each other. Newt’s expression was warm, “and scared,” Ella observed. He looked away, pretending to study Greg, holding his hands together on the table in an attempt to steady them. He spoke up, stumbling over his words, “Though, it- it may be rather uninteresting, and I know you have-”

“Newt,” she said gently, silencing him.

He looked up at Ella from behind his cider hair, tilting his head a bit, something hopeful in his eyes. She reached across the table, catching one of his warm, trembling hands in hers. Her heart raced as she felt his fingers clench in response.

“I’ll go with you,” she assured him, voice affected.

His shoulders relaxed as he quickly hid the giddy smile on his face: “Wonderful.” He pulled his hand back, watching as Greg suddenly flew out of sight, a white-haired couple shuffling into the small breakfast nook. They picked a table across the room, the wife sitting down while the husband meandered over to the kettle that sat on a low counter. The wife looked over at Newt and Ella, noticing how they leaned in toward each other, excited energy coming off of them in waves. Ella glanced over at her just in time to catch her smiling at them. She smiled back, timid, straightening up as she looked back to Newt, who looked dazed: “I’ll call my family and tell them I’ll be late.” She didn’t give him a chance to respond, rising eagerly from the table, “Come on!”

Ella took her teacup and saucer over to the low counter as the old man began teetering toward his wife with two cups and saucers in his hands. Newt quietly offered the man his help, taking both cups and saucers and bringing them over to the old man’s wife, setting them on their table. In the meantime, Ella left her dishes in the small sink, taking a couple raspberry danishes from the small platter beside it. The couple, quite charmed, thanked Newt as Ella approached him, her hand brushing against his. His fingers twitched in response. Ella spotted his slight flush, nodding to the old woman with a grin just as they slipped through the doorway.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Luggage in hand, Ella and Newt strode purposefully through the upstairs hall of the Lord & Lantern, turning into a small alcove. "Are we venturing into another storage closet?" Ella teased.

Newt chuckled, "Not this time." He pulled out his wand, aiming it at the brass lock, speaking softly: "Alohomora!" The unmarked door unlocked. Newt opened it, leading Ella into a room with only a small window and a massive fireplace.

“Should I ask?” She pondered as she looked at the towering fireplace. She decided against it, knowing Newt would explain.

“We’re travelling to the Ministry via the Floo Network. You’ll take some of this floo powder here...” Newt pointed to a large urn sitting beside the fireplace, “...step into the fireplace, throw the powder to the ground, and state your intended location, the Swedish Ministry of Magic. Green flames will surround you, and you’ll be sent off through the Network, landing in one of their fireplaces.” He looked up at her from behind a swath of wavy hair, “Be sure to keep your elbows in.”

Ella squinted, “Should I go first?”

Newt blinked, a bit surprised, giving her a small nod, “If you’d prefer.”

“I think I would,” she said as she eyed the urn warily. “I’d rather get it over with.”

“Let me take your case,” Newt politely insisted, holding out his hand.

“Oh...thank you.” She handed it off, stepping over to the urn, taking a handful of the sparkling emerald powder. She stepped carefully into the fireplace, facing Newt, wide-eyed, looking to him for guidance.

He met her gaze, speaking sternly: “Be sure to enunciate clearly. If you don’t, you may end up somewhere you didn’t mean to go.”

Ella steeled herself, “Will the fire hurt?”

The corner of Newt’s mouth turned up, his soft voice reassuring, “You won’t feel a thing.”

Ella nodded, “Okay.”

She hesitated.

“I’ll be right behind you,” Newt assured her.

She nodded, taking a deep breath, throwing the floo powder to the stones beneath her, speaking clearly: “The Swedish Ministry of Magic!” A column of bright green flames rose around her, and she disappeared. Newt smiled to himself, stepping toward the mantle.

Ella landed in the ministry fireplace with a look of terror on her face. Her stomach swirled as she adjusted to standing. She cleared her throat, straightening her coat and her expression, stepping away from the human-sized opening. She looked around, taking in a long row of identical stone fireplaces, watching as a man appeared in a far one through a flash of green. The walls in the large corridor were covered in neat, squared-off molding, painted a cheery yellow that almost glistened, a color she was surprised to see in a government building. ”A magical government building,” she corrected herself.

Newt blazed in through the fireplace adjacent to hers, straightening his bowtie with his wand as he approached her. He tucked his wand back into his pocket, looking stern as he analyzed her expression: “Are you alright, Ella?”

“I’m fine,” she assured him, “I’m just...a little nauseous, but it's passing.” She looked a bit shaken.

“In England, I’d get in trouble for letting you do that. Here, you’re with me, and that’s enough of an excuse.” Newt was half sure of that statement. He looked Ella up and down, checking for damage, though he knew the Floo Network was safe. He began to worry about her being a muggle. “I can always say she’s a squib,” he thought, distractedly handing Ellandra her suitcase.

“Alright,” Newt took her free hand in his, pulling her along as he strode down the corridor, “I'm meeting with the Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” Ella nodded, though Newt missed it as he walked with purposeful haste. They paraded through a large hallway with a towering ceiling painted with images of witches and wizards in various scenes. In one, a mass of them held up their glowing wands to the sky. In another, they seemed to be dancing. The quality of the painting was striking, the colors extremely lifelike. In her periphery, Ella almost thought she saw an image move.

Tall windows framed in white took up half the space on each wall, letting in the sunlight with a clear view of the ministry’s well-tended flower beds. Ella grinned, delighted at the sight of such a variety of flora. “Rose, hibiscus, honeysuckle...” She spotted the city on the horizon. Newt didn’t hear her, a nervous air about him. She squeezed his hand to get his attention, pointing to a bunch of tall violet flowers: “Newt, what are those?” He slowed to a normal pace, but didn’t stop, sounding distracted: “Oh, Wolfsbane. Its roots are used in a potion that eases the symptoms of lycanthropy.”

Ella’s brow furrowed as she recalled her knowledge of Greek: “Lycan...lykos...wolf?”

“Werewolfism,” Newt offered, audibly impressed.

Ella let out an incredulous laugh, murmuring to herself: “Werewolves are real...” She spoke up: “Have you used it?”

“Of course,” Newt broke into a smile despite his nerves, knowing her interest was genuine. They quickly approached a reception desk where a young woman sat speaking on a dial telephone in a thick Swedish accent. Ella overheard her conversation: “Yes, sir, that form was sent to you by owl.”

Newt stepped up to the counter in front of her, making very little eye contact. The woman continued to speak on the phone: “You’re welcome, sir. Have a nice day. Goodbye.” She wore a yellow and white checkered dress, almost matching the decor, her wavy platinum hair cut short. Her blue eyes met Newt’s as she gave him a customer service smile, “How may I help you, sir?”

Newt leaned in, “I have an appointment with Director Bergström.”

