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a moment of apricity

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Ilvermorny is like Hogwarts and yet not.

That sort of thing is expected, Newt supposes. When growing up, there’s always that childish feeling that never really goes away, growing smaller with each passing day, but still there nonetheless; even the most strictest of adults can reminiscent their youth, feel small in a castle they’ve never stepped foot it. How far the feeling of nostalgia mixed with déjà vu goes, now that is a mystery.

The magic surrounding the school is deep, ingrained in every stone and to every arching crest. Bay windows curve along corners and gabled dormers protrude from atop slanted roofs with dark tiles. Towers rise in staggering heights, bright flags allotted on every peak and swaying a beautiful dance in the wind. Bustles of green press in from all sides, clouds of forest floating the expanse of the mountainside, breathing life into an already thaumaturgic place. Gates, large and made of shining brass, surround the grounds, swinging open when the sole of his shoes touch the ground before it.

Yet, despite the awe inspiring picture it paints, nearly excessive in its impersonation of an impressionist painting, there is a welcoming air. The scaling walls do not swallow when one steps inside, but embrace. Safe and warm and magical, everything a school of wizardry should inflict upon its students. Newt feels it. He hasn’t stepped foot in Hogwarts’s halls since his expulsion, but Ilvermorny can almost convince him he’s back in Scotland and the Hufflepuff common room is just down the corner.

“How marvelous,” he murmurs, turning in circles and craning his neck to view the ceiling, taking in the delicate paintings of creatures and people of old. He spots a few recognizable creatures, smiling at what he can only assume is a Thunderbird.

He's barely through the second arch in the entrance when he hears, “Mr. Scamander!”

The voice is loud and strong, coming from behind him. Newt turns and is greeted by a dark-haired woman with high cheekbones and a flat nose dressed in red and blue.

“Headmistress Peregrine,” he greets, remembering the official letters sent to him, nodding his head and offering what he hopes is a respectful handshake when she reaches him. Her grip is firm. “It's, ah, an honor to finally meet you. I've heard so much.”

“Likewise.” Her smile is genuine, Newt notes. “I hope your journey here wasn't too difficult.”

The boat ride across the sea had been bearable, the weather realistically calm despite the cloudy disposition, and he hadn't gotten sick once, which was a small mercy to his person. But where the voyage had been kind, the people had been not; the officer at the docks had frowned distastefully when looking at his traveling papers, then another at the train had grumbled something about his accent when he had asked where the loo was, and then a final one just outside the gates had eyed him with suspicion when he had mentioned his newly obtained position; there were even strange looks to his suitcase and gruff mutters of “those pretentious English,” but he makes no mention of that. Instead he nods, following her down the short hallway.

“No, not at all.”

The entrance opens up to a circular hall, one so large that Newt’s momentarily stunned by its magnitude. He steps away from the pair of lifelike statues framing the entrance, a woman and man with smiling faces, and further into the room to soak up more of the beauty. Taller and grander than the Great Hall in Hogwarts, it’s more fitting for a cathedral or basilica than a school, with walls made from white stone and a ring of columns that tower over him. There are three corridors, one straight across from the entrance and the other two at each side, that are bordered with similar stone carved so articularly that he's unsure on whether it was done by hand or magic.

A wooden balcony circles the room while a glass cupola allows rays of pale moonlight to shine down and cast winding shadows on the stone floor below. Headmistress Peregrine allows him to ogle, laughing a bit at his expense, before leading him to a set of stairs that he’s more than positive wasn't there prior, spiraling up into the second floor.

The view from above is just as astounding, the pattern marking the floor captivating, abstract shapes circling the central piece of the mural (the school’s crest). Newt lets his gaze slide from one sight to the next, unabashed at his eagerness.

Behind them the doors burst open, as do all the others leading to the second floor, and a wave of students of all ages surge through. The sheer amount of them appearing so quickly and without notable command is startling, their numbers more than what Newt’s encountered in a while. The space fills quickly, the students pressing against the banister for a better look. A young boy no older than thirteen squeezes himself between Newt and a pillar, not offering him a moment’s glance.

The entrance doors swing open, a gaunt man with dark shadows under his eyes leading the group of first-years through. They stop just short of the mural.

The circle before them ripples, rings of small waves sweeping from its center. Then, like a mountain rising from the very earth, the floor bubbles up, twisting and morphing into shapes that rapidly begin to resemble figures. The first is the wampus, a fierce looking feline with an extra set of paws, the length of its tail leading to the long body of the horned serpent spiraling about the base, twin fangs sliding from a gaping mouth. Nestled in the middle, the small human-like figure of what Newt assumes is a pukwudgie stands with its prickly hair and lifelike furs, bow drawn. Finally, the head of what can only be a thunderbird erupts, followed by its copper body, wings spread like it's about to take flight.

The man produces a parchment and, with absolute monotone, says, “I will call your name and then you will step forward to the Guardian Knot to be chosen.”

The statues seem to shiver and Newt watches, captivated, as the group of first-years spread out along the wall in preparation. There's no sorting hat, he observes with analytical curiosity, and wonders how these Americans go about orientation.

The first child is called and steps forward.

A pause.

The statues breath, shift—come alive.

And the sorting begins.


"They'll be getting their wands,” Headmistress Peregrine tells him as she leads him down from the balcony, people parting for her without a word. “With Rappaport’s Law, students aren't allowed to keep their wand outside of Ilvermorny grounds.”

Newt raises his eyebrows, thoroughly surprised. A little too strict, he thinks, but interesting nonetheless. Maybe he should take the chance to read up on a American history, if only to understand it better.

They make their way through the castle, the headmistress leading with a fast pace set to the precise click-clacks of her heels. Newt hurries to keep up, distracted by passing architecture and design; incredibly detailed, they are new and strange, untold stories just waiting for him to learn. Folklore has always been ally for Newt, creatures slipping through time, hidden underneath veiled truths, just waiting to be discovered by those willing to look.

Newt nods at the passing portraits and most of them smile, whilst some wave. A few frown and one even raises a fist, muttering, “Sniveling Redcoat.”

“Usually faculty come a week before the students to prepare for their classes, but since you've just come today you'll be a bit behind. Because of this, I've arranged for you to have a day or two to get your things in order—sadly, that's all I can give you. We must keep to the schedule.”

“That's more than enough time.”

“Good. Thankfully, you arrived before we let the students in—any later and you would have missed the sorting ceremony.” She looks back at him, thick eyebrows raised. “Would you like to say a few words when I introduce you?”

“No, that's fine—thank you.”

The corridors leads them to a grand staircase, which in turn leads them to a grandiose hall not unlike that in Hogwarts, with a high ceiling decorated with opulent arches and intricate carvings and floating chandeliers running along its length. Engaged columns pair around the multiple double doors that lead out to what Newt assumes is a terrace. They're closed now, the doors, but he can see a wonderful view of the canopy of the outside forest through their colored glass windows.

Everything's decorated in the school’s colors, the tables draped with blue and cranberry red. There's a second floor, he notes, catching sight of balconies. Banners and drapes hang from their rails, adding a touch of exaggerated extravagance that would have no home in his motherland.

A man dressed in black stares down at him from the shadows of a curtain.

Headmistress Peregrine follows his line of sight, glancing at the man for a fraction of a second before continuing on smoothly. “With all the uproar going on in Europe we will be having extra security for the school this year. Who knows where Grindelwald will attack and so, MACUSA has graciously stationed a number of their aurors here as a precaution.”

The tone of her voice indicates anything but gratitude and Newt grins. He's certain he's going to like this woman.

The headmistress leads him past long tables, through a storm of plates, cups, and other silverware flying to their designated places, embroidered tablecloths and napkins floating ever so gracefully. They step over a colorful mural of the school’s coat of arms right at the head and Newt almost runs into a spoon to stop and get a better look at it.

The other teachers are already in their seats at the oblong table at the end of the hall, chatting amongst themselves. When they spot the newcomers, a few eyes track Newt’s movement with interest, sizing him up from his worn boots to his tan complexion.

Headmistress Peregrine motions to the only empty seat remaining. “You'll be sitting with Mrs. Barrow and Ms. Erigenia, Mr. Scamander.”

Newt hurries to get out of the spotlight. “Excuse me,” he says to the dark-haired woman at the end of the table, trying his best not to hit anyone with his suitcase as he passes them by. He takes his seat between two women, to his left a Native American woman with two thick braids, and to his right a young African woman with short, curly hair. He nods to them both, otherwise remaining silent, and waits for the students with the rest of them.

He doesn't have to wait long. The clock above them rings as its hands hit a quarter to six and the main doors swing open without help.

Students surge through, bringing in laughing voices that seem to fill up the space, ricocheting from one wall to the next before ringing along the chandeliers. The sheer amount of them is overwhelming, the dark blue of their robes making them appear like a surging sea as they continue filing into the hall without stop. They take their seats, dividing into their sorted house. Newt spots a few first-years running in from the utmost back, branding their newly acquired wands with unadulterated joy.

Headmistress Peregrine stands once they've settled. “Welcome back for another marvelous year at Ilvermorny. I trust you all had an exciting summer and have come back ready to learn.” Someone snorts loudly, but she ignores it. “For those of you new here, I wish to welcome you—I’m sure you’ll come to see Ilvermorny as a second home and I look forward to seeing you all thrive into outstanding witches and wizards. But, before we start that journey together, there’s a few announcements to be made.”

“We have a new guest this year. Due to Mr. Heming's leave of absence, we have found a temporary replacement for the position.” Headmistress Peregrine motions to Newt. “Newt Scamander has come from the Ministry of Magic and will be filling in for Mr. Jensen this term. I hope you all give him the utmost respect and courtesy he deserves.”

All eyes turn to him, the new face amongst the teachers.

He attempts to stand, only to hit the table’s edge and send every silverware near him rocking. There is a ripple of laughter and he quickly takes his seat again, flushing to his roots.

It's fine, he supposes. He had been a first year once, the anxiety and fear and uncertainty almost overshadowing the excitement. Laughter is better (even if he is the target) and it goes a long way.

Thankfully, Headmistress Peregrine raises a hand and the students instantly quiet. “As always, traveling down the mountainside is forbidden and those caught doing so will be dealt with thoroughly. On behalf of MACUSA we will be housing agents from the Magical Investigation Department for extra security. I hope I don’t have to remind any of you to be on your best behavior.” She gives the room a semi-serious glare before waving her wand. “Now, let us proceed with the feast.”

Food appears in the plates set out in front of Newt, as it does for all the tables. The gobsmacked expression of the first-years are more than amusing, completely overwhelmed by the buffet currently at their disposal. None of them hesitate, throwing courtesy and appearance to the side in favor of trying it all.

He smiles. Very much like Hogwarts, he thinks.


 After dinner, a pukwudgie wearing breeches and a simple shirt waits for him. It barely comes up to his knees and holds a lantern nearly as tall as it, but carries a no-nonsense air that Newt would expect from his boss in England.

Upon a closer look, the pukwudgie is more human-like than Newt initially thought, with the same number of fingers and toes as any human, though it's nails are far longer. It's dark-skinned with large, triangular ears and a hooked nose, the hair atop its head appearing to be more like porcupine spikes, trailing down its back to its knees. Newt can't help but wonder how closely related it is to house elves and goblins.

“If you're done staring, wizard, you'll be following me,” the pukwudgie grumbles in a voice like tumbling rocks, staring up at him with beady eyes.

“Ah, yes—sorry. I've never met one of your kind before and I was wondering if—” He stops when its frown deepens. He remembers how the banshee in his department—Olivia, he thinks her name was—had lectured him from sunrise to sundown on the etiquette of engaging conversation with sentient beings, labeling all talk of digestive tracts and reproduction systems as improper. “Right—my apologies. Lead the way.”

It grumbles something in its own language, turning and marching down the hallways, far faster than Newt might expect with its short feet. He hurries to catch up, unable to help himself from staring at the assortment of things hidden in its hair (feathers and yarn, even some keys). Fascinating.

Stone silent, the pukwudgie leads him out of the main part of the castle (with only a few glares when he’s caught staring), the light of the lantern throwing shadows along the walls and dozing portraits when they reach less used corridors. They cut across empty courtyards until they're following stone steps down into the forest.

It's not long until they reach their destination: the little house where he's to stay is located at the west end of the school, lower along the mountainside. The path to it is beaten and old, cutting through a patch of thick trees that hide it from view of the main buildings. While it follows with the school’s architectural style, it has significantly less flair. One story, covered with ivy still vivid green despite this far into autumn, it's more of a cottage than anything else.

The pukwudgie hands him the key and somehow vanishes while his back is turned. He searches for it in the crowded trees and thick underbrush, but spots not a spiked hair.

The door creaks a bit when he enters, a tell-tale sign of regular use, and he finds comfort in that. Once inside, he sets down his case at the doorway and takes stock of the place he'll be calling home for the next nine months. It's a quaint set up, a small living room with an open doorway leading to a kitchen that doubles up as a dining room, while another door opens up what's to be his bedroom. Someone has already set a fire going in the stone fireplace, the crackling of flames masking the calls of the forest and warding off the cold clinging to his clothes.

One word to describe the entire place is cozy, from its autumn colored furniture to the photos that hang from its walls. Newt idly picks up one laying on the small dresser, peering at the family smiling up at him. It's a portrait, with a man and woman and two little boys, a simple backdrop behind them. A perfect family, he thinks as the man brings his youngest boy closer.

Newt notes the date scribbled on the back of the frame. The boys are grown, both dead.

Now more than ever, he realizes what he's doing: in a stranger's home, a little house in America, he’s replacing a mourning father. The thought doesn't sit well with him, but there's nothing he can do to relieve it.

“I'll make sure your home is looked after,” he promises the man in the photo.

The man smiles, happy and carefree.


Although his residence at Ilvermorny is only temporary, Headmistress Peregrine offers him all that he needs. As long as it's reasonable and safe, he may do whatever he wishes, teach the students as he sees fit. That sort of freedom is a stark change than the limitations the Ministry inflict on him and a gift that he does not want revoked.

He's informed that his classes will be held in a small hall not too far from his living quarters. There's a path at the side of the house, and when he follows it, he reaches a little building next to a babbling brook.

It's simple like the house, with multiple large windows on the east wall, showing a clear view of the wilderness outside. Four rows of desks take up most of the room while cupboards and shelves occupy the wall opposite of the window, already stocked with herbs and ingredients with which he's familiar. He sets up the few things he’s brought, his desk cleared of everything except for his case.

Around noon he sees a trail of children making their way from the school and he waits anxiously as they file into the hall and take their seats. They eye him like an outsider trying to integrate itself into a tightly knit herd and he supposed that’s what he is, a foreigner suddenly stepping into their lives hoping to be accepted. Cooperation came from coalition in both humans and beasts.

Newt opens his mouth to say—what, he doesn't know. Thankfully, introductions are taken out of his hands when someone blatantly asks, “Who’re you?”

“Didn’t you hear Headmistress? He’s the Brit who’s replacing Mr. Heming.”

“Mr. Salamander—”

“Scamander,” someone corrects.

He nods. “Ah, yes, that's me. I'll be temporarily standing in for Mr. Heming.”

There's a moment of silence, all eyes on him, waiting for him to continue. Another small revelation hits him, that he's expected to stand in front of room full of children and talk and teach day after day.

Dealing with dragons has never been this daunting, a walk in the park when compared to mingling with humans. As dangerous and wild as they were, dragons followed guidelines that set precise interaction and socialization keys within the species (despite how unpredictable those guidelines were to humans). Newt could read a dragon’s mood by the telltale signs of its body language (the agitated swish of an armored tail, the rustling of leathery wings that meant fear, the playful bobbing of a horned head) and take appropriate action as well as the best of them, but he was less than adequate in deciphering the human language, much less that of adolescents.

There’s a reason he traveled the world alone, abandoning humans in favors of animals.

He clears his throat, clasping his hands behind his back. “Right—yes. My purpose here is to educate you on magical creatures. You have been taught how to deal with them, but not how to live with them.” Young faces take on bored expressions and he winces inwardly, remembering nearly falling into a coma at his Charms professor’s tranquilizing voice and less than exciting lectures. “Magical creatures don't know they should be careful—that they have to hide. This is why they are a threat to exposing the wizarding world.”

“Because they're dangerous,” a girl in the front row says and, despite his appreciation for class participation, Newt frowns a little.

“They are dangerous, yes, but so am I—as are all of you. Everyone has the potential to be dangerous, it’s a matter of what we do with the power we have. There's a difference between defending oneself and going out of the way to inflict harm on another." He winces, not meaning to say what he did, before hurriedly continuing forward. “Magical creatures are divided into three categories: beings, beasts, and spirits. Of the three, we will be focusing on beasts—though if you have questions on the other two, I'm sure we can take time to discuss them. As you know, the Ministry—ah, excuse me, I mean to say MACUSA—has classified creatures into five sub-categories. You've already learned about the creatures in the first two classes, so we'll be skipping straight to class three and four. Many of these creatures will be standard beasts, but some will be not so standard.” He brings out his ace for the evening, showing the students the dormant Swooping Evil hanging on his finger. “This—is an example of one not so standard.”

A moment of silence, and then, “What is it?”

“The locals called it Swooping Evil,” he says. “Quite an agile fellow. It's venom is highly dangerous, but, diluted correctly, I believe it can help erase bad dreams.”

“What kind of name is Swooping Evil?”

Newt frowns. “I think it's a fine name—if not a bit overly dramatic.”

They are, overall, unimpressed.

If any full grown wizard knew what he had in his hand, he would be on the receiving end of a thorough lecture on student safety (but that's what he’s come to expect—caution and fear. Always fear.). But there’s only him and the children, no authority figure to tell him to stop. By all means, this is his chance to show these children what he's seen all along, to make them understand. Amazing, fantastic, awe inspiring, that's what his creatures are.

He turns to his desk, running a thumb along its green spine. It shivers, awake. There's soft chattering behind him, the students losing interest and beginning to socialize among themselves, and he thinks it's about time to start the show.

He throws the Swooping Evil underhand.

It roars, the solid clack! of its snapping jaw loud over the sudden commotion in the room. Newt keeps his grip, fighting the pull of its wings for one, two, three, four flaps. Then he yanks it back with a hard tug. The Swooping Evil folds in on itself immediately, returning back into its dormant state.

Newt smiles to himself. “We probably shouldn’t let it loose in here.”

He turns back to a startled room. Gaping mouths and wide eyes greet him, exaggerated to comedic extents; some of the front row are even on the ground while others stand further back near the doorway. He'd expected as much, but after continued silence, he's not so sure this was his best choice.

“Perhaps that was a bit too much,” he says, more to himself than anyone else. Maybe what he considers amazing is more frightening to others.

His finger twitches and the majority of the room jump. The Swooping Evil is back in his pocket and out of sight.

“Right—well, er, not all the creatures I'll show will be quite… attention grabbing. I—”

“Where did you find that?”

The question is out of the blue. Still, he answers the girl. “In Equatorial Guinea. Nearly mistook it for a plant. Now, as I was saying—”

“Why were you there?” asks a blond boy.

“I spent a year out in the field for my research—many of the magical creatures I was studying were from Africa. That isn't to say it's the only place I visited—I spent some time in India before that and a week or two in Romania—”

“And now you're here—teaching?”

“The Ministry wanted to keep its ties with MACUSA intact and strong—and I was already intending to make a trip to North America…”

“Why?”

“I was intending to search for a gowrow,” he lies.

“That ain't real,” someone says from the back.

Truth or not, there is a prickle of annoyance. He overcomes it, reminding himself that the world had once said the same thing about Nifflers and look where he is now, constantly babysitting one. “It hasn't been discovered yet.”

From his peripheral vision he sees a lock on his case pop open. The students’ attention shifts. They all look like they're ready to bolt, as if something will jump out of his case—which seems silly in retrospect, with its battered appearance, but Newt knows how real the possibility is.

Newt gives a small smile and casually clicks the lock back into place. “I must get that fixed—any more questions?”

A sea of hands shoot into the air.

Chapter Text

The rest of his classes proceed as his first, his students asking him countless questions. They're more or less the same, easy ones he can answer and are memorized by his third day at Ilvermorny. He tells one or two lies to ward off suspicion when a child gets a smidge too interested, and, soon enough, he has a solid story with an acceptable amount of detail. And so, the first week passes without problem, as does the initial buzz about him. The students go from eyeing him in the hallways to nodding and uttering a quick, “Professor,” before hurrying off to bigger and better things.

With one problem gone, another arises. Despite the Headmistress insisting that he’s treated with utmost respect, the school is less accepting than the people living in it. Ilvermorny, though not as old as Hogwarts, is still a magical place, and takes to strangers as well as an Ukranian Ironbelly in heat—and, by all means, Newt is just that, an invading stranger come to harm her clutch.

And, like any beast presented with an unwanted stranger in their home, the school makes its opinion known. Loudly.

He gets turned around, ending up at dead ends where he’s sure there should be a classroom, walking into the kitchen despite knowing that it’s on the opposite side of the school, and, worst of all, repeatedly having the toilettes switched up. It’s partly because the layout is strange to him, faring as well as a first-year, but he blames most of his pains to the actual school rather than his incompetencies.

The curtains try to strangle him if he gets too close, the tapestries always ready for a fight, and the windows love to open at the right moment to have a gust of wind blow his papers in disarray. His first trip to the library is an dangerous one, nearly resulting in him flattened by a towering shelf and tossed over the second story balcony by an angry armchair, and, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t find the text he came in to find. He takes a particularly ridiculing fall when, halfway up a set of stairs, the steps meld into a slide and send him tumbling back to the first floor.

There are no students or faculty nearby to witness it, but the paintings have a good laugh at his expense.

Then there are the ghosts.

Where there are wizarding schools, there are sure to be ghosts—a common occurrence—integrated into school life no matter which continent one finds themselves on. Newt remembers his first year at Hogwarts and how the ghosts of the school surged into the Great Hall during the first dinner (Nearly Headless Nick was always popping through students’ plates for a quick laugh).

He wonders why he hadn't seen any during his first night at Ilvermorny, only to get his answer on his way to Headmistress’ office a few days later when, without precedence, a battle erupts around him. Misty figures armed with wands and swords appear quite suddenly and, before he realizes what’s happening, charge at one another. There’s no fear of being hurt, but walking through a ghost did leave one with chills and a weird, detached feeling, and Newt’s not willing to find out what it feels like to have an incorporeal sword pass through him.

Thankfully, the Headmistress’s office appears just when he needs it, giving him a the opportunity to escape, and the woman within merely gives him a bemused expression when he tells her of his encounter.

“Nothing out of the ordinary, Mr. Scamander,” she tells him. “Just the dead reliving their glory days.”

Newt learns to take it all in stride like one of his expeditions, Ilvermorny a type of beast that must be studied. Once he does that, life settles into a sort of familiar rhythm.

The school pesters him and he deals with it the best he can. Eventually, he gets the hang of stepping out the way of overeager doors swinging open and always has a spare box of chalk when his current one goes suspiciously missing. He learns to keep his ink jar away from his papers lest the table develops an in-the-moment limp and not laugh quite so loudly when he purposefully takes the banister down a spiraling staircase.

Despite the odd looks he gets, he takes his case wherever he goes within the castle. Can’t have the off chance of someone finding it lying about, thinking it a good joke to make the newest teacher search high and low for his things. He doesn’t want to think ill of anyone here, but he had been young once and, on occasion, had gone to great lengths to obtain what he needed for his and Leta’s experiments (whether or not his professors knew of his use of their things).

Most days he keeps to himself, falling back to his case and his creatures. There he can't be pestered by confrontational ghosts that break out in brawls and raunchy noblewoman calling out from fancy frames. In his case, he knows every nook and cranny, navigating it with sure steps and a confidence he could only aspire to attain in the outside world.

However, he is a teacher and, even as a temporary substitute, is held up to a standard with responsibilities that force him to meet social requirements. The ever dreadful, faculty meetings.

That is where he meets a Porpentina Goldstein.


 He's late to the teacher's meeting, tie askew and dried leaves stuck between the buttons of his vest. There are odd looks directed his way, but no one says anything about it, only carrying on with whatever they were discussing before he entered.

It takes merely a moment to find a seat near the back of the group and a moment longer to find himself completely bored when he takes the time to listen to what's being said. The Headmistress is there for a little while, vocalizing her trademark speech of unity and legacies for the school, before saying something about janitorial staff and transfers and making her way out; she gives him a secret smile as she leaves, pinching his elbow when she catches him growing distant. After that, it's all talk of new regulations and distributions of supplies.

Nothing interests him, so he observes the room instead. With how many classrooms there are, he supposed it only right to have one solely for the professors. A common room of sorts.

Like everywhere else in the school, the architecture is same, with no specific affiliation toward any particular house, the colors and style completely neutral. There’s a fireplace like the one in his cottage, only bigger and far more elegant, and plush couches and armchairs settled around it. One or two unfamiliar teachers lounge there, while the rest of the staff are seated on the long tables across from the fireplace as they go from topic to topic until, finally, the meeting is adjourned.

He politely shakes his head when a large pot floats over to him from the counter by the doorway, spilling what he thinks is coffee over the arm of a sullen loveseat.

He’d never bothered to think about the social lives of his professors as very few of them took to him more than necessary. Now, as one himself, he's curious as to what goes on behind the scenes of encompassing lectures and rigid structure, and is severely disappointed when the meeting is no more exciting than his time spent behind his desk at the Ministry. He hears what he expects, outrageous tales of students (most of them ending with detentions), past and current, as well as discussions of homelife. The only thing remotely interesting is the recounting of a duel between two students, one that was settled out in the middle of the hallway not far from them.

He listens to his colleagues for a small amount of time before eagerly moving away, too bored to care about the less subtle looks of offense sent his way. One round about the room, then he makes for his cottage again and back into his case—his fwooper was coming down with a cold and it would be best if he got to making a remedy as soon as possible. He spots a lone woman sitting on a double armchair on his way out and something catches his eye. He wanders over, getting a good look at what she's holding when he's close enough. It's a newspaper.

The New York Ghost.

Interesting. Newt hadn't bothered with keeping up with current events (nor had he the luxury while deep in rainforests and deserts), only interested when a beast was mentioned. The constant attacks and muggle scares were often less than cheery, and he didn't bother joining the ranks of the millions of wizards fretting and worrying in their homes.

Someone clears their throat. “Can I help you?”

He looks up into eyes the color of freshly upturned dirt. A single eyebrow is raised, curious and expectant, and Newt feels heat creep up the back of his neck.

His cheek twitches. “No. I was just reading.”

Hair brushes against her jaw when she tilts her head, looking almost… amused? As if to indulge him, she shows him the front page, the picture showcasing a burning building, small figures running away as flames roll into smoke.

“There’s been multiple attacks these past few weeks,” she explains. “MACUSA is still trying to identify the creature behind them.”

“A creature?” he repeats.

“Yes. MACUSA is very sure about that. No human could cause this amount of damage.”

Despite the unarguable tone, Newt isn't so sure. It was best not underestimate the damage a person, magical or not, could inflict. Headlessly disregarding a problem as being the result of a rampaging beast was an act his fellows wizards did easily and repeatedly, so he did his best to give the benefit of the doubt. If one only searched a little deeper, looking past the expected explanation, there was always a lead that came back to ignorant wizards throwing the care of magical creatures aside for their own benefit.

Newt realizes that woman is waiting for a response and he’s been staring at her paper for longer than necessary. “Pardon my manners, I'm—”

“Newt Scamander. I know.”

Ah, yes, he'd forgotten about his introduction to the whole school. “And you are?”

“Tina Goldstein.” She offers him her hand, completely professional. They shake.

“Ms. Goldstein—is this fairly recent?” He motions to the article.

“It's the morning edition.”

He nods, leaning in to see what the article said about this so-called beast. Sadly, there's nothing critically identifying. He expects as much, only a select few bothering to correctly educate themselves on magical creatures while the rest of the wizarding world merely applied the ‘kill on sight’ rule.

He wonders what it could be. Leprechauns are out of the question—they were prankster, yes, but never inflicted any lasting damage. Only a handful of doxies and pixies would be needed to cause chaos, but what the article suggested would mean hundreds of the little creatures and the two species could barely hold a group of twenty without mutiny.

Perhaps it was two separate species. Symbiotic companionship between animals, magical or not, happened in the wild, so the possibility of it being more than one creature isn't that farfetched. Newt couldn't name a pair of creatures that were this erratic on the top of his head, much less this close to civilization without having being trafficked by some wizard.

His eyes scrounge the rest of the page in hopes of finding anything than can shorten his list. One small section catches his eye.

“‘Lingering Effects of Salemers Scandal—’” he reads aloud, squinting when he gets to where the paper begins to crinkle.

Without warning, the newspaper is ripped away. Newt blinks as Ms. Goldstein jumps from her seat and quickly folds the newspaper, jamming it under her armpit. Her lips are pulled in a fierce frown.

“It was wonderful talking to you, Mr. Scamander, but I have somewhere to be—so if you'll excuse me.” She marches past him, expertly evading an insistent coffee pot and a jerky cup of sugar.

Newt watches her go, confused. He’s fairly certain he did nothing to insult the woman, much less say anything to make her leave in such a hurry. Socializing with his kind was never something he was ecstatic about—unless it was directly related to a creature—but he doubts he’s that inadequate when he’s barely a year out of practice. It must’ve have been due to their conversation, he guesses, but can’t discern why.

No matter, he thinks, shaking his head. He has more important things to think about—self-appointed things like the deducing what kind of magical creature would be wreaking havoc in small towns in America.

Theseus would help, if only to humor him and his ‘hobby’ as he liked to say it, an owl away. He could be a right arse, and a cocky one at that, but by now Newt knew how to handle him and push their conversation toward something he found interesting and useful. If anything, his brother will merely think he's on the tail of some evasive creature (which he could be) and won’t ask him for his sudden interest.

Already a plan is forming in his mind, his interest piqued by these unusual attacks and his stubbornness pushing him to figure it out himself. This isn’t what he expected when coming to Ilvermorny, but he can’t complain, not when it gives him the opportunity to aid a misplaced creature. He doesn’t believe in fate, but chance seems to have set him in America alongside these strange happenings and he’ll make use of this opportunity as much as he can.

With that in mind, he sets off, a certain spring in his step.


 While the faculty don't pry, the students are at that age where they find no problem asking him questions that would normally be off limits to teachers. Clearly, as it was at Hogwarts, he's the oddball, the Englishman thrown in the middle of an American melting pot, and that opens him to countless questionnaires.

One beats all others: “What's in your case anyway? You always have it with you.”

It's the fifth time the question has been asked during two class periods and he knows it won't be the last. The object is too prominent to shrug off as insignificant and, as no matter how many times he opens it to show them the ordinary clutter stuffed in its safety setting, they are too clever to take his falsities at face value.

“Nothing special,” is the designated response, along with the common misdirection.

This time it's a presentation of sorts.

He drags his stool to the center of the classroom, motioning for the students to get out of their seats. “Gather around.”

They follow his order, shuffling until he is surrounded by a sea of faces, all turned toward him, expecting. It is unnerving for all of a second before he feels a small nudge against his chest.

“Pickett,” he calls, tapping his top pocket. There's a squeak and he sees the top of a leafy head, but nothing more. “Come now, Pickett, don't be shy.”

Another squeak, but the bowtruckle does peak out from his vest.

Instantly, the class is enamored and a few of the girls squeal when they catch sight of him. The rest of the students bunch closer for a better look as the bowtruckle comes out more. With a little more prodding, Pickett climbs out into the open, crawling up to stand on his shoulder. The creature rests one slender hand against Newt’s neck, making a familiar bridge between them.

“Pickett, here, is a bowtruckle,” he informs them, knowing that his friend doesn't fit this year’s criteria, but deciding the lesson must be taught regardless. “They are very handy and can pick almost any lock you put in from of them.”

There is more gushing and it makes something warm and soft float in his chest.

“Can I…?” one of the girls ask. She reaches out, only to pull back a half second later (Newt’s glad—his previous lecture about personal boundaries for different creatures must've gotten through to someone).

“Certainly.”

Pickett lets out an alarmed squeal and hooks his spindly fingers around Newt’s ear, fixating himself there as if Newt was intending to give him away for good.

“Pickett—Pick—he has some attachment issues,” he explains in an effort to console the rejected girl when he attempts to pick up the creature, a pinch of pain pricking his lobe in response. He gives an exasperated sigh and gives up, ignoring the smug shimmy his tiny friend does. “Which is exactly why I’m accused of favoritism.”

Pickett blows him a raspberry, but lets go of his ear now that he's not being abandoned (honestly, Newt would never).

“Now that is beneath you,” he says as the students laugh. Still, he smiles.

The bowtruckle makes its way down the length of his arm, gazing at the students surrounding him almost anxiously. Neurotic is a word that can describe Pickett at times, insecure and shy at others; the amount of time he's spent in the outside world and away from his branch exceeds any of the other bowtruckles and still Pickett isn't all too open to strangers. Newt lifts his hand, palm up, and Pickett scurries to it.

“I saved him and his branch from a logging site. Bowtruckles are tree guardians. Anyone have a guess as to what that entails?”

“They guard trees?”