“Newt Scamander?”

“Yes,” Newt gave a small nod, body language somewhat stiff.

“Of course,” She eyed Ellandra curiously, “He’ll be just a minute. Please, take a seat.” She motioned to the waiting area behind them, to their right. Newt nodded, “Thank you,” taking Ella by the arm. They sat together in front of a window. A man sat on the opposite end of the waiting area, reading a newspaper with moving pictures.

Ella leaned closer to Newt, watching the newspaper with fascination as she whispered to him: “Why did the receptionist look at me like that?”

“Like what?” He blinked at her, pressing his lips together.

“Like I’m out of place. I mean, I know I am...but is it wrong for me to be here, as a...” She lowered her voice even further, “...muggle?”

“No, but...you may not want to mention that. In most countries, it’s frowned upon to let muggles know about the wizarding world. She probably thought you looked like one.”

“Looked like one?”

“It’s difficult to explain. How about this: if anyone asks, we say you’re a squib-”

Ella wrinkled her nose, “A what?”

Newt chuckled, still whispering: “A squib is someone with wizard parents who doesn’t have magical powers. They're a bit...looked down upon by most wizards, but it’s a fitting excuse for your seeing all this.” He subtly motioned around the room.

Ella nodded slowly, whispering back: “Okay. Squib?”

Newt nodded back at her, a smile playing at his lips, his hazel eyes shining with mischief, “Squib.”

“Or I could call you my wife,” Newt thought, but slightly shook his head, rejecting the idea with a flush.

“Newt Scamander!” A baritone voice called out. Newt and Ella looked up, pulling away from each other. A tall, muscular man with a square face and powerful presence approached them. The man confidently held out his hand, his brown eyes glistening as a big smile spread across his face: “It’s a pleasure to meet you!” He wore a navy suit, his brown hair slicked back, but not to cover a balding head. He looked mid-thirties. Newt stood, shaking the man’s hand, looking small beside him.

Newt’s hand got crushed in the man’s grip. He narrowly avoided wincing: “The pleasure is - is mine, Director Bergström.”

Bergström chuckled dismissively at the pleasantry, releasing Newt’s hand, “Please, call me Alan! Mister Scamander,” his tone became serious, “thank you for coming out here on such short notice.”

Newt nodded in his timid way, smiling up at him, “Of course.”

Bergström turned to Ella, chipper once again, “And who is your fine companion, here?”

Newt really wasn’t sure what Ella was to him. A friend? “Something else...” Newt reflected, unable to define it. He thought quickly on his feet: “This is my research assistant, Ellandra Belmont. She recently graduated from Cornell with a degree in botany,” Newt bragged, a bright smile on his face. Ella reflected Newt’s expression. They both found themselves warming up to Bergström’s affable demeanor.

“It must be difficult not to be able to use magic,” Bergström sympathized, “But Cornell is an excellent muggle school. It seems you haven’t let a non-magic lifestyle keep you down!” Bergström wasn’t exactly a tactful man. The receptionist shot him a warning glance from a few yards away, but he was oblivious to it.

Ella nodded, unable to hold back a laugh, “I certainly haven’t.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Belmont,” Bergström shook her hand gently. “However, I must take Mister Scamander for a bit.” He stopped suddenly, thinking of something: “Before we go, would you like anything? Tea? Alice can get you some tea if you’d like,” he said, motioning to the receptionist.

“Oh, no, thank you, I’m fine,” Ella insisted.

“Of course. If you change your mind...” Bergström motioned to Alice again, wiggling his eyebrows with a comedic grin.

Ellandra giggled, wondering what this man had for breakfast, “Thank you, sir.”

As she watched the two men disappear around the corner, Ella let out a quiet sigh. Alice, the receptionist, was already on the phone again, speaking in words she couldn’t understand. Ella got comfortable in her chair, feeling a little sleepy as the sunlight warmed her back.

Newt settled down in the chair facing Bergström’s desk, gingerly setting his case on the floor beside it. A blueberry muffin sat on a napkin on the opposite side, while messy piles of papers filled most of the desk’s surface. The morning sun shone through a small window to Newt’s right, beating onto the somewhat weathered floorboards.

“I’m going to be straight with you, Newt,” Bergström said, standing behind his desk, pacing a bit, “We went through your attacker’s memories. As you know, he was after your case...”

Newt nodded, listening intently, lips pressed into a thin line as he looked at the brass omnioculars on his desk.

“A man named Sullivan Witt sent some goons out to hunt for your case. There’s a price on it.”

Newt blinked, looking up at him, “How much?”

“In pounds...50.” (£2800/$3500 today) He leaned on his desk, unintentionally towering over Newt.

Newt's mouth fell open, "I'm sorry?"

"Fifty pounds, Mister Scamander."

Newt blinked, shifting in his chair, “Does this Sullivan Witt have connections to...Gellert Grindelwald?”

Alan was surprised by Newt's guess, nodding soberly, “Your attacker’s name was Goodfellow. A bit ironic, really...” He chuckled but cleared his throat when he spotted Newt’s worried expression, standing upright again, “His memories showed us that Witt wants to be Grindie’s right-hand man. He thinks getting your case will win his favor. Goodfellow also remembers Witt mentioning something about an obscurus...” His last statement almost sounded like a question.

“Grindelwald wants to use an obscurus to expose wizardkind. When I fought him in New York-“

“You fought Gellert Grindelwald? Banana oil!”

“I-I assure you, sir, it happened,” Newt shifted in his seat, “There were about a dozen aurors there as well...”

“Wow. I knew MACUSA pinched him in New York, but...huh. Not to be rude, but I didn’t peg you as a fighter, Mister Scamander.”

“When necessary, a defender, I’d like to think.” Newt returned to the topic at hand: “He was after the obscurus of a young man named Credence, but failed to obtain it. Since he can’t get one from where MACUSA locked him up, he must’ve sent his fanatics out to find one.” He frowned.

“That’s quite the theory, Mister Scamander. I hope you’re wrong,” Alan professed, landing in his large leather armchair with an oomph, ”but that would explain a lot...”

Newt avoided admitting to having an obscurus, especially one Grindelwald had seen. Polyjuice potion wasn't easy to make, or afford, but he had to play it safe: “Grindelwald likely suspects I have an obscurus. I know more about them than most any other wizard. I’ve studied them at length...this Witt must think I have one in my case.”

“Do you, Mister Scamander?” Bergström leaned in, curious, not accusatory, “...have one in your case?” He nodded toward the case.

Newt hesitated, anxious. “Do I trust him?” he asked himself, Should I trust him?” After what happened at MACUSA, Newt was worried. He wrung his hands together, letting out a huff of air, “No.”