Newt nods at the half-hearted answer. “They take care of one tree and one tree only. Once they've chosen one, they won't leave it. It's one of the reasons why deforestation poses such a problem to them specifically.”

“Can't we just move the tree somewhere else?” a Wampus girl asks.

“Yes, that would be easier, wouldn't it? More efficient as well, if taken straightforward. But,” he says quickly when he sees more heads nodding in agreement, “what would you say if I told you that, more often than not, bowtruckles claim trees such as hornbeam, rosewood and even the ever evasive elder tree?”

He can see the realization hit.

His wand is out and spun between nimble fingers, distracting the little bowtruckle for a span of two seconds before Newt’s knuckles grow more interesting. “For those unaware, these are examples of wand wood. Most of the time, it’s rather easy to get the wood and bark. Simply offer some woodlice—fairy eggs if you have some—to placate the bowtruckles and they’ll allow you to take what you need.”

He tucks his chin. “Except… sometimes that’s not enough. The wand making industry is rather large and in constant demand with every witch and wizard born—and it is far easier to get rid of these creatures and take the tree entirely—which means that Pickett here is considered less important.”

He wiggles his fingers and Pickett lets out a high pitched squeak as he swings, enjoying himself.

“As you can see, Pickett doesn't know that I am, biologically, the same as all of you. He doesn't care—he's already claimed me as, what I perceive to be, his new tree and, if offered the choice, would choose to stay with me even as I lay dying.” He pauses, head cocked as he stares at his small friend. “Very loyal creatures, bowtruckles.”

Pickett slips, but Newt is there to catch him with his other hand, gently setting him back on his shoulder. Not a moment later, the green creature is snuggled under his collar, safe and warm.

He looks up at his students, watching the ribbons of thought catch their attention. He offers a small smile.

“Just a sickle for your thoughts.”


Newt sees the accursed thing on his second week at Ilvermorny, both in the hands of students and laying ominously on their desks. Something he hasn't trusted since he'd been forced to utilize during his Hogwarts days and wishes he didn’t see in his classroom.

Bestarium Magicum.

He has his own copy, but he’s marked it up so thoroughly with his own notes, that’s it nearly impossible to decipher the original text. Sometimes, if he's feeling especially spiteful, he'll accidentally drop it in the path of his giant dung beetles.

“Rubbish.” He hands the book back to the student, a strawberry blond boy of wiry build, whom he has borrowed it from and makes his way to his desk. He has the urge to wipe his hands clean. “We will not be using the book. I apologize that you had to buy the new edition, but I had only been asked to teach two weeks prior the semester starting.”

The boy, whose name escaped him at the moment—Edward, maybe? Or could it have been Brandon?—speaks up with furrowed brows. “Is something wrong with it?”

“That's depends. Most wizards would say no, but I find this book severely lacking. For example, while its description of the limax is adequate, its account of its behavior is less so.”

“Limax?”

“Air-breathing land slugs-terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the Limacidae family,” he says, pretending he can actually see his words enter one ear and shoot out the other. With a wave of his wand a piece of chalk floats to the board and begins a rudimentary sketch of the creature. “Imagine a hammer head with a snake-like body and four arms. It has no natural way of defending itself, so it often bears handmade weapons. The only creature of its intelligence level to do so.”

“What kind of weapons?”

“Oh, anything it can get its hands on. It'll take a quill right out of your hands if it feels like it has to.” The corner of his lips twitch. “If I remember correctly, that's how the first attempt at observation went—threatened Professor Briggs of Cambridge with his own butter knife.”

One or two students laugh.

“It says it’s paranoid,” Emil Johnson says, a constant presence in the seat next to the window, looking through his book. He flips a page. “That’s it.”

“Yes, and rightly so. It has many predators and is constantly on the move. Because it is suspicious of all creatures, the females will often fight off the advancing males. Once they do mate, they will form a partnership until their young is old enough to fend for itself. After that, the family will go their separate ways indefinitely.”

“That's so sad,” says a skinny boy in the front.

Newt shakes his head. “Creatures mate solely for the continuation of their species. Humans are the oddballs, searching out partners for the chance of an emotional connection.”

“So they don't love each other?”

“The mind of a beast is very different than a human, so the way they perceive and think varies from how we do. What we consider love may not fit what a manticore considers necessary for a mateship,” he says, noticing the interest of the rest of the class, even the students who don't usually follow along, shifting towards him. “It depends on the creature in question. While most species of dragons are promiscuous and don't form pair bonds, hippogriffs mate for life—as do owls and unicorns. When observing each, you can see the difference in their level of affection, as well as how close it mirrors that of a human.”

“But you said they don't feel love like we do.”

He didn’t plan for the conversation to turn philosophical, but he'll admit that he's enjoying it. Questions meant they were interested. “I never said that. I merely stated that it's a highly debatable topic depending on the constructs one has for love.”

“So what do you think?”

Newt stalls for a moment. He shouldn't impose his views on them, but leave them to make their own opinions. That's the professional way—the appropriate way. That’s the way most of his professors handled the question when he was first learning the subject.

Bugger his professors. He isn't like them and would teach as he pleases.

“I believe we all have similar instincts at a basic level. I believe that they feel pain as we do, can be happy or angry, have likes of their own. They are as complex as you and I—so what's to say they don't love.”

They find his answer adequate.

The discussion continues long after class is over.

Chapter Text

His niffler getting out, now that, he should have expected.

Ilvermorny isn't like one of Newt’s expeditions, all wild terrain and free of civil society expeditions. Communities have people; where there are people, there are valuables, and where there are valuables, his Niffler will undoubtedly sneak out to snatch them under everyone’s noses. Of all his creatures, it’s the most mischievous; in all regards, it’s a nuisance (lovable in every aspect, but a nuisance nonetheless) that is more often than naught a thorn in his side. With how long he’s had it in his case, he should be more equipped for its untimely escapades.

Disappointing on his part, truly.

He notices the little rascal is missing during his morning class when students begin complaining their pens are vanishing. One gone is an accident, but eleven missing? Now that is a cry of a heist in the works.

“Professor?” someone asks when he's stopped mid-lecture about the reproduction of Grindylows at the hint of a midnight blue pelt he catches slipping through the window pane.

“Hm, yes? I just—” He checks his watch. Ten minutes before the end of class. “How about we continue this discussion next time?”

His students find that agreeable and he dismisses them without fanfare, out the door and racing up the hill before any of them can begin to gather their things. His niffler turns to spot Newt halfway up the hill, determination in his eyes, and that's when the real chase begins. It leads him into the school and through the labyrinth-like corridors always one step ahead; Newt would've caught the platypus-like creature easily enough if the school wasn't out for his demise, stretching out the chase far longer than necessary.

As expected, the school turns him around and he loses sight of the beast, but all he has to do is follow the trail of students lamenting about their stolen items, even one or two shining coins leading him deeper into the school until he's in front of an unfamiliar door. It’s unlocked and he slips in without thinking, locking the door behind him. One less escape route to worry about.

The quicker he finds his niffler, the quicker he can return the possessions undoubtedly stolen. It will be quite a hassle, figuring out what belongs to who—maybe he could find a spell to save him the trouble (though the resulting spectacle of flying possessions would, more likely than not, lead to unwanted talk). Still, he must find the small creature before anything else and that must start somewhere. So, he looks up—

—only to face a room filled with students and a bewildered Ms. Goldstein at the other end.

“Oh, hello.”

There is a moment when the woman doesn't have the words to respond, head angled his way even as her body faces the blackboard, wand paused in its guidance of the floating piece of chalk scribbling the fundamentals of counter-jinxes. It doesn't last long. Eyebrows furrowing in a question, her mouth speaks, “Are you looking for something, Mr. Scamander?”

He looks at the nearest table’s edge. “No, no, absolutely not.”

“Then is there a reason for you being in my classroom?”

“No—yes, ah, yes, I do believe there is. Me, being here—there is a perfectly acceptable reason.”

There is a raised platform near the back of the room for what he assumes is hands-on practice. Newt hadn't taken much interest in Defense of the Dark Arts (because that’s what class he has undoubtedly interrupted) and had never been particularly adept, preferring to surround himself with the honest intentions of creatures and potted plants, so he's not as familiar with the layout as he'd like to be. Still, there could be holes and crevices that could house a certain Niffler…

“And?”

He snaps his focus back to Ms. Goldstein. “And? Mmh—oh, yes, the reason...”

She sighs. “Mr. Scamander, if you’re just going to waste time-”

“I was wondering if you could answer a question of mine,” he says in a rush, eyes darting around the room. He doesn't see a familiar pelt and long snout. “I've been searching for, er, a birthday present. A creature, of sorts.”

“A creature,” she deadpans. “And you couldn't get it in England?”

“No, there's only one breeder of Appaloosa puffskeins in the world.”

“We don't allow the breeding of magical creatures in America—Mr. Scamander.”

Newt straightens, practically jumping. The student whose desk he was searching peers at him strangely. “Yes?”

“Did you drop something?”

“No, I was just looking.”

Ms. Goldstein crosses her arms. “So you are looking for something.”

A girl squeals and Newt’s on the move, down on his knees and crawling in the spaces between desks, barely catching sight of a tail before it disappears in the shadows of a cluttered bookshelf. He curses under his breath, rising from his knees.

Ms. Goldstein stands before him, frown in place and wand pointed at his face. “I'm going to have to ask you to leave.”

Newt gets the feeling he could be part of a class demonstration if this continues. Best not poke an aggravated Manticore—not that Ms. Goldstein could be mistaken for one, what with her lack of scorpion tail.

Then, he spots it: a twinkle of light by the window.

He crosses the room quickly, climbing ontop of the small bookcase that runs along the wall and peers out. His niffler pauses at the base of a rafter peering up at him silently before scurrying off, tail flicking in a victorious farewell.

Newt hoists himself up and is already halfway out the window when, “Mr. Scamander!”

He stops. “Yes?”

Ms. Goldstein gives him a meaningful look, a stone carving among the sea of surprised faces that of her class. “We’re on the third story.”

He looks to the ground briefly. “Yes. Yes, I suppose we are.” A few students laugh. “It’s—I’ll be careful, so no need to worry. I'll just—don't mind me. I'll be on my way.”

He finds footholds secure enough to hold his weight and inches down, hands leaving the windowsill and grasping at stone to the best of their ability. There is instant chatter from above.

He's beginning the climb down the outer wall when he remembers his manners. He pops back up, startling Ms. Goldstein and the class into silence. “I, ah, apologize for my disruption of your class. I'll try to refrain from—I mean to say—it won't happen again.” He nods at the students behind her, noting a few that are in his afternoon class. “Goodbye.”


 Newt doesn't catch his niffler.

Instead, he slips and falls from the lowest window and has to explain to the groundskeeper why his prize-winning Alihotsy shrubs are misshapen and destroyed.


 Third week into the school year and he finally gets to more interesting subjects with his classes. Reading about creatures and their biology was all well and fine, but even Newt is not ignorant enough to mistake what truly draws people to his field of expertise: the creatures, wild and exotic, and, more specifically, the prospect of gaining hands-on experience with them.

A word to Headmistress Peregrine leads him to a scowling pukwudgie who shows him to the darker parts of the wilderness north of the school. There, he meets a herd of thestrals, bigger and taller than those in England. Not only do they run the carriages bringing the students from the train station to the school, but they ward off particularly dangerous beasts that are native to the mountains with their naturally foreboding presence. They take to him wonderfully.

“Take my advice: don’t try and do anything that might get them relocated,” the pukwudgie warns. “If you do, your biggest problem won’t be the Headmistress, you hear me!”

Naturally, Newt agrees. He introduces them to his classes the following week.

“Now,” he starts once they’ve reached the edge of the clearing, “who of you can see them?”

The herd is meandering about on the other side, handling the appearance of newcomers better than most creatures Newt’s dealt with—certainly better than his mother’s hippogriffs. They creep closer to where he stands ahead of his class, interested in the bucket he’s carrying. Most of them are fully grown, only two or three foals flapping about the overgrown grass, but the promise of possible food can make any creature, young and old, more compliant and charming.

Less than a handful of students raise their hands, sending hesitant looks to their fellow classmates, who, for all purposes, look utterly confused as he strokes the thestral’s flank. Newt’s lips twist in a semblance of a smile.

“For those of you who, ah, cannot see—what I have here is a thestral.”

A good majority shuffle uncomfortably, making eye contact with their neighbors in a rather concerned sideways glance.

“I assure you all that there is indeed a creature here.”

The thestral shakes its head, unfurling its wings in a stretch. Leather skin scrapes along itself like sandpaper, producing a sound that has his back muscles tensing involuntarily. His students must hear it, too, because many of them jump.

Newt reaches out and gently strokes the beast’s neck, soothing the creature.

“Uh, Professor…”

“Yes, Miss Stone.”

The girl, tall and dark, looks uncomfortable. She fiddles with her pen, twisting it around her fingers in constant, rapid succession. “Why can only some of us see the threstral.”

“Thestral,” he corrects patiently. He reaches down and shifts the bucket of meat he had prepared earlier closer. “And the reason for that is because they can only be seen by a person who has witnessed death or come to terms with it.” He catches sight of his student, Gilbert, staring at him apprehensively, as if he would dare lie about such a thing. Gilbert, as Newt had begun to observe over the month, read lips better than his hearing students, but was always adamant on understanding each creature that was brought up in class and required more evidence than the rest.

“How can we know what you’re saying is true?”

To convince him and the lot, Newt decided a visual demonstration could speak for itself. Keeping his face neutral, he offers the skeletal creature a chunk of raw meat, pulling his fingers back so as to escape possible laceration; a few students jerk at the food’s disappearance, watching with morbid fascination as drops of blood fall from the thestral’s hooked mouth and onto his forearm. Gilbert seems satisfied with the evidence.

“A very ghoulish concept, I know—one of the reasons they're seen as, well, bad omens. It is all based on silly superstition, though, for they are quite gentle and sociable when trained. They're not particularly violent, but will attack when threatened—as will most creatures really—whether it be to themselves, the herd, or even their trainers.” He absently wipes his hand on his trousers. “There have been cases of thestrals adopting humans into their herds and, under acts of severe loyalty, attempting to protect them from these perceived threats.”

“Have you been adopted?” The question comes from a petite blonde who flushes when he looks to her. “By a herd, I mean.”

“Ah, no, I have not. The last herd I was in contact with was many years ago at Hogwarts and they, well, they're bred for a very specific use and the current trainer did not—wasn't, er, welcome to others stepping in… I, hm, yes.”

They must sense his discomfort, for the same girl steps forward with another inquiry. “What do you use them for at Hogwarts?”

“Brilliant question! While first-years take boats from the train to Hogwarts, the rest of the students take carriages—I believe you all take carriages, yes? Most students believe that they pull themselves…” He trails a single finger down the creature’s spine, giving a small smile when he's rewarded by a shrill neigh of appreciation. “It is to be expected, however. Not many have come to terms with death and likely will not until they are older.”

“Ain’t nothing pulls the carriages,” Christopher says.

“Ask any one of your professor and they’ll confess that that isn’t true.”

“And what about you, Professor?”

“What about me?”

“Who'd you see die?” The question is blunt, but he expects nothing less from these Americans.

Nonetheless, he's taken aback, utterly unprepared to even begin thinking about an appropriate answer. His mind snaps back to a moment not so far away, where he kneels in hot, desert sand and the sun beats mercilessly upon his back. He remembers eyes, dark and full of fear, staring back and how dirty fingers reach out to him seconds before the world explodes in a mess of pain and shadows.

“—amander?”

He presses his lips into a thin line, eyes flickering toward the group and back to the opaque eyes of the thestral. “An eight-year old Sudanese girl who didn't deserve what she was given.”

The thestral shakes its head, thin mane cutting through the air like the blade of a guillotine. Its sharp shoulder bumps into his and he forces himself to focus on the sinew of muscle and tissue stretched over a protruding bone. The creature is a constant reminder of his failures, just a hair’s breadth away from succumbing to the overwhelming drag, but Newt doesn't have the heart to blame it.

It cannot help its nature—just as Newt cannot help his.

He smiles to cover the painful lurch of his heart, knowing that it is too brittle to be anything close to alright. He claps his hands together, making them all jump, and pushes forward with a singular focus. The dead are gone and the living need his attention.

“Would anyone like a try at feeding?”


 Despite his dislike of favoritism, Newt finds he’s unconsciously taken to one of his classes. A mix between Wampus and Thunderbird, they're a rowdy bunch of twenty always having a thought that needs to be said, an opinion that can't go unexpressed, and an inquisition that requires constant stimulation.

He studies them like his creatures observing their habits and social standing. Like his mother’s herd, there's a hierarchy similar to most creatures, rules and etiquette he must follow; who decides what can and cannot be said. These are all things he must know to survive and live efficiently and symbiotically beside these Americans.

Hogwarts and Ilvermorny students are regular children and children have their own social circles. They act as rings, Newt believes, with the closest friends in the center, the lesser known acquaintances scattered more and more the further the circle expands. Housemates by definition are in the inner circles, alongside family, distant friends and most adults taking up space in the farther rings.

Newt believes his designated spot is somewhere in the outer rings, not fully residing in the circle, but rather flitting in and out. The children seem to allow this, not fully inviting him, but not pushing him out, and he makes sure not to breach this allowance. They don't trade secrets (gossip and rumors are the only exception), nor do they divulge in personal matters (his suitcase remains only a suitcase), and yet, despite this, Newt finds he knows more about them than he ever did his Hogwarts classmates.

There's Alma, who can't stand the sight of the insides of a flobberworm. Benjamin and Aubrey are superb writers, but have trouble distinguishing different breeds of puffskeins. Leonard can make any argument turn into a debate whereas Marjorie tries to make every debate into an argument, so the two clash leading Bernice to play moderator. Mildred is the unofficial leader, Eustace her right-hand man. Walter and Emil are best mates, the former having something of a rivalry with Christopher. Marina and Delilah are twins, giggly and petite, while Thomas has an younger brother in Horned Serpent. Charles is known to be a Beater who plays rough, but surprisingly very protective of Gilbert, who fancies Harriet. Newt thinks Blanche has a bright future in Herbology and Willis in Potions, and that Estelle has utterly no interest in his class and anything he has to say.

Every passing day he catalogues new information—social ticks that set these children apart from the rest.

And he's learning as well. Never before had he considered himself professor material and transitioning from self-proclaimed Magizoologist to an instructor is a difficult process, one filled with trial and error. There's homework and reading assignments that he has to make (almost as boring as his paperwork at his desk job at the Ministry), rules he has to inflict on the students and abide by himself, and he has to keep reminding himself not leave his students alone unless he wishes to come back to a ravaged room. He can’t scrounge around his case if he’s missing something or make a quick check-up in the middle of the day, nor can he let his mind wander when teaching.

He'll forget one tiny bit of detail and then the whole class will smell like rotten eggs or someone's desk will be covered in purple goop that won't come off no matter how hard one scrubs. (He got in particular trouble with the poor Pukwudgie that had to scrape it by hand.)

More often than not, most of his exciting or strange experiences happen during that class. Newt battles with a stray limax during one of his scavenging trips into the forest, brandishing nothing more than a pair of tongs as he calls for his companions to take their wares and run. There's the incident with the fire-crabs, multiple students with inflicted with burns, only it pales in comparison to the fiasco with the gnomes (which they’ve all been sworn into secrecy). So much happens in such little time that Newt begins to look forward to seeing his students, all of his students, putting more and more effort into their lessons.

And so, when they come across the topic of hippogriffs, he's not surprised at the dejectedness they feel discovering the school stables are currently empty and have been so for years.

He has memories of clinging to his mother's skirts while she went through her daily chores in the pastures; the first hatching, nests once so quiet suddenly bursting with noise, and wet, slick hatchlings stumbling out and eating their first rat; his first ride over the dense forest that surrounds their home, with the wind hitting his face and the beat of the wings reverberating in his ears. They're his fondest memories—parts of his life he'd never want to give away for all the gold in the world.

And so he writes a letter to his mother.

Chapter Text

Out of all the courtyards Ilvermorny has to offer, there's only one Newt’s remotely interested in.

It's not the biggest, nor is it the grandest. It is a simple thing, a square piece of land located near the edge of the school. At its center, a large Snakewood tree.

Unlike the courtyards at Hogwarts, which are plain and mostly barren excluding a bench or two, Ilvermorny makes even the smallest garden look like a landscaping masterpiece, bursting with color and different species of plants. But, where the rest of the courtyard is impeccable and appealing, the tree is not. It looks to have never been pruned, its branches just as gnarled and thick as its roots, breaking out of the stone path and spreading out to intertwine with the neighboring plants. With its flaking bark and ugly burls at its base, it reminds Newt of a senior outliving the younger generation out of spite.

Despite the oddity of the snakewood, it's not the sole reason he's interested with this courtyard. Rather, it's the creature that resides in it.

He's learned that the pukwudgies are less submissive and subservient than house elves, grouchy to a touch past extreme. They take care of the school, somehow popping up right when needed, but rarely stay long enough to chat. Not since his first day at Ilvermorny has he spoken with one and ask about the myths that surround their species, but, within this courtyard, he's found one that keeps to a schedule without fault.

Its hair is peppered, dominatingly white around its ears, and its skin looks to be pulled so tight every angle on its face is exaggerated tenfold. Like the rest Newt’s seen, it also wears breeches, only it has a sash of animal skin doubled over it.

He walks up beside it. “Hello.”

It doesn’t respond, ignoring him in favor of magicking the snow away from the path surrounding the tree, hands orchestrating an imaginary symphony with ever slow flick of the wrist. From there it shuffles away to the hedges, trimming them with a snap of its fingers.

Newt follows, undeterred. “I always see you here tending to the tree or shining the founder statues.”

Still, the pukwudgie doesn't respond. It leaves him to walk around the tree, peering up at the branches with an analytical stare. Newt follows its line of sight and spots a nest of woodpeckers. It mutters to itself; another snap and the nest gently floats down and into the pukwudgie’s bony hands, who then nestles it into the quills of its hair. The baby birds trill at Newt, begging for food he doesn’t have.

As the pukwudgie goes on with its chores, Newt steps closer to the snakewood and the simple plaque at its base. A quick read of the words tell of the good and bad of Salazar Slytherin and Newt wonders about the history behind it. No doubt it's merely a small piece of a bigger story.

He knows a bit about Ilvermorny’s history, the basic story of its founder, the rest easily read from the many books the library has to offer about this particular subject. Escaping England, surviving in pre-colonial American wilderness, building a school from the ground up, Isolt Sayre sounded just as astounding as the Hogwarts founders.  

“Incredible woman.” He doesn’t mean to say it out loud, but there it goes, following the breeze and brushing up against hard bark.

“She was,” comes the gruff voice.

Newt startles. The pukwudgie stands to his right, hands in its pockets. He could've sworn it was across the yard on his left, bending over a pair of shrubs that shivered and cooed under attention. “You knew her, did you?”

The creature scoffs and, wonders of wonder, continues to speak. “Impossible. I'd be over three centuries old. Don't you wizards know how to count time?”

Newt finds himself laughing. “I suppose we don't. We seem to lose it so often.”

The pukwudgie grimaces and Newt supposes that is the closest to a smile it can express.

He presses on, taking the moment for what it is—an opportunity. He must tread lightly however, for he doesn’t want to scare off the only potential lead he has for his research. Start small, instructs a voice that sounds unnervingly like his brother’s, be casual. “I don't mean to pry, but I've been wondering… why haven't I heard of any students coming to your kind for advice. It seems to me that you lot have much to offer. You've lived here for countless years—know the school better than anyone else.”

The pukwudgie takes the small talk in stride. “I think it has something to do with my less-than-welcoming attitude.”

“I find you attitude quite enjoyable—certainly better than what I've encountered.” Newt keeps his tone sprightly, habitually bobbing his head from side to side. The encounter has been dominantly light in spirit, far better than his usual conversations, and he intends to maintain it. “I generally don’t get on the best side of a lot of people, so this is a nice change of pace.”

“Do you think buttering me up with flattery will get you anywhere, Englishman?”

He pauses, mouth already half open with a wry comeback. “How do you know I'm English?”

“Your accent gives it away. None of the younger folk talk like you. You speak proper-like.”

“So you've heard it before. Might I ask from whom?”

“No.” A stilted silence and then, “An old friend.”

“An incredible woman?” he asks, lips quirking.

“Impossible,” it says.

Newt smiles. “Quite right.” Pickett squeaks in his pocket, reminding him of the time. He has an afternoon class in twenty minutes. “Well, I must be off. It's was nice meeting you, Mister…”

“You’ll not get a name from me, Englishman. Call me what you like.”

“Very well,” he says. He pretends to ponder, weighing his next move before continuing with a casual, “You seem like a William. Very strong, that name—quite a story behind it, too, I'd wager. How about it?”

“That is... acceptable,” the pukwudgie says with another grimace-smile and, if Newt didn't know any better, he would label the sparkle in those dark eyes as amusement. He congratulates himself on doing his research before seeking the creature out, lucky that he had come across a description of a particular Pukwudgie that had been like a father to a lost, orphan girl and bared the name of one.

“Wonderful. Well, William, may I come and visit again? Tomorrow perhaps?”

“If you must.”

Newt feels his smile stretch impossibly wider. “Excellent. I shall bring tea and biscuits.”

Before he even has time to think of the proper way to make an exit, the pukwudgie is turning on the stone, its quilled back to him. “Do me a favor, Englishman. Catch your niffler before it ruins the gardens with its holes.”

“My nif—” he starts, confused, until his brain catches on. He spins and, there in the shrubs, he spots the pilfering pest burrowing in the newly turned dirt.

As if sensing his stare, his niffler freezes in its digging. Slowly, it turns to look at him and Newt can only raise his eyebrows. There's a pause between them and then—

It bolts.

Newt takes after it without hesitation.

“I'm sorry—” He stops, turns back to the courtyard to apologize, only to realize the Pkukwudgie is no longer there. He remains for a moment, shrugs, and sets off again.

There's no chance of losing his niffler, not when it leaves a muddy track to follow, the corridors leading from the courtyard to the rest of the school only occupied by a few groups of students. They hastily step aside as he passes and Newt doesn't bother with their chatter, nor does he take the advice of the vocal portraits he passes by.

He inhales sharply when it takes a sharp turn into the Hall.

The number of students within are more than he’d like (study period, most likely), but he doesn’t have the time to have them evacuated from the Hall. Time is of essence if he’s to recapture his niffler, especially one so evasive.

“Excuse me, pardon—so sorry—”

He dives between two benches and grabs at the niffler. It dodges his hand and scurries further down the table, weaving between chairs and student’s legs. Newt follows. Girls and boys shout, jumping back and out of their seats—a good decision seeing as it gives Newt more room to move. The space beneath the tables are confining and he's not as small as he used to be, so he's at a disadvantage, but he's nothing if determined.

“Professor!”

“Sorry—” A few benches clatter when they fall and he bangs his shoulder, then his head, as he tries to maneuver in the cramped space.

“Hey! My necklace!”

There's a scream and Newt pops out from underneath the table just in time to see his niffler crawl out of a girl's hair and fall into her bowl of berries. It pops out a richer blue than before and every student nearby keeps clear as it topples out.

“That’s quite enough,” he says as it slips a rather elegant spoon into its pouch. It's a cheeky fellow, he gives it that.

This continues down the aisle until there's no more table for his niffler to run along. They've left an absolute mess in their wake, broken dishwares littering the ground alongside books and papers. Newt trips over someone's bag.

Instead of admitting defeat, it evades Newt once again and leaps to the curtains hanging by the door. It's aiming for another impossible escape, Newt’s sure of it; if it manages to get to the balcony, it’ll succeed and he'll lose it in the wilderness. It’s anyone’s guess when he would catch wind of it next—a few days, a fortnight, months?

That is why he climbs after it, he’ll reason later. One good thing from the hall being overly extravagant, the walls are decorated enough to give him stable holds to scale up them easily, then it's only a matter of jumping to the curtains.

“Come here, you little pest!” Students call up to him, some worried while others laugh. “It's fine—bugger, will you stop—everything's completely alright. There's absolutely nothing you need to worry about.”

The words are spoken too soon it seems, a loud riiiipppp sounding out just as he realizes his mistake. He falls with a yell, taking his niffler and the drapes down with him.

There's a moment where he is shrouded in darkness, limbs flailing as he struggles to fight off the strangling grip of thick fabric. Tassels flick him in the face imperiously and the threads hiss angrily at the damage he's inadvertently done, but he persists, popping out of the mess and breathing sweet freedom once again. His niffler takes one look at him and makes a break for itself towards a table on the opposite side of the Hall. The curtains try to pull him down, but Newt escapes and throws himself back into the chase.

Having Dougal within his case for as long as he has has made Newt more than proficient at capturing the notorious escapees that reside his case. “Accio!” A bowl flies into his hand even as he slashes his wand forward and up. The far end of the table bends upward, curling like the beginnings of roll. The students sitting there are caught by surprise and slip from their seats, as does his niffler. Perfect.

He slams the bowl down, trapping the little bugger. It begins to slip through the infinitesimal space between the rim and wood as Newt knew it would and he grabs the scruff of its neck before it can escape again.

“How many time do I have to tell you? Paws off what’s not yours.”

The little creature struggles to break free, but he’s having none of it. He empties its pouch, shaking for good measure. Coins rain down, silver and gold clinking into a pile on the floor, spoons, watches, lockets, pens, even some sickles and knuts among the hoard. American currency, muggle and wizard, is still confusing to Newt, but he assumes that what he has at his feet is a quite the amount if he goes by the gasps of the students.

By the end of it, he has a glittering pile that reaches his calves and a mess of a hall. His niffler flails in his hands, reaching longingly for the treasure.

“No,” he says, uncurling the table and setting the benches back where they belong. The rest of the hall is set back into order with a flick of his wand, ripped curtains and all. “Repario.

Just as he's debating what spell to use to return the stolen item he hears a pointed cough. The Hall grows quiet and Newt turns.

Ms. Goldstein frowns from the double doors, unhappy.

“Bugger,” he mutters to himself.


 Newt shifts from foot to foot, uncomfortable.

Ms. Goldstein side-eyes him, arms crossed and oozing judgement. She'd wordlessly led him from the hall, military march and all, through the parts of the school Newt's less acquainted with. A haggle of students had watch the walk of shame in progress, thankfully skipping out of sight with a single look from his personal drill sergeant.

Eventually, he had been led to a decently sized room; along its walls were framed certificates and rules of the school, meticulously positioned to better enunciate the polished trophies and medals on display in the long glass cabinets. At the center, a large, spiral staircase that had rotated at a slow, constant pace, rising up to disappear in the artificial night sky that made up the room’s ceiling. It had branched off as it climbed, smaller staircases reaching out to the walls and sweeping past the dozens of doorways that lined along each of the staggering levels. Newt had craned his neck to view the underside of the rumbling stone as Ms. Goldstein pushed him along, fascinated, wondering how he’d managed to go so long without ever stepping foot in the room before (if he were to guess, the school purposely kept it from him). She didn't slow, giving him no time to fully take in the sight, ushering him along to a door at ground level.

Through there they had emerged to a familiar corridor, at its end a door where they now stood. Engraved on the door of the Headmistress’s office, the body of a rearing griffin, proud and powerful.

“Blatherskite,” Ms. Goldstein tells the creature. The griffin eyes them both haughtily, but nonetheless bows its head, splitting along with the door to allow them entrance.

This isn't the first time Newt’s found himself in the Headmistress’s office, but the room seems larger and more foreboding than the few times he's visited. Large and circular, it's as grand as the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. Portraits of past headmasters lines the walls, dozing, beyond them a smaller entryway that leads to what Newt assumes is a personal library. Even the fireplace, with crackling flames and warm glow, isn't as calming as it once was.

Ms. Goldstein pushes him further into the room, getting the attention of the four people within. Newt recognizes Headmistress Peregrine, while the other three are unfamiliar to him, but from their dress he deduces that they must be aurors sent from MACUSA.

Growing up with Theseus has taught Newt the difference between a subordinate and a leader, the presence and stance of a person enough to tell where they belonged and what levels of authority they resided in, and, just as his brother was a leader, so was the auror closest to the Headmistress. The man, dressed in a fitted ensemble and an undercut, stared at Newt with a blank expression that has him suddenly reminded of the “kill on sight” protocol for magical creatures in America. His stomach rolls in apprehension.

Headmistress Peregrine sets down her papers, her expression enough to tell Newt that she’s already aware of what's happened. “Will you leave us, Tina?”

Ms. Goldstein nods and, with a final stare at Newt, leaves the room.

“Anything else, Headmistress?”

The voice comes from a pukwudgie standing beside the ornate desk at which Headmistress Peregrine sits, the spikes of its hair barely seen over the sleek desk. Newt wonders how he didn't see it the moment he walked in.

“No. That will be all. Thank you, Clementine.”

The pukwudgie nods and, without bidding the rest of the occupants farewell, walks past Newt without so much a glance (he spots an old-fashioned pipe, like the one his father used to smoke, tangled in its hair). He snaps back to attention when someone clears their throat.

“I take it you know why you're here, Mr. Scamander?”

“Yes.”

Headmistress Peregrine catches his glances at the other occupants, mainly at the man beside her. “Mr. Scamander, this is Mr. Graves. He is the head of our security while the aurors are stationed at Ilvermorny.”

The man inclines his head at her words. “I'm here because I have concerns for the near-situation your creature caused.”

Newt tucks his chin. “I took care of—”

“Are you aware that Ilvermorny has a strict policy concerning magical creatures, Mr. Scamander?” the head auror says suddenly.

He isn't. “Yes, I'm aware.”

“No magical creatures—unless those brought to the attention of the headmaster or headmistress—are permitted in fear of the students’ safety.” Newt can only look at the toes of his boots as the man goes on. “If you knew this, then why did you see fit to permit one onto school grounds, fully knowing that it could bring possible harm to the students?”

“It's a niffler. I was planning on showing it to my students. It's only found in England, so—”

“That wasn't the question, Mr. Scamander.”

“Well, you see, ah—it escaped—”

“It escaped,” Headmistress repeats, eyebrow raised.

“Yes, it escaped, but I was more than capable of capturing it.”

Mr. Graves looks like he doesn't believe Newt. “That didn't stop it from causing a scene in the hall—which was filled with students.” His niffler peeks out from his jacket, catching everyone's attention. “That's the little fellow, I take it.”

Newt tucks the creature tighter into the safety of his jacket. “It wouldn't harm a student. It's a thief, not a predator.”

“Nonetheless, it still caused mayhem in the school.” Here, the auror looks to the headmistress. “I believe it would be for the student body's best interest if Mr. Scamander remain confined to a room in the teachers’ housing offered by the school when not teaching. I’m willing to have one of my aurors shadow him during his classes so that another incident like this won't occur.”

His niffler sniffs the buttons of his waistcoat, unconcerned. Newt, on the other hand, tenses, not liking where the conversation is going—what it might mean for the creature in his arms. “There was no danger—”

“His creature should be dealt with in a similar manner—”

Newt feels heat crawl up his neck. “It’s not dangerous!”

The Headmistress holds up a hand for silence. “While I do appreciate the offer, Mr. Graves, this is a school, not a prison. Instead, Mr. Scamander will get off with a warning.”

His relief is palpable. His niffler was safe. “Thank you, Headmistress.”

“That doesn't mean you won't be reprimanded, Mr. Scamander. Mr. Graves and his team are here to offer protection, not look after faculty. As such, I will be having your class be under supervision—effective immediately.”

Newt bites back the retort that’s on the tip of his tongue. People at the Ministry had let him be for the most part, so the need for supervision was going to be exasperating and unnecessary.

His distaste for the idea must have shown on his face because Headmistress continues. “If you'd rather go with Mr. Graves’s proposal, then, by all means, take it—but I assure you that my offer is the better option. I will not have you and your creature run amok in my school. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Scamander?”

He keeps his gaze firmly on her desk. “Perfectly.”

“Good.” Headmistress Peregrine stares him down, either ignorant or uncaring of the silence that settles over the room. It's almost as if she's demanding acknowledgement like his Hogwarts teachers once did. She waves an elegant hand. “Have a wonderful day, Mr. Scamander.”

Knowing when he's been dismissed, Newt murmurs a farewell and hurriedly escapes. The door shuts solidly behind him, the griffin melded to the stone nipping at him when he tries to lean against it. The hallway alongside the office is empty, no students or ghosts around. Even Ms. Goldstein is long gone.

Newt releases the breath he was holding. “Now look what you've done.”

His niffler ignores him. It pats its empty pouch, whining. A few day's worth of adventure and it doesn't have anything to show for it, not even a knut to add to its collection.

Newt doesn't last a second.

He pulls a galleon from his pocket. Like a child presented with a new toy, the niffler reaches out, begging. “No more sneaking off,” he tells it with a stern look, handing the coin over. “I don't want to be kicked out when I've only just gotten here—all because you can't control yourself.”

The creature inspects the coin, making a pleased snort when the light of the floating lanterns reflects off its surface and into Newt’s face. The man shakes his head with familiar exasperation, wondering why he even tries, and tucks the small thing more closely to his side, setting down the hall.

He has a class to teach.


 Newt tells his creatures of the world outside.

Dougal seems to enjoy hearing him talk about strange American customs, while the occamy are interested in anything to do with his students, though that might just be because he makes smoky figures in the air for them to follow intensely. He tells Frank of the many portraits of his kind, how they differ in style and color (Newt had been surprised and amused to find one in the mensroom). His mooncalves sway to his drawn out descriptions of the grounds, humming around him as he reclines in the grass.

He talks and talks, and talks some more. He talks until there are no more words, no more frustrations concerning MACUSA and prying strangers. And, eventually, his talk leads him to research.

Like always, Bestarium Magicum offers not a slick of help. It’s descriptions of North American creatures are severely lacking, only offering a name, a basis description, and the standard Ministry rating, whilst some creatures that Newt knows exists are not even mentioned in the book. His curiosities are left unfulfilled and he’s greedy for knowledge of some kind. So, he searches the more general books he managed to find in Ilvermorny’s library, one or two of them referencing a creature fleetingly (except those concerning the Great Sasquatch Revolt of 1892, which is surprisingly informative). It's not much to work with, but he does the best he can.

“I’ll have to come back for the second edition,” he tells Dougal after another near-death experience from the library, the book snapping at him when he had complained about its inaccuracies; his little and index finger are wrapped in bandages, the cuts too small to warrant use of a healing draught. “It’d be a shame to leave these Americans ignorant in more things than etiquette—the creatures deserve better.”

The primate chitters in agreement.

And it would be beneficial to the students, he thinks. He couldn't let an entire continent of children learn from a curriculum that was entirely misinformed, much less his students, some who'd shown real progress and interest in the subject. He’d come back in search of more creatures, material for his book, nothing more.

Still, it's only when he catches himself humming the tune of Ilvermorny’s very own song to his unicorns that he starts to wonder how far this influence will bleed.

He finds that he doesn't mind too much.

Chapter Text

His little show with his niffler puts him in a tight spot with the MACUSA agents stationed at the school.

He expected it once Headmistress Peregrine had issued his penalty, grown accustomed with their scrutiny, but the extent of the change is drastic; they've gone from eyeing him from the shadows to staring him down in plain view. The amount of suspicion he's given is quite astounding, not to mention the constant watch they have on him, at least one pair of eyes following him as he makes his way through Ilvermorny halls.

They remind him of the students from his time at Hogwarts, the ones who went out of their way to make his days less than wonderful in any way they could, and while he didn't have a problem with the ones who ignored him entirely, his—what he can now call without a doubt—bullies were absolute gits. Although the aurors aren't actively tripping him or spilling his ink all over his homework, or even slipping his namesake into his pillow sheets, Newt expects it every time he walks into a room, paranoid that the cycle of torment will start up again.

It's all quite frustrating. If not for his low temperament and his desire to refrain from drawing attention, he might've made a rude comment at their incessant scrutiny, or else snuck two or three doxies into their coats. Insulting an American auror wouldn't help his predicament, but it would bring him some personal satisfaction, if only a little.

Despite Headmistress Peregrine’s insistence that he wouldn't be shadowed, Newt still feels paranoid; without any more solid evidence to back up their suspicion, the aurors’ hands were tied, but he'd grown up in a Ministry-orientated household and an auror brother, so he knew that there were always other methods of surveillance. He'd gotten off with a warning, not a federal notice, and he would be treated as any full-time faculty would, not as a criminal. None of the agents, not even the head auror, Percival Graves, could argue with her, publicly.

Speaking of, Mr. Graves is serious man, one that Newt sees sparingly and does his very best to avoid. There isn't any indication that the man is out to get him, but, nonetheless, he feels highly uncomfortable when he senses the other’s presence. He'd all but demanded his niffler to be confiscated and is the reason Newt had to deal with the second-to-worst punishment of being supervised.

The need of having an attendee during his class is both bothersome and interesting. Interesting when he purposely discusses the more vulgar aspects of mating rituals to try and get a response from the aurors when they coincidently pass by, but entirely inconvenient when Newt must excuse himself to the loo just to check up on his creatures in between classes. He’s never dealt well with authority and it shows.

Ms. Goldstein is far more preferable, though she does asks questions that he'd rather not answer.

“Where are you keeping your creature?” she’d ask, or, “How did it get loose?” and always, “Why did you allow it to escape on school grounds?”

He’s learned to parrot evasive answers back at her, which only seems to make her more watchful, shoving decorum aside to uncover the truth behind his mishap. They’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, he’s sure of it, from the odd first meeting to the Niffler fiasco, everything painting a less than appealing picture of his character, and now Newt’s beyond understanding her. A part of him is impressed by her devotion, her detective nature, only its squashed by her pestering and grumpy attitude. She’s not an auror, but she might as well be.

At least she can’t question him during his classes, or else is too polite to do so in front of the students. His teaching isn’t in question, so there’s that small relief; he wouldn’t know what he’d do if he had someone critiquing him in his own field.

There are a few whispers here and there with the supervision, but nothing major, and certainly nothing he can’t handle. Thankfully, his students haven’t done anything in response to the rumors whispered about him, refraining from discussing his slap on the wrist by the Headmistress.

“What's on the menu today, professor?” Eugene asks once the whole class has taken their seats.

“Well, I thought we might, ah, spice things up today.” He shakes his hands when a few kids take out their parchment and pens. “No, you won't be needing any supplies. Today's lesson will be more interactive than usual.”

His students perk up at that and it warms his heart to see such enthusiasm; he wishes it had been like this when he was younger. Maybe he wouldn't have been so alone if it had.

“We're going to be learning the mating dance of the erumpent.”

There's a moment of silence as his student take in his words, staring blankly. Eventually, a few let out awkward laughs, thinking he’s joking. He isn't and proves so when he marches out to the clearing just outside the hall, where the ground is free of the beginnings of frost and ice, his class following reluctantly behind. Ms. Goldstein lags further at the back.

“Come now everyone, space yourselves out. You're going to need room.” He waves a hand when they shuffle about, moving within their own, individual spheres of space and getting them nowhere.

He half turns to Mrs. Goldstein and asks, “And will you be joining us?”

“Hm, what?” The woman blinks rapidly and, when comprehending his words, blanches, quickly raising her hands and shaking them. “Oh! No, no, no, I don't—it's best if I—no, no thank you.”

Newt expects the decline, only offering out of courtesy to include everyone, but it slightly put out. It would’ve been great fun to watch the stern woman loosen up a bit. No matter, he'll just have to expend more focus onto his students.

He gets into a crouch and, reluctantly, they follow to do the same. Together they go through a series of steps, stomping forward only to dance back. He can only assume what they might look like to anyone who should happen to come down the mountain, thirty some individuals loping around with their posteriors raised to the heavens; with the lack of finesse his students are showcasing, not even a desperate erumpent would turn their way.

“We're doing this,” Leonard says, laughing in disbelief. “We're really doing this.”

Already more than half his class is too busy making fun of the tutorial, and Newt finds he's glad he omitted the verbal aspect of the dance. “Now, does anyone remember our lesson on the erumpent? How many subspecies are there?”

“Six!”

“Four!”

Mildred kicks Walter in the shin when he hobbles a little too close and he goes down. She doesn't bat an eyelash when she meets Newt’s amused gaze. “No, three!”

“Three, yes. Very good,” he says, watching her light up at the praise. “Their mating rituals differ slightly—almost indistinguishable. I, myself, still have trouble.”

When he makes the curvy line in the dirt, there are more giggles. And when he turns on his foot, bracing his hands on his thighs, he knows he won’t be able to continue on with the lecture normally. Newt falls into a perfect roll, catching the eye of Ms. Goldstein across the room. Her eyes crinkle, a tell tale sign of the smile she is trying to hide behind her hand.

Maybe she's warming up to him.

“This is ridiculous,” Delilah says.

“I feel ridiculous,” Christopher agrees from behind her, immediately throwing himself down onto the ground in a less than perfect roll.

Newt straightens. “Yes, it is quite absurd, isn't it? Now you all continue practicing.”

He leaves his students to stand at the edge of clearing, watching them try their very best to mimic the grace of an erumpent. To be honest, he’s finding it all very enjoyable. The number of wizards that know of the dance are few and in between, so to have a class of twenty-five partaking in it is a sight he’d never thought he’d ever see.

“Tell me, Mr. Scamander,” says a voice. “What does an erumpent mating dance have to do with O.W.Ls?”

Ms. Goldstein stands beside him, dressed in her thick, grey coat, her nose turning pink from the chilly air. Newt didn’t hear her come up, much less expect her to willingly speak to him. It's a deviation from the norm and he’s momentarily startled. “Sorry?”

“Shouldn’t you be preparing them for their O.W.Ls? Unless this is somehow related…”

“Oh, this has nothing to do with their exams,” he says. “We've been cramming lesson after lesson on those MACUSA creature guidelines. It's all rubbish and dreadfully boring, mind you, so I thought a free day was well-deserved.”

He’d been determined to educate them properly, practically doubling the curriculum once he’d found out how none of them could even cure a crup of a simple cold. To think that they’d been allowed to be taught such inadequate knowledge, treating beasts like nuisances, only fit for extermination. He should have guessed from the start, what with Bestarium Magicum as a main text source.

Obviously, he’d jumped head first into educating them properly, doubling the material they went over. Most of the time, less than half his audience follows his words when he goes off about his creatures, even more depending on which class he had that day, but he'd gotten his teachings through more or less.

Ms. Goldstein accepts his answer with only a little surprise and they watch the students in silence. It’s a comfortable silence, one that soothes the mind and relaxes the muscles.

“Not the worst mating ritual I’ve witnessed,” he murmurs from the side of his mouth after a minute.

Now it’s Ms. Goldstein’s turn to be surprised. She turns toward him, interested. “Oh really?”

He nods, leaning against a nearby tree. “Diricawls have something similar. The males will perform for the female a hundred-and-forty-eight-step dance on the highest peak they can find. It involves a lot of flapping and noise—it’s such a shame their calls are less than pleasant.”

“Sounds ridiculous.”

Though he agrees, he counters with a, “No more ridiculous than human mating rituals.”

“We don’t—well, I suppose dinner, dancing, and a walk under the stars could be considered part of a ritual.”

Another lapse, only this time Newt’s acutely aware of it.

At the opposite side of the group Charles begins to throw pinecones at other students, but he stops once he catches Newt looking in his direction, motioning for Gilbert and Estelle to get up from where they lounge on the grass. They join the rest of the class, albeit less enthusiastic.

“Ms. Goldstein—” he starts just as Ms. Goldstein says, “Excuse me if—”

They stop, taken back, and Newt clears his throat. “No, no—you can—”

“Mr. Scamander, excuse me if I’m being impolite, but I would like to know your intentions for being at Ilvermorny.”

He isn't expecting that. “My intentions?”

“Yes.”

“Same as you, I suppose,” he says, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “I accepted on the behalf of the students here—”

“But you were in New Guinea before coming here, right?”

He nods. “Yes. It was all a last minute arrangement.”

“Tell me, Mr. Scamander. What leads a man who's traveled the world to accept a teaching position? Surely you don't like to be tethered?”

Not a characteristic he would generally apply to himself, but it must fit the bill if Ms. Goldstein is the one giving it. Though he’s never given much thought about how others perceives him, he does so now. Now it's clear that the woman has some suspicions about him and that's not what he needs, not what he wants; it stings just a bit, just like it used to when he was smaller and it was always Theseus this and Theseus that, Newt just an afterthought. He struggles to think of something profound to say, maybe a lie or story that could get her to see what’s truly there, even if he doesn’t necessarily know. But all that comes out is: “I have my students’ best interests in heart.”

She tilts her head. “Why is it that I don’t believe you?”

For reasons he can’t explain, he winces and opens his mouth to respond—

“Professor!” A commotion has him turning, spotting a brawl in the works in the middle of the clearing. Charles and Emil tussle in the dirk, fists closed around shirt fronts and spitting profanities. A hex is cast and Emil’s sleeve catches fire.

Ms. Goldstein is faster than him. With a sharp, “Accio!” she has their wands flying to her hand while Newt physically separates the two boys and douses the flame. “Ten points from Thunderbird.”

There's a small argument at the loss, but Ms. Goldstein squashes down any argument with a glare.

The rest of the class proceeds with a less than cheery air.


One month passes, then three.

Slowly, winter grabs a hold of the mountain, the autumn colors that once spread across the mountainside fading until everything is grey and pale. The air gets a little colder and the ground a little slippier, the trees losing their leaves one by one until they’re barren, skeletons of bark and ice. Snowfall begins in earnest, blanketing every inch of the school, and snowball fights sprout out at any time and with anyone.

Not expecting the weather to turn so suddenly, Newt’s forced to cancel most of the outdoor adventures he’d planned for his classes much to his students’ dismay. Ms. Goldstein remains distant, reverting back to not speaking to him after their last conversation, and Newt’s is both thankful and worried.

He'd been amused by the Hallow’s Eve celebration, students transfiguring themselves to the stereotypical witch that Muggles often viewed them as, warts and all. Pumpkins, more than he can ever recount seeing in one place, carved with grueling faces or wicked grins, had decorate Ilvermorny, and one of the faculty had charmed a tree in each of the halls to drop caramelized apples.

It reminds him of the holidays spent at his childhood home, watching the wilderness surrounding it change from green to orange and brown and taking note of the gnomes borrowing in his mother’s garden. The hippogriffs had always became lackluster during this time, keeping to the stables to ward off the impending cold, but that hadn’t stopped him from spending time with them. His mother had often come marching in, demanding that he come inside and or else catch a cold, and they’d make supper together.

So, Newt isn’t surprised when a little owl nearly knocks over his morning tea, two letters gripped in its small talons. One from his mother and the other from his publisher.

The last letter he’d received from his publisher had been half a year ago, when he was crossing the Indian Ocean, inquiring whether or not he’d been devoured by whatever beast he was researching. He’d responded accordingly, reassuring him that yes, he was still very much alive and yes, he was coming along with his manuscript swimmingly, failing to mention that he’d yet to come up with an actual name for the entire thing, which hadn’t been the top priority at the time.

Now his time is running out.

He’s solely to blame, his desire for solitude so great that he’d made it incapable for any owl to reach him during his travels. Less time he spent communicating with people, the more time he could invest in his research. With his placement at Ilvermorny, he hadn't had time to recast the spell to keep him under the radar and virtually unreachable, so now it looked like people were starting to realize that. He hopes his publisher isn't too annoyed—he’d done the same for everyone else close to him, despite how little a group it was.

The little owl, Bally, hops around his plate, settling on his hand. Even after he snatches the treat Newt offers, he doesn't fly off, but merely stays where he is while Newt looks at his mail.

But, when he does, he frowns. It looks like an ordinary envelope (not a Howler, thankfully), exactly like the others he’d gotten from his publisher, down to the scribbled writing spelling out his name. Except something’s off, he's sure of it.

He examines it, flipping to to view the back. Still nothing out of the ordinary. The lip is firmly pressed when he strokes it, the seal unbroken, and yet Newt’s not satisfied. The letter from his mother is the same, untouched.

Suddenly paranoid, he scans the hall, frowning when he spots a figure slip back into the shadows just as he looks at its direction.

That's how it is then, he thinks.


Classes continue on with Ms. Goldstein supervising. And when she has a class of her own, another teacher is there to replace her. A Mrs. Barrow.

Newt would like to say he likes the woman, but then he'd be lying. She's not unpleasant, but her air of sternness throws him off, from her clipped words to her impeccable attire, not a crease in her dress or a dirt smudge on her heels. Most days she sits silently in the corner of the classroom and he’s able to ignore her (similar to how they act during dinners), only to frighten himself when he looks her way and find her staring at him. Once the class is over, she nods her acknowledgment and leaves without a word.

There’s is one pleasantry she has over so many—she uses his name.

The pukwudgies, even those he's never met, refer to him Englishman or Mr. English. It doesn't make sense to him, as he's sure there are others with accents similar to his, students with Scottish and English descents attending the school along others whose family immigrated to America, but he remains the only one labeled by his ancestry.

It isn't mean spirited—at least, he doesn't think it is. There's nothing he can say to have them call him anything other than Englishman; they know his name, he's more than sure of it, but it's more of a preference he supposes. It's uncreative, but not vulgar, so he does nothing to dissuade it.

The paintings are no better.

He doesn't mean to acquaint himself with any of them. Rather, he'd gotten lost on his way from dinner, unable to follow the masses of children exiting the Hall and losing sight of the other professors as they made their way to their common rooms, and found himself being coerced into unwanted conversation.

“You lost, my fellow wizard?”

Newt looks around, startled, until he spots where the voice came from. An old painting with a middle-aged gent, his crisp uniform decorated with glinting medals.

The painting gives him a proper salute. “General Redfield, at your service, Englishman.”

He inclines his head, intent on moving on. “Newt Scamander.”

“Scamander? The war hero? Now I'm sure I've heard the students go on about a man with that name. You're a war hero, are you, Mr. English?”

Newt tucks his chin. “Ah, no. That would be my older brother.”

“Outshined by your older brother! My heart goes to you, Mr. English.” The oil painting snaps his fingers. “But don't you worry! We'll find you a war to prove yourself in!” The man draws himself proudly, wiping away the invisible dirt off his pristine jacket. “I myself have led many men into battle and always came out victorious. Consider my services yours if you require them!”

“That's very kind of you, but I don't think—”

“Nonsense! You'll flourish under my guidance, no doubt about it!”

A group of students laugh as they pass by, heading to what he thinks maybe the Thunderbird tower—or is it the Pukwudgie common room? Asking them for directions would be the best interest for him, if only he could sneak away from the frames long enough to get to them.

General Redfield goes on despite Newt’s wishes. “But first, we must get you where you need to go! What's your desired destination?”

“The cottage on the west end of school grounds.”

“Down the corridor whence you came, Sir,” a lovely woman in an older painting tells him. “Turn left once you get to the Sayre hall and you'll find the path you need.”

General Redfield scoffs. “Excuse me, Lady de Bodel, but I’m quite certain that the Sayre Hall is in the opposite direction. But that’s beside the point. What our gent needs is the Webster Hall.”

“No, the Sayre Hall is in the west and the Webster Hall is to the north!”

“I'm more than positive that that's the Stewart Hall!” another painting calls out, depicting a hunting party, those in the same frame agreeing confidently. The dogs at their feet trot about happily, barking and snuffling about in the quick strokes of grass.

“I'm sure I can find my way myself,” Newt says gently before any more paintings can join in. “No need to go out of your way to help me.”

The noblewoman, Lady de Bodel, waves off his words. “Don’t you worry, Mr. English. It’s no trouble at all.”

General Redfield nods. “The Lady is right. Besides, a newcomer such as yourself wouldn't be able to memorize the school’s layout just yet.”

That spurs the other paintings to speak up at Newt’s defense. One scoffs at the General. “Give him a chance! He won’t learn until he tries is on his own!”

“Just because he has more than three frames around the school, he thinks he’s better than us,” a younger painting says, the oils coloring him not as chipped and cracked. The boy scoffs, tugging his flat cap further down. “You’ll be able to find your way without his help, sir.”

“Yes. Clearly, you are a man of parts.” Lady de Bodel winks at Newt before adjusting her bodice.

Newt refrains from groaning, hoping that someone will come by and save him.

No one comes by and he stays lost for another half hour.


He gets a letter from his brother a few days later. The message playfully warns him not to scar the American children too much, letting them to leave his class with at least a leg and arm each. Don’t want them galavanting around the world and taking in precarious beasts, like you, his brother writes, his somewhat infuriating charming character etched in every syllable.

Newt’s thankful that there's no mention of his case. He hasn't received many letters, those he's received far from discriminating, but there's no doubt about it. His mail is being read.

The mere thought of it leaves him frustrated. He wonders whether to confront the Headmistress about it, but she had to have agreed to it for Mr. Graves’s men  to even act on their suspicion. However, he can't find it in himself to blame her or anyone besides the aurors; it's only because he knows he has something to hide that he's irritated by the invasion of privacy and overall hinderance. The inconvenience of the guilty.

Instead, he takes matters in his own hands and turns to the only person who won't try and sugarcoat the situation.

That afternoon, he stops Ms. Goldstein from leaving at the end of class, surprising himself when he grabs her wrist. “A word, Ms. Goldstein—if you will.”

He’s held his tongue the entire class, not letting his feelings conflict with his teaching, but, no, once the students have bid him their goodbyes, he decides to be blunt just this once. Manners be damned.

“What is it, Mr. Scamander?” She sounds tired and it almost stops him in his tracks. Almost. “I have a class to teach in fifteen minutes, so if this can wait til—”

“Are all Americans degenerates when it comes to basic civility of society?” That's the not best way to begin a conversation, but he figures it's the quickest to get to what he wants to discuss.

“Excuse me?”

“My mail is being intercepted,” he explains, carefully watching her face. From where she stand by the front row of desks, her coat only halfway on, she’s illuminated by the hanging lanterns. “I wonder, how does one begin to go about invading the fundamental rights of privacy? It must be a conscious choice, especially at such lengths. Do you just decide anyone remotely different must constitute surveillance? And where does that stop? Should I expect my private things to be searched too?”

She grows a little pale. “Why are you telling me this?”

Newt stares at the children visible through the window, playing in the snow up the hill. “I merely thought you could help me. Shed some light as to why I'm such a prime suspect when I've done nothing wrong.”

“Listen, Mr. Scamander. I know it seems more invasive than what you're used to, but all the faculty have had background checks. We're in dangerous times and every precaution has to be made.”

“Then your mail is being read as well then?”

At his words, her expression drops slightly, telling Newt all that he needs to know.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Scamander, I really am. The invasion of privacy is undeserved, but I have to admit I know where they're coming from. You're not from around here and normally keep to yourself—not to mention your unorthodox lectures.”

Student gossip must've reached the aurors. Either that or Ms. Goldstein…

Newt presses his mouth into a thin line. He scrapes the hard wood of his desk with his thumbnail.

Ms. Goldstein continues on. “I think we can both agree that I haven't been the most welcoming towards you and, for that, I’m sorry. But the truth of the matter here is that it doesn’t matter what you or I think of this arrangement. It doesn’t matter because it’s not for our safe of mind, but for the kids’.”

She doesn’t need to elaborate on what exactly they are protecting them from. It’s clear from the lines that draw her face. Grindlewald. Newt turns to stare at the children visible through the window, playing in the snow up the hill. “Anyone with a compelling argument and enough passion can sway a young mind.”

“Yes, they can,” she agrees, stepping closer to stand near his desk while still out of his personal space. “They're young and think they're invincible. To them, this war is an ocean away and doesn't affect them.” She sighs, looking off to the side to obverse the row of plants lined against the windowsill. “I'm trying to keep them safe—and if that means losing a few acquaintances on the way, then so be it.”

“No, no, I understand.” And he does. Manticorns are the same way—sacrifices had to be made, all for the good of the herd. Siblings wouldn't hesitate on turning on each other if one was a liability, a weak link that could detriment the safety of the herd. Ideally, it makes sense. Morally, it just makes him a little queasy. So he takes a deep breath and centers himself. “What do you suggest I do about all this then?”

That snaps her attention back to him. “You're asking me?”

“Yes.”

She leans against the opposite edge of a nearby desk, right by his case, contemplating. Newt prays that nothing inside acts out. “Get out, interact, know who you're working with—don't just sit in the back. Give people a reason to trust you.” She levels him with a stern glare. “And no more escaping creatures.”

“Right.”

He could do it, maybe, blend in and affiliate himself into the population. He’d seen it happen in the wild many times, and, although it would require him to socialize more than he’d like, sacrifices had to be made. The herd had to be protected.

He scratches the back of his head, unsure how to proceed after a conversation like this. His anger barely lingers, more towards the fact he has to fix this mess himself rather than have someone stop it with a word once he's gone. That isn't to say he expected speaking with Ms. Goldstein to solve everything, but he'd hope there would be an easier solution.

He taps his fingers on the wood of his desk, wondering what to do now that he knows Ms. Goldstein isn't out to get him (though he still thinks she's too strict). Maybe he should start taking her advice. “Um… would you like to join me for afternoon tea?”

She looks at him like he's transfigured himself as a runespoor and has grown three heads. Perhaps the offer is premature and he has half a mind to recall the words. Finally, as if hearing his turmoil thoughts, she says, “That depends. Do you have coffee?”

Newt smiles, relieved when she returns it albeit more timidly. “I’m sure I can scrounge it up somewhere.”


Slowly, he gets out and mingles.

He lets himself slip more personal information in his lectures, little, insignificant facts that relate to the subject at hand, such as his experiences with a creature, what the environment is like in person, and so on. Soon his students ask about his days more and more, about his travels and where he's been, what creatures has he seen, what are the places like, who are the people—they want to know everything. Many of them, he realizes, have never traveled out of the country.

His classroom turns into a hangout of some sort, students coming and going like workers in the Ministry. It confuses Newt all of three days before he realizes what's happening.

He finds fireworks, spelled quills and pens, invisible ink, and other treats that are no doubt illegal on school grounds hidden in an book among his own collection, pictures charmed to peel off and regain their voluminous form. Very elaborate, but not fully learned, the end of a sizzling firecracker peeking through the pages. Newt’s not a particularly stringent person, but decides to confiscate the love potions and the more serious items, leaving the rest as it is.

“I suggest you practice your charms,” he tells the fifth-year in his morning class as he hands him the book the following day. “It also pays to blend into your surroundings and hide in plain sight—a history book is sorely out of place in a herbology cabinet.”

The number of students dwindle after that, but Newt doesn't mind. He’s left with a handful of students he knows from his preferred classes, friendly enough that he's sure that they won't get into major trouble, and, more importantly, won't lead him into more scrutiny.

At dinner he makes an off comment on the particular properties of snakewood and his interest in the one planted in the courtyard and is ultimately surprised when the herbology professor immediately latches onto that tidbit. Much to Newt’s surprise, it's a prelude to more discussions with the woman.

Ms. Erigenia invites him to her greenhouse. There they discuss poisons and antidotes, symptoms and post-treatments, from the old to the recently discovered. Natural remedies orally passed down, nearly lost during the Salem Trials, are particularly fascinating and more efficient than those available at St. Mungo’s and Newt takes advantage of the seemingly infinite knowledge the woman before him harbors.

From there, they go into more personal topics. Persecution of Native Americans, their wandless magic seen as inferior and odd to immigrating wizards. Newt learns of Ms. Erigenia’s upbringing, learning wandless magic before enrolling in Ilvermorny, taught by the elders of her small tribe; he learns that many children are the same, knowing simple spells and charms and continuing to cast this way even after they receive their wands. More complex magic required a wand, the Mahican woman tells him, but the amount of control still outshines that of English children.

Newt can't help but grudgingly agree.

This continues for hours, hours which Newt doesn’t notice fly by with how interested he is in the content—she’s relatively informed about the number of creatures populating America’s mideast, offering all the information she knows when he asks about native species (he’s able to strike out snallygasters and jackalopes off his list). And, when they’ve run out of time, she offers to meet up again, and Newt, already forming a growing respect for the woman, agrees.

(“Please,” she'd told him during his third visit, “my friends call me Ephedra.”

He'd smiled. “Then call me Newt.”)

He's learning more than he thought he would, America ripe with knowledge he never considered important. Soon he finds himself actively seeking out people, starting conversations, going out of his way to learn about the people around him.

Mr. Nachin enjoys his alternative cleaner solution, and they spend an hour debating whether or not the doxy pesticide currently used could be perfected. And Mr. Stoker doesn't mind answering his questions about the physical effect of vampirism, even when Newt forgets himself and starts jotting down notes right in front of the man. Ephedra allows him to take samples of her prized Mimbulus mimbletonia, while Mr. Hidalgo shares with him of the homemade potions he's collected from across the country (Newt is eager to try one or two with his fwooper who's coming down with a cold), but becomes extremely animated when they discuss the varying level of immunity of charms on different magical creatures (Newt knows he’s right that graphorn hide is more effective than dragon scales, the but man won’t be convinced).

Mrs. Barrow remains distant. There's no ridicule from her, only the regular amount of annoyance that he's come to expect. Some people won't ever come around, Newt's learned, disliking him for their own personal reasons that he may or may not come to know, and that's perfectly fine. Most of the faculty accept his presence and his word, so it's a bigger success than he could've ever hoped for. His mail is still being meddled with, but, he thinks as he sneaks a letter to the communal owl for the Horned Serpent students, you win some and you lose some.

Time and time again, he notices the difference between America and England. From a scientific standpoint, it's intriguing, quite like how he studies the differences between subspecies of creatures in differing environments.

He attends a quidditch game, watching in wide amazement as students barrel into one another, far more aggressive than what he's used to. It isn’t dirty sportsmanship, merely less lenient on what counted as a major offense. The language used is astounding if not a bit vulgar, the crowds shouting and screaming with more heart and fiery passion than necessary, going off with every call they didn't like, nearly spilling from the rafters.

Then there's quodpot, a bizarre and crazy game that's somehow branched off from quidditch to become a popular American pastime. It’s similar to quidditch, wilder and more life-threatening, complete with an exploding quaffle (a quod, if he recalls correctly). A perfect game for the Americans, though Newt fully sticks with the opinion that European quidditch is the better sport.