Alan nodded, half buying it, “I suggest you go somewhere no one knows about, Mister Scamander. Wait this out. I’ve called MACUSA about my findings; they’ll be watching Grindelwald closely. The aurors here are on alert for his followers - especially this Witt fellow. Goodman may have just been a thug, but there are more dangerous men looking for that case of yours.” He nodded toward the case again as he finished. “You seem like a stand-up guy...I wouldn’t want you to get into any more trouble.”

Newt gave him a timid smile, “Thank you, Director.”

Bergstrom made a dismissive sound, "It's my job, Mister Scamander." He took a chunk out of his muffin, stuffing it into his mouth as he stood. “Let mf show yf out,” he insisted.

As Bergström led Newt back to the waiting area, he stopped just before rounding the corner, lowering his voice: "One more thing, if you don't mind."

Newt stopped, looking quizzically up at the Director.

"Those memories of Goodfellow's...I looked over them myself. Miss Belmont...she risked her life for you, no?"

"She did," Newt nodded, fighting a smile despite himself.

"If you don't mind my saying so, you seem like a man who...stumbles into quite a bit of trouble.” He took a deep breath, his tone growing sincere as he seemed to speak from experience: "She really cares about you."

Newt blinked, surprised by Bergström's observation. Newt dismissed it: “She did that instinctually.” He shifted on his feet. “Yes,” he offered a timid smile.

Bergström nodded, solemn, “You have to decide what’s more important to you: having her around, or keeping her safe. She doesn’t have the magic to defend herself. Think it over.” He patted Newt’s shoulder, giving him a small nod, and turned, heading back to his office.

As Newt approached Ellandra, he seemed to hesitate.

She immediately noticed a difference in his countenance. Her brow furrowed, “Everything okay?”

“Of course,” he smiled half-convincingly, hiding behind his hair.

Ella read his face, worried by what she found: “What did he say?”

Newt avoided her gaze, clearly distraught.

“Newt?” She stood, touching his arm, and he flinched, voice low, “Come with me.”

She followed behind him as he trudged out of the waiting area, something sad and quiet about him. They passed under some of the murals that almost moved for Ella, but moved for Newt. He ignored the dancing figures, eyes glazed over as he walked a death march toward a small door marked with a word Ella couldn’t read.

“Is it closet time?” Ellandra joked halfheartedly.

Newt gave her a small smile that quickly slipped away, holding the door open for her, eager for some privacy. It really was a closet. Newt pulled a string, turning on a ceiling light as Ellandra closed the door. The shelves were stacked with paper, quills, ink bottles, and an array of other office supplies. They both set their cases down in the small, carpeted floor space. Newt swallowed, looking up at Ella with an apology in his eyes, trying to speak but struggling with the words.

“Newt.”

He swallowed, hesitating a moment before starting, “Ella, return to the Lord & Lantern without me. There-”

“No...” Ella’s heart sank; she felt weak.

“There are men out there hunting for my case,” he forged ahead, anxiously meeting her gaze, swallowing in an attempt to even his tone, “You're...not safe with me.” He looked down to the floor, scuffing his shoe, the closest he’d come to showing frustration all day. Pickett peeked out of Newt’s pocket, looking up at Ellandra with sad, beady eyes.

“But you’re magic, Newt, you’ll take care of it...it’ll...” she stopped as she saw him flinch, blinking back... “tears?” she wondered. He straightened up, hurriedly wiping his eyes, trying to give her a smile. His voice was unsteady: “I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can’t...I won’t let you get hurt on my account. Never.” He swallowed hard, his shoulders falling.

“Let me help you,” Ella pleaded, knowing it was a lost cause.

Newt looked at her with a warmhearted sadness, his lips quirking up a bit, “You’ve already helped me.” He blinked hard, trembling, trying and failing to keep his composure. Ella stepped into his space, gently holding his trembling hand in hers. “Newt...”

“Please,” he whispered.

”...don’t make this harder than it has to be,” Ella filled in.

”...forgive me for this,” Newt thought with a quiet sigh, his breath unsteady, “I wish I were an irrational man...” He looked up at her with this thought in his eyes.

Ella turned from him, reaching a high shelf, grabbing a spare piece of parchment, searching a lower one, taking an almost empty bottle of ink and a quill. She set them down on a partly empty shelf at waist height, dipping the quill into the ink, struggling with it a bit at first. ”This is outright medieval...” She got the quill to work, scrawling her Swedish family’s address a bit messier than she would have with a regular fountain pen. She hesitated for a moment, writing out her home address, though she was sure it wouldn’t go to any use.

Newt watched intently, feeling something warm in his chest as he watched her blow on the ink with care. “I can’t obliviate her,” Newt thought as she waited a moment to let the parchment dry. He felt selfish knowing he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Ella’s hair fell from where it’d been tucked behind her ear; Newt reflexively began to reach up... He stopped himself with a quiet exhale, sure it would do neither of them any good.

Ella carefully folded the paper, turning to face him, bravely stepping closer, their bodies only separated by a few inches. Newt’s breaths were shallow as he watched her, waiting to see what she would do. ”Perhaps what I can’t bring myself to do,” he wondered. She could almost feel the tug of his heavy heart as her hand reached for his chest. He almost flinched when she made contact, slipping the paper into his free coat pocket, speaking almost at a whisper: “If you want to find me...” She let the rest of the thought linger in the air, looking to Pickett for a moment, giving him a sad smile, holding his twiggy hand in hers for a pause. Newt smiled with sad eyes, affected, smelling the orange-blossom sweetness of her hair. “I’m going to miss that,” he thought, though he’d hardly known her a day. He felt like he’d known her all his life, and at the same time had been starved of her.

Newt steeled himself a bit, lifting his chin and meeting her searching gaze. Her eyes were wet, defeat in them. Newt reached up, unable to stop himself now, tucking her hair behind her ear. Ella leaned into his hand, so he - bravely, in his mind - rested it against her rosy cheek. He issued a quiet promise as he let go of her, meeting her hurting gaze: “I’ll bring you a copy of my book.”

She reached her hand up to hold his face in return, timid, her fingers venturing slowly to the nape of his neck. He shivered, lips parting as he looked down at her, entirely at her mercy. She slipped her hand into his hair, gently cradling his head, grasping his arm with her other hand, pulling herself lightly against him. He let in an unsteady breath.

She imagined herself leaning in and gently parting his lips with hers, kissing him slowly. She thought of the small sound he might make in surprise, and how he might relax into it. But Ellandra didn’t dare. She nervously looked up at him, their eyes meeting in the heavy silence.

Taking a deep breath, Ella dutifully moved Newt aside, pressing his back against the shelves to free her access to the door. She had to leave before she couldn’t do it anymore. Their eyes met, sharing a reticent yearning they dared not bring to light.

Ella pressed her hands against his chest, rising onto the balls of her feet, giving Newt a soft kiss on the cheek. He blushed, letting out a breath he'd been holding as her lips met his burning skin. Ella took her last chance to breathe in his musky-sweet woodland scent before pulling back. She gazed deep into his teary eyes as they faithfully followed her every move. Her voice was weak, “Newt, in this short time, you’ve...” she swallowed, “...you’ve given me so much. You've given me magic.” She bit her lip, her fingers trembling against him, “Thank you.”

Newt nodded with a quirk of his lips, barely whispering: “Of course.” He slowly reached up, gently wiping the tears from her cheeks.

Ella closed her eyes as she felt his touch. She took a deep breath, opening them, reaching up to take his hands, lowering them to his sides. She picked up her suitcase, patting the paper in Newt’s pocket with a weighty glance at him. She opened the closet door, slipping out into the bright hall. Knowing not to look back, she breezed past the seemingly unmoving painted pictures above her. She took a handful of floo powder by the first fireplace she came to, blinking back tears as she stepped inside. With the words “The Lord & Lantern,” the woman in pink vanished in a blaze of green.

For a time, Newt stared out the open closet door, a living picture of heartache. He swallowed hard, wiping his stinging eyes. “Alright, Pickett,” he murmured half-heartedly, taking his case and stepping out into the shining sun. Pickett crawled up his peacoat, resting on his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Newt trudged through a dense forest, watching the sun flicker between the bountiful branches above. He breathed in the smell of petrichor, running his fingers through his tawny hair, letting out a sigh. When he’d apparated to Röstånga the day before, he’d been unfortunate enough to get caught in a tempest of heavy rain. He’d spent the night locked away in Röstånga Gästgivaregård. The inn was brick-faced, homey, and sat just off a major road. Its gabled roof was made up of terra cotta tiles, plants growing zealously inside pots lining the front steps. Today, Newt was grateful to be in nature at last. In passing, he recalled Director Bergström’s warning to him. “Grindlewald’s fanatics know nothing of this place,” Newt assured himself, accustomed to exploring corners of the world his fellow wizards hardly bothered with.

While in a pub on the coast of Ireland a week before, Newt had overheard a wizard discussing how a couple of wizards had cut down a number of wand trees in Skåne County, Sweden along with their resident bowtruckles. The man had laughed, calling bowtruckles an inconvenience, leaving Newt with a knot in his brow. Newt knew then that he must help the displaced creatures. Finally in the forest of Skåne County where those bowtruckles resided, Pickett sat on Newt’s shoulder, on the lookout, glad to help the wizard in this honorable undertaking.

About three hours passed in which Newt and his companion scoured the brush for bowtruckles. Sunlight passed through high branches, shining on Newt’s lightly speckled ivory face. He took a deep breath, enjoying the warmth resting on his cheeks, closing his eyes to open them anew. A soft chattering and rustling came from a broken tree far ahead.

Newt spoke softly as he plucked Pickett off of his shoulder, placing him in his palm: “What do you think, Pickett?”

Pickett listened to the rustling, peering with his beady brown eyes, finally giving Newt a small nod. Newt nodded in response, returning Pickett to his linen-bound shoulder. A small smile played at his lips as he carefully stepped closer to the rustling in the brush. Upon reaching the split tree trunk, bits of light green disappeared from view as the bowtruckles hid from the wizard. Newt knelt beside their hideaway, holding Pickett out so he could climb onto the splitting wood. Pickett roused the bowtruckles, encouraging them to trust Newt. Reluctantly, they peeked out from behind tiny leaves and ancient wood.

Setting them on the tree inside his case, Newt smiled bigger than he had since he’d left Ella. Helping creatures always lifted his mood, and it served as a good distraction from his melancholy. Newt even managed to convince Pickett to return his tree, though he suspected the bowtruckle did so out of pity. Disposing of this thought, Newt stepped up the ladder of his case, returning to his resting spot by a burbling stream.

The sun hung a little lower in the sky, filtering through the low-hanging branches and tall vegetation. Newt rest his back against a sturdy trunk, casting a disillusionment charm on his case, rendering it nearly invisible as it took on the colors of its surroundings. He’d learned the spell very young, as his mother had always bred hippogriffs. A British Ministry law required wizards to cast it on their hippogriffs (or winged horses) every day. Recalling this with a nostalgic smile, Newt closed his eyes in the peaceful quiet of the wood, slowly dozing off.

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Newt awoke to the sound of unnatural bursts of air a few yards away. Peering through a sunset haze, he saw five men in shades of black and gray approaching him. Newt whispered anti-alohamora and anti-theft charms, casting them on his case, which remained camouflaged by its surroundings. He swiftly rose, hiding behind the trunk of the large tree he’d been leaning against.

A menacing laugh came from nearby, the footsteps of the men drawing closer. A taunting voice spoke: “We know you’re there, Scamander...and we will have your Obscurus.”

Newt squeezed his eyes shut, leaning his head into his hand in disbelief and mild frustration, thinking: “How did they find me here?” A number of defensive and offensive spells rushed through his mind. He waited a beat before launching himself from the tree’s shielding trunk with a firm “petrificus totalus!” The spell whirred toward the leader of the group, who stood with two men at each side. He cast a nonverbal shield, laughing haughtily. The man to his left shifted on his feet, wand at the ready. “Give me the word, Witt...”

Witt, a sinewy 5’9” with a head of short, pale hair, barked in response: “Not now, Barclay!”

“Slytherin,” Newt thought, straightening his posture, speaking calmly: “Sullevin Witt, I presume?”

Witt eyed him, amused, “Quite right. And you’ll be giving me that obscurus of yours, Scamander.”

“You’re not having that,” Newt asserted calmly.

Witt cracked his rough knuckles, drawing his wand. His somewhat less astute, but equally threatening companions followed suit.

Newt was certain the strangers couldn’t see his case. Ever the merciful Hufflepuff, Newt left his wand at his side until he saw Witt lift his. Newt spoke a hurried “expelliarmus,” which the other man deflected. Newt cast another spell; Witt called “protego,” shielding himself from it. There was a bout of casting and shielding between them so quick Witt stopped for breath, shielding himself. The villain laughed, unnervingly calm: “You’re a tricky one, Scamander, I’ll give you that. Maybe we can make this easy... How about a trade? The obscurus, for this.” His wand pointed toward the thin air beside the goon standing closest to the stream: “Revelio.”

“Ella,” Newt breathed in surprise as the shroud around her fell away. He blinked hard as if to be sure she was real, taking a step toward her. Newt's eyes met Ella’s, hers betraying her fear, her cheeks tear-stained. Newt assumed Ellandra feared for her life. In truth, despite his powers, she feared much more for his.

“Not so fast, Mister Scamander,” Witt cautioned, wand now trained on him. “Hand over the Obscurus, and you get the girl.”