He doesn’t relay his opinion aloud, but, somehow, his students get a whiff of his disfavor. In usual fashion, Mildred takes the reigns and demands that they show him how Americans have perfected Quidditch. With her in lead, the rest of the class invites him to be a referee for a game or, maybe, if he’s willing, a player replacement (If your old bones can take it, Charles says, and Newt would be insulted if he didn’t find it so funny).

Strangely enough, he says yes.

Chapter Text

The seasons at Ilvermorny are vastly different than in any place Newt’s ever been. Unlike in London where autumn lingers and fades into winter smoothly—or in Russia where the warmer climates are skipped entirely in favor of snow, snow and more snow—it passes quickly here in the States. In the blink of an eye the leaves are draining in lively color and falling from their trees, creating rivers of gold across the crosswalks and along roof tiles, slowly buried as the snow falls in successions.

Tradition ordered for a Thanksgiving feast, filled with more turkey meat than Newt would think necessary. In addition, the castle had been decorated by some deity in the night, swathed in warm yellows, oranges and browns, drapes and ribbons adorning every available space in worship of fall. The tables in the main hall had been made into a shrine of harvest food and cornucopias, a splash of color amidst the candlesticks and pilgrim hats in an overkill of extravagance. It seemed to Newt as if the excess of festivity was done in order to make up for the fact that the holiday was only an intermediate settled between the more popular Hallow’s Eve and Christmas.

But he isn’t about to voice that opinion aloud.

It's undeniable that the festivities are one of the cheeriest he’s ever experienced. The students go on and on about their favorite flavors of pie and some woman named Macy and her parade and the story behind the holiday, piling their plates high with food. And Newt listens and mingles as what was expected of him, finding that he's actually enjoying himself.

Still, socializing was all well and good, but he does enjoy some solitary every now and then. A day to himself, one where he can bask in the almost silence of his workshop or little cottage. He's happy to answer questions about one creature or another, indulge in the occasional outing, but a little privacy is wanted at times.

When he can, he makes his way to his temporary home, leaving behind all the voices and sounds of society in favor of the muted silence of soon-to-be-winter. Even the darkness of the forest doesn’t frighten him, the billions of stars above dotting the black canvas of night, taking him back to the days camping with only his case.

After reformatting the curriculum to better fit his standards and whatnot, Newt settles down beside the fire in the cottage and gets to work on his self-imposed project. His shack is already cluttered, so it’s best if he keeps this research separate with the rest. Best not let the occamies get a chance to eat it.

Ephedra, bless the woman, had somehow gotten whiff of his interest in the mysterious attacks and supplies him with previous newspaper clippings concerning the subject.

“Mr. Stoker is a particular hoarder,” she'd said before he could ask how she'd gotten hold of a dozen of them. “It was no easy task having him part with them. You'll be helping me replant my mandrakes to make it up to me.”

Newt had grinned, thankful, and accepted her terms. Not much trouble, really, not when he enjoys her company. And herbology had always been a hobby of his.

His good mood is dashed when he actually reads the papers.

Like all things American, it proves lacking. While it does help him determine the time period between attacks (his analysis of the correlation to migration patterns depended on it) and what areas were favored, the beast in question is nothing anyone can catch and pinpoint. There’s no firsthand accounts, no clear descriptions, just the details on the destruction that’s left behind. Now more than ever, Newt wishes that wizards payed more attention to Muggles, or at least bothered to interview them. Maybe they could offer a description of what was causing all this havoc.

Having a high-level auror brother comes in handy, but if MACUSA is withholding information about the situation, even having ties to the Ministry won’t help Newt. The Americans are tight-lipped about the whole thing according to Theseus. Whatever they're dealing with, they're keeping utter secrecy to prevent mass hysteria, which makes his own investigation all the more difficult.

He's already narrowed down the possibilities, but his intuition says that he won’t get far for any of the creatures. It’s not cockiness that has him believing he’s the best in his field (compared to the “professionals” that currently delegate it, he is the best), but he has studied the behavior of so many creatures, big and small, each with their own level of intelligence, and has a great number of them residing in his case. Even without knowing exactly what he's looking for, he's more than confident in his abilities to determine what it’s not. The demographics, behavior patterns, migration paths, nothing remotely familiar matches to what terrorizes the American Muggles.

When he'd first learnt about the attacks, he hadn't been completely convinced that a magical creature was the one to inflict all the damage, and he still thinks that. Now he has proof his first hunch was right (he only hopes that his word carries enough so that other wizards might believe in his data).

Newt sighs, leaning back into his armchair. He's got pages of telling what it's not, but not a single word indicating what it is. It’s not enough, he knows. He has a difficult time convincing his coworkers that Murtlaps can be very cuddly at times, much less that an evasive terror isn’t a violent magical creature.

Maybe if he made his own trip to the Muggle town himself…

A single, soft, click can be barely heard over the crackling fire, but Newt’s grown to listen for this sound and doesn't hesitate to to grab the offending leg trying to slip through the lip of his suitcase. It's within easy reach, which is bad luck for his niffler.

“Again?” He pulls the little critter back before it can even try to make a break for the window. “Don’t whine. It’s too cold for you outside.”

The snow is falling readily now, the pukwudgies and Ilvermonry’s groundskeeper shoveling the walkways daily. Newt’s cottage is out of the way, the snow usually up to his knees, and he sometimes thinks that one morning he’ll wake up with it packed against his windows. Definitely too cold for a niffler.

He doesn’t want to risk another escape, especially on the off chance there were eyes watching him. One good thing that came from living in a small cottage, the security spells and wards he’d cast on its walls were easier to maintain. With the turn of the weather, it was difficult, if not nearly impossible, to spot approaching figures coming down from the school, especially this late, and Newt’s paranoia had only grown at having so many MACUSA agents nearby.

Even with the extra protection, he won’t allow for his niffler to run wild. He blows at its bill, chuckling when it sneezes. “You're perfectly happy, I know you are, so why do you keep escaping? You have more than enough treasure. It isn't to mess with me, is it?”

Slipping from his grip, his niffler tumbles into his lap. Pickett cries his protests, crawling to Newt’s shoulder to escape being crushed.

“Hush,” Newt tells the bowtruckle. “You'll have to share.” He turns to the critter in his lap, merely setting aside his ink and quill before a mess is made. “You’re an attention-hoard, you know that?”

He doesn’t get an answer. Instead, his niffler decides escaping isn’t worth the trouble anymore and settles in his lap, papers and all. Newt feels the vibrations of its warbling purr, finding himself, like always, charmed by his personal hell-raiser and slowly relaxing. So, with no one around to keep appearances for, he sets his feet on the small table, next to the short stack essays he hasn't gotten to grading. His niffler snuggles closer, petting the buttons of his waistcoat, but doesn’t try to take them for itself, and Pickett slips into the crease of his collar with a soft chirrup.

Newt floats another log to the fire and the temperature in the cottage rises, and his niffler practically shakes in happiness. It's all too compliant when he pets it along it's spine, wiggling when he tickles his sides.

“I feel like the answer is staring me right in the face,” he tells his companions after sometime, staring at the mantel above the fireplace and the pictures settled there. The man and two boys waves at him. “It’s not a beast, but I don’t think it’s a wizard either. A bit of both, maybe? Does that make sense?”

His niffler makes a soft sound in its sleep.

“Right.” His mother always insisted a good night’s sleep would help and it was getting late. He can mull over the problem another time, he supposes, when it’s not so late and he’s not behind on grading.


 It seems Newt’s come to Ilvermorny at an opportune time, able to experience a tradition that it’s only just started up again.

At dinner, Headmistress Peregrine rises from her seat, looking as regal as ever. “Although we should not throw caution to the wind, it pays to remember to enjoy ourselves once in awhile. That is why, for the first time in over a decade, Ilvermorny will be having its Winter Formal.”

A cheer goes through the student body. Pickett squeals in Newt’s pocket, startled, while the noise level rises, and Newt presses a hand to his jacket to calm him. He's smiling nonetheless, amused by the students’ antics at the mere word of a dance. Chatter spreads through the hall, many students turning to their neighbor, and Newt spots Mildred excitedly whispering to Delilah and Emil at the Thunderbird table.

The rest of the news cuts the celebrations short. “For students third year and higher, there will also be some changes to Babington weekends. Due to the dangers that lie just beyond American shores, all students will be required to be accompanied by a chaperone.”

“That’s a bunch of bushwa!” someone exclaims as the rest of the older students yell out their own objections. It’s only when Headmistress Peregrine raises her hand for silence do the students quiet down somewhat.

“This is for your safety and so, I expect you all to follow these new rules. Anyone caught breaking them will have their weekends terminated.” She sweeps her gaze across the hall, meeting the eyes of specific students one by one. “With that in mind, I hope you all behave yourself.”

She takes her seat without another word and the platters fill themselves with delicacies that exceeds what’s the elves usually prepare. Whole roasted pigs, platters of fowl stuffed with fruits and nuts, drizzled in sauces. Newt eyes the piles of breads and cheeses near him, wondering if it's a sort of apology for the limitations.

“We used to have the Formal annually. Something for the students to look forward to at the end of the year,” Ephedra tells him once the students settle down, beginning to cut into the chicken in front of her. She piles some onto his plate as well as hers. “Stopped having it some time ago, what with the first world war and Grindelwald.”

Newt takes a sip of his tea, only barely grimacing at the less than delightful taste (it's getting better). “Don't most students return home for the holidays?”

“A lot of them do. The dance is held just after the semester ends, right before most of them leave.”

“Didn't you have any dances at Hogwarts?” Mr. Nachin asks from two seats down. “And pass the carrots.”

“No, we didn't.” Hogwarts is undoubtedly the best wizarding school in the world, but Newt now feels that he’s been cheated of many things. A dance of some sort would’ve added some flair to his school years, something to reminisce about after his expulsion—not that anyone would’ve accompanied him to one.

Well, there was one person who might have, but if she had an interest in that sort of thing, it was never towards him.

Ephedra pats his forearm. “Well, you're in for a treat! It’s not just for the students, you know.”

“If Headmistress allows him to attend,” Mr. Hidalgo says past his food. “He wouldn't be the only one under watchful eye.”

That piques Newt’s interest. “What do you mean by that?”

Before anyone can answer him, Ephedra threateningly jabs her knife in the direction of the Charms professor. “Watch your tongue, Blandus! I don't want to hear that you've been spreading rumors! Headmistress has already said to leave it to rest!” She glares at Mr. Hidalgo until he’s suddenly busy with his plate, before turning back to Newt. “Don't worry about it. It has nothing to do with you, Newt. Besides, it's not our business to tell.” Her expression turns slightly anxious. “You understand that, don't you?”

He does understand, so he lets it go for now. Learning that he’s not the only one on a thin line with MACUSA, and who that person is, would serve to calm him, but the worry on Ephedra’s face has him hurriedly reassuring her instead, not wanting to lose one of the few friends he’s made. Best to mind his business for now. “I don’t bother with rumors.”

“Good.” Ephedra says, calming. “Gossip breeds unrest, so I don't like to partake it if I don't have to.”

Mr. Nachin snorts in his goblet and, on Newt’s other side, Mrs. Barrow rolls her eyes. The other faculty who heard her also share similar disbelief. At their responses, Newt thinks back to the day before when she told him of the fiasco with the groundskeeper and the escaped fire-crabs, how confident she spoke of event. How she’d told him every detail down to the color of the man’s underpants.

As if reading his mind, Ephedra grins. “Unless I know it's true.”

Newt laughs. From behind Ephedra’s head, Mr. Nachin childishly mimics blowing a raspberry, something that looks ridiculous with his thick beard. The man has a face of a seasoned auror, but the spirit of a child. Newt’s beginning to like him as well.

Without looking and with a small wave of her hand, Ephedra has Mr. Nachin’s carrots running from his fork and off the table.

The man struggles to catch them. “Sweet Sayre! It’s bad enough I still can’t find my potatoes from yesterday! Leave my carrots be!”

That gets a laugh from the astronomy professor, Mrs. Cannon, further down the table, while the rest ignore it like it’s an everyday occurrence. Funnily enough, it is.

Ephedra and Mr. Nachin throw words up and down the table and Newt thinks that this is what having friends looks like, silliness and all. It’s well-deserved fresh air from the seriousness of the world outside.

He hears the click of his faulty lock.

He nods at Ephedra when she turns back to him, not fully hearing what she’s said, but agreeing nonetheless, all the while flipping the lock closed. No one pays it any mind.


 Headmistress Peregrine corners him as he’s leaving the dining hall with a proposition.

“A chaperone?” Newt says, wondering if he’s heard right. Certainly not.

“Yes. With Mr. Jensen gone, I’m one short and I’d rather ask you than overwhelm the rest of the professors. Won’t you accept?”

They’re walking along the western wing towards his cottage, the open corridor and the weather finally forcing them to don on their coats inside as she tries to convince him that he’s the right man for the job. Newt notes that this is the first time he’s seen the woman in something more than an elegant dress. Her winter robes are a dark splot against the grey surroundings as they cross the courtyard with the snakewood, a shimmering horned serpent eyeing him from the embroidery.

A chaperone. Newt mulls over the thought, trying to imagine him playing the part. He’d get the chance to visit Ilvermorny’s own equivalent of Hogsmeade, a small wizard village just down the mountain, the only all-wizard community on the eastern coast (not that he couldn’t already, but now he had a reason to visit).

“We have something similar. Hogsmeade.” He pauses. “Isn’t it under protective spells?”

“Yes, but these are dangerous times. With MACUSA stationed at the school, we’ve had to limit some freedoms.” Headmistress Peregrine side-eyes him. “I was discussing whether or not we would allow it this year with Mr. Graves when your niffler fiasco happened.”

“Oh,” he says. “Aren't I, ah, still under scrutiny?”

“If you prefer to be…”

“No, no, I'd enjoy remaining a free man.”

Headmistress laughs. Newt realizes that it’s the first time she’s done that in front of him and it’s somewhat startling; he didn’t expect a woman such as herself to be so open to humor. “You won't be arrested on these grounds, Mr. Scamander, I assure you. Mr. Graves may have a nasty bite, but I am in charge here.”

“That's... reassuring.”

More of her humor slips through when she smiles. “I expect so. I’m willing to give you a second chance to prove yourself.”

“You are more forgiving than I originally thought,” he tells her honestly.

She laughs again. “Well, I'm afraid I'm biased here. You had a wonderful recommendation from a close friend of mine, so I trust that you’re a good man.”

“A recommendation?” As far as he's aware, the Ministry dealt with the entire process and Newt can't think of a person there who would say many great things about him. Even less who would willingly recommend him.

“One of your previous professors,” she explains with a wave of her hand. “But that's a talk for another time. Will you accept my offer?”

There's only one person from Hogwarts that would defend him and with them, secrets that exceed even those of his case. He nods.

“Excellent.” She pulls out a dozen or so papers from the folds of her robes; she must have expected his answer and prepared in advance. “Here's the list of students you'll be looking after. Faculty must be at the Eastern gates before noon.”

A trio of students come bursting out of a classroom, laughing in way that reminds Newt of Charlie Keaton, the top prankster of his year after he coerced Peeves to help slip fireworks into the Headmaster’s office. They come to an immediate halt when they spot Newt and his companion, and the girl, who Newt assumes is the leader, merely smiles and does a small curtsy. “Evening, Headmistress.”

“Good evening, Denise. What, may I ask, were you doing in Mr. Zhao’s classroom this late in the evening?”

The girl flutters her eyes, absolutely angelic. “Nothing, madame.”

Headmistress Peregrine hums thoughtfully. “Then will you send for Mr. Hunting to clean it up? I fear Mr. Zhao’s left it a mess.”

“Yes, madame.”

“Thank you. Goodbye, Denise.” A pause. “Goodbye, James. Goodbye, Robert.”

Denise not-so-discretely nudges the two boys. “Goodbye, madame,” they say simultaneously before hurrying off.

“They’re a wild bunch.” The trio bolt once they think they’re in the clear. Newt shares a smile with the Headmistress, who stares after fondly. “Do you think you handle it, Mr. Scamander?”

“Yes.” It'll be like caring his occamies.


 Teenagers are quite different than occamy hatchlings, it turns out.

Headmistress must have taken pity on him and his fledgling status, assigning him one of his regular classes as his group. They spot him when he enters the southern courtyard, the rest of the students already congregated into groups, and Newt doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to the way they perk up. Never did he think he’d meet people that would enjoy being around him, but, then again, he never thought he’d be the teaching type either.

“Why are you bringing your suitcase?” is the first thing that Mildred asks when he’s close enough.

“Force of habit, I suppose.” He entertains them with a story stories of his time in the Sahara as they exit the school and, when he tells them of how he smuggled a clutch of Runespoor eggs across the Egyptian border to bring them to a protective reserve, they appear to have more respect for his battered case and leave it well alone.

“Mr. Scamander,” Mr. Graves intones as their group passes the gate, nodding respectfully from his post. Newt quickly hurries on, hoping that his stories didn’t carry far enough for the man to hear.

While his students have had the kindness to not discuss any rumors concerning him in his presence, that period seems to have come to a close, as they are completely open to whispering about themselves after the quick, yet obvious interaction with the head of security. It has something to do with the fact that Mr. Graves’s refrains from talking to all if not most faculty unless absolutely necessary—besides the Headmistress that is. Newt tries to ignore them, especially so when some of the girls go off topic to start discussing the relative attractiveness of the man.

How his parents got along with him and Theseus as children, he’ll never know. Controlling the two of them was a hardship, so dealing with a herd of rambunctious youths without the confines of a class setting seems impossible.

Following the winding trail of students ahead, they soon come to an open glade, Newt squinting at the blinding snow with the sudden sunlight. It’s small, dotted with shrubs stubbornly resisting the change of seasons, and a frozen pond down the way. Their destination, two winding trees that bend to make a natural doorway and, as Newt watches, the students walk through, vanishing one by one.

“Hurry up, Professor Scamander!” Mildred insists, pushing past him and vanishing along with everyone else.

Newt doesn’t hesitate. He steps through and it feels as though the air’s turned into syrup, thick like molasses. It only lasts a second and then he’s through, stumbling into a place he never been before.

Gazing up and behind, he sees only the flag atop of Ilvermorny’s tallest tower, the rest of the school hidden by the frosted pines trees blanketing the mountain side. The entrance he’d come through is only a simple wooden gateway held up by two Thunderbird totems on either side, a constant stream of students and teachers passing through just as he did. Ahead of him, the small village hidden from the rest of the world.

Just as Newt expected, Babington Hills is very similar to Hogsmeade in appearance, the epitome of the scenes depicted on a Christmas card. Along the sloping road, small cottages similar to the one he’s living in at Ilvermorny are settled on the small humps of the mountainside, with quaint signs and alluring displays that draw in the dozens of students milling about.

Surrounding it like a protective wall, the wilderness is incredibly dense, more plant life than the snow-covered mountain top Newt’s grown accustomed to during his stay. Following his students’ insisting, Newt hurries down the path, trying to take in all the sights. There’s a small station even further down the mountainside for visitors, a local post office next to it, and more practical things on the far end of the street. Close by he spies jewelry shops, taverns, broom shops, apothecaries, floral boutiques. Newt thinks that Babington is more like Diagon Alley than Hogsmeade in this way.

Newt never feels more like a foreigner whenever he's with his class.

“You've never had pizza?” Thomas sounds downright shocked, insulted even, as they pass by a parlor that looked to be from the colonial era. Maybel’s Millinery reads the elegant writing on it’s window, multicolored robes floating about within, all too fancy and stiff for Newt’s kind of work.

Newt gives him a quick glance, unsure whether he’s done something wrong. He’d only admitted it as an off comment. “Haven't had the time to try it.”

“Pastrami on rye?”

“Cheese on potatoes?”

“Root beer?”

“Hot dogs?”

“Not a one,” he says absently, intrigue by the fluttering books in a cage outside a bookstore. He wonders if it's a new edition of Bestarium Magicum and if it’s even worth a look. The pages are beginning to go stiff from the cold air and he turns away without informing the shop owner.

Mildred jumps in front of him before he can continue onto the next shop. “Then what are we waiting for! Let’s go!”

“Go? Go where?” Newt asks, but isn’t allowed to say anymore. At Mildred’s words, Newt’s rushed; Thomas and Bernice pulls at his sleeves, while Eugene pushes, and the rest of the group surrounds him so he can’t escape. He’s herded into the closest shop, its window offering a delectable view of the sweets on display. It’s filled with the bustling bodies of students, who are openly shoved out of the way by Christopher and Charlie as they clear a path. The resulting objections and the dirty looks sent their way are ignored.

There’s more candy Newt had never heard of. He gets chocolate frogs, American wizards with names and faces completely unknown to him, Snickering Snickerdoodles, Boom Boom Balls, Skinwalker’s Surprise, Popping Rocks, everything a wizard child could dream for. One or two students must think it a good joke, some Exploding Bonbons, Shock-o-Choc, and Cockroach Clusters finding their way onto his pockets.

He pays for every single piece, going through the hassle of figuring out what the British equivalent of a dragot and six sprinks is. He can hear the cries of his vault at Gringotts in protest at the spending.

Once his students have felt he’s gotten enough sweets, they usher him out and to the next shop. To the bakery, family-owned diners, the Bishop’s Bar (he isn’t fooled when they demand he try the varying liquor offered), anything that sells American delicacies, and he has to remind his students that there will be more weekends. They can’t hit every single stop in one visit or else there’ll be nothing to do the rest of the year.

Through his own insistence, they visit something that doesn’t sell food, but rather, creatures. The little shop is nothing like the Magical Menagerie at Diagon Alley, but Newt doesn’t expect much from a country with such strict creature restrictions. It’s a small shop, homey and simple, not overly extravagant about it compared to the other shops. There’s the standard collection of cats, toads, owls, and rats, even some snails, but nothing overly magical. America’s creature ban at work, no doubt.

He is pleasantly surprised when he comes across a troop of clabberts lazing about in a small tree, the mottled green of their smooth skin blending them perfectly within the tree branches. The sign beside them tells him they’re imported from Mexico.

“Be careful!” the shopkeepers says from behind the counter when Newt gets close. “They’re still anxious from the trip here!”

“We used to have them around all the time,” Eustace says, coming up beside him while the rest of the group mills about, “but not anymore.”

“A danger to the secrecy of wizards most likely.” The pustules on each of the clabberts die out as they each take a sniff at Newt’s hand.  “Hello,” he greets them, offering a small lizard left over from his fwooper’s feeding, and in no time he has half a dozen of the little creatures clinging to him, bickering in croaking voices on who deserve the morsel of food.

“Gross!” someone says (Alma, he assumes) when he finds another lizard in his pocket, while the shopkeeper goes, “Don’t feed them!”

They spend a good amount of time with the clabberts, during which Newt teaches some of the students calls, and, by the end of it, one of the younger clabberts refuses to depart from Mildred, who Newt suspects thinks it's founds its mate. The poor thing is wailing when the shopkeeper shoos them out.

A few more hours are spent exploring the less exciting part of the village, the students showing him the local railroad station and explain where the other all-wizard communities are (there’s Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Charleston, so many more than those in England), and by then, it’s late in the evening, the lanterns flickering to life as the sun begins to set. Newt counts heads and is surprised to find that he’s two off. “Oh bugger,” he mutters, wondering how he botched up so quickly and how to locate two juveniles in half an hour.

“Missing something?” someone asks and Newt turns to spot Ms. Goldstein with a group of fourth years he doesn’t recognize. Estelle and Charles are beside her, looking unhappily at being within her grip, quietly making their way to Newt’s group when they’re released.

“Oh, um, yes, thank you,” Newt says. He gives them what he hopes is a meaningful stare, one that’ll tell them that he’ll be having talk about with the two of them later.

Before he can usher his students away, Ms. Goldstein’s question grabs his attention again. “Aren’t you heading back to the school? It’s almost curfew.”

“Curfew?”

“The kids have to be back at the castle an hour before dinner,” Ms. Goldstein says somewhat patiently. At his expression, she elaborates. “That’s in ten minutes.”

Newt could’ve sworn they had more time. He pats his pockets before remembering where his watch is.

He raises his eyebrows at Mildred, the unofficial timekeeper for their little outing. She shrugs, handing him his pocket watch when he motions for it, unapologetic. He checks the time and finds that Ms. Goldstein is right.

The trip up the hill is a quick one, the snowfall easing up and they reach the gateway along with the rest of the stragglers. From there, the students merge into one mass, the chaperones lingering at the sides, and Newt notes that none of them interject themselves into any of the conversations of the students.

The relationship between professor and students are supposed to have a level of respect, follow the constructs of etiquette and retain a level of distinction that made sure the connection didn’t become too deep. Newt thinks he's failing in that. It might be because he’s the focus of discussion with his students who, for all purposes, are already planning what they’ll show him for the next trip.

“You’re in for it now,” Ephedra jokes as she overhears what the students are saying. “They won’t leave you alone until you’ve been Americanized.”

Like always, she’s right. The first trip to Babington is a success, as is the next one, and then the other after that. His students keep to their word and somehow find him new things to try. Every day there is a new dish at his desk, classically American in every way. Despite such a strict law forbidding wizard and muggle interaction, the two are far more intertwined than in England, with similar dishes and sweets. How the students managed to get such a variety, Newt doesn't know.

“Well?” someone will ask the next day, once class has started. “How was it?”

And Newt will grin at his papers, knowing that what he’s about to say will start a debate that sets him against his students, but he’ll say it anyway because he’s fallen for their charm. “Could be better,” he’ll say, or “It’s better in England.”

He’s never disappointed. As one, his class groans and start talking at once, demanding that he tell them what was wrong with what they gave him, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell them. Some will listen, while others will scoff at his explanation and loudly insist he needs to get of his high hippogriff and give America what it’s due.

They argue and bicker, throw snark comments in the air, taking up precious class time as they do, and Newt loves every minute of it.


 He has afternoon tea with William at least twice a week. And, sometimes, he gets snippets of a life before Ilvermorny, of tribes and wandering English girls (merely made up tales, Mr. Englishman, that's all) and adventure.

Slowly but surely, he finds a niche in the school. William shows him how to navigate it, telling him the history of each corridor and of the paintings that hang on the wall, and he doesn't get lost as much. Ephedra tells him what to give to the house elves to persuade them to put in a little more effort into his tea, and even Ms. Goldstein offers her own advice so that the library stops trying to kill him.

“You can’t just keep taking knowledge,” she explains. “Offer it something in return.”

He leaves an early edition of one of his old Potions textbooks, marked and all, on an empty desk table at the back of the library. A bit outdated, but still useful, he thinks.

It disappears the moment his back is turned and, after a long period of searching, Newt finds it in the appropriate section with the other American Potions book.

He’s not bothered again.

He tells Ms. Goldstein this and she acts like she’s surprised he followed her advice at all. Which is absurd because why would he ask the question in the first place if he wasn’t going to listen? He tells her so and expects her to snap at him, but, surprisingly, she becomes docile. Instead, she tells him of other school secrets to make his stay more pleasant.

There are school rules that he learns, where the students should and shouldn't be allowed, and what leeway teachers have. He can go down the mountainside, explore the wilderness around the school as much as he likes, and the towns beyond it's borders aren't strictly off-limits. He can go there if he wishes, but speaking about non-magical people and towns isn't wanted (so to not inspire the children to sneak there themselves).

He learns which hallways he should take if he's running late and which ones to avoid at all cost, where the curtains attack at the slightest notion and the rugs love to play tricks. How to use the Rotating Staircase efficiently without ending up in the Astronomy tower every time. That there’s a hidden passage in the east wing that will get him to the Great Hall without having to deal with the portraits that line the corridor he usually takes. He wonders why it’s so important for him to know that one, when—

“General Redfield doesn’t have a portrait there,” Ms. Goldstein explains.

“Ah,” he says, finally understanding, feeling like he’s finally joined in a inside joke that everyone’s been privy too except him. “Thank you.”

They don’t make another tea date and Newt’s not sure if he should invite her again, much less if it’ll be welcomed. Instead, he tries to make small talk before and after meals with Ephedra there to ease the conversation forward when need be; the Mahican woman is known by everyone, welcomed by all, and Ms. Goldstein is no exception. With her help, Newt begins to actually like Ms. Goldstein and thinks that she might feel the same—if not tolerate him. They’re not friends, but rather allies.

Ephedra eagerly supports the potential friendship. “It’s good for everyone to work together. All you need is a push.”

Beside the need-to-know information concerning Ilvermorny, Newt is glad that he has help from William. The Pukwudgie solidifies what he already knows, that it’s not magical creature attacking the Muggle.

“Americans are different than you English,” William says. “They’re much more abrasive and stubborn. If they think it was a creature, no amount of arguing is going to make them change their minds. A bunch of words on paper won’t do it. You’ll have to show them.”

“Yes, but how?”

“How do you expect me to answer that? I’m a pukwudgie, not an oracle!” William harrumphs, jumping off his chair with more grace than Newt would expect from a creature of his age. “I can’t stand you wizards! You’re all the same! Always expecting other people to have an answer to all your problems.”

Newt grins wryly at him. “I thought we were all different.”

“Different. Same. You are what you are. Human.”

It’s usually with words like that, always harsher than necessary, but never hurtful, that Newt knows their conversation is over. Despite knowing nothing about his case William somehow takes his leave exactly when Newt had to feed his creatures, and today is no different. The pukwudgie leaves when his back is turned, gone until their next afternoon tea.

Making sure his cottage is locked up and the drapes are all drawn, Newt descends into his case, grabbing his most recent project. Muggle inventions were somewhat of a mystery to him, but he thinks he’s figured out this particular contraption and fool-proofed it to handle all possible dangerous scenarios his beasts might throw at it.

Dougal sniffs the radio when he sets it down on small tabletop by the door of his shack.

“This dial changes the stations,” he instructs, pointing at the appropriate knob. He gives it a slight turn. Smooth jazz spills through the speakers, startling the Demiguise. Newt grins, turning down the volume.

“I quite like American music, don't you?”

Dougal chatters, coming closer and taking a turn fiddling with the knobs; the volume rises and quiets in erratic intervals as he plays, different songs interrupting each other as the radio switches stations. Then Dougal stops and a song begins to play, a baritone voice rising through the air in a train of melody.

Newt grins, patting the creature’s head in approval.

A rush of movement gets his attention. He rushes to the occamy nest, shushing their excited squawking. “Now, now, no flying out of the nest. You can enjoy the music where you are.”

They calm down, fluttering and slithering about, but remain within the nest. Frank settles down as well, eyes closed and wings snug at his sides, while the nundu rolls in its sand lazily. Even his erumpent seems less energetic and more passive.

Newt marvels at the sudden serenity that's come over his creatures. The music mixes with the natural sounds of the wilderness, melding together to create something that's both tame and wild. He finds that he quite likes it.

“I don't know why I didn't think of this before,” he tells Pickett.

The bowtruckle merely sways to the tune.

Chapter Text

“Be careful, Englishman,” William says that afternoon, voice gruff. The pukwudgie watches him flit around his cottage, gathering supplies for the upcoming hike he intended to take about the woods surrounding the school. He forgoes bringing his case and uses his coat’s many pockets. “You might have the know-how about magical creatures, but even you can't befriend all of them.”

Newt grins good naturally. “No need to worry. I’ve done this sort of thing before.”

“Like I’d bother to worry over you. I merely don’t want to be the one to explain to Headmistress how her new professor has vanished because of his overly confident ego.”

“I’ll be back for dinner.”

He set off a little after two, intending to lay eyes on the native inhabitants of the mountain. Going out with his classes had been futile except for the more friendlier species and he's determined to find any tracks or clues as to where the elusive wampus cat hunted. Ilvermorny’s founders must have had their reasons to choose it as a mascot, one of the many reasons Newt’s interested in coming across one; rumored saliva with healing properties is another.

His work is a slow in discoveries, animals tending to keep to themselves, and he’s left to hike up the mountainside and deeper into the wilderness. By the end of three hours, he’s collected a few botany samples and shooed off a cluster of migrating essex skippers. When there’s no sign of the wampus and the sun sets, Newt, in all his eagerness, keeps exploring. It’s then, path illuminated only by the small light expelled from the tip of his wand, that the second problem comes to fruition: he’s lost. Now, this isn’t anything new, but the strange sounds coming from the shadows around him are.

When he looks, there’s nothing there. The woods are dark, thick trees creating a canopy of pine and evergreen that blocks the moon from view, and he knows he isn’t the only one lurking in the woods, far from it. Many creatures, magical and not, called this place their home and he’d be foolish to think them all friendly to his presence; he’s dealt with many a kind to know that he’s prime prey and he often uses that to his advantage. Maybe the wampus will take the bait.

With slow footsteps he treads along the hillside, careful to keep a tight hold on his wand and an ear out for large shifts in the brush. It’s not long until he’s rewarded for his troubles. In the quiet of the night, he hears a unfamiliar call. The sound is more moan than growl, inhuman in how it crawls over the snow in a desperate reach for him. Though it doesn’t sound exceedingly close, it’s still enough to put him on edge.

That’s not what a wampus cat should sound like, that he’s sure of.

Twigs snap underneath his feet, crooked branches from low hanging trees snagging onto his clothes in an twisted mimicry of an embrace, far too loud for his liking. His strides get longer as he hunches over, his body working overtime as he pushes himself forward and up a sudden incline. Every footfall is accompanied by a grievous moan from the dark forest, the sound slipping through the foliage like a lugubrious hunger waiting to be satisfied.

His heartbeat quickens.

Suddenly, he knows what he’s hearing. He’s heard it before—or, at least, a variation of it. Back in his suitcase, safely tucked away under his borrowed bed in his borrowed room in his borrowed cottage. A certain demiguise had sung this very song at Newt when they had first made acquaintance with each other, the creature afraid and distrustful of the magizoologist and letting out a warning for him to keep his distance.

Except demiguises are only found in the far east.

Newt considers his options. If he is being stalked—and by a hidebehind, no less—then that means whatever creature is following him leans more toward the aggressive side. Apparition would be helpful, but he's still on Ilvermorny grounds. Running isn't an option, only ever making the situation worse, and so he refrains from his most basic survival instinct and keeps his normal pace. He squints at the night sky when the trees clear up, trying to pinpoint the star that can lead him back to the school, and though the stars are different than the ones he’s come to know in Africa, he’s sure he knows what constellations he’s looking at.

A immobilizing spell will do him good, if only he could catch sight of the creature long enough to cast it. It keeps just out of his reach, tiptoeing on the edge of his sight. He would be amazed at its ability if it wasn’t becoming so life-threatening. He can’t look around at his surrounding or do anything that might show that he's actively trying to spot it, for that might spur it to try and do something Newt’s not prepared to handle. So he keeps his head facing forward and tries to catch it in his peripheral.

It’s only because he’s knows where to look that he’s awarded with his efforts. Barely peeking out from behind a pine, the hidebehind looks like a yeti the size of a ghoul, silvery hair similar to Dougal’s. Fascinating, considering that it can hide itself in the shadows with such a noticeable characteristic. It’s eyes are hidden in the dark, but it’s mouth is clear in the sliver of moonlight, fangs bared in a sort of wicked grin.

It disappears before he can draw his wand, there one second and gone the next.

This leaves Newt twisted, legs moving in one direction and torso partially turned another. Quickly, he straightens out—

—and catches a glimpse of a shadow slipping behind the truck of a red spruce.

It’s young, he thinks, watching a branch snap back into place after a could-be stray breeze. Maybe just out of the nest, one who’s in its prime and bored without the companionship of parents or littermates. That tidbit of information would be interesting in any other circumstance, something to put in his notes, but not now. He knows the hidebehind is actively stalking him and that is more alarming than anything else.

Yet another moan saturates the air and, contrary to belief, knowing what makes it does not help sooth his nerves. It doesn’t help that the hidebehind seems to be becoming more impatient as Newt progresses through the forest, lingering in his peripherals like mist over a frozen valley. It’s allowing itself to be seen and Newt thinks it's only a matter of time before—

Newt jerks to the side when he feels a warm breath ghosting over the nape of his neck and a clawed hand digging into the skin of his shoulder. It lifts him and a strangled yell tumbles from his lips as he’s caught by surprise, only to be cut off as he’s abruptly dropped. It grabs him by his leg next and he’s face to face with the beast’s hairy chest, prodding his body with enough force to having him swinging. Some of his supplies fall from his pockets, quills and papers and vials landing in the snow below him, crushed by the hidebehind’s ape-like feet.

“That’s enough—” He's dropped, then caught by his collar, his feet barely touching the ground. Newt grunts, pulling at his coat to alleviate the pain flaring at his shoulder. “No—stop that—”

He tries to find his footing, the fabric of his coat ripping as he twists, but his foot catches on a rock; gravity takes over and he takes a unforgiving tumble the slope he was just overcoming. The fall is a short one and somehow doesn’t result in a broken his neck, and Newt lands in a small clump of snow. His shoulder burns something fierce, but he ignores it in favor of something more important: he’s lost his wand.

He searches the ground around him, cursing himself a million different ways, shoving his hands into the snow and wiping it away in hopes of finding it. “Lumos” he mutters when it proves futile, only leaving his hands freezing and red from the cold, but the spell doesn’t produce its usual light. “Bugger it all.”

Wandless and in unknown terrain, he’s not in the best predicament. Panicking would be the worst possible thing to do, he knows, so he refrains from letting it fray his nerves. Instead, he stays silent and doesn’t move when he hears the crunch of snow coming up behind him.

He could really use his kettle right about now.

The hidebehind stops moving. Newt doesn't dare breathe, or move for that matter; he lies completely still, pressing himself into the mud in the hopes it’ll become distracted and forget about him. The cold pricks at his palms like needles, pinching his fingers until they feel as though they’ll never be able to move again.

Then it leaves.

Newt pushes himself to his knees, confused. If he was being honest with himself, he didn’t think his plan had much chance of working; hidebehinds are notorious for their tenacity, stalking prey for miles upon hours all in the name of the hunt. He squints into the dark, wary of a trick. But no, the pale shadow of the hidebehind is nowhere to seen. Instead, something else takes its place.

A pair of big, yellow eyes.

The fiery eyes move silently, circling around until it's right in front of him, all the while keeping his gaze. It slowly emerges from the trees, the shadows peeling back to reveal a short muzzle, followed by a thick, short-haired body.

The dizzy feelings stops all at once, the cat blinking and Newt’s free from the hypnosis he didn’t know he was under. Slowly, it saunters over to him, it’s paws, big as frying pans, barely making an impression in the snow. It has six legs, Newt notes, a grown wampus cat.

He doesn’t dare move as it makes its way closer, remaining still even as it huff out a hard breath and a couple of whiskers brush against his temples. Involuntarily, his eyes squeeze shut and he lets out a shaky breath just as something rough and wet laps at his forehead, and oh, he’s being licked.

A soft rumble reverberates through the connection, and suddenly Newt thinks he understands what’s happening.

“Well, alright…”


 He's able to sneak away from the female wampus before the sun sets the next day, but, unable to find his wand in the dying light, he stays out long after the sun has set. It's a big risk to search in the same place he'd been attacked, but he has no choice.

That is, until he spots the last person he expects to see in the dead of night. Even with the layers of clothes, a familiar face peeks out from the brim of a hat.

“Ms. Goldstein,” he says, surprised. “What are you doing out here?”

Ms. Goldstein ignores his question. She marches through the thick underbrush and muddy snow, her anger palpable. “Where have you been? You've been gone a whole day!” When she reaches him, the light at the tip of her wand finally illuminating him, she gets a good look at him. “Sweet Mary Joseph! What in the name of Merlin happened to you?”

“I took a short hike that lasted longer than I'd like.” Newt raises his hand to cover his eyes, squinting. “Would you mind lowering your wand?”

“You were taking a hike?” she says slowly, like she’s talking to a child, but does as he asks and lowers her wand. Once she’s at his side, she reaches out, only to stop herself. “You’re hurt!”

“I’m fine.”

Maybe it’s how he looks, shivering from the cold, or the way he’s holding himself, tightly wound, but Ms. Goldstein doesn’t believe him. She circles to his other side, catching sight of his ripped clothes and, without inquiring whether she should, she peels a piece of his coat to see the bloody mess underneath.

Newt skitters away, clutching his bad shoulder. “Oi!”

“Those look like claw marks! What kind of hike were you on?”

“I said I’m fine.”

“You’re lying! If you’re as fine as you say why haven’t you healed yourself?”

“I lost my wand.”

“You lost your—and you’re still saying you were just on a hike?”

“Yes. Do you mind…?”

Her stare makes Newt think that she does in fact mind, but she waves her wand nonetheless. “Accio wand.”

There’s a rush of action from down the hill and his wands comes racing from the trees. Newt’s sprinkled with snow as Ms. Goldstein snatches it out of the air. She hands it to him without a word.

“Come on.” She grips his elbow and, together, they make their way through the woods towards what Newt suspects is civilization. His cottage comes into view shortly (too short to Newt’s embarrassment), the lights from the day before still on and looking warmer than ever against the white backdrop of the woods behind it.

Ms. Goldstein ushers him inside, filing in right after. In any other situation, Newt would be embarrassed, having not bothered to clean up before he’d last left, but in a house that isn't his and with a woman he's only beginning to understand, he isn't affected as much as he should be. He merely lets Ms. Goldstein into the main room before heading straight for the small kitchen.

He summons all the items he needs, bandages and cloth floating from the cupboards to settle next to the basin already filling itself. He levitates a log into the dying fire and then scrounges around his case for Dittany, making sure to face the opening away from Ms. Goldstein—now would be a bad time for her to find out his case has an illegal charm casted on it.

His secrecy is all for naught, as she's still lingering in the main room when he glances in her direction, coat and all. He spots her holding a picture frame, the one with the smiling man and his sons. “You knew Mr. Heming well?”

She jumps, looking guilty at being caught. The frame is hastily put back. “Not personally, but enough to know he’s a good man.” She watches him painstakingly pry off his coat. “You sure you don't want to go to Mrs. Panacea?”

He shakes his head. “I wouldn't want to inconvenience her—”

“You don't want to explain how you got hurt, you mean.”

Newt doesn't answer. He may have been integrating himself into the school’s lifestyle, but that doesn't mean he’s out of watchful eyes. One small slip and MACUSA would be breathing down his neck, this situation not shining him in the best of light. They wouldn't believe his story, even if what he said is true.

By attacking a human, the hidebehind would need to be dealt with, a danger that couldn't be allowed to remain so near the school. Howlers would flood the school if parents knew. Newt was the one invading its territory, not that other way around, so if anyone is to blame, it’s him. He won’t let a creature, even one as temperamental and wild, be killed because of something he did. With how evasive it could be, the exterminators would end up killing more creatures than they intended, some of which had done nothing wrong.

Ms. Goldstein sighs, coming to his side. She slips off her coat and hat, rolling up the sleeves of her shirt, the epitome of professionalism. “If you're not going to the infirmary, then at least let me help.”

Common colds and simple cuts could be dealt with, but injury from a magical creature had to be taken of very carefully. No simple spell would heal it, which complicated everything. If he had time, Newt would determine the possible treatments himself, jotting down the symptoms that came from a Hidebehind attack, but now is not the time. With this in mind, he accepts her offer with a quick nod.

While he deals with his tie, Ms. Goldstein works on his buttons, and together they gets his jacket off, then his waistcoat. His clothes catch on the cut where they’re ripped, scraping it, and he refrains from showing how painful it actually is. He's dealt with far worse.

Finally, after some trouble with the buttons at his sleeves, he’s free of his shirt, leaving his torso bare and in view of his company. Mrs. Goldstein isn't vocal in her observation of his battered skin, but goosebumps erupt along his flesh nonetheless at the unusual attention. She catches his eye, her eyebrows raising, and Newt frowns, looking away, but doesn't offer an explanation. Dealing with beasts could be dangerous even for professionals, so injury was common. It came with the trade, scars their most common currency.

She sends his coat off to hang itself, casting a number of cleaning spells on it as it goes. Almost timidly, her hand settles on his arm, the touch warmer than the heating spell she casted on the room and the fire combined, and Newt’s startled. He nearly jumps, physical contact almost foreign to him in the time he's been deprived of it. “Sit.”

He does as she commands, sitting in the wooden chair. It screeches like a tone-deaf fwooper when he settles his weight on it, loud in the near silent house. Newt keeps his attention on the floor, a not so quiet voice that sounds oddly like his brother’s going off about propriety and decency.

Perhaps he should have gone to Mrs. Panacea.

Ms. Goldstein’s movements are clinical, if not a bit frantic, wiping away the dirt that managed to get under his clothes, magically refilling the basin with clean water when it gets too filthy, and even using a tergeo spell on his body once or twice. She talks as she works. “Some of your students came to me when you didn't show up for your afternoon class.”

That's new. Newt knew his absence would be noticed, but he hadn't expect anyone to act on it (students were generally happier when their classes were canceled). Then again, being a professor is inherently more different than working in the Beast Division at the Ministry. There he'd go off for days and no one would think it odd or inconvenient, unless, of course, the head of his department was feeling prickly and demanded he work on what little and boring work he had on his desk.

“There wasn't anything to worry about.”

For some reason, not many people believe him when he tries to reassure them, even with subjects that are in his field of expertise. Ms. Goldstein is the same.

She snorts. “Ending up lost on school grounds, getting attacked by a deadly beast, losing your wand—I'm surprised you've survived this long, Mr. Scamander.”

Now that’s unnecessary, Newt thinks, as he’s more than capable of taking care of himself. “Why did they come to you, may I ask?”

“I just told you. You didn’t show up—”

“Yes, but why you?” he asks. “Why not the Headmistress?”

“Because I was supposed to be supervising your class today or did you forget?”

He did, but he’s not going to tell her that. “I remembered.”

“I’m sure you did.”

He'd like her to leave very much. The sooner she did, the sooner he could check up on his creatures. With how long he's been gone, who knows how they're faring—hungry most likely. Besides, his wound isn’t as bad as she thinks.

“Thank you for your help, Ms. Goldstein, but I can handle it from here.” He pushes the basin away from her and reaches for the cleaning cloth. “I’m sure you're a fine witch, but best for me to wait until the morning and have Ms. Panacea look at it, I think. Now, if you don’t mind—“

Without warning, she presses the cloth onto his cuts, hard.

He yelps. “Bloody hell!”

“Sorry.” Ms. Goldstein’s voice is flat and she meets his glare with one of her own. She pulls the supplies back towards her rather forcefully and continues on with her work the same as before. She starts applying dittany, frowning at his shoulder, and Newt suspects that it's not working as it should. “What were you even doing exploring the woods all by yourself?”

Newt frowns at his hands, stubbornly keeping silent. None of what he does is her business and he doesn’t have to tell her anything, but he doesn’t say that (or else she might just hurt him again) because he’s sure she won’t take that as an acceptable answer. He can get out of many situations, but this woman is more determined than anyone he’s ever encountered, a brick wall that won’t budge without an explosive spell.

Ms. Goldstein pokes his good shoulder. “Well?”

“I was researching magical creatures native to America,” he finally admits.

“Isn’t that why you’ve been having trouble with the library? Doesn’t that have all you need?”

“Most libraries are severely lacking in my field.” he says. “That is why I’m writing a book about magical creatures. I’ve just spent a year in the field, so I think I’m more knowledgeable than some outdated books.”

“I heard. Like an extermination guide, right?”

“No. It’s a guide to help people understand why we should be protecting these creatures instead of killing them.” Newt tenses when Ms. Goldstein steps around him to wipe at his collarbone, either purposely oblivious or too focused on her work to notice his uncomfortableness. “But this is for something else. I've been researching all magical creatures native to America, common or not.”

She glances up at his face. “What for?”

An indignant squeak intrudes on them. Pickett fusses from his position in the folds of Newt’s shirt that he’d discarded haplessly. Ignoring Ms. Goldstein’s objections, Newt picks up the bowtruckle and shushes him. “It’s alright, Pickett.”

Pickett waves his tiny spindly limbs, raging at Newt as he climbs his arm. It's clear to see that he's in trouble. In all the ruckus he'd endured navigating through the forest, the bowtruckle hadn’t let out a peep, but now he would get his well-deserved chastising. “No, I didn't forget about you. I didn’t.”

“Sit still!” Ms. Goldstein grabs his good shoulder only to hastily yank her hand back as Pickett swipes at her. “Hey!”

Newt hurriedly gathers him in his palms again before anyone got hurt. “Now Pickett, she's only helping.”

Pickett shows Newt just what he thinks about his words by blowing a raspberry.

“You know I don’t like it when you do that,” he says, frowning. “Come now, she’s almost done.”

They don’t have time for Pickett to calm down. Newt sets him on his head, to which the little critter settles in his hair where he can watch Ms. Goldstein. If Newt tries hard enough he can ignore the constant stream of his tantrum.

With the danger of getting scratched out of the way, Ms. Goldstein finishes her cleaning and, stepping in front of him with the roll of bandages, begins dressing his wound. It’s then that Newt fully realizes how intimate and close one has to be to apply bandages, the feel of her breath faint against his skin. He’s always coveted keeping others at a reasonable distance, only allowed it under his terms, especially in more intimate circumstances, but this moment breaks all the rules and walls he’s meticulously built to keep himself safe.

“Relax, will you,” Ms. Goldstein says, and it takes strenuous effort to not shy away from her touch. “The sooner you sit still, the sooner I’m done.”

He faces straight forward, hands settled on his knees, and determinedly recites the different subspecies of horklumps. Time seems to drag, prolonging the moment far longer than he’d like, and when Ms. Goldstein is finally done, he tries to hide his relief. She does a quick look at her work, stepping behind him again, for which Newt’s thankful. “What’s this from?”

“Hm?” Carefully, Newt cranes to spot what she’s looking at; he’s unable to actually see the scar, but he’s positive he knows the one she’s referring to. “Dragon. Caught me right at my back with her tail.”

“How did it manage that?”

“No one had bothered to check whether she was pregnant,” Newt explains. “Female Iron Bellies are more violent when they’re expecting.”

“Looks like it hurt.”

“Not really,” Newt lies. “Anyway, it was an accident.”

Her fingers brush against his skin. “You seem to have a lot of accidents.”

Immediately, his skin erupts in goosebumps and he decides that this is where he draws the line. He stands, intending to show her out, and in his haste his chair topples over. His back smarts in protest, making him grimace.

In a flash, she's by his side, one hand curling around his bicep while the other grips his hip. “You're going to hurt yourself.”

Goosebumps erupt along his skin, but he doesn't push her away. “I'm fine.”

They stare at each other until Ms. Goldstein blinks. By her expression Newt thinks she come to a realization, possibly at how late it is. Almost immediately, she retracts her hands and steps back, leaving him chilled. “Yes. Good. I’ll just... be on my way then.”

Now it’s Newt’s turn to be surprised. He’d thought she’d be more insistent to stay, if only to make sure he didn’t do anything to worsen his condition. In fact, he thought he’d have to argue to get her to the door, with how insistent she’s been. He then wonders why he’s worrying over this in the first place. She's finished and has no reason to stay, so she’ll be on her way and finally leave him be, just like he wanted.

“Allow me to, um, walk you back,” he offers in spite of himself, if only to be polite. He sure he has a spare shirt in his case, but he’s not so sure about outside of it. He looks around, but only spots his ripped one. A repairing charm leaves it dirty, but fixed, and Newt attempts to shoulder it on.

Ms. Goldstein stops him as he fumbles with the first button. “No, no—I can—” She swallows loudly. “I can walk myself, thank you.”

Strangely enough, the sound of her voice is off, higher pitched, like a fwooper beginning to panic. It's completely different than the attitude from a moment ago and the twist throws Newt off.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes,” she says in that strange voice again. She grabs her wand from the table and heads for the door, more rushed than before. It looks like she’s running from something.

Newt follows.

She spins around suddenly, nearly running into him, only to jump away like he's a venomous tentacula, ready to strike. “Forgot my coat.”

Newt nods, unsure at what's happening between them. The room is suddenly too stuffy, too small with the both of them, and Newt doesn’t know what to do beside what she wants. He summons her coat, handing it over, and Ms. Goldstein practically snatches out of his hands. Their hands don't touch.

“Don’t let this happen again,” she commands, hurriedly pulling on her coat, her tone attempting to be angry, but falling flat. She stares at him a moment longer before clearing her throat and spinning on her heel, hurrying out and up the hill so quickly Newt would think a pesky ghost is at her heels.

Pickett chitters and Newt hums back, just as confused.


 He doesn’t feel any better the next morning; he feels worse, actually. His shoulder burns the moment he wakes, continues to be a pain through his morning routine. One look at the wound in the morning light shows ugly, red claw marks that curve down his shoulder where the hidebehind had grabbed him, and Newt grimaces at his reflection. It won’t be a quick and easy healing process.

Breakfast is a silent affair on his part. No one gives it much notice, the main attention on Ephedra and Mr. Nachin and their recent practical joke, for which poor Mr. Hidalgo had ended up being in the middle of. It has something to do with sticking charm and confiscated fireworks, but nothing much of it can be said because they keep speaking over one another. They’re rowdy and passionate and it’s easy for Newt to be overlooked and ignored.

He gets through his toast alright, but lifting his tea is downright impossible. The difficulty with such a simple action has him thinking about the upcoming weekend, how rambunctious his students are at Babington, and has him forgoing his usual solitude and deciding to see Mrs. Panacea. Once breakfast has ended and Ms. Goldstein has left the table and is nowhere in sight, he slips through the far side door. His shoulder throbs with every step, rendering him sluggish and irritated.

Ending up lost doesn’t help his mood.

“I only need to find the infirmary,” Newt says, exasperated. “I’ll know my way back from there.”

Despite supposedly helping one get to exactly where they ought to be, the Rotating Staircase has somehow led him astray. Now it’s only him with the paintings again, none of them lending any help to get to the infirmary.

He’s trapped in a conversation he can’t get out of with the worst of the bunch. “Now, Mr. English,” Redfield says, “you must believe me when I say I’m the most reliable with directions.”

Newt highly doubts it. He’s tempted to say his opinion aloud, even if leads to the portrait spreading even more gossip about him throughout the school, if only he could get away, but someone beats him to it.

“Looks like you’re enjoying yourself,” someone says behind him. Newt turns and sees Mr. Nachin walking towards him. He looks amused.

Newt frowns at him as Redfield says, “Ah, Professor Nachin! How wonderful to see you!”

Mr. Nachin tips his hat. “Same to you, General. I couldn’t help but overhearing. You’re trying to direct Mr. Scamander to the infirmary, is that right?”

“Right you are!” The portrait leans forward and, in what he believes is a whisper, says, “He has been rather difficult. His kind usually are—Brits—but I’ve insisted that I’m the best man for the job! Not even the ghosts know more about this school than I!”

“There’s no one better suited.” Mr. Nachin sends a grin to Newt and he tries not to scoff.

Redfield claps his hands, oblivious to Newt’s disbelief. “Exactly! It may surprise you, Mr. English, but not only am I a distinguished general, but I was considered the best architect of my time,” he says. “I know all the twists and turns this great school offers. In fact, in eighteen-thirty-six, I was asked by the then current Ilvermorny Headmaster to build an addition to the school in case it was ever discovered. Wonderful man, that Geralt Hughes—incredibly paranoid. Excellent beard. Not as well-kept as my own, but I must admit—”

“And what a mighty fine specimen it is,” Mr. Nachin says genially. “Now, there’s nothing I'd rather do than discuss facial hair than with you, Daedaus, but I’m here to retrieve Mr. Scamander for the Headmistress.”

Newt thinks that it makes not a difference to explain, as the painting will keep chatting away no matter what they say, but then, something amazing happens. The painting stops his story and, shockingly, appears aghast. “Really? Then please accept my apologies for keeping you for so long!”

“It’s alright.” Mr. Nachin casually throws an arm over Newt’s shoulders, covertly pulling him away from the wall. Newt tries not to wince. “I’ll make sure to tell Newt of all your methods to grow and manage his own beard on the way there—Sayre knows he needs it.”

Newt rubs his jaw, somewhat offended. He’d never cared about his lack of facial hair until now. Then again, he’d never been surrounded with men with such extensive beards, putting any of his previous attempts to shame.

“Excellent! I’ll leave him in your trustworthy care.” Redfield says, fixing his jacket. “Give Headmistress Peregrine my best, won’t you?”

“You have my word.”

“Right.” The general salutes. “Good day then, gentlemen!” Then he’s gone, an empty frame in his wake.

“And that is how you escape the bull,” Mr. Nachin says under his breath when he herds Newt away.

“Thank you.” Newt feels worry build in his chest. “Is there something Madame Peregrine wants to discuss with me?”

“What? Oh, no, no, I made that up.” Mr. Nachin laughs like he knows a secret. “The General has the utmost respect for the Headmistress, so I’ve learned to use that excuse whenever necessary—which is all the time.”

“Then why were you looking for me?”

“I need an accomplice.”

“Excuse me?”

“Me and Ephedra have what you might call a competition between us.” He looks around at their surroundings like he’s expecting something or someone to jump out of the shadows. “I’m currently on the losing side, but you can change that. She trusts you. I can use that to my advantage.”

“As tempting as that is, I’ll have to decline.” Newt enjoys watching the two of them best the other in a never ending game of wit, but he doesn’t want to be the one to cross Ephedra. The woman is absolutely formidable.

Mr. Nachin stops him from leaving (not that he knew where he was going). “Now hear me out. She’ll be too busy helping out with the Formal to retaliate. And since you’re new, she won’t do anything to you. If anything, she’ll get back at me.”

“And you want that?”

“Adds a little spice to life.” He nudges Newt with his elbow, waggling his eyebrows like the boys in Newt’s common room did whenever they were talking about a dame that had caught their eye. “She’s a real spitfire.”

“Am I going to regret this?”

“Probably.” Mr. Nachin says. “I’ll make it worth your wild. I have a man down in Mexico who deals with exotic beasts—legally, of course. It's come to my attention that he’s gotten his hands on one of them Re’ems. You’re interested in that sort of stuff, aren't you?”

Now that’s something of interest. The oxen beasts are extremely rare nowadays with the high demand of their blood. William had said they used to roam the eastern part of the continent, but early Americans settlers cleared them out so that there were no more than a few in the wild left. Newt has been wanting to study one for some time and finds that he’ll take any chance at coming across one alive.

He hasn’t even agreed to help, but knows his interest is obvious by the way Mr. Nachin smiles. “You have my attention, Mr. Nachin.”

“I knew I liked you!” the man cheers. “And enough formalities. Call me Hector.”

“Then call me Newt.”

“Excellent!” Hector says. “Here’s what I’m thinking…”


 Something heavy clatters beside Newt’s hand, startling him awake.

“—are you even listening?”

He blinks away the daydream that’d come over him. He steadies the clay pot before it spills over.  “Sorry? What did you say?”

Ephedra looks cross. He must have been unresponsive for some time. “That’s the third time I’ve had to wake you up,” she says. “Almost considered using a mandrake root as an alarm.”

Newt slowly sits up in his seat, brushing off the dirt and leaves that had collected in his hair, and tries to make himself appear awake, no mandrake necessary. He wouldn’t be up to deal with the piercing screams of the plant and would mostly likely faint. “Sorry about that.”

It’s not hard to lose himself in her workspace. The greenhouse is much larger than the one at Hogwarts (or maybe Newt's the one who’s grown too big for the place in his memory), with twice as many rows and three times the diversity of plants, and a small pond on the far end, equipped with an small, yet elegant stone-carved fountain. What Ephedra refers as her office is merely a wooden table bracketed by shelves.

“From how you look, Newt, I would think you’re a student. I suggest you keep to a schedule. The papers won’t grade themselve.” Ephedra shovels out the compost from the bag and into the pots in front of her. “Trust me, we’ve all tried.”

“No, no, I’m not behind on grading.” Newt idly rubs the less tender part of his shoulder. He’d never made it to the infirmary and had barely a chance to change his bandages after his chat with Hector before making it to his first class. That had been a dreadful affair and Newt is more than sure that he’s become less than popular with his impromptu essay. “My shoulder has been giving me hell since the other day. Can barely fall asleep.”

“Working with creatures, I would think you’re use to it,” she says. “Did you have a particularly bad fall on your daylong walk?”

Newt huffs. “Surely you know. Ms. Goldstein was insistent that the Headmistress be told—no doubt the entire school knows already.”

“You mean about your little excursion? Didn’t you lose track of time?” Ephedra waves her wand. The greenhouse is bathed in more sunlight, coating the glass and and plants in a warm gold that makes it appear all the more scenic. Newt thinks he’ll have to strip himself of his jacket soon. “She didn’t tell Headmistress anything besides that.”

Now that’s a surprise. “She didn’t?”

Ephedra squints suddenly, suspicious. She stops, turning so her focus is on Newt rather than her plants. “Should she have?”

“Nothing happened.” At her raised eyebrow, Newt corrects himself. “Nothing that wasn’t dealt with.”

“I’ve only known you for a short while, Newt, but we both know that what you consider as ‘fine’ isn’t the same as the average wizard. Is there something I need to know?”

“Thank you for the concern,” Newt says, “but I’m fine. Truly. Ms. Goldstein helped me care for a minor wound and that’s it.”

“Minor... but it’s big enough that it’s still bothering you.”

“It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

Ephedra hums. Before Newt can say anything, she abandons her work, heading directly toward her cupboard. It’s as cluttered as the one in his own workshop, bags of seed piled at the bottom while jars and vials of plant ingredients are haphazardly strewn on the shelves. She rummages around, the clinking of her jars the only sound, and crows in success when she’s found what she’s been looking for. She lays down a jar in front of him triumphantly.

“What’s this?”

“An ointment that’s been passed down in my family for generations.” She goes back to her previous work, eyeing the pitiful plant before her. A snap of her fingers and it slowly unwilts. “Use it once a day before you go to bed, no more than that.”

It smells like the wilderness just outside, an undertone of honey giving it a homey scent that has Newt involuntarily relaxing. For a moment he considers refusing the offer, but if he he attempts to hand it back, he knows he’ll be met with a stubborn refusal. This is one argument that’s utterly unconquerable.  “Thank you.”

She hands him earmuffs, putting on her own pair, and goes back to her mandrakes. “Be more careful next time. Now,” she says, “if you faint, try and fall on the tomatoes.”


 The next afternoon, he's greeted by three first-years as his door. Two boys and a girl.

“Ah, yes, Madame Peregrine informed me how you're to be my charges for the afternoon.” Newt smiles pleasantly, standing from his stool and dusting his hands on his trousers. “How do you do?”

Three, identically blank faces stare at him.

“Right, yes, hm… names?”

“Jonathan Crane.”

“Elisabeth Vargas.”

“Robert Calderon.”

“Calderon…” Newt hums thoughtfully. “You wouldn't be related to Thomas Calderon, would you?”

The smaller boy cross his arms over his chest. “He's my brother.”

“Really? He’s one of my top students.”

“Swell.”

That certainly isn't the response he expected. Newt wonders if he’s botched up somehow; he can never get first impressions right, it seems. He coughs, awkward. “Right, well, we'd best get started.”

They follow him in and Newt tries not to show that his walk is completely off. Like always with the Headmistress, her decisions seem to end up for his benefit. Being as sore as he is, help is a gift in the disguise of a punishment.

“It's nothing terribly exciting, but work is work, no matter how dull.”

He walks the first-years to the small room that acts as his office. The size doesn't bother Newt much (he has his case if he needs more room), treating it more like an extension of the classroom. He makes use of it when one of the less dangerous of his creatures needs to be separated from the rest. It’s as cluttered as his shed, but it fulfills its purpose for when he needs to keep up an appearance outside of his case.

None of the students have questioned when one creature pops up unannounced or where he gets them. They most likely assume he makes a call to a contact to have them shipped overseas or wherever one might get attain exotic creatures. He wonders how most American dealers get their supplies and if he should bother to inquire about it.

His fwooper wakes when he enters, fluttering her wings at the sight of him.

“Hello there, Katharine,” he greets with feeling, stroking her chest with the back of his finger. “You are looking lovely today.”

The fwooper lets out a shrill croak and he sways, mind going fuzzy until the last echo. He rights himself immediately after, leveling a stern look onto the small bird.

“Now, I'll have none of that nonsense. It's no way for a proper lady like yourself to behave,” he scolds gently. “You know you have to take the syrup if you want your voice to come back. Don't you want to be able to sing again, hm?”

Bright pink plumage rise, making her appear twice her size.

“I assure you, it's not that bad.” He’d tried his hardest to make the taste bearable, but some medicine, no matter how good, is destined to taste disgusting. He summons the bottle mixture he’d made an hour earlier, taking Katharine into his arms. She settles in the crook of his arm immediately, gaze pinned to the bottle intently.

He lowers it and the small bird extends her neck upward, head jerking back and forth as she feeds. The taste doesn't settle with the bird, as seen by how she falters slightly in the first few swallows, so he hums a nursery rhyme to try and ease the process. Katharine enjoys the tune, talons curling until they are hidden among the feathers fanning at her stomach. He hums a little louder, rocking, and watches the small thing lull itself into a state of contentedness.

“Sir?”

Newt jumps at the voice and looks up, surprised to find three pairs of eyes watching him curiously. He had forgotten all about them.

“So sorry,” he says, rising and walking to his usual work station. He inspects each bucket, finding them empty. He needs to get everything in order if this is to be a productive evening, except he has his arms full with a relaxed fwooper.

“Do anyone of you have experience with birds?”

The girl, Elisabeth, tentatively raises her hand. “My uncle runs an owlery.”

“Wonderful. I’ll have you take her off my hands for a moment—” Katharine gives a slightly disorienting-inducing peep, but otherwise slides from his arms to the girl’s easily. “Keep her steady—yes, just like that. Now, hold the bottle—higher, lower—no, sorry, higher. There we go. Be sure she drinks all of it.”

“Isn't that a fwooper?”

Katharine isn't the most exotic of creatures, but it's still a surprise to hear one of the boys correctly identify her species. “Katharine is a fwooper, yes—African descent, class three. Their call is enchanting to humans—that is, until it drives you mad.” Miss Elisabeth looks at him alarmed, but he waves it off. “She's too weak for her song to addle your brain.”

“Oh… that's good.”

“Once she's gotten over her cold, I'll put a silencing charm on her. For now keep near a chair if you can. She’s prone to start singing—even with a sore throat, she’s a performer.” He smiles, endlessly fond, when the fwooper stops her feeding and let's out a croaky trill. “Praise her when she does. She's been in a rut for some time.”