Ella's eyes glistened in the low light, her lips trembling with pain: "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, Newt."

Newt swallowed, blinking hard, the pain on Ella's face reflected in his.

"They tortured me, and when I wouldn't tell them, they used this...this potion; I couldn't stop myself." A tear fell down her cheek; she looked away from him, ashamed.

"Truth serum," Newt thought, his face twisting as he spotted the line of dried blood that crossed Ella’s throat. He looked down to see bruises on her wrists, ankles, and in multiple places on her arms. "How long did they torture her?" He eyed the goon holding her at wand-point, a burst of blue light shooting from his wand as he impulsively cast stupefy on him. The man’s wand fell as he met the ground with a thud, rendered unconscious. Ella gasped, clambering toward the stream and away from her captors, one following while the others cast at Newt, who called “Protego Duo!” His magical shield grew in size and strength as he deflected multiple attacks.

The goon that followed Ella tugged her away from the stream with brute strength, holding her at wand-point again. She watched in disbelief as Witt appeared next to Newt, chalking his apparition up to her blinking at the wrong instant. Newt cast a powerful flippendo; Witt deflected it handily. Newt became a swirling form, disappearing. Ella stared in disbelief at where he’d stood, forgetting the jabbing of the wand at her throat and the heavy breathing of Witt’s goon behind her as Newt appeared behind the trunk of a large elder tree. This tree faced the backs of the three dumbfounded wizards not holding a wand to Ella. Despite Newt’s antics, she could feel the man watching her, seemingly unaware.

From behind cover, Newt silently cast stupefy on the two goons standing near the tree. They fell unceremoniously to the ground. As Witt watched his men fall, wand at the ready, he backed into Newt’s invisible case, jostling it. A sickening smile formed on his face; he jeered: “Found your case, Scamander!”

Knowing the man holding her was distracted, Ella pulled out the wand she’d stealthily taken from the stupefied goon lying nearby, pointing it at her captor behind her back, squeezing her eyes shut, willing it to work. In an instant, she heard a yell, her captor’s wand ricocheting off her shoe as the goon was sent flying back. She turned around just in time to watch him tangle with a thornbush, groaning in pain as he landed with a sharp, wooden snap.

Witt nearly rolled his eyes at his companion’s luck, aiming his wand at Newt’s case, attempting to unlock it: “Alohamora.” The case stayed locked. Witt chuckled to himself, “Worth a try.” Newt lithely darted from behind the large tree: “Stupefy!” Witt deflected it with little regard, diverting a few of Newt’s other powerful spells with demoralizing ease as he pondered the case. Deflecting another of Newt’s spells, he decided on another unlocking charm: “Cistem aperio.” The case burst open, the only visible part the rectangular gap above Newt’s shed. Witt whistled, “Expansion spell.” Newt stepped closer to him, artfully aiming his wand, casting a powerful nonverbal spell that Witt could not ignore. The scoundrel turned on his feet, both surprised and angered by the force of Newt’s attack; his red Cruciatus met Newt’s blue Flipendo in a striking clash.

Though he struggled against Witt’s barrage, Newt’s magic eventually won out, knocking his opponent to the ground. Newt smirked a bit, wiping the back of his hand across his forehead, breathing hard. He kept his wand and eyes trained on Witt as he spoke: “If you would kindly surrender now, it would simplify this.”

Witt laughed only half mockingly, amused by Newt’s civility considering the circumstances. “Ah, no, Mister Scamander, though you make it sound like a delightful offer. Your Obscurus, like nothing else, could free our kind from the shadows.”

Newt scowled, casting a spell toward Witt’s feet, tendrils of devil’s snare sprouting rapidly from the earth around them. As they climbed up the wizard, binding his arms and legs, Newt made a quick, tight swirling motion with his wand: “Expelliarmus!”

Witt blocked it just as vines began to wrap around his wrists, shouting “Lumos Solem!” A bright, blinding light beamed from his wand, withering the conjured devil’s snare. He began to tear it from his hands.

"Newt!” Ella yelled, pointing to the first goon Newt had hit with Stupefy. This earned her a good kick from her captor. The newly conscious thug stumbled to his feet, disoriented but irate.

Newt cast a spell at the goon, but he jumped out of the way, landing on the ground with a thud, spotting his wand in Ella’s hand as she cautiously retreated from him. Before Newt could disable him again, Witt rose to his feet, pinkish marks around his wrists, knees, and ankles, furious as he lifted his wand, casting a powerful spell Newt struggled to deflect.

Ella watched Newt’s chest rise and fall, noting his labored breathing, catching the tenseness in his jaw as he stood hardened for battle. A rustling began a few yards from her. “Newt!” Ella called, panicked, as the goon Newt had first knocked unconscious began trudging toward her, brow furrowed, fists clenched, his face flushed with rage. Witt cast at Newt again. Newt shielded himself, then with impossible speed cast a powerful Flippendo, knocking Witt down again.

Ella screamed. Newt spun, spotting the thug quickly encroaching on her; he knocked him down with a flick of his wand, fretfully noticing Ella in the dirt, holding her hand over a gushing slash in her wrist; the goon had made an attempt for his wand. Ella held it between her teeth as Newt occasionally did, putting pressure on her wound. Newt turned to Witt, who was beginning to rise, but looked back to Ella as Witt’s goon launched himself toward her; he stumbled when Newt cast a hasty trip jinx. The man fell, Ella scrambling aside as his body hit the ground, unsettling a cloud of dirt. He groaned.

Ella looked up to spot Newt turning back to his case. Witt’s head disappeared into it. Newt swore under his breath, launching himself onto the ladder inside, racing through his shed in pursuit. Ella forgot the nasty gash on her arm as her adrenaline kicked in. She stumbled to her feet, running after him. Just before dropping into his case, she turned to face Witt’s only conscious companion, who was now sitting up. “Don’t follow. I will use this,” she threatened, holding up his wand.

He scoffed, absently touching the fresh scar on his forehead, lowering his hand to investigate the blood on his fingers, “Witt’s already got what we came for, girl.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” she remarked with narrowed eyes, meeting his now lifted gaze. The stranger smirked, murmuring “accio,” sending his wand flying toward him. He caught it in the air, disapparating with a small pop. Ella shook her head, convinced he was too injured to come after her. She stepped over the side of Newt’s case onto the rungs of its ladder, disappearing after the magizoologist.

Witt zig-zagged as he sprinted through Newt’s case. The baby occamies cried out in their nest, an oversized dung beetle scuttling away from the stranger. Newt followed close behind, giving his creatures various assurances as he cast petrification spells that Witt evaded. A murtlap bumbled toward the intruder, leaping high and suctioning to his face. Witt blindly pointed his wand toward the creature, casting a knockback jinx that sent it soaring. Newt, almost caught up, swiftly cast a spell on the murtlap, slowing its fall.