With Katharine dealt with, Newt moves on to the next item on his to-do list, scooping up Pickett from the table and depositing him on his shoulder as he goes. He should’ve have prepared earlier, but a small uprising with the occamies concerning their breakfast portions had taken up most of the morning, and then he’d had his classes to deal with.

“Now where did I…” He peers in his suitcase, scanning his workshop for the bag of compost he swore he had. No luck, he must have moved it. “Any one of you see compost out there?”

“Here,” Robert says. He points to a bag in the corner of the room, hidden by the nets Newt tossed aside some days ago.

“Perfect.” He transfigures one of the nearby chairs into a wheelbarrow. There’s one about, he's sure, but the time spent searching for it would be a waste. “Mr. Calderon, Mr. Crane, if you both would give me a hand.”

Robert scrunches his nose, but comes closer while the other boy grabs the other end. “Is this…?”

“Dragon dung fertilizer.” Newt would've used excrements from his mooncalves, but there wasn't nearly enough for what he needed. Better to wait for a full moon when they did their lunar dance.

“What are you planting?”

“Bursting mushrooms, bitterroot, and venomous tentacula. Venomous tentacula are quite nasty, so they need to be separated appropriately. Don’t want them to strangle the other plants.” He throws the empty bag to the side, wiping his hands on his trousers. “We'll be setting down the soil and building the barrier today.”

Strangle—?”

“Mr. Cane, could you please get the tools. They're on the worktable. Thank you. Now, Mr. Calderon, grab those packets.” He pauses, looking at Katharine and the way her eyes follow him. “Miss Vargas, I'd recommend you follow us so she keeps me in sight. It would be horrible if she started to panic and knocked you unconscious—bring the chair with you.”

“Uh, professor…”

“Yes?”

Jonathan points to the other end of the classroom. “The door’s that way.”

“Yes, yes, a room. I've forgotten about the room… let me—” He pats his pockets, finding his wand in his left. ”—here we go.”

Trial and error with his case has him forgoing any verbal commands, merely flicking his wand just so. The wall groans, parting for a wooden door to fill the space. It opens to reveal an open room, glass making up the walls. A small greenhouse, just what he needs.

“Right.” He rolls up his sleeves. “Come along you three—let's get to work.”


 Newt gets a letter the following afternoon and, for the first time in Ilvermorny, finds nothing wrong with it. He catches Ms. Goldstein looking in his direction and hurriedly glances down at his mother’s letter, his face warm.

There’s still the situation with her that had to be dealt with. Even he knows when he’s gone too far, acting like a git to a woman who’d done him a service. He’ll have to apologize, but he doesn’t know how to go about it. No one likes admitting they’re wrong and he’s no exception.

“Are you alright, Newt?” Ephedra asks. “You look like you swallowed a lemon.”

“I’m fine,” he says. “Just a bit of trouble at home with my mother’s hippogriffs.”

“Oh, yes, your family breeds them! Pity we don’t have any of them for the stables anymore—gone along with the winged-horses.” The woman shakes her head, fond. “I remember there being a herd of them near my village. Sad to see them go.”

“Why were they removed from Ilvermorny?” he asks so to get his mind off his predicament. “I thought only the breeding of magical creatures were prohibited.”

“Some wizards apply for special permits to home the more genial beasts,” Hector says past his toast. “My sister has a herd of Granians at the ranch back home. They’re the fastest in the states.”

“Take off your hat!” Mrs. Barrow tells him. “We’re indoors!”

Ephedra ignores them. “Those permits are hard to come by—”

“They’re downright expensive!” Hector sets his worn hat on the table by the eggs. Judging by Mrs. Barrow’s expression, it isn’t an improvement. “Ilvermorny works the same way. Professor Jensen was the only one permitted to handle the beasts, so Headmistress had to have them moved when he left.”

“Usually the creatures are relocated to neighboring tribes away from large cities, but it always isn’t that easy.” Ephedra’s expression turns sour. “When they can’t find homes for all of them, MACUSA takes it into their own hands. Whether or not they do what’s best is debatable.”

Newt frowns. He’s not surprised, not really—the same thing happens in England and in most magical communities he’s visited—but that doesn’t mean he liked being reminded of how ill most wizards treated magical creatures. And now, because of a silly law, the Americans were limiting the future generation of wizards, depriving them of understanding common creatures. Hippogriffs ad winged-horses posed no danger if only one took the time to listen and understand their language.

He glances down at his mother’s letter again, reading through her message again.

She has her hands full with a cold that seems to be running through the herd (none of the hatchlings, a miracle in itself), so she couldn't personally travel to America. Newt knew if she came, these Americans would certainly learn a thing or two about hippogriffs and, maybe, be that much closer to realizing how absolutely rubbish their law is.

At the bottom of the letter, a small note.

I'll send them right over.

Chapter Text

The weeks leading up to Winter Formal are a strange thing to observe.

Now, with Christmas only a month away, the school goes through another metamorphosis. The autumn colors are replaced with red, greens, and whites, wreaths of pine and evergreens on every door, holly spinning around columns and in between banisters. The halls smell like peppermint and the kitchen is all the more alluring when he passes by it’s doors, the promise of a taste of homemade delights inviting him to take a quick peek while the house elves convince him to stay and try their recent kettle at tea. There’s the caroling of the school choir, the low baritones of the toads accompanying the sweet trill of a soprano and the muted jingles that echo through the chest plates of the suits of armor that guard the school. Mixed in are more delightful sounds, bells and horns and instruments of all kinds, singing voices like those of a nightingale’s, and, although Newt can never find it, he’s often heard a grand piano playing a melodious piece that can be heard anywhere within the castle.

There’s more snowfall, burying half of the courtyards, leaving the pukwudgies irritated and the school looking like the inside of a snow globe, the little figurines of children playing carelessly in thick robes and winding scarves. It all reminds him that he hasn’t been home for Christmas for some time, researching abroad for a year and now stuck in Ilvermorny for another. His mother would have a word for him, no doubt.

The school runs as it usually does, efficiently if not a smudge haphazardly. Students run around like headless chickens, fractic in every sense of the word. Classes go according to schedule, exams are fretted over, and Newt catches a couple or two students in empty rooms and closets with the transparent excuse of keeping warm, only to let them go with a minor warning. He sees groups of giggling girls and flighty boys at opposite ends of a room, fleeting glances between students in study hall, and whispered conversations in the middle of his lectures. He sees the rejections and the happy acceptances, the disheartened and the delighted, and is glad that his school days are behind him, no need to fret over dates and the views of his peers anymore.

He offers Pickett a dab of honey from his spoon as he watches Mildred in the Thunderbird table state rather loudly that they had to have chrysanthemums instead of peonies for the upcoming dance and anyone thinking otherwise was an idiot. It doesn’t mean a lick to Newt, but must be important for Mildred and a fifth-year because they soon begin an argument that only grows with each passing word, one that’s passionate enough to get Ms. Barrow to leave her seat.

Newt turns his attention elsewhere and leaves his student to her fate. “Do you have prefects?” he asks Ephedra, pointedly ignoring the scolding that reaches the faculty table. “A head boy or girl?”

“Oh, no, the students decide a committee instead. Eight students, two from each house, act as representatives. They then vote one of the committee as president.”

“It changes every year,” Mrs. Cannon says.

“Were you a prefect, Newt?” Hector asks straight-faced, then laughs. “Can’t imagine you were.”

Ephedra has the grace to be offended on Newt’s behalf even though he’s sure they all know the undeniable answer to that question. “You weren’t any better, Hector. You always convinced the brigades to start fights in Professor Burgoyne’s classroom!”

“That old coot kept insisting that the Confederates won the war,” Hector says passionately. “I reckon I saved our education!”

Newt grins, sipping his tea, only to very nearly spit it out (too much milk). He sets it aside to focus on the new story that may or may not be exaggerated for dramatic effect. Hector likes to tell him of his many feats, both in his school days and his time riding through the American West, some of which could actually be true.

At his left, Mrs. Barrow resumes her seat, scoffing at a particular heroic tale that has something to do with a jackalope and three self-tying cravats, and that’s when Newt meets Ms. Goldstein’s gaze from a further down the table. She offers him a hesitant smile before she catches herself. They both look away.

“—Newt?”

He turns back to the conversation at present. “I’m sorry?”

Hector’s tosses his spoon and it lands in Newt’s tea. “I was asking about the kind of trouble you got into at Hogwarts. I bet it was spectacular.”

Newt rubs his neck. The trouble he got into at Hogwarts was a bit dangerous— sneaking out into the Forbidden Forest and visiting centaurs as a first-year, then diving into the deeper parts of the lake in his third just to see if the stories were true and the merfolk really did have kelp for hair— and it’s something he only recognized after years of time spent on the road, and he’d rather not say anything aloud with the students within earshot. “Not quite…”

Instead of delving into his childhood he tells of the time he set his desk at the Ministry ablaze after misplacing a clutch of ashwinder eggs. Among the usual laughs, Newt’s sure there’s one that he’s never heard before.


Beside the confines of his case, visiting the wampus cats brings him peace.

This time around he makes sure to keep track of time and what route he takes, as well as keep a lookout for anything that might be stalking him. No matter how good he is with magical creatures, there will always be some that don’t like him, and the hidebehind that lives in the forest is madder than most creatures he’s dealt with.

Inside the cave where the mother wampus cat raises her cubs is one of the safest places on the mountain, Newt is sure. Settled in the hard rock it has a low ceiling and goes fairly deep into the mountain, hidden by a cluster of pines, so no one would spot it unless they knew where to look. He hardly thinks the mother wampus leaves the cubs for long, so with her patrolling the woods nearby, possible predators like the Hidebehind wouldn’t dare venture near. This high up the mountain and with a family to take care of, the likelihood for the wampus mother to take a detour to the Muggle town  is slim.

“Glad to know you aren't the ones causing the Muggles trouble,” he tells her, rubbing along the base of her skull. She grumbles, shoulder pressing into his chest. Newt lets himself fall back, her body heat enough to ward off the occasional breeze that slips through the trees hiding the cave entrance. “Maybe the hidebehind?”

The wampus cat grumbles again, something low and raspy, digging her forepaws into his sides. Newt takes that as a ‘no.’

“I don’t think so either. It’s a rambunctious fellow alright, but it stays in its territory—”

The big cat growls a warning.

“Yes, sorry, your territory.” He digs his nails into the fur behind her ears as an apology. “Didn’t mean to offend.”

And he lays there, thinking. Never too good at legilimency himself, he doesn’t know how a wizard perceives the thoughts of others, much less organize into coherent ideas and thought. Minds are messy things, human minds even more so. Beasts are simpler, more honest, and he wonders what the wampus cat makes of what’s inside his head. Basic concepts are universal—fear, hunger, desire, everything that made living beings strive for life—but the complexity of his situation, the social constructs and coordination of relationships, may just be too much for her.

“What do you think I should do?” he asks for no other reason than to get it out into the open.

The wampus mother raises her head to look at him and Newt thinks for a moment that she’ll give him an answer. She yawns and sends the smell of her last meal of stag in his direction.

Newt huffs. She can read his thoughts, but she can’t project her own, and that’s where the problem lies. “I could apologize… she’s been very helpful… not as much as Ephedra, but more so than Ms. Barrow—I’m more than positive that that woman wants nothing to do with me.”

The rumble the cat makes is deep, giving him an almost tickling feeling across his stomach. She lays her head back down on his chest and Newt grins at the jagged ceiling. “Yes, I wonder why too.” He quickly remembers the problem at hand. “Ms. Goldstein is… nice enough, I suppose. A stickler for rules, even the ones that don’t make sense.”

There’s a small commotion in the corner, the cubs beginning to wake from their nap. They blink and stumble and make a fuss before finally spotting him, and run mewling to him, not hesitating to climb whatever part of him is free. He laughs when the youngest jumps on his face, gnawing on the wisp of his hair. “Careful or you’ll hurt Pickett.”

They don’t listen so Newt sits himself up to escape their attacks and checks his pocket watch. Almost time for his last class of the day. The wampus mother willingly rolls off him, but sets to wash him, traveling up his neck to the top of his head. He thinks his hair will soon permanently stick out if she keeps this up; even if he needs to clean himself up every time he leaves, Newt quite enjoys socializing with this little family and lingers a little bit longer.

He could allow himself this one break and deal with the consequences of tardiness. He presses his forehead against hers. “Now how about a name, hm?”


 Hector is, Newt finds out, a fine opponent for Ephedra.

He is her opposite, loud and boisterous, childish even;  no one else seems fit to take up the challenge of her game of cat and mouse, much less handle their own. Not only does he enjoy the challenge, he’s incredibly confident, so much that he openly asks Newt for items and the like that might give him an edge, from his stock of exotic plants to his collection of contraptions. (Newt gives him all of his confiscated fireworks, which is easier than questioning why a man might need kappa trappings and porlock hairs.) They would gather dust with him, but he thinks that Hector would put them to good use.

As the formal draws ever closer, the Headmistress requests he do his part and help, Ephedra being the ever insistent messenger. Not wanting to be a snitch, Newt’s unable to refuse. He leaves Hector to his scheming and helps while he waits for the surprise like everyone else.

The Hall is bursting with energy when he enters, students, pukwudgies, and house elves going to and fro to make sure everything’s in order. Already, most of the usual dining tables have been cleared, replaced with those more suited for a ball. Mr. Hidalgo is painstakingly floating every ornament to its desired place on the enormous evergreen residing in the center of the Great Hall, the tips of its leaves already charmed with glinting frost, but besides that, most of the work is being done without magic. (Despite the stereotype of laziness, Americans did seem to value magicless work.)

“Easier to remember that magic isn't always the best way,” Ephedra says when he comes up to where she’s livening up some holly. She pointedly glances at the Charms professor. “Some physical work could do wonders to some egos.”

Newt grins, but says nothing about her own use of magic. “I take it you’re in charge?”

“Why yes,” she says proudly, “and I already have the perfect job for you. Is your shoulder feeling up to hard labor?”

“Yes.” Her ointment did wonders, only a mild discomfort popping up now and again. “What do you have in mind?”

Hard labor entails him being a carrier of sorts, taking supplies from one place to another, called upon by whoever is in need of him. First on his list, half a dozen or so crates of napkin ties and goblet coasters, where they’ll be be set up by the fourth years helping out. Another crate, filled to the rim with utensils that clinks and clanks as he walks, go to the very end of the Horned Serpent table, to be polished and placed in the right order on either side of the porcelain plates. Four trips to the hall and back have Newt’s heart pumping, muscles stretch pleasantly as he hoists each package onto his shoulder and climbs the front steps to get them where they need to go.

William is nowhere to be seen, but Newt sees a few faces he recognizes. Clementine, the pukwudgie from when he was chastised by the Headmistress, and Jefferson, a male who’d made quite the fuss when Newt had inadvertently assumed he was female, pass by him without a glance, displaying the common courtesy of their kind. Pukwudgies, like many species Newt’s come across, have very little in distinguishing between their sexes, the drop in temperature and the need for more layers only making it harder to guess their gender.

While it’s a winter wonderland outside, Ilvermorny is heated to the every stone (Newt swears that he’s seen steam rolling off the bricks and stones making up the castle’s outer layer); he’s already shed his coat and jacket, rolling up his sleeves in preparation of physical labor, despite the lack of propriety. He catches a few Thunderbird girls watching him work, which is strange, considering the fact that he’s sure that they have their own projects to do, and tries to set them on their way. They leave him, but not without giggling at some joke of theirs.

The work is halfway done when a small first-year comes running into the hall. Elizabeth Vargas, the girl who he recognizes from Newt’s little home for detention (she hasn’t since, so he assumes she’s learned her lesson), is out of breath and slightly frantic when she gets to Ephedra. “Professor! The ghosts are reenacting the Civil War again.”

This is the third time this week and the annoyance is clear on Ephedra’s face. “Those go over there, Newt. I have to deal with this before it spreads.” She rolls up her sleeves. “Come on, Miss Vargas, you’ll have to show me.”

“A dragot says it’s platoons five and six,” someone whispers as they leave and Newt pretends not to notice the chiming sound of currency. He already knows exactly what platoon was causing such a fuss and knows where this debacle will lead, but keeps to himself.

Bypassing a group of pukwudgies carrying a crate filled with glass ornaments on their shoulders, he makes his way through other side of the tree. He nearly turns around when he sees Ms. Goldstein there, only to be spotted.

“Mr. Scamander…” She stalls. “Are those the decorations for the tables?”

They are exactly just that. Newt curses his bad luck, unable to rush through this awkward meeting. He marches stiffly to Ms. Goldstein and deposits his load in front of her, hoping he’ll be able to leave it for her to deal with and make his escape.  “I assume you can—”

“Ms. Goldstein!” someone calls.

Ms. Goldstein ducks behind the boxes.

“Ms. Goldstein!” Mrs. Barrow appears beside Newt, popping into existence like a diricawl, and he nearly jumps out of his skin. She’s dressed up for the festivities, wearing a ridiculous hat that resembles a star, but her tone is sharp.“Where is she?”

Newt doesn’t know what to say, which is, apparently, nothing. The woman doesn’t bother waiting for an answer from him, shoving past toward what he can only say is her next victim.

Ms. Goldstein peeks out. “Is she gone?”

Newt smothers his smile, turning to check if the woman had left. The coast is clear, only the two of them on this side of the hall, the tree concealing them from view. “Ah—yes.”

Slowly, she comes out of hiding, smoothing out her hair as she does so. It’s gotten longer, he notes idly, curling against the slant of her cheeks. One glance at Newt’s amused expression and she flushes.

“Having trouble?” he asks if only to rib her a bit.

“No—yes—maybe.” She sighs, rubbing her temples. “I’m supposed to be in charge of the banners.”

“I would think you’d have them done in a jiffy.”

“Yes, but they’re not up to standard .” She makes a face and Newt realizes he’s never seen her cross at anyone other than himself. It’s quite amusing to watch and he forgets that he’s trying to avoid her. “I’m not even sure how all of this goes, much less how she wants it.”

Newt glances up at her work. The banners above the main doors flash and shiver as he looks, shifting from one house insignia to the other. Not particularly festive, but he finds nothing wrong with them. “She’s quite the perfectionist.”

Ms. Goldstein snorts. “You’re telling me.”

“Why don’t you ask Ephedra to do something different? I don’t think Ms. Barrow is helping with the catering and the house elves could do with the help.”

It’s a simple offer for a problem that could be easily remedied, but apparently not by the way Ms. Goldstein looks. Newt doesn’t think she’d be able to look more uncomfortable unless he saw it for himself. “I’m not one for domestic spells.”

“More of a dueler then?”

“The best in my class,” she admits and if she were a phoenix, Newt might think she’d be preening herself, burning with the pride.

“That makes one of us. Couldn’t seem to keep a hold of my wand at times.” Newt winces, realizing his mistake as they’re both reminded of just what lies between them, namely his excursion the other night and the lack of punishment due to her apparent kindness. “What I mean to say is—” He clears his throat and, rather than delve into that particular conversation, he focuses at the job at hand. Ms Goldstein must feel the same and they fall into silence, organizing the tabletop decorations.

A pukwudgie drops a crate at Newt’s feet with a short command to take care of it while it gets the rest. It disappears before he can explain that he’d only been helping Ms. Goldstein momentarily and had to get back to his own job, tries again when the other pukwudgies follow suit and begin to hand over their decorations as well. He’s blatantly ignored and soon enough he has half a dozen things to unpack and even more pukwudgies expecting it to get done.

Realizing that he won’t be leaving anytime soon, Newt takes a risk and does what he’d never thought he’d be inclined to do. He makes conversation. “You didn’t tell the Headmistress about what happened during my excursion.”

“What? Oh.”  Ms. Goldstein nearly drops a goblet. She tucks her hair behind her ear nervously, not once looking at him. “No, I didn’t. I thought that the Headmistress didn’t need to know.”

“Really? You said differently the other night.”

“Yeah, well, I had a change of heart.” She looks over her shoulder before pulling out her wand and flicking it at the dinnerware and levitating the pieces where they need to be. There’s no need with Ephedra still away; the rest of the hall seemed to have had similar ideas, tossing aside physical labor in favor of magical assistance. They’re getting through the work quicker now.

Newt finds himself quietly laughing to himself and opens the next box. Within the hay lies a glass statue of a thunderbird, except its anatomy is off. “Atrocious.” He quickly transfigures it into something that resembles the magnificent creature.

Ms. Goldstein sees this, but doesn’t rat him out. “How's your shoulder?” she asks instead.

“Never better.”

“Let me guess. Ephedra?” He nods. “I knew she’d give you something once she found out.”

“I really am grateful.” He clears his throat, preparing to humble himself. “I feel I must apologize for the way I acted. I shouldn’t have been so abrasive and—”

“Ill-mannered. Discourteous. Ungrateful.” Ms. Goldstein flushes, but crosses her arms at his look. “Sorry, but you were.”

“I shouldn’t have. It’s just that I don’t normally deal with other people in situations like those. I’m usually on my own, becauses people tend to get in the way, and, well, then you showed up. I was just caught off guard.”

He looks up with an imploring look, only to drop it at the woman’s hard stare. Newt wonders what he’s done wrong now.

“Are you saying I just got in the way? I’m sorry to say this, Mr. Scamander, but it doesn’t count as an apology if you remain ungrateful through it.”

He sighs. That is not what he had meant. “If I admit that I was uncooperative and ungrateful, will you accept my apology?”

“Will you actually apologize?”

He frowns his work, somewhat frustrated, and maybe a little amused at the snark. “I’m sorry I was uncooperative and didn’t listen to your warnings,” he says. “I also apologize for after. I don’t make a habit of stripping in front of women.” Newt regrets the joke the moment he says it, but accepts that it’s out in the open.

Slightly flushed, Ms. Goldstein shushes him. “Don’t say anything else or she’ll hear you!”

“Who? Mrs. Barrow?” A quick glance reassures him no one’s near enough to have heard.

“No! Ephedra!” Ms. Goldstein pulls him closer behind the tree. “You know how she is. One whiff of this and she’ll be all over it, so please, keep it between us!”

She’s a smidge shorter than he is, eye-level with his nose. “She won’t be for a while.”

“How are you so sure about that?”

Newt avoids her eyes when she looks at him suspiciously.

She gets what’s happening rather quickly. “You’re helping Hector prank Ephedra?” She looks at him like he’s lost his mind, but then her expression falters and Newt is startled to see her fighting back a laugh. “Good luck, Mr. Scamander.”

He tucks his chin. “I am getting something out of it, so I suggest you not tell anyone.”

For a moment he thinks she’ll refuse and rat him out. Instead, she shrugs. “You’re funeral.”

Ephedra wouldn’t do something extreme, least of all to him. He thinks that she’s taking a real liking to him; not only do they share similar interests, she’s as dedicated to her field as he is to his; criticizing the actions of their fellow wizards and the lack of understanding of what the natural world had to offer.

Newt doesn’t bother a response and they go back to their tasks, working in silence, only this time Newt’s not anxious to make small talk. It’s almost casual.

“I’m sorry for being so…” Ms. Goldstein starts.

“Intrusive? Bias? Impudent?”

“I’m sorry for being a little pushy,” she huffs, muttering something about his vocabulary. “So do we just continue one like nothing happened?”

“A new slate, you mean?” She nods. “Is that what you want?”

She throws him a look that he catches, hesitant but honest. “I’d like that, yes.”

Heat travels up his spine, flooding his veins and curling his toes. It collects at his chest and rises up, crawling the tendons of his neck and finding a place at the tip of his ears and apples of his cheeks. Bubbles of light fill the cage of his ribs and he coughs, trying to pop them. “That’s be— erhm, yes. Yes, I… I’d like that too.”

A smile and Newt must look away. Quickly, grasping for a distraction, he transforms the brass candlesticks to miniature dragons, exact replicas of the ironbellies from his past. He ushers them out of the box and they climb up his body like miniature felines, opening their jaws in silent roars. He lets them do as they please for a bit before offering each a candle, which they take to immediately. Once paired with their package, they fly to their specific tables, curling around the candles protectively, ready to light when the night of the dance finally arrived.

“Where did you learn to do that?”

Newt encouragely tosses the last dragon who’s hesitant to leave. It falls back on his hand, clutching its candle like a child might a toy. “A shopkeeper in Moscow used stone wolves to organize her bookstore.”

“My father used to charm the blankets as dogs and we’d ride them to bed.”

“Adds a bit of fun to life, doesn’t it?”

Ms. Goldstein hums in agreement. She’s silent and Newt finally gets the last dragon to take off. “It’s strange to see everyone here and working. Usually most of the students are gone by now,” she says abruptly. “You're going, aren’t you?”

“Pardon?”

“The formal,” she says again, slowly, timidly. “Aren’t you going?”

“Perhaps.” Headmistress Peregrine has offered him the option of not attending. “I haven’t quite decided.”

“You should.” At his glance, she rushes for an explanation. “This is the only chance you'll get, right? Why not take it?”

“I suppose so…”

“Ms. Goldstein!”

They jump. Ms. Goldstein grabs his waistcoat and forcibly moves him so that he hides her from view, only it’s too late. They’ve been spotted.

“I see you, Ms. Goldstein! Don’t try and hide!” Mrs. Barrow is an upcoming storm, jingling hat and all. “What have to done to the banners! This isn’t some No-Maj shindig!”

Ms. Goldstein bolts.

Newt, watching her escape even as Mrs. Barrow shoves past him in hot pursuit, cannot fight the smile. It twitch the corner of his mouth, curling slowly like the tail of playful wampus cub. It’s a bright feeling, the shine of it reflecting off the the bronze hides of a trapezing dragon, and it intends to stay.

That is until he realizes that she’s left him to finish the work himself.

“Bugger,” he says.


 They meet in the hallways and it’s a strange affair. One of them always seems to be in a rush, nearly running into the other, going through the same unchanging dialogue, greetings and basics inquiries that ultimately lead to a rushed goodbye.

Newt breaks the cycle one morning when forgoes introductions to blurt out, “You forgot your hat, you know.” He’s only just noticed it recently, lying on the kitchen table since the night Ms. Goldstein left it, something he’s been meaning to bring up, but unsure as to how.

“What?” Ms. Goldstein stares up at him, confused, and there’s a small crease between her brows that draws his attention.

“Your hat,” Newt says because he’s stupidly continued the conversation without planning an exit. “You left it when you, ah…”

“Yes.”

“I can return it to you.” Swallowing is hard, especially so when he scrounges up all the courage he can find and continues. “Over tea perhaps?”

“I’d like that.”

It’s easy to set up, but life has other plans. For they make half-hearted promises—promises they mean to keep, but, for whatever reason, can’t. Newt invites her for tea half a dozen times only for something to come up. He’ll be spiffing up his sad excuse for a parlor, readying the kettle, when his suitcase falls over with an angry caw or a letter sent by owl about a duel gone wrong that needs directive, or he’ll open his door to the sight of three students awaiting detention he’d forgotten he was overseeing.

“I’ll come by after lunch,” she’ll say or, “Maybe during study hall.”

She never does, and when she inquires herself Newt’s never able to follow through. Spontaneous problems come up, and he’s ready to hand her item over, only he has to run because some second year has snuck in a handful of pixies into the Wampus common room and it’s not too long until they’re let loose, and he’s called in for expert advice that doesn’t involve releasing the manic creatures into the forest and to be eaten. Or Hector will drag him off right before lunch and Ephedra before dinner, and it’s only when he sees her again that he’ll remember.

It seems so excessive just to return a hat.


Newt doesn’t see the ending of the prank, nor does he hear of it from Ephedra herself, and when Hector invites him to his office the next day, he’s laughing too hard to tell it right.


 The weekend before the dance, he's acquainted with a Queenie Goldstein.

Newt is taking a stroll through the courtyard, admiring the frosted flowers and how snow settles delicately atop benches. He’s all bundled up for the cold, knitted sweater pulled over his usual vest and his favorite scarf wrapped haphazardly around his neck. Every so often a group of students will pass by and greet him, but he's generally left alone.

Well, not entirely alone.

Pickett, an ever present companion, sticks out from between the folds of his scarf, reaching up and trying to catch the flecks of white lazily drifting down. Newt contents himself to watch, occasionally chuckling when the creature succeeds and shows him the newly attained prize, already melted and dripping into the threads of his clothes. It’s not the first time the bowtruckle has seen a winter, but the little thing still acts like it’s something new to behold and, well, Newt cannot deny how endlessly charmed he is over the fact.

He’s gathered a handful of snow to let Pickett play in, squeaking at the coldness of it all, when he hears someone call out. He turns and spots a woman he doesn’t recognize hurrying towards him, pretty and blonde and smiling from ear to ear. Newt sees Ms. Goldstein right behind, struggling to catch up with all the snow.

The blonde reaches him first. She appears far more excited than she should be to meet a stranger. “You must be—“

“Queenie, don’t you dare—”

“It’ll be quick! I just want to say hi.” The woman grins at Newt and in a mock-whisper says, “She doesn’t want me to meet you all by myself. Isn’t that silly?”

Ms. Goldstein reaches them, the total number of strangers exceeding Pickett’s comfort level, and he slips into Newt’s sleeve. “Why not?”

“Oh, she has her reasons.” The woman bumps shoulders with Ms. Goldstein. “Well, aren’t you going to introduce me, Teen?”

Ms. Goldstein huffs. “Mr. Scamander, meet my sister, Queenie. Queenie, this is Newt Scamander.”

He hastily takes off a glove and offers a hand, ignoring the stinging bite of the cold in favor of the smooth skin that slides over his palm. Etiquette has him trying for a smile, nervous as it is. “Hello, it's lovely to meet you.”

“I've heard so much about you, Mister Scamander.” Grey-green eyes take him in and he involuntarily shrinks, averting his gaze. She remains looking at him even as she says, “You didn’t write how cute he was, Teen.”

“Queenie,” Ms. Goldstein hisses immediately, pink pooling at the apples of her cheeks. It's a striking color, reminding him of how Katharine’s feathers shine when she’s particularly happy and well-groomed.

Her sister cooes. “Well, aren’t you sweeter than strudel.”

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, relax, Teenie. I ain't going to frighten him off.” She pauses, then grins. “He's seen some crazy stuff. You really like to travel, huh sweetie?”

“Ah,” he murmurs, understanding, “you're a Legilimens.”

Ms. Goldstein’s sister nods. “Since I was little. Though I have a hard time reading your kind. Brits. It's the accent.”

Newt finds that explanation confusing and slightly intriguing, but doesn’t know how to respond. Thankfully, Ms. Goldstein does. She reaches for her sister’s sleeve and begins tugging her away. “How about we get you unpacked, Queenie. I’m sure you have plenty of other men to torment here. Let's leave Mr. Scamander to his business.”

“Don’t let me keep you.” He nods. “It was wonderful meeting you, Ms. Goldstein.”

The blonde waves him goodbye as her sister drags her along toward the school. “Oh, sweetie, you can call me Queenie. Everybody does.”

For some reason, the sound of her fading laughter makes him flush.


 The next time he sees Queenie, or Ms. Goldstein for that matter, is two days later, during the night of the dance.

“Your coat, sir?” an elf asks when Newt steps through the doorway.

He kindly waves the creature off before taking stock of the hall. It’s been completely transformed; it had already been more extravagant than necessary, but now it’s topped every expectation of his. The chandeliers are dimmed, the low light and dangling crystals giving the place a sophisticated touch, and with the twilight sky glimpsed through the balcony doors is all so refined. In the corner, there’s a sort of bar with an elf handing out drinks to students, while a small stage is set at the far end of the hall, a few partygoers dancing around the evergreen centerpiece.

His Niffler would go mad if it were out and about.

Newt walks along the wall, dodging attendees as they slip up the staircases to the second floor and to more private of places. He’s seen many of his students on a daily basis, seen how rambunctious they are in his class, in the hallways, during dinner, and this dance only magnifies their youngness in his eyes; children who own all the confidence in the world, but with no knowledge to show constraint. It is far wilder and rowdier than anything Newt has ever experienced, overly grand and attention-grabbing, and the boldness of all the people around him lead him to be relieved of all the high social circles he’s been deprived of since his expulsion. He quite enjoys his shed and the comforting cries of his beasts.

Despite the cold outside, most of the girls are sporting flamboyant dresses, sleeveless and cut at their knees. The more elegant attire are worn by the faculty, floor-length gowns that shimmer in the cool light of the hall. Mrs. Cannon— Ariadne , Newt has to remind himself to call her by her first name at her request despite her being twenty years his senior—has charmed birds that nest in her headpiece, so elegant that she looks like she’d fit in the Ministry parties his parents often attended. The headmistress looks as stunning as ever when she greets him at the entrance, her dress the color of a healthy kelpie and reminding him of crashing waves of the rocky cliffs in Scotland.

The boys’ dress is somewhat standard, the students in precise suits or tuxedos. Newt idly pulls at his collar of his own suit, glad that his isn't as out of style as he worried it might be. He's dressed in simple black, from his coat to his sensible shoes.

One of the enchanted instruments of the band lets out a rather high note and there's a sharp point in Newt’s top pocket. He gently sets a hand over it. “You could have stayed with the others,” he tells the bowtruckle peeking out between his fingertips. All he gets is a stubborn peep. “Alright, but behave yourself.”

He finds Ephedra among the crowd and she immediately hands him a drink that he’s sure isn’t butterbeer, but doesn’t bother asking how she acquired it. He flushes when she takes a jab at his attire, playfully commenting that he cleans up incredibly well. She’s supporting a gown of red and yellow, white lacing through the entire design. It’s not unsimilar to her usual wardrobe, only her hair is free from her usual braids, falling in waves. He tells her she looks as fierce as a Chinese Fireball and she seems pleased with that.

They pass the time chatting and Ephedra comments on everyone and everything, telling him of gossip that she somehow knows is true to get a laugh out of him, generally kind in her critiquing. Newt finds it funny that Hector paired up his well-tailored suit with his worn hat, while Ephedra tells him she might walk up to Mr. Hidalgo and rip his shoddy headpiece right off his head. They both express their dislike of Ms. Barrow’s dragon-scaled purse.

“He’s persistent,” she’s saying to him after Hector has asked her hand for a dance for the third time in the night. She’d sent him off for drinks after vanishing their own glasses.

“I do believe he fancies you.”

“You’re right,” she says matter-of-factly, like she’s known all along (and she probably has). “I think I might take him up on that offer this time—or maybe distract him long enough to charm his suit to make him dance all night. I haven’t decided yet.”

“You are absolutely wicked.”

“Maybe so, but we all can all afford to be wicked sometimes.” An upbeat song begins to play, drawing in most of the students to the center of the hall, spinning and bouncing to the beat. Ephedra tugs at Newt’s sleeve towards them. “You should join us.”

Newt shakes his head. “You go on ahead. I’m not much of a dancer.”

She grabs his hand as if intending to drag him along. “Are you sure? This is supposed to be fun for everyone. I don’t want you to stay in the corner all night.”

“I am enjoying myself. Really.”

“I’m serious, Newt. Hector won’t mind.”

“I’m sure.”

Ephedra looks like she wants to argue, but stops short. “Well, if you change your mind, you know where I’ll be—and, who knows, maybe you’ll find someone to dance with.”

Then she’s gone. Newt amusedly watches her slip beside Hector, who tips his hat to her like he’d expected her. They make their way to the dance floor and dive into a fast jig that puts every other pair of dancers to shame. Newt is unsurprised by the talent.

He passes the time overseeing the general student body for any signs of trouble. A little misbehavior can heighten a party such as this one and Newt wouldn’t be completely against seeing what kind of tricks Americans might pull, prone to rule-breaking himself, but he sets himself to adhere to his adult responsibilities just this once. He is a chaperone after all.

Headmistress Peregrine, a slimming figure of emerald and gold, catches his eye across the room not two minutes later. She follows his line of sight to the refreshments, spotting the same giggling students. A nod and she’s making her way through the dance floor gracefully, coming up behind the two boys and casually placing a hand on their each of their shoulders.

It seems like his presence deters wrongdoings, a first for Newt, and he doesn’t know how to feel about that. A song passes, then another, and he lets himself accept a nonalcoholic drink or two from one persistent elf, and even a appetizer when he realizes how hungry he is.

His solitary is broken when he’s recognized, Mildred and her usual crowd swarming him like mischievous pixies to an unsuspecting victim that’s about to find themselves atop the Palace of Westminster. They introduce him to younger students that may take the class next year. Newt doesn’t bother to clarify that he’s only signed on for one year. One of the twins shyly asks if he’d teach them a step or two and he declines as kindly as he can; other partying students call out from the dance floor, effectively dissuading them from persistently asking again.

He’s almost grateful when Pickett starts making a fuss. He excuses himself and, once he can get away, he seeks at chair. He holds the bowtruckle in his palms and calms him. “If you’re truly unhappy, Pick, we’ll leave in a bit.”

Someone clears their throat.

Newt starts. His gazes follows up a shimmering hem, following the curve of a slim waist, slowly taking in the expanse of stars and moons embroidered into midnight blue, slender arms and pale skin, before settling on a pretty face.

“That’s a shame,” Ms. Goldstein says. “I was wondering if you’d like some company.”

Newt jumps to his feet. He nearly drops Pickett. “Good evening, Ms. Goldstein.”

“Hi.”

He clears his throat, scrounging up all the manners his mother laid upon him as a child to say, “You look lovely.”

She tucks a strand of hair back into place and the stars in her hair glitter at her touch. “I already had a dress planned, but Queenie was insistent.”

“It is—ah, lovely.”

“Yes. You already said that.”

Newt winces, tugging at his collar again.

“You don’t look too bad yourself, Mr. Scamander,” she adds.

Newt grins at his shoes from the compliment. “I prefer looser clothes—never know when you’ll have to outrun a graphorn.” He’s relieved when she gives him a small smile at his joke. “And I’m not one for big events either.”

“Me too.”

“What about your sister?”

Ms. Goldstein nods to the dance floor where Newt can see a blonde head bobbing up and down with the sea of students. Even with the band playing he can hear the soft peals of her laughter.

“She’s quite the social butterfly.”

The only expression on Ms. Goldstein’s face is of tender fondness. “She hasn’t seen any of them in a year, so I let her have her night of fun.” She glances at him. “You actually came.”

“Yes.” He clears his throat. “This is the only chance I’ll get to attend, so I thought to make the most of it.”

She smiles at her words being parroted back at her. “And how are you enjoying it so far? Is it all that you imagined?”

“It’s much louder than what I’m used to.” He’s being honest. The wild offers a muted loudness that’s shattered by the mere presence of humanity, like the moment his ship docked, the noise and calamity of the waterfront overwhelming and different than the calming and repetitive crash of waves against the ship’s flank. Newt felt more comfortable embarking up a lonely mountain path, breathless and near blind with the wind, but sure of his destination, it’s peak the only thing he need focus on.

“It’s different in the wild, I take it?” She smiles when he nods, momentarily taking on her sister’s talent and snatching the thought right out of his head. “New York parties usually can be heard blocks away.”

“You’re from there?”

“Born and raised.” This is the longest they’ve chatted without some sort of fiasco. They’re making progress. “And what about you?”

“I live in London, but my parents have a place in the countryside near there,” he says. “Not many parties, but plenty of wildlife.”

“And plenty of creatures to give wizards a taste of adventure.” Something teasing shines in her eyes. “A lot about you makes more sense now. I can imagine it. You, younger and wandering into something’s nest, covered in mud and grass. I wonder how many times you were almost some animal’s afternoon snack.”

“Not that many,” he murmurs in light embarrassment. “Beasts generally don’t go looking for humans to eat.”

The conversation takes a lull, not uncomfortable per say, but just full enough to have him buzzing. He flicks his gaze away and back a few times, catching into Ephedra’s form slipping through a throng of students on the fourth time his heart skips a beat at the sight of gossamer blue over the unblemished skin of an arm. Newt tries to get her attention without being too obvious, but the woman must be ignoring him because she merely turns to Hector and doesn’t give Newt a glance back. They both laugh at something she says and Newt can only think the worst.

The music shifts, the band playing a song slower and far more calming than before, exchanging trumpets for violins. Newt recognizes it as one he's heard on his radio (a favorite of Dougal’s). He watches the dance floor thin out slightly, the students that remain getting into pairs. Ephedra and Hector glide from one end of the floor to another, professionals. Queenie sticks around as well, having fun with a trio of first-years; from her extravagant, if not exaggerated movements, Newt thinks she’s teaching them a simple three step.

“Do you dance?” he asks Ms. Goldstein before he can stop himself.

“Not often. What about you?”

“Sadly, my only experience with it is the waltz and the foxtrot,” he admits. “That and, as you’ve seen, I’m more than mastered the erumpet mating dance.”

Her head tilts toward the couples already dancing. “Show me.”

“Excuse me?”

Ms. Goldstein’s eyes open wide. “Not the mating dance! I meant the waltz! Yes, the waltz!”

It's all quite forward and Newt finds his cheeks warming in response to the bold challenge. It reminds him of the nundu he has hidden away in his suitcase, how, when in season, the males must fight and showcase their prowess in order to impress the females. But Ms. Goldstein is not a nundu and does not want to see him rattle his neck quills in her honor, which makes this request all the more harder to interpret.

“That is…” He pulls at his cuffs, looking to the place beyond her right ear. “I don't think I'm suitable for—er…”

“Oh, I wasn't asking you, Mr. Scamander. I was asking Pickett.”

He stops his spluttering and meets her eyes; they are a lovely dark brown and crinkling with the force of the smile curling at her lips. It's not often that such a pretty image is directed his way and it sends a shock through his system. She’s offering him a lifeline, a simple path to follow among the complex answers of human interaction. Something clicks and the secret language of the world is suddenly decipherable.

“I see,” he says, feeling more comfortable in his own skin. “Well then, if that's the case, I'm sure Pickett would gladly, ah, ‘show you how it's done.’”

“Just for one dance,” she promises him, face earnest. She offers him her hand and Newt takes it with slight hesitation.

They make their way to the floor together, staring at one another, and it’s then that Newt realizes exactly what he’s doing, what social activity he’s willingly given into. There are dancers around them and Newt doesn't know whether to be glad about the cover or paranoid about the number of watchers.

Get to it! A voice that sounds like Theseus’s urges in his head, almost exasperated, before she thinks you’re not interested . Newt’s never really listened to his brother’s advice, but now could be an opportune time to start. He only gives himself a moment of hesitation, settling his hand at the small of Ms. Goldstein’s back and tucking her only as close as necessary. He hopes she doesn’t notice how clammy his grip has become.

Now more than ever, he's aware of how intimate the waltz is, two people practically pressed against one another. The countless lessons he was forced to endure during his youth never left him feeling this jittery, but, then again, he didn't care for his dancing partners.

“The gossip around me will swell after this, I’m sure. A man who slumps through lake water one minute and waltzes across marble halls the next. The duality of it all will stupify the populus.”

She hums. “I've heard rumors.”

He takes them through a careful spin. “Really? What are they saying now?”

“Oh, the usual. That you're a spy sent to infiltrate Ilvermorny, come to seduce the Headmistress.” Her lips are twitching and Newt has the suspicion that she’s fighting off a smile. “There's more, but I'll spare you the details. What's all this I hear of puffskein juggling and afternoon tea with pukwudgies?”

“Only good things, I hope. William might take offense, which would mean a thorough lecture on my part—most likely about the lack of manners wizards such as myself have.”

“William? You mean the one that always hangs around the snakewood?”

“The very same. He was telling me about a hidebehind he encountered in his youth the other evening.”

“Sounds exciting,” she says and he thinks she actually means it. A pause, then, “What did he say about your little trip?”

“He said he should’ve expected me to be as witless as every other human.”

“That sounds like him.” She looks down at their feet. “Please tell me I don’t look as ridiculous as I feel? I haven’t actually danced since I was a student.”

“You’re a fine dancing partner,” he tells her honestly.

“You think so?”

“I do. You haven’t stepped on my shoes once.”

“The night’s still young. How are you doing, Pickett?” Tina asks lightly. “Keeping up with the steps alright?”

The small bowtruckle peeks out from his collar and cheeps.

“Now you’re in a good mood,” Newt mutters, earning him a small laugh from his partner.

“I see why you keep him around. He’s charming.” She leans in close to look at the creature, unflinching when a spindly limb brushes the tip of her nose in farewell before disappearing under heavy fabric. “Has he always been so attached?”

“Ever since he got over his cold,” Newt complains good-naturally. “Makes a fuss whenever I try and separate.”

She hums, asking genuine questions about bowtruckles, and Newt falls into a familiar role that he’s somewhat mastered with his students. He could talk of his creatures all day and bowtruckles are a favorite of his despite his attempt to remain unbiased. The conversation delves into behavioral studies and wizard interaction, putting too much emphasis on creature etiquette; he can’t seem to stop himself from blabbering on, so fearful of the uncomfortable silence that might rear its ugly head once he stops, cringing internally at his choice of topics. What the proper conversation when dancing is, he doesn’t have the slightest clue.

Ms. Goldstein interrupts him to ask how he can tell each one apart and he’s bewildered at the assumption that it’s a difficult task. Their body structures are as different and unique as a snowflake, just as a tigers have varying fur patterns and Iron Bellies’ scales differ in hues.

“Would you think all humans look the same?” he blurts out before he can stop himself.  

“Of course not,” she says. “How silly of me to think that.”

She’s not angry or annoyed, nor dissuaded by his talking, staring up at him with an amused expression. Everything about her in this moment is soft and open, pulling him in. Her dress glitters under the lights, sweeping over the floor with a whisper when they spin, and Newt thinks he’s starting to like this.

The mood is ruined when two nearby couple spins to be closer to Newt and Ms. Goldstein. “Nice night for a dance.” Delilah says.

“—among other things,” Marina finishes with a devilish waggle of her eyebrows on Newt’s other side.

“A little more space, you four,” Ms. Goldstein tells Delilah and her dancing partner without missing a beat.

Newt follows her lead, for once enjoying being the authority figure. “You wouldn’t want Mrs. Barrow to see how uncouth you’re acting, would you?”

The two make quick work of darting off, probably not liking their chances of remaining detention free. Mrs. Barrow has a reputation for weeding out the indecents and shows no mercy when enacting punishment if her warnings are not taken accordingly.

Soon after, the song ends.

For a moment Newt simply looks at Ms. Goldstein and she looks back. More dancers begin congregating on the floor, the band already beginning the first notes of the next song, one that Newt knows to be fast-paced swing, but he doesn’t quite know what to do himself.

Ms. Goldstein clears her throat. She steps away and Newt lets his hands fall limply to his sides. “Thank you for that.”

“It was my pleasure.” He stalls, wondering what to do next. “Would you like a drink?”

She says yes, smiling at him prettily, and Newt feels emboldened somehow. He thinks that it’s alright, normal even, and that he won’t botch this up (whatever it is).

A gaggle of girls intercept them, or rather, Ms. Goldstein. They gush and awe over her, asking what charm she used for her hair, telling her how pretty she is, and don’t you agree Professor? Newt agrees and lets them continue with the conversation without him, unconcerned with exams about poisons and deadly curses.

Ms. Goldstein’s sister joins them and she smiles at him like she knows something he doesn’t. She hands him a flute of butterbeer, winking. “Not bad, Mr. Scamander.” Before he can reply, she hooks her elbow with his and leads him away. “How about you and I head outside? Get to know each other.”

“I was about to get Ms. Goldstein a drink.”

“Don’t worry. She’s right behind.”

Newt wonders how she’s confident about that assumption. He looks behind them and sees that Ms. Goldstein was heading after them, just as her sister predicted, expression mildly frazzled when she sees who’s got a hold of Newt’s arm. The students must have dispersed.

Queenie tugs Newt closer, pulling his attention. Her face is close and Newt leans back, not liking this sort of contact one bit. “Are you enjoying yourself, sweetie?”

“I suppose so, yes.”

“Wonderful!” His answer makes her happier than Newt thinks it should. She drags him toward the outside where the air is considerably clearer. “Good thing you didn’t stay for another dance, or else you might’ve missed the show!”

“Show? There’s more entertainment?”

“Didn’t you tell him, Teenie?”

“It didn’t come up.” Ms. Goldstein is beside them now, following along like a loyal crup. For some reason, she looks like she wants to say something particular, but can’t. Newt thinks that she’s being teased somehow.

Queenie tsks at her sister, handing her the drink in her hand, before turning to Newt. “Oh, you’ll love this! It’ll be a real show!” They find what Queenie assures is the perfect spot, moving Newt so that he’s right where she wants him to be, directing her sister to stand beside him.

Many of the school has done the same, pouring out onto the outside balcony for a surprise Newt knows nothing about. There’s the chatter of the crowd, the temperature rising with the congregation of bodies making Newt feel a tad warm when he has to step closer to Ms. Goldstein, then a sudden hush.

Silence overtakes them all, humming with thinly veiled excitement. He can vaguely hear crickets and the like singing their song and opens his mouth to ask what they’re waiting for when, suddenly, the world erupts in sound. An explosion of light and the sky comes alive.

Fireworks.

They burst in the night, the sizzling light fading away just as another streak dashes across the sky, raining starks trailing after. The colors are bright and many, pulsing blue in one fraction of the night and yellow over the other; a rainbow of magic, sparkling figures running across the distant horizon and arching over clouds. It’s quite extravagant, extra in every way, particularly with the fact that Newt hasn’t seen many shows such as this. He looks at Ms. Goldstein, eyebrows raised.

“A last minute show Madame Peregrine put together,” she explains, accompanied by the brush of fingertips along is elbow. Faint with the heavy fabric of his coat, but there nonetheless. “Mrs. Barrow did some extensive concealing charms, so we don’t have to worry about the noise tonight.”

Newt’s impressed. Even if he doesn’t particularly like the woman, even he had to admit her spellwork is sound if they’re witnessing such an extravagant performance.

“Better than having someone decide to grace us with an illegal show,” Ephedra says, popping into existence next to Newt. She smiles at them, looking slightly flushed and completely pleased. “Hello you three.”

“Where’s Hector?” Ms. Goldstein asks.

“I left him by the band. Someone transfigured his hat to an eagle and it’s quite a show.”

Newt has a clue on who the culprit is. “How long will that last?”

“Twenty minutes—shorter if he can figure out the counterspell.”

Queenie laughs, loud and delighted, barely heard over the fireworks. The reaction is far more boisterous than necessary. “You have to tell me all about it later.”

“I always do.”

Newt meets Ms. Goldstein eyes. Her expression is almost sour and he thinks that that’s not all that passes between the two. “Excuse us,” she says, grabbing hold of her sister and pushing her so that they’re stumbling through the wall of students.

Ephedra leans in close while they’re gone. “You’re welcome.”

“For what?”

“For giving you some quality time with Tina.”

“And why would you do that?”

“Don’t play ignorant with me, Newt. You two have gotten close trying to hide what happened in your cottage—and I can understand why. It would cause a lot of chatter for the students.” She grins. “I hope you gave Tina your shirt as a reminder of your night together.”

“You—” Newt hastily glances at Ms. Goldstein, half flustered and half worried, but she’s preoccupied with Queenie, the back of their heads easily seen above the students. He does catch the upturned faces of students, leaning in closer so as to not be overheard.“You know very well we didn’t spend the night together!”

“You’re right. I do know that.” Ephedra pats Newt’s arm. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what really happened.”

“How?”

“The totems love to gossip.”

Newt huffs. He makes note to never pass by them again if he can help it. “Please don’t tell anyone about it. Ms. Goldstein won’t be very happy.”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Thank you.”

“Hector on the other hand…” At his stricken expression, she laughs. “I'm sure he’ll keep quiet—for a price.”

He expected this sort of dealings to happen in one of his family’s social circles, not with him and a temporary teaching position. Still, he acquiesce, “Name your price.”

“He hasn’t figured out what to get me for Christmas, so I suggest you use that in your favor.”

Newt’s sure he has something in his case that might interest her, pawprints and the like. He could keep this under wraps by gambling a price with Hector, ensure both his and Ephedra’s silence on the matter. He wants to feel angry, but can’t find it in himself to be with one of the few people he calls ‘friend.’ “Wicked and controlling. A deadly combination for a witch, if I do say so.”

“Controlling has such a negative feeling to it. I prefer ‘managing the situation.’”

Newt snorts. “And a kneazle is still a regular house cat.”

Someone lays a hand on Newt’s shoulder and he stumbles forward. “I hope you two aren’t conspiring against me.” Hector grins at them, looking like an absolute mess, his coat torn and covered with feathers. His hat is the only thing about him that remains intact.

Ephedra hums. “I thought it would take you longer.”

“The spell was mighty difficult, but I figured it out,” he says good naturally. “I think I might just change him back. A fiery fellow, he was.” He turns to Newt. “So how’s your romancing Tina, Newt? Have you swept her off her feet yet?”

Newt frowns. “Where did you hear that?”

“There’s nothing to tell. Saw it for myself. A dance like that is a contract with the fairer sex. ” Hector taps the side of his nose. “I could give you pointers, if you’d like.”

“I’d rather you didn’t.” Newt would very much like them to end this kind of talk. The longer it went on the more chance it might spread further and that is something he doesn’t want or need at the moment. The only relief is that Ms. Goldstein is too busy to hear what’s being said and the pop of the fireworks drown out the conversation from the people around them.

“Oh, I think you do. In fact, I think you need some help.”

“Maybe more time alone?” Ephedra offers.

Nothing will become of their childish plan, but still, Newt was never one to willingly allow himself be someone else’s pawn. “I don’t—”

Hector puts his arm around Ephedra, ignoring Newt. “Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

Strangely enough, that gets Ms. Goldstein’s attention. She and Queenie are back and she leans past Newt to speak to Ephedra. “Where are you two going? You just got here!”

“Nothing we haven’t seen before.” Hector tips his hat. “If you’ll excuse us.”

They disappear into the crowd quicker than they appeared and Newt doesn’t know whether to be impressed or annoyed. He thinks that’s that, but then Queenie suddenly announces her desire to refill their drinks. She presses a quick kiss to her sister’s cheek. “I’ll be right back! Enjoy the show, you two!”

That catches Newt off guard and he doesn’t react fast enough as she snatches his unfinished drink. She disappears before either he or Ms. Goldstein can stop her, a certain hop to her step.

Newt fiddles with his cuffs.

If this was anyone else, he would have left already, retired for the night and not subject himself to this kind of meddling. His love life was not something to be watched and prodded for the amusement of others; he didn’t partake in the social circles his family was so fond of for this exact reason, the rules and games of the elite going against everything he stood for.

Newt shifts from one foot to another, attempts to conjure an adequate reason to leave, only Ms. Goldstein has already walked away toward a bench not far off. He remains where he is, glancing about and wondering if he should take it as an invitation to follow or to leave.

Ms. Goldstein waves him over and says something he can’t hear over the fireworks. She waves again and it’s then that Newt gets the message and walks over to her, sitting when she pats the seat next to her, leaving a reasonable space between them.

The fireworks burn with impatience, fighting to be seen even as they sizzle away. Listening to the booming and crackling of their woes, Newt wonders how he got to this point, fretting over whether he’d like to be noticed and whether it’s worth it. He glances at the woman next to him, observing the way the lights plays on her arm, on the trail of her dress. Something so simple and unimportant shouldn’t affect him so, but he’s finding that it does and that worries him.

Ms. Goldstein catches his expression, leaning into him so she can be heard. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” he says quickly, forcing his focus on the show in the sky. He’s not worrying, he’s not . Hector and Ephedra are just stirring up chaos, he tells himself, there’s nothing to be seen. This is what he gets for letting himself get caught up in their shenanigans.

“You’re lying.”

“How do you know?”

Ms. Goldstein tilts her head and her eyes bore into him. “Call it a gut feeling.”

Newt clear his throat. “I’m just worried over what they’ll do now that they’ve made peace with each other.”

“Ephedra found out you helped Hector and now you’re part of some joke of hers?” She laughs. “You’re the one who joined their fun. I warned you.”

“You did no such thing.”

“I didn’t, but you should have known.” She turns forward and watches the fireworks. “I used to be the newest faculty until you came along. Now that title is all yours, Mr. Scamander.”

“I assume you’re going to poke fun at me as well.”

“I won’t,” she says to the sky and Newt believes her. “Aren’t they beautiful?” she asks, changing the subject. “I’ve only ever seen fireworks this close a few times. They’re not particularly safe in the city.”

“I once saw an amazing show in China.”

“And how was it compared to tonight?”

“They have perfected it far better in the East than the West,” he tells her honestly. Now he’s the one leaning closer, speaking directly into her ear. “They take pride in their work and it shows considerably.”

“You really are set on one upping America, aren’t you?”

“I’m not.” He doesn’t mean to. At least, not on purpose.

“Really? There must be something America has done right by your British standards.”

Newt huffs, but accepts the challenge nonetheless, leaning back and thinking on all that he’s learned about the country. “You’ve chosen fitting creatures to represent your houses.” As much as he believes that Hogwarts is the superior school, compared to the powerful creatures Americans chose, a badger is a weak counterpart (but he doesn’t love it or his house any less). “If only your laws allowed—”

Ms. Goldstein groans. “You almost had it!”

“I’m quite serious. Your current laws are completely outdated when concerning beasts higher than class three,” he says. “For example: the Sasquatch Rebellion could’ve been avoided if only your government didn’t resort to unnecessary force.”

“Oh, so you’ve become an expert on American policy.”

“No, but I’ll be the first to admit that Ilvermorny’s library isn’t completely outdated.”

Ms. Goldstein snorts, shifting so that her arms press more firmly to her sides. “Of course.”

Newt shrugs off his coat and hands it to her.

“Thank you.” She takes the coat and hangs it over her slim shoulders without second thought, gripping the lapels to keep it in place. It’s a nice look, domestically charming. “Think of it this way, Mr. Scamander. America is much bigger than England. That means more people, and more people means more problems. Even the wilderness isn’t completely explored!”

“Yes, well, they have voices that are more easily heard.” Newt has to admit that this is one of the more polite discussions he’s had with someone. “Beasts can rarely speak for themselves, can they? How will you take pride in your house when there’s no more thunderbirds or horned serpents? Pukwudgies are stubborn creatures and I doubt they’ll let themselves be treated poorly, but not every creature has that capability.”

His words seem to reach her just as the show is slowly reaching its end. They trail off in silence while the fireworks burst and crackle above them, making the sky bleed reds and blues and greens. Newt begins to smell the smoke.

“Have you eaten anything?”

He had just been thinking of something to say, to prolong the night. Newt blinks, uncomprehending and she has to repeat it a second time for him to hear. “No, I haven’t.”

Ms. Goldstein gets to her feet and the folds of her dress slide down to her feet where the constellations collide in the wrinkles of fabric. “Come on. Queenie can get us into the kitchens if we ask.”

Newt taps his fingers on the stone, wondering what he should choose. He’s certainly like to, but…

Ms. Goldstein tilts her head. “Or would you rather stay and let Ephedra and Hector continue to tease you?”

He grimaces, not caring to go through that sort of ordeal again and preferring to keep most of his pride intact. It’s an easy choice after that. It’s why he accepts her hand and tries not worry over the eyes that follow them through the hall.


 They enter the kitchen through a small doorway hidden behind a Navajo rug hanging beside the bust of well-moustached man who goes on about clabber, pot pies, and different types of stews. The kitchen itself is a large and noisy room, the temperature knocked up by the trio of stone fireplaces at the far wall cooking an assortment of entres. Newt ducks under the pots and pans that hang from the low racks, row after row of different sizes and make, and tries not to step on Ms. Goldstein’s trail as they follow Queenie further in.

The younger sister welcomes them with open arms and a coquettish smile, quickly introducing them to the gaggle of house elves that mill about. There’s Blinky and Amethyst, twins with matching green eyes, and Farby who glares at them suspiciously as he slaves over a bubbling cauldron, the only ones that stick to Newt’s overstimulated mind. There are simply too many to remember, each one bustling about their own task—he’s not sure how Queenie does it.

“Now you two need food!”

Within moments of the exclamation, they’re ushered to in seats at a table so small that his and Ms. Goldstein’s knees brush. She sits beside him rather haphazardly and there’s something intriguing about seeing the elegance of her dress foiling against the domestic backdrop of the kitchen; it bunches at her middle, draping over the side of the seat and brushing against his pant leg every time she dodges a levitating plate.

“What’ll it be, miss?”

“Shakshuka for me and…” Ms. Goldstein hums, eyeing Newt momentarily. “Do you think you could make something especially British for Mr. Scamander here.”

Newt can’t help but laugh. “And what constitutes as ‘especially British?’”

The elves chatter amongst themselves, excited if not somewhat frantic, and in the end the decision is merely to made an assortment of dishes. “Just you wait, sir! We’ll whip you up something spectacular!”

“Oh no, you don’t have to—” Working with Elf Relocation did teach him a thing or two about the frail creature’s mindset, how they never could be dissuaded once they set on a path of perfect servitude. He always had to remind himself to be mindful of their wants and he tries to keep his opinions to himself at this time. He tries to dissuade them with kindness. “I’m sure whatever you make will be great.”

That backfires considerably and Newt is partially dismayed by the sheer number of plates that are soon set before him in a neverending concession. Unable to choose one dish, the elves have forgone to make multiple, even a few dishes from Whales, some he’s only had while visiting his second cousins, making an appearance. Queenie simply sets out a single steaming plate for Ms. Goldstein.

Unwilling to offend their courtesy, Newt makes an attempt to try a piece of each, bland or not, all the while keeping up social etiquette. Half of them leave the moment he begins to tell tales of relocating the few elves he’s come across that needed immediate removal, a quarter of the remaining gasping at his talk about liberation. He tells them of Clarice and Fanny, the house elves currently working at his childhood home, of the conditions of their kitchen, what meals they usually prepared, and the elves go on like it’s ripe gossip. An especially petite elf brings him a cup of tea and for once it actually goes down quite well.

“It’s very good,” he tells her.

She squeaks, nearly shaking and blinking back tears. “You’re too kind, sir!” Without warning, she throws herself at him, grasping at the sleeve of his dress shirt with tiny fists. “Poppy has been working to make it just right!”

“I think you’re on your way to fine cup of tea.” Ms. Goldstein smiles at him from over the house elf’s head. Newt pets Poppy’s back gingerly and, even in a heated room filled with sharp sounds, overeager cooks, and a house elf with no intention of letting go of him anytime soon, he finds finds that he’s completely comfortable.

Not a bad night after all.

Chapter Text

The day after the formal, the student populace drops exponentially, many of the other faculty leaving a few days after (Mrs. Barrow is include in that group and it’s like the school breathes a sigh of relief at the absence of her heels and vigilance). The decorations remain up, if a bit more modest, and Newt enjoys a quieter, more relaxed time.

Some of his students wish him a Merry Christmas before they head off to the train and back to their families. Marina and Delilah stop by to give him pastries that smell more heavenly than even his mother’s baking and Estelle does the unexpected and actually turns in a paper that was due two weeks prior. Thomas Calderon turns up at his doorstep half an hour before the last call for departing students, out of breath and his younger brother in tow, looking for his potions book.

Despite Thomas being his student and not Robert, Newt has become quite close with the younger Calderon, who somehow manages to get himself into detention three out of the five days of the academic week without fail. It feels like he’s there for their usual evening session of probational gardening, only more bundled up and a caged short-eared owl in his arms.

As they wait for Thomas in the doorway, he takes a moment to appraise the twelve-year old he’s gotten to know through circumstance. Newt doesn’t think he’s a bad seed, maybe a little unsure at what he wants, but bright nonetheless; it reminds him of his youth, for his own parents had always complained about the number of letters sent home for the numerous problems he managed to get into while Theseus had worn the badge of poster child proudly. And it’s that reason, that connection, why he willingly makes the effort of conversation.

“I have something you might find interesting, Mr. Calderon.” He rummages around his pockets until Pickett squeaks, struggling to push the vile out of his vest pocket. Newt hands it over.

Robert examines the lime-colored liquid while his owl eyes Pickett. “What is it?”

“Glue from an Incensed Transenna plant. It’s quite viscous and acts similar to acromantula silk, so I recommend handling it very carefully.”

“What’s it for?”

“Transenna plants appear similarly to Venus flytraps, but hunt in a different manner. It will spit this substance out and ensnare small rodents and birds before dragging them into its sack for digestion.”

“I’ve never read about them.”

“They’re only found in Latvia wetlands. The locals of the region use these to fight off fungal infections.” Newt rubs the back of his head, embarrassed. “I nearly had my boot digested by one.”

There’s a laugh from from inside the classroom. “You never told that story in class.”

“That’s because it’s increasingly difficult to keep a level of respect with you lot. I can’t tell you every time one of my expeditions has gone pear-shaped.” Newt takes a peak in the room and see that it’s slightly more chaotic than how his last class left it. “Have you found it yet, Mr. Calderon? I’ll have to lock up soon.”

“I think so...” Thomas searches around a desk that is most certainly not his. He makes a sound of success. “I knew you took it, Perfid, you little—”

Newt clears his throat and pretends not to notice the choice of words coming from his student. When Thomas steps outside with with a cheeky grin and a worn text under his arm, Newt diligently locks the door (this break is as much for him as it is for the students and he won’t be stepping in the classroom for some time).

“You know...” Newt offers a grasshopper to the short-ear owl and watches it wolf it down, nipping gently at his fingers when its done. He mulls over his next words carefully before finally saying, “I think Professor Erigenia has been talking about acquiring a helping hand. Her mandrakes will be fully grown after the break and they’re a handful. Would either of you, ah, be interested?”

Thomas makes a face, but Robert, surprising them all, pipes up instantly. “Yes!” He schools his expression quickly, flushing with embarrassment at his own eagerness. “I mean, if she’s fine with having a first-year to help.”

“She’ll be delighted. I’ll put in a word tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

“See? I told you it’d be worth it to come along!” Thomas throws an arm around Robert’s shoulders, shaking him, and the owl screeches and flaps wildly until he stops. Newt’s reminded of Theseus and his fondness for hugs. “He’s the best professor we got! Now c’mon or the train will leave without us!” Thomas practically flies up the steps that stack up the hill. “Bye, professor!”