Witt cast a spell back toward Newt, who blocked it handily; Witt wiped the slime off his face with a disgusted grunt as he pressed into a sprint again. Newt gave chase, watching with chagrin as Witt darted past the mooncalves, dodging his spells despite Newt’s deft aim. The Hufflepuff lost much of his deliberate calm as Witt approached the snowy enclosure housing the Obscurus.

“Feels different,” Witt muttered to himself through heavy breaths, furrowing his thick, flaxen brows. As he raced along, he wondered if the distressing weight in the air was the effect of an obscurus he’d heard so much about. He stepped from side to side, sensing where the feeling was strongest, absently shielding himself from behind with a charm. Newt took advantage of Witt's distractedness, apparating close beside him. Witt moved his shielding charm before Newt could get a spell in. He turned to face the freckled wizard, stepping backward toward the Obscurus, a dangerous brand of fury in his eyes.

“Accio!” Newt proclaimed, drawing the Obscurus behind him.

Witt extinguished his shield, lifting his wand, posturing. Newt made a similar motion, though with more artful footwork.

Ella appeared in the doorway behind Newt, knees covered in dirt, gasping for breath. She took in the scene, instinctively stepping closer to Newt.

“Ellandra, stay back,” Newt insisted, brow furrowed as he watched his opponent.

She stopped not far behind him, adrenaline coursing through her veins.

Witt and Newt cast at each other quickly, Witt viciously. Newt’s spells had force, but little fury. Flashes of light in an array of colors shot between them, while shields flashed in and out of invocation. Sweat formed on their brows as the men shot and dodged, melting and slicing the snow. A great power was tangible within their spells. Witt cast a slash of white light at Newt - Newt failed to dodge. He gasped, glancing toward the side of his chest, where the fabric of his shirt had been burned through and the skin had been seared by a razor-like fire. Ella stepped closer to him, reaching out.

Newt caught her in his peripheral vision, voice harsher than she’d ever heard it “Stay back, Ellandra!” He refused to let her get hurt again. Another spell volleyed toward him, this one hitting him square in the chest with a flash of blue. Newt grunted, collapsing onto his knees, casting a moderately powerful shield despite his injury.

Witt laughed, “Give up, Scamander. You don’t really want to get beat in front of your doll, do you?"

"Hell hath no fury..." Newt thought, eyes lighting up as he recalled her eagerness to come to his aid, despite how much he disapproved of it.

"Give me the Obscurus,” Witt growled.

“Never,” Newt rumbled, dropping his shield in less than a blink, casting a spell at Witt. Witt conjured a shield an inch from his skin just before the spell made contact. As Newt struggled to his feet, Witt lifted his wand with an expression of sickening triumph. Ella caught this, pushing into a sprint before she could think.

“Crucio!” Witt called.

Ella threw herself in front of Newt as the spell reached the air before him.

Blinding pain burned through Ella’s body, sawblades tearing her apart. The gash in her wrist felt like it was splitting open. She fell into the snow, letting out a terrifying scream. Witt’s sadistic laugh came through the ringing in her ears. She writhed, the snow stinging like thousands of needles.

The bulk of her pain halted as a grunt and snap came from where Witt’s voice had been. Ella looked up just in time to see Newt racing toward him. “Accio,” he called sharply, pointing his wand at Witt’s, but Witt rolled out of the way with a groan, spitting snow out of his mouth as blood trickled down from his nose. With a quiet pop, he disappeared.

Newt swore under his breath. Ella’s head fell as a wave of exhaustion washed over her.

Newt rushed over to her, kneeling at her side, wiping his brow. He squeezed his eyes shut, deliberating. After a beat, he surveyed her again, pointing his wand at her cut. His hands were trembling. “Ferula,” he murmured, sighing as he watched the tension fall from her body. The spell sapped away much of her pain. Ella's breaths were weak, her skin pale. Newt could tell her wound was too deep for Episkey to heal it. He steeled himself, taking Ellandra into his arms; she fell unconscious as he carried her from the blood-soaked snow.

Chapter Text

“Ella, stay with me,” Newt’s wavering voice insisted, though he wasn’t sure she could hear him. She lay on his cot, sickly pale, unresponsive. Newt took a bottle of brown liquid to her - Essence of Dittany, lightly spreading it over the gash in her arm. A greenish smoke billowed from the wound, revealing that it had healed into a long, pinkish scar. “She’s lost so much blood...” he despaired, looking wildly about. Newt wiped tears from his eyes, leaping from her side to scour his shelves for Blood-Replenishing Potion. Casting aside a number of bottles on a shelf above his workbench, he spotted the ounce of red liquid in a near-empty jar.

“Merlin,” Newt mumbled, snatching it up, clumsily removing its top. He didn’t notice his hands were shaking. Returning to Ella's side, he lifted her head up with some effort. He carefully poured the potion into her mouth, wiping away a drop that rolled down her lip. A moment later, he was bustling about his shed again, attempting to make a healing balm. He lifted the glass dome from a small potted plant, plucking a few leaves from it and crushing them between his hands. He dropped them in a small bowl and scoured his drawers of plants for more with medicinal properties. Settling on a few, he crushed and juiced them into the bowl with the rest, trying to remain calm.

Newt blinked back tears, “She needs more potion.” He had to find some, and fast. With this thought in mind, he swiped the swiftly-concocted healing balm onto the scrapes and bruises on Ella’s body, careful not to press where it was tender.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Newt stood in a small alleyway shop in Stockholm. To the muggle public, it appeared to be abandoned, but in truth, it was run by a stout, olive-skinned man named Arvid. Newt had met Arvid a couple years before, when he’d come to Sweden to protect a troll that a village of wizards in the north had caged up and held inhumane contests with.

“You should go, Scamander, you’ve got Grindelwald on your tail.”

“Arvid, please, she’s not stable.” Newt was trembling from the stress of Ella’s situation.

The young merchant looked at Newt, noting his disheveled appearance.

Newt avoided his gaze, uncomfortable with being studied. He cleared his throat, reluctantly stepping closer and looking into the man’s eye, speaking clearly and pointedly: “I have to help her.”

Certain that Newt wasn’t generally assertive, Arvid knew it must be extremely important. He sighed, caving, “What does she need?”

Newt sighed, visibly relieved, “Blood-Replenishing Potion.” He regretted not learning to make the potion sooner himself. Though he’d mastered a number of healing draughts and balms, as well as potions with other effects, he’d made little attempt at learning to make Blood-Replenishing Potion. Though he wouldn’t admit it, this was mostly because the recipe called for fairy wings. Newt had trouble bringing himself to use them, as he’d saved a few fairies in his time. Now, he regretted giving in to that aversion. “I must have the recipe somewhere,” he reflected as Arvid searched the shelves behind him.

The merchant grabbed a tall, rectangular bottle of ruby potion, plunking it unceremoniously onto the counter, hand outstretched: “Two kronor, Mister Scamander.”

Newt dropped the bills into his palm, snatching up the bottle, giving Arvid a hurried, awkward nod, “Thank you...very much.” He scurried from the shop.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ella peeked her eyes open to the warm, glowing light of Newt’s shed. The smell of earth and rain hung in the air. She felt a dull ache in her forearm and her head, recalling the events that had landed her on Newt’s hammock. She looked up to see Newt removing a large fir-green raincoat with its collar popped, hanging it up beside his other gear. A damp spot began to form on the floorboards beneath it. Ella sat up, her eyes going hazy as she was hit with lightheadedness. She held still until it passed, but her head was still aching.

Newt stepped out of his rainboots, pulling off a pair of dirty socks - soaked through. He left the rainboots beside his other boots lined up against the wall, tossing the socks into a small wicker basket. He tousled his cider hair, droplets of rain flying about. He began whistling, finally turning to face Ella. The whistling abruptly stopped. “Ella!” Newt rushed to her side, turning to the pitcher of water on his workbench, enchanting it to pour a glass of water, levitating the glass over to him. He placed it gently in Ella’s hand, voice weak: “Drink.”

Ella sipped at it, suddenly aware of how thirsty she was, sucking it down in an instant. Newt brought the pitcher over, refilling her glass. Ella noticed small, oval leaves in the bottom of the pitcher. Her voice was hoarse, “Newt...what’s that?”

“Shrivelfig leaves” Newt answered, brow knotted with concern as he glanced over her, evaluating her health.

“Shrivelfig?”

“Shh, rest your voice, Ellandra,” Newt insisted, looking away as she attempted to meet his gaze. “Shrivelfig is much like a fig, but its fruit is violet rather than red. It’s used in a shrinking solution...and an elixir that induces euphoria. More importantly, in this case, its leaves have medicinal properties.” He gazed at the long scar crossing most of her inner forearm. It was less significant than when he’d first used Dittany to heal the wound. Despite this, he frowned, quickly averting his gaze.

Ella held her glass out, and Newt took it with the pitcher, standing and returning them to his workbench. “You could use something to eat,” Newt observed, leaning against the wooden surface.

“And a shower,” Ella observed, pulling the blankets off of her, still filthy from their confrontation with Sullevin Witt. Notably, Newt had thoroughly cleaned her wounds.

Newt nodded shyly, standing as she did: “Certainly, Ella. Follow me.” He led her out the doorway to the shed, to an attachment off the side: a small outdoor shower, wooden and nondescript. Newt almost rolled his eyes as he started speaking: “A close friend of mine stocked it with what she called ‘lady’s things’ upon my last visit to America, so hopefully you'll have everything you need. If not, certainly let me know.”

Ella laughed at his mildly perturbed expression, “Thanks, Newt.”

He stopped: “Oh, throw your washing on top of the door and I’ll clean them up in a jif.”

Ella stepped into the shower, latching the door behind her, tossing her clothes on top of it.

She spotted a number of rosy pink bottles on a low shelf. Picking them up, she read their labels: “La Rose Parfaite” - The Perfect Rose. One bottle read: “Infused with Perfect Rose, the main ingredient in the best beautification potions, La Rose Parfaite transforms your hair into the fairy mane you’ve always wanted.”

As Ella washed her skin, she noticed with wonder that her bruises were already gone. She smiled, imagining Newt taking care of her while she was unconscious.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Newt and Ella sat across from each other at a small, wooden table on a porch just off the side of the shed. A few just-fed creatures ate in their nearby enclosures, comfortable with Ella’s presence. Newt had made a stew with the vegetables from his small but bountiful garden.

Newt was especially taken by Ella’s beauty but had no idea why. Her cheeks were and lips were rosier, her skin glowing, hair luminous. He figured she must clean up especially well, unaware of the beautifying effect Queenie’s gifts had. He kept his staring to a minimum, though his urge to was very strong. It helped that at first, Ella ravaged her bowl of food, surprised by the depth of her hunger. Newt smiled to himself at this, focusing on his own food as much as possible. Finally, napkin in hand, Ella daintily wiped her mouth with the manners she’d forgotten. She cleared her throat, “Newt, do you always live in your case?”

Newt raised his eyebrows, chuckling softly, “In my recent travels I have, but no, my family lives in Dorset.”

Ella paused, trying to recall where Dorset was on a map. She subtly shook her head, unsuccessful. “Is it nice there?” Ella asked.

Newt nodded, “Oh, certainly.”

Ella looked at Newt expectantly as he slurped another spoonful of soup.

“A bit chilly,” he added.

Ellandra lightly kicked his ankle under the table; Newt let out a soft, startled laugh. “And?!” She pressed.

He tilted his head, “Well...it’s a quiet area, right on the coast. My family lives in North Dorset, in a small town called Moreton, which is almost entirely farmland - perfect for breeding hippogriffs.”

Ella nodded, slipping into a thoughtful smile, “That sounds wonderful.” She quirked her brow: “Does your mother breed anything else?”

Newt swallowed another spoonful, straightening his posture as he looked up at her: “No, only hippogriffs. Each one requires patience and demands great respect. It would be very difficult to care for other creatures as well,” he assured her.

Ella leaned in, “Were your mother’s hippogriffs what sparked your interest in magizoology?”

Newt tilted his head with an expression that indicated she was partly right: “I’m fairly certain they helped me discover my interest at an earlier age.”

“My mother definitely contributed to my interest in botany,” Ella acknowledged. “She has a green thumb.”

“A what?” Newt was appaled.

Ella laughed, “A green thumb; it means she’s good with plants.”

“Oh,” the wizard chuckled, relieved.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Newt cast a washing up spell on the dishes over the industrial sink on the most missable side of his shed, offering Ellandra his arm. She took it. Together, they began a leisurely stroll along the path beside the beasts’ enclosures.

“I ought to mention that I put an anti-intruder jinx and a few other protective spells on the case. No one but you and I will be able to enter now,” Newt assured her. “I also visited Director Bergström at the Swedish Ministry. They’re tracking our movements, now, and will know if any of Grindelwald’s followers try to ambush us again.” He nodded to himself as he convinced himself these security measures were enough, “Witt’s men - except the one - have been taken into custody. Bergström told me aurors are searching for him, but I’m quite sure Witt has covered his tracks.”

“Well, that’s...mostly good news,” Ella reasoned.

Newt offered a small smile, “Quite.”

He pulled away, leaning against the fence just outside the mooncalf enclosure. “I implore you to stay here, at least for a couple more days. You’re not safe elsewhere. I know my shed isn’t the most accommodating place, but it’s very safe now.”