Robert offers the vial of Transenna sap back, but Newt shakes his head, shoving his hand in his pocket. “I have multiple samples,” he explains. “Maybe that will entice you to read up on the Transenna.”

“Thanks.” Robert remains at the doorway a little longer, clutching the little vial before pocketing it. Finally he says, “Merry Christmas, professor.”

“Merry Christmas.” Newt watches Robert go, amused and somewhat astounded at how his life has turned out. He was someone’s favorite professor. If his brother could see him now, he’d have a good laugh at the irony of it all.


With the dwindling of students, the pukwudgies seem to come out more, taking back a space that’s probably been theirs far longer than any wizard’s. Newt spots them marching across hallways and around corners, general sightings increasing from maybe once a day at best to seeing a group of them strolling past him through a corridor on his way to breakfast; more than once he spots one with handmade trinkets hanging in their hair, that or they’re hastily shoving something into their pockets whenever he passes by. Gifts left by the students, he assumes.

He decides that he might do the same.

“What’s this?” Williams asks the moment he’s arrived for their usual visit.

The kettle whistles. Newt’s running low on his leaves from his last trip to India, but his mother could rest easy knowing her son treated his guests with tea properly stewed. He busies himself with summoning the cups from the cupboard, glancing back at his guest. “Ah, that, yes. It’s for you.”

William hurrumps, peering at the box on the tabletop suspiciously. “Well, what is it?”

Newt wipes his hands and takes his seat. “I don’t usually, um, have friends to celebrate the holidays with, but you’ve been a great help since I’ve been here and I thought that maybe you’d appreciate a gift.”

“I don’t want it.” Williams says abruptly. “My kind don’t celebrate your holidays. The rest of them can be soft fools all they want, but I won’t be turned by gifts. Never have, never will.”

Newt’s mood drops. “Have I offended you?”

William grimaces, his expression more extreme than Newt’s ever seen it, and he’s unable to tell if he’s happy or not. Some garbled words and the simple paper wrapping is vanished. William picks up the gift with gnarled fingers, silent, observing it with a keen eye. It’s one of Newt’s ties—a favorite actually, white with blue spots—completely intact despite having lived through his year long expedition. Then he places it back ever so carefully, closes the lid, and focuses his beady gaze on Newt. “Thought your hand-me-downs would suffice, Englishman?”

Newt flushes. The kettle floats over to pour the tea, its spout angled from an incident with a lively porlock. “I was always taught it’s the thought that counts, but now I wonder if Mum was pulling my wand.”

“I won’t be giving you something in return if that’s what you’re expecting.”

Newt shakes his head, focusing on his reflecting in the small teacup. He drags his nail against the chipped porcelain while he picks each word very carefully. “No, no, but I hope you’ll accept it. I don’t rightly know what pukwudgies find valuable and I didn’t think you’d have use for pawprints and the like. ”

“No, we don’t.” William reaches into his hair and produced a small leather bag from its untamed volume. Inside, are an assortment of beads, red and blue and white. He pours a small amount into Newt’s palm. “Business is a human affair, but my kind uses currency on occasion. Not the same as you humans—it is more of a social standing in our kind.”

Newt plucks one from the pile; it’s half the size of his pinky and smooth to the touch. “What are they called?”

“Names are valuable. Sometimes it’s best to leave things obscure else they become too powerful.”

The vague answer doesn’t bother Newt as it once would have, for it’s the sort of thing he’s come to expect from William. “Fascinating.” He spots one in particular, golden in color. “This one is different than the rest. Does it mean something?”

Williams snorts. “Only humans would value something solely on its appearance.” He eyes Newt carefully, then snaps his fingers. The piece flies from Newt’s hand and into his vest pocket. Pickett squeals in surprise. “Keep it if it appeals to you. I have no use for it.”

Newt’s not sure whether to thank William for the gift, but decides it’s in his best interest not to say a word about it. For a creature who disregarded human holliday's, William was certainly more willing to reciprocate than he’d initially presented himself to be.

Pukwudgies were chosen to be one of the mascots of Ilvermorny for a reason, Newt knows, and as far as his understanding goes, they were similar to Hufflepuffs. From stories, they were kind and caring, creatures with big hearts, and while it’s difficult to envision it, Newt thinks it is fitting. William is the same, a kind soul even with his less-than-kind demeanor.

They spend the most of an hour on the discussion of pukwudgie economics and when Newt’s become somewhat acquainted with the workings of it, he explains British wizard currency, then that of other cultures he’s come across while traveling. He gets a smidge too excited at the aspect of comparing the economics of each, what naturally occurring stand-ins might be used for currency, and how it’s affected social standing of those using it.

“Phoenix feathers are incredibly rare in Mali,” he explains to William, his tea gone cold, “but in Zimbabwe they’re practically worthless in comparison to erumpet hair.”

The pukwudgie looks mildly interested. “And why is that, Englishman?”

“These erumpets are noticeably larger and more aggressive—not to mention that a single hair from that subspecies can fuel a fire for days. Value is dependent on necessity.”

“I’d think a thunderbird feather would be more valuable than a phoenix feather here then.”

“Really? Do pukwudgies trade with those as well?”

“My kind know to keep to ourselves, but I’ve seen many of your kind risk their lives for such a thing.” A boney finger is jabbed at Newt. “I suppose you’re like that as well.”

When Newt smiles sheepishly, William rises to his feet, which isn’t that tall to begin with and that’s including the chair he stands on, only just coming to Newt’s mid torso. He doesn’t appear angry, merely exasperated. “You’d drown yourself for a tooth of a kelpie, I bet!”

Grinning, Newt thinks of the kelpie in his case. “I’ve swam with one on occasion.”

The little creature hops down to the floor and hobbles to the door. “And here I’d thought you had some sense for a wizard!”

“So you’ve said.” Knowing that their time together is coming to a close, Newt gathers the dishes. “Same time Friday?”

“We’ll see.”

William disappears when his back is turned and Newt isn’t offended by the lack of a proper goodbye. He goes to pick up the box and happily finds that it’s empty.


The next morning Newt stands in the middle of a snow-covered clearing, head angled heavenward. The landscape is an fresh canvas, unblemished with the paint of the world, and it soothes his nervousness only just. He checks his watch periodically, frowning, then squints back up at the grey sky for a hint of familiarity. In the half an hour he’s been waiting, a crick has formed in his neck, but he persists.

His patience is rewarded when, in the curl of the clouds high above, he spots a speck darker than the silver that blends into the never ending white that sweeps across the sky. Following after are more bodies that fly in a tight formation. Newt counts six of them.

Exactly like his mother taught him, he whistles high and loud. The figures take a sharp turn, flying straight for him at startling speeds, and they grow in size until Newt can distinguish their specific shapes, spot the faint patterns that are on their flanks. Hippogriffs in flight was always one of his favorite sights and even still, after seeing so much of the world and the views it offers, he can feel excitement bubble at the sight of them.

He clutches his coat tighter at the stinging wind from their wings, shaking the clumps of snow off his person from where it’s settled, cringing when some of it seeps into his hair and trickles down his neck. He should’ve worn a hat.

They screech and snap at each other, but don’t do anything more than that, Newt’s mother’s training too thorough to let an ounce of squabbling escalate any further. No slips while landings, another good sign.

He steps forward and bows to the leading female as is custom, grinning when she returns it just as quickly. Even with the muted light reflecting off the snow, her steel flight feathers blend beautifully with the foreground.

“You did a fine job, Stormswift,” he says. “Mum will be pleased.” There’s a tug on his coat and Newt skitters away from the beaks searching for their reward that he doesn’t yet have. Featherbreeze and Starfall are especially needy. “Yes, yes, you’ll all be fed, don’t worry.”

There’s a pointed cough and Newt looks around wonderingly before finding the source by his knees. “Hello, Clementine.” He should have guessed his little escapade from the castle would’ve caught someone’s attention despite his precautions. Nothing went past pukwudgies, not even him.

The pukwudgie before him crosses her arms, her expression even more disappointed than usual. She isn’t afraid of the small herd gathered around and Newt thinks that if she were to be almost eaten he’d be run out of the school (and the mountain range for good measure). “The Headmistress would like a word with you, Mr. English.”

“Well, as you can see, I’m quite busy. I promise I’ll see her once I’m able.”

“The Headmistress won’t wait.” Clementine motions behind her and Newt looks and sees a familiar figure walking towards him, furred boots making delicate prints in the snow bank. He wonders how he didn’t notice.

“Good morning, Mr. Scamander. I see you’re getting an early start of the day.” Headmistress Peregrine looks at ease, bundled up for the chilling morning. Her shall is beautiful weaved, geometric patterns mesmerizing and contrasting pleasantly with the red muff that keeps her hands warm. “Care to explain how Ilvermorny acquired a small flock of hippogriffs?”

Newt turns toward Agnes, the smallest of the group, and smooths the feathers at her neck so he doesn’t have to meet the Headmistress’s eye. It’s easier to lie that way. “My mother breeds hippogriffs as a profession.”

“That’s not an answer, Mr. Scamander.”

There's a pull on his sleeve. He ignores it in favor of immersing as much innocent charm he can into his voice. “I merely informed her that a few of the students had shown some interest in hippogriffs during class. Technically speaking, never once did I ask for her to send them over, not that this is surprising—Mum always did have a flare for the dramatics and well, hippogriffs are adventurous creatures. Who’s to even say they didn’t fancy a stroll to the Americas?”

Mr. Scamander.” The Headmistress motions his arm. “Your coat.”

Milton has pulled the edge of his sleeve hard enough that the threading at his shoulder has ripped, all without his knowing. A chill starts climb in the opening and along the fabric of his shirt and Newt plays a short game of tug of war before finally getting himself free. The Headmistress fixes it up without a word or a wand.

“Next time, it'd be in everyone's best interest if you informed me that a group of hippogriffs are crossing the Atlantic unsupervised and illegally.”

Newt nods. “Right.”

“Not filing a permit request with MACUSA can lead to harsh repercussions for the school.”

“I sent a request weeks ago.”

“Permits for foreign faculty are handled a little differently. Requests and validations would have to go through a superior and I don’t think you discussed this with Mr. Graves—certainly not with me.”

Newt grimaces at being caught. Strike two. “Ah… yes, I see.”

“I’ll let this slide, Mr. Scamander, because you have the your students’ best interest at heart. Even I can see that they need influence of an unblinkered person such as yourself, but this is the final warning. While I agree that some rules can be broken from time to time, there must be some order. I can’t have you jeopardizing this school any more than you have.”

The desperation of obedience and order confuses Newt at most times, life filled with twists and turns that no one, not even a seer, could expect; to demand that each person sit by and wait for permission while the unexpected passed by is absurd, stifling to those spontaneous and unscripted. The world is naturally chaotic and would continue to be so no matter how many humans tried to tame it. “I understand,” he says because he’s been in this situation enough times to know that’s what he’s supposed to say.

“I was coming to meet you to inform you that you’re no longer required to have your classes supervised.” Headmistress tilts her head, a stern and somewhat amused expression adorning her face, and Newt has the decency to be embarrassed. “Despite no longer being on probation, I suggest you keep to the rules from now on.”

Newt’s keeps his focus on the muddied snow by his feet. Best not to discriminate himself even further. “Right, yes. Won’t happen again.”

The headmistress doesn’t respond, silent for so long that Newt begins to get uncomfortable, and he manages a short glance to her face. That seems to be what she wanted, recognition. She inclines her head regally. Stormswift bows immediately.

“Good day, Mr. Scamander.”

She leaves and, when she’s far enough, Newt looks down at Clementine. “You wouldn’t mind helping me getting them to the stables, would you?” He has half a dozen of hippogriffs to settle in.

She snorts. “Don’t push your luck,” she says and disappears.


The stables are clean when he enters, each stall sweeped, the troughs filled with water, and dead weasels and smaller rodents hang on the far wall. Once all the hippogriffs are settled in, Newt discovers a steaming mug that turns out to be tea (it’s more than decent).

“Push my luck.” He laughs.  


Ephedra catches him unaware later that day and hands him a paper-wrapped box.

Inside is a small, strange contraption. It looks like the compass he owns, only more complicated, with three separate pieces that each have their own needle. They click and twist when he fiddles with it. He marvels that it fits perfectly in his hand, as light as a small ink bottle.

“What is it?” he asks, fascinated. He’s never seen anything like it on his travels. One of the needles spins sporadically while the other two remain still and Newt feels a pull in his hand like the little device is trying to take him somewhere.

“It's a januscope.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“You wouldn’t. It was invented by a Canadian witch exploring the arctic circle. It’s one of the best kept secrets in North America.” Ephedra taps it and the needles stall for a moment before moving again. “It leads its holder down the path of desire and necessity. Whatever you want, at your fingertips. Whatever you need, a step away. Imagine the kind of things the rest of Europe might do if they were equipped with one of these.”

Newt can’t say anything against the jab at his homeland. The British Empire’s history is a rocky one and continued to be so. “And you’re giving it to me?”

“I had Ariadne help me find one. In case you get lost again—or need to get away from some beast.” She grins. “I saw you the other day on the spiral staircase.”

Newt flushes. He’d nearly took a tumble two floors above ground level. “Thank you. How do I use it?”

“You’ll have to figure that out yourself.”

“Doesn’t that go against the purpose of the gift?”

“Yes, but you did help Hector with his prank.”

He doesn’t bother to lie. “He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“I know he did,” she says. “By the end of the year, he’ll be begging you to come visit his ranch in the summer to see his sister’s Granians.”

Newt grins. “He’s already invited me, actually.”

Ephedra shakes her head, laughing. “That man is quick.” She pats his arm playfully before leaving. “Maybe with this you’ll actually get to the Headmistress’s meetings on time.”

“When is the next?”

“Oh, in about…” She mulls over the simple answer longer than necessary and Newt’s suddenly suspicious. He begins to follow her, noting that she’s quickened her pace. “Five minutes.”

The hanging rug flares out and once it settles, Ephedra is gone. Newt rushes to spot where she was a moment ago, but the rug slaps him away. Not a secret entrance and Apparition wasn’t permitted on school ground, so that left native magical means he’s not privy to, one that he might never learn. Fascinating.

He checks the januscope. Two of the needles point in opposite directions, which means… he doesn’t know.

“You had better run, colonizer,” a painting says, pointing his spear in what Newt hopes is the right direction.

Newt rushes down the hallway.


Hector whistles long and low when he enters the stables. “Well, I’ll be…”

A short gust of wind precedes him and Agnes makes a fuss at the inconvenience until the door is shut. He struts to the stall Newt’s currently occupying with the ease of a man who’s been beside creatures his whole life. Before coming any closer, he stops and takes off his hat in show of respect, holding it to his chest. He bows low and, when he’s given the same courtesy, comes closer to pet the polished beak in front of him. “Aren’t you a beaut.”

Newt smiles, finishing his brushing. “She is, isn’t she.”

His mother often breeded hippogriffs specifically for appearance, mainly for high end wizards who wanted beasts with a flashy coat and near-ridiculous plumage, but a number of her flock did get sent for private races, though never as sturdy. Stormswift was from a long line of flyers and one of his favorites; Newt was always taking her out flying whenever he visited.

“A bit cold for them up here, ain’t it?”

“They’re the sturdiest of my mother’s herd,” Newt reassures, patting the flank in front of him affectionately. “Britain doesn’t have the warmest climate either.”

“Too right.” After giving the mare enough affection, Hector sidles up beside Newt. “Heard you got into a bit of trouble with them.”

Newt grimaces. If Hector knew then the lingering faculty did as well. Ephedra would most likely appraise his plan, but only after teasing him for all he’s worth. “I hit a snag with the Headmistress, yes.”

“Buck up, Newt.” Hector laughs at him. “You’ll definitely be remembered when you leave. Ol’ Hunting might even put up a plaque.”

Newt huffs, but doesn’t bother taking the bait. He hands Hector the bottle of beak polish before pointing him to the next hippogriff that needs tending. “I’m more worried about the head auror, Percival Graves, than I am of the Headmistress. You wouldn’t know anything about him, would you?”

Milton takes to Hector before the man even begins to bow his head and practically cooes when he gets his beak shined. The westerner looks pensive. “I rightly don’t know what I think about the man. Haven’t spoken to him much, but I’d call a basilisk a lizard before I was convinced he ain’t hiding something.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Call it a gut feeling. I suggest you be careful with him around. Yanks are more particular about the way they run things. Serious folk, they are.” He leans away when Milton begins to nip at his hat. “Once you cross the Mississippi, the laws aren’t so much a problem. You’d fit real nice there.”

Newt fills up the water troughs, magicks the brooms to take care of the spare hay, then rummages among his tool chest until he has the pick he wants. He begins cleaning out Stormswift’s back hooves. “I’ll make sure to plan another trip once my book is published.”

“You’re welcome to the family ranch anytime. Send an owl and my dear sis will set you up nice and dandy.”

Newt moves to the front talons, examining for flaking skin or anything worth worrying over. Never once did he think he’d be invited anywhere by anyone besides by Theseus or his parents. “Did Ephedra like your gift?”

“She did! Even gave me a kiss on the lips for it. And speaking of kisses…” Newt gets to his feet at the right moment to see a small box tossed his way. “This might even help you snatch a date.”

“That is the last thing on my mind.” Newt stuffs the little box in one of his pockets. If he knew Hector as well as he did then it was best to open it where he could take care of any surprise without anyone seeing. “Aren’t you supposed to be leaving today?”

“In a hurry to get rid of me, are you?” Hector reaches over the low wall divding the stalls and claps his hands on Newt’s shoulder, staining his shirt with polish; a little rough, but Newt’s learned to accept the excessive pat on the backs and hugs and everything else that comes hand in hand with the westerner.

“Would you be offended if I said yes?”

Rather than get angry, Hector lets out a bark of laughter. “That’s why I like you, Newt. You always say what you mean.”

“You’d be the first.”

“Well you’ve been dealing with folks who can’t handle bland truth.” Milton becomes increasingly persistent, biting on Hector’s robes. “Oh I like you,” Hector tells the rowdy hippogriff before eyeing Newt with a wicked expression. “Mind if I take him out for a quick fly around the mountain before I go?”

“I’d have to discuss it with the Headmistress first.”

Hector laughs like he’s told a good joke. Newt grins back at him and rushes to the tack wall, grabbing two simple headcollars, riding gloves, and a few dead weasels. With the two of them they manage to harness two of the hippogriffs, Stormswift and Milton, and lead them out in record time.

The flight across the Pacific didn’t pose too much of a strain on any of the herd and after a good night's rest and warm place to stay, they all appear as healthy as usual. Milton canters out and while Stormswift keeps to Newt’s pace, she flaps her dappled wings in preparation, both energetic at the prospect of exercise. Newt tosses her a treat and she gobbles it down in one quick sweep. Milton squawks until he gets his as well, the jealous type he is.

Hector grins when Milton doesn’t resist as he hoists himself onto his back. “Ain’t no different than riding Granians back home.” He points to the north and Newt can see a faint speck of red in the midsts of the snowy mountainside. “How about twice through the mountain pass—the finish line will be that flag down yonder. Winner gets bragging rights.”

“Won’t we bee seen by the town?”

Hector waves off any possible concern. “Not if you keep real low. Just follow my lead—won’t be too hard for you since you’ll be seeing the back of me for most of this race.”

“I grew up riding hippogriffs, you know,” Newt says, mounting easily. He’s ridden his fair share of creatures, some more dangerous than hippogriffs. “I think I spent a third of my life in the skies.”

“Ah well, you haven’t raced against a vaquero . I’ve never lost—” Hector digs his heels into Milton’s side and the beast screeches, lunging forward, kicking up chunks of snow and, with three powerful flaps, they’re dozens of meters above the ground. Hector whoops in delight.

Newt keeps his seat and calms his stead. “Cheat!” he yells, but Hector’s already a good ways ahead of him to hear him. Stormswift paws the ground and, despite the disadvantage, Newt grins. He spurs her on after.

She was the fastest, after all.


If possible, Queenie becomes more welcoming toward him.

Newt sees her daily, in the hallways, greeting him at Great Hall, waiting by his cottage when he comes back from a trek through the forest. He clears out the snow off the path and she's there offering to help. Even in the sanctuary of his temporary home isn’t safe, as the youngest Goldstein sister has no qualms about stopping by for a visit at any time of the day, knocking ever so nicely and waiting the right amount for him to answer the door. The number of students dwindle as the days progress, but she persists.

Through these constant interactions, Newt realizes how different Ms. Goldstein and her sister are. He and Theseus have their differences, running in different social circles (his brother had friends and he didn't have any), invested in different passions and whatnot, but the Goldstein sisters are complete opposites. Where Ms. Goldstein is strict, Queenie is not.

His mother and father are the same, oddly-shaped pieces that have somehow found a way to assemble themselves in a complete puzzle. They work together, love each other despite their flaws and mismatched souls, resonating like two mating fwoopers, with sweet songs that seem mind numbing to anyone other than themselves.

He finds that's what he likes most about them.

(“I like that about us too,” Queenie says as her knight bludgeons his pawn while they play chess in the near-empty dining hall. She plucks one of his biscuits off his plate with a beaming smile. She takes his queen in the next three moves, his king closely after that.)

There’s only one problem. The gossip that follows in her wake is something he could do without, frivolous things that don’t interest him. He and Ms. Goldstein have the same sentiment and more often than naught share a look at which speaks volumes. It’s only a matter of time until he’s targeted again and so he takes precautions to not spend too much time indulging the younger Goldstein sister.

He shakes out his coat as he enters the greenhouse, vanishing the snow before he can drown the mushrooms sprouting at the molding. Like always, the warmth of the place seeps into him, warding off the chill of the outside, and he relaxes at the sight of the varying pots, the leaves swaying with a nonexistent breeze, and the overall rural feeling of the space.

“Is that you, Newt?” Ephedra’s voice sounds out somewhere inside the sideroom. “We’re over here!”

What was once workspace for students is gone now, replaced by hollyhocks that weren’t there earlier in the week. They rise above his head, blooming pinks and yellows, sprinkling scents of springtime, and guide him along the tables until he reaches Ephedra in the middle of a makeshift picnic, basket and all. Her guest turns their eyes onto him and Newt feels all his hope for a normal visit before her departure get blown away.

Queenie wiggles her fingers at him. “Fancy meeting you here, Mr. Scamander.”

He jerks his head in a greeting, but doesn’t meet her eye. “Er, hello, what are you… doing here?”

“I invited her,” Ephedra says. “We were just talking about you.”

Newt faces her, betrayed, and assumes the worst. “You didn’t.”

“I didn’t have to.” She doesn’t look the least bit ashamed. “You can’t hide from a legilimens.”

Queenie shrugs. “I found out through Teenie.” She leans forward and lays her chin on her palm, eyes only for him. “You’re a real charmer. My sister thinks so too.”

Newt flushes, not too pleased at where the conversation is heading. His intimate moments (or lack of because he and Ms. Goldstein have resolutely moved passed the situation in question) aren’t meant to be for the amusement of others. He backtracks the way he came. “No, ah, I—”

“Why don’t you sit with us?” She smiles wide. “Unless you got somewhere important to be?”

“Yes, I—“ He thinks of his cottage, of the stack of papers he’s left lying on the kitchen counter, of the venomous tentacula, anything that won’t give his secrets away. And he’d rather not stick around and be the butt of a joke. “If you’ll excuse me.” He hurries out, not bothering to say anymore, and their laughter follows after him.


With one crisis averted, Newt feels the need to get away, spurring him to make an early visit to the wampus cave. The compass pulls him there faintly, stronger than the barely-there pull that’s directing him back at the castle, and he takes it as a sign that it’s the best place to be.

He likes to think it was Queenie’s doing that puts him in the situation he is now.

Mr. Scamander.”

Newt starts, craning his neck to see a familiar figure standing at the edge of the clearing, her usual attire of pants replaced with a more feminine long skirt fitting of the weather. Not knowing what kind of reaction to expect, he flashes a smile, quick and spurious. “Hello, Ms. Goldstein.”

She doesn’t come closer. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing to worry about. They’re just babies. I’m merely looking after them until their mother comes back.” He’d let the cubs wander outside of the cave, their coats thick enough to protective them from the chill of the day, exploring the snow-covered rocks and the skeletons of bushes and the sort.

She risks a step, freezing when the crunching of snow under her boot attracts the cubs’ attention. “Why?”

“I ended up, ah, leading the Hidebehind to her home—more importantly, to her young. She felt threatened enough to drive it off.”

“And you didn't think to tell me about this before?”

“They don't pose any harm to the school, so I didn't think it was necessary.”

“So, what, you've been coming back even after you were attacked?”

“Apparently my call wasn't a warning, rather a plea of help that young make when scared. Yes, um…” He clears his throat at her look, getting straight to the point. “She now considers me one of her own.”

He lets his words settle with her. “So she sees you…”

“As a large wampus cub, yes. Very surprising. Some animals will reject their own young on occasion, so her acceptance of me into her litter is phenomenal.”

Ms. Goldstein takes this as well as expected. “You're a magizoologist! Aren't you not supposed to interfere with their lifestyle or something?”

“I've tried to distance myself—leave the nest if you will—but it's only caused her to panic.” He couldn't bear to walk away, her frantic calling and whining bringing him back again and again. “Best to wait until she thinks I’m ready to live on my own.”

“Where is she now?”

“Out hunting.”

“And you are…?”

He motions to his journal by her feet where he'd set it aside the moment the cubs began to beg for attention. He'd taken a few notes since then, but, overall, had abandoned writing in favor of taking part in the play. “I’ve been studying her and her cubs for a few weeks now. Extraordinary creatures. Did you know that wampus cats start learning to hunt as early as four months old? Their eyesight and coordination are more pronounced than non-magical cats at the same age.” He catches one of the cubs just as it trips over his lap. “Not to mention their sense of smell—they can track down their prey for weeks through rain and snow.”

One of the cubs pounces on his journal and Newt grins, dragging it closer before it can ruin his notes. Turning it on it’s back, he rubs its exposed belly, mindful of its extra paws and sharp teeth, growling to the best of his skill.

“I highly doubt you can read that in the library.” Ms. Goldstein doesn’t laugh at Newt’s joke, so he tries to win her over by another mean. “Would you like to pet one?”

“Pet one?” She reaches out as if to scoop up one of the cubs before tucking her hands into her coat to stop herself. “No, I—they’re… can I?”

“It’s alright.” Newt smiles. “Just sit down right where you are. I’ll come to you.”

She does as he says and he gently detaches the cubs from his pant leg before crawling away from them and toward Ms. Goldstein. They cry immediately, bounding after him with their tails straight up, and he laughs, but doesn't stop. Ms. Goldstein is as stiff as a board when he settles next to her.

“The oldest is Bonnie, then comes Charmaine—they're both female—and this—” He hoists up the smallest, the size of a small crup. “—is Einar, their brother.”

“Einar?”

Newt lets the cub chew on his fingers. “It's a fine name.”

“I have nothing against it.”

Newt gives her mock glare, but let’s her tone slide. Instead, he gathers the other two cubs and dumps all three onto Ms. Goldstein’s lap without fanfare. She jerks a little, but doesn’t push them away, and the cubs screech as they crawl over her.

“You can pet them.”

Ms. Goldstein looks at him like he’s mental and Newt decides to jump into talking about the cubs. Best chance he has for this conversation. “They haven't hit their growth spurt, so they're perfectly safe to deal with.” To prove his point he strokes the back of one of the sisters.

“Do you mean your definition of safe or everyone else’s?”

“They’re one and the same.”

“No they’re not.”

Newt huffs. ”They will not try to kill or maim you.”

Gently, Ms. Goldstein lays a hand on Einar’s back. His growl hitches higher like a radio on the fritz, squirming in her lab over his sister until she has to get a firmer hold or else have him fall. Just as Newt suspected she would, it only takes a moment before she succumbs to their charm and brings the cub closer to her chest.

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

“Are you always like this?”

“Like what?”

“Wild.” She hums when he squints at her. “Completely normal then—to be in a wampus pack.”

Newt thinks she’s joking. “Wampus cats are solitary creatures.”

“Not the point.”

He grins at his hands, and, when Ms. Goldstein can’t seem to keep Einar still anymore, laughs with her, more enamoured than he should be. They sit hip to hip, watching the wampus cubs wrestle and play. “I had quite a few pets growing up, if you might’ve guessed.” He grins at the memories. “Besides my mother’s hippogriffs, we had kneazles, crups, and a quite a few puffskeins.”

“A dozen owls,” Ms. Goldstein says jokingly.

“Only three, actually.” They bump shoulders like housemates. “Drove my dad mad.”

“I’m imagining it now.”

Newt’s about go into detail on one especially wild evening when, suddenly, he spots movement in the far corner of his vision. “Stay absolutely still,” he tells Ms. Goldstein.

Her eyes follow his line of sight, growing wide when they spot the figure slinking forward. “That’s—”

“The female wampus.”

“Galloping Gargoyles! She's huge!”

“Yes, and you’re next to her cubs, so stay still. Let her make the first move.” They would be in big trouble if Amara felt threatened enough to rise onto her hind legs. Not that she would perceive Ms. Goldstein as a threat (hopefully).

True to Newt’s thinking, Amara keeps low to the ground, her eyes flashing like firelight as she catches Ms. Goldstein’s gaze. Newt wonders whether he should have prepared her for this—it certainly would've been the nice thing to do. Then again, he supposes her experience with a legilimens sister offered enough preparation.

Then, thank Merlin, Amara sneezes and Newt knows they’ll be fine. She sits by their feet and the cubs immediately abandon them for their mother. Even with them climbing her, she looks as regal as the highest of queens.

Ms. Goldstein snaps out of her revere quickly enough. “She…”

“Wampus cats are legilimens.” Newt offers his hand and, soon enough, the cubs find interest in him again and nip and lick his fingertips. Amara watches on. “One of the reasons why I find them so interesting.”

“I got the impression you didn't like people knowing what's going on inside your head.” Ms. Goldstein blushes slightly when he looks at her. “So Queenie tells me.”

“I like to think that what goes on in my head should stay there. It's my thoughts, so I should have the right to share it if I so wish to.”

Ms. Goldstein mutters something that sounds like, “I know how you feel.”

Newt smiles. “Unlike human legilimens, I don't have to worry about them telling anyone my secrets.”

Amara grumbles suddenly. Newt welcomes her with open arms as she forces herself to fit in his lap. She always seems to throw her weight around and laze about, usually on him, but he's grown accustomed to her habits. He's spent one too many days crushed beneath her while she splays over him, losing feeling in his legs after hours of being a bed cushion. Usually the cubs squeal and climb onto their mother's backside to get her attention away from him, but now try retreat to Ms. Goldstein.

Amara throws a paw the size of a pan over Ms. Goldstein’s knee, making her jump. “What is she doing?”

“Marking me, I assume.”

“What?”

“She’s a worried mother.” The wampus buts heads with him, muzzle sliding along the curve of his cheek. “Marking me let's other creature know that she's laid claim—even non-magical animals unconsciously know to stay away. She's gotten into the habit of doing it every time I leave.” Newt gently but adamantly forces a paw away from his nether regions. “All things considered, I'm a horrible wampus. I can't run as fast as she can, nor can I hunt as efficiently. In her eyes, I'm a giant, defenseless kitten that needs to be protected.”

Ms. Goldstein laughs when he nearly falls back. “I bet. What do you call her?”

A handful of scratches at the her underside leaves the big cat rumbling, content. “Amara.”

“That's a beautiful name.”

He smiles at the creature fondly. “I thought so too.”

When Amara’s felt that she’s given Newt all the necessary attention, she settles down beside him and gives her biological children her entire focus. She drags Einar close with her wide paws and begins to groom him. With her preoccupied, Newt turns to Ms. Goldstein, only to find that she's already staring at him, taking him in earnest.

“Why are you really here, Mr. Scamander?”

A simple question with infinite possible answers, but only a few that will deliver him in her good graces. “What do you mean?”

“You didn't come here for the chance at teaching, I know that. Why did you accept the Headmistress’s offer?”

He doesn’t think she’ll be particularly angry with him if he did tell her his true reason (well, not completely angry), but that would entail that he inform her how he’s carrying a thunderbird with him and that’s one conversation he doesn’t know how to start. “It wasn’t to educate, no, but I had good intentions when I came.”

“Good intentions,” Ms. Goldstein echoes softly.

“America is much more interesting than I originally thought.”

“What did you expect?” she asks, and it’s then that Newt’s realizes they’ve ended up closer than he remembers, Ms. Goldstein’s arm lining up with his. The little, white clouds of their breaths collide.

Newt mulls over her question. He knows what he would’ve said when he’d first come to America, but now, he’s not so sure. “Not this.” He notices the flecks of snowdust in Ms. Goldstein’s eyelashes before meeting her eyes. They’re darker than he originally thought and remind him of something he can’t quite place. “If you don’t mind me asking… how did you know where to find me?”

“Well, Queenie—” Ms. Goldstein stops, glancing up. “You have something…”

Newt brushes at his fringe, frowning. He goes still when Ms. Goldstein reaches for it, only to relax when she shows him what’s in her grasp. Small, pink petals pop against the paleness of her skin, still very much alive since his trip to the greenhouses.

She blows a petal off her fingertip. “We used to have a garden full of them when I was little. It always smelled like spring