“I understand, Newt. I’d be happy to stay. You know I never wanted to leave you in the first place.”

Newt fought the urge to grin, smirking instead, “You should write a letter to your family letting them know you’re alright. Greg can take it to them in a matter of hours.”

Ella nodded, “That was on my mind.”

Newt continued, all business now, “I’m sure the cot isn’t exceptionally comfortable if you’re unaccustomed. I can make up a place for you to sleep if you’d like.”

Ella laughed, “I’ll take you up on that.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Two days passed, during which the wizard and muggle traveled across the Swedish wilds, continuing Newt’s search for displaced bowtruckles. They only found five, as the majority had been living in the ravaged tree Newt first came across with Pickett. In his case, Newt grew a second tree for the creatures beside the first.

“Much better,” Newt murmured to himself as Ella watched on from behind. “When they’re all well, I’ll have to find somewhere safe and return them to the wild.”

Ella nodded, “of course,” smiling proudly up at him, though he couldn’t see it. She held onto a few plants she’d found in the forest. These plants - mint, and Wolfsbane - were used medicinally in the muggle world as well as the wizarding one. When they’d been outside, Newt had animatedly described the magical uses for them. His love of nature always made itself apparent, whether he meant it to or not. The day before, Ella had asked Newt if he’d teach her what he knew of herbology. Despite his interest in it, he was reluctant as he wasn’t sure how she’d react to a number of his plants.

“Our physiology is subtly different,” Newt reminded her with a concerned look in his eye. “One of my plants may have unexpected, harmful effects on you.” He ran his fingers through his hair, struck by a thought: “Though, muggles can’t contract certain illnesses that wizards can, like Dragon Pox. Therefore, you may be safer than me handling certain ingredients...” He pondered this.

Ella smiled warmly as if to convince him; he caught her expression despite his distractedness, “I’m interested to find out what healing herbs in my world are also healing herbs in yours, or what uses your plants might have that ‘muggles’ can tap into.” She stepped closer to him, hopeful, “Please teach me. You know this is what I’m good at, and this knowledge could really help people.”

Newt was amused by her attempt to persuade him. As a humanitarian with great respect for her craft, he was rather convinced, though he wouldn’t admit it just yet: “Perhaps. I’ll think on it.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ella woke to the sound of light footsteps. Rubbing her eyes, she eventually placed them on the shed’s ladder. “Newt,” she thought, slowly sitting up. In the darkness, a small patch of moonlight painted a square on the floorboards. Ella pulled off the covers of her small conjured bed, leaving her feet bare, not bothering to put a coat on over her borrowed clothes.

Climbing out of the case, Ella spotted Newt nearby. He rested against a tree in his striped pajamas, knees tucked close to his chest. Notably, he was taking up even less space than usual. Newt looked down at his fingers, absentmindedly fidgeting.

Ellandra moved closer, failing to attract his attention. Newt was somewhere else. Letting out a sigh, he finally looked up, surprised to see her. His hands stilled: “Oh, Ella! Did I wake you?”

She sat close beside him: “To be perfectly honest, I think so.” Newt frowned, glancing at her. She spotted the pain in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured.

"It's alright." She hesitated, not sure how to proceed. She wanted to be closer. Newt avoided her gaze, his jaw tense. Ella forged ahead: “What are you doing out here?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” He answered with a half smile, looking down at his hands again.

“Is everything okay?” Ella asked softly, knowing the answer.

Newt offered her a small, half-hearted nod, the pain still in his eyes, “Of course.”

He wasn’t a good liar.

“No, it’s not.”

Newt’s head hung, his cider hair falling in front of his face, glistening eyes squeezing shut, “No.” His voice grew weak, “Ella...I should never have sent you away.”

“Newt...” She reached out to him, but he retreated from her touch.

“I thought you would be safe...” He swallowed, steeling himself, jaw set firmly. His eyes betrayed everything.

“You couldn’t have known,” Ella insisted, running her hand across his back.

Newt smiled morosely, still not meeting her worried gaze, “I broke my promise. Do you remember?”

Ella took a moment to respond, quickly recalling his promise to never let her get hurt on his account. Her expression nearly matched his, “You didn’t break it, Newt. You can’t break a promise if you don't have a choice. I didn’t give you one.”

Newt glanced at her, noticing a shift in her tone. His brow furrowed as he read her face. When she looked up to meet his gaze, he turned away, still afraid.

“Newt, there’s nothing more you could have done. Taking on five other wizards? That was...well, extraordinary! I may be a ‘muggle,’ but I know that was remarkable.”

Newt's composure slipped: “Seeing your blood in the snow...feeling it run down my arms, soak through my clothes as I carried you...” He let in a labored breath, tears welling up in his eyes, “I thought that was it.”

“Newt...” Ella’s eyes began to glisten as she leaned in closer to him.

“You know what else I thought?” He swallowed hard, flushing, trembling slightly: “‘I would have given everything for her.’ For the first time in a very long time, I...” He trailed off, wiping tears from his eyes, breaths shallow.

Ellandra moved closer to the gentle wizard, pulling his face toward hers, forehead almost touching his. They both reveled in this newfound closeness. A moment of silence passed between them. Ella breathed his earthy scent, fighting the urge to bury herself in it.

“Ella, my darling...” Newt murmured, voice lilting honey, “I’ve found that I can’t stand to be apart from you.” He met her gaze, laid bare.

“I’m here now,” Ella whispered, running her fingers down the side of his face. He let in a breath, cheeks flushing. She spoke with certainty: “I'm not going anywhere.”

Ella drew him in, lips softly meeting his. Newt tensed at first, but soon leaned into her embrace. Her fingers ran up the nape of his neck, tangling in his waves as she parted his tender lips, tasting the honey-sweetness of his kiss.

Newt was utterly moved by this craved contact, his heart pounding hard in his chest. He slipped his arm around Ella’s waist, lightly pulling her against him. She groaned at this new closeness, her usual poise splintering.

He pressed his forehead to hers. "Ellandra,” Newt murmured, rapturous, breathless. He dropped to a whisper, uncertain who he was speaking to, “What have you done?”

Ella kissed across his burning cheek, whispering into his ear, “I’ve given you my heart.”

He pulled her back, starstruck as he gazed into her eyes. Finding the answer he wanted there, he licked his lips, glancing down, “All the grief that I've caused you, and you would...Ella.” His eyes glistened with tears as his gaze met hers; these were finally happy tears.

Ella let out a breathy laugh, a blissful smile spreading on her face: “In a heartbeat.” She took the wizard’s face in her hands, kissing him more urgently than before, eager to savor it. Newt responded tenderly, strengthening his hold on her. She tasted the saltwater of his happy tears, hearing a soft, contented rumble in his chest. Wrapping him in her arms, she gave all of her heart to him in their moonlit, lovestruck witching hour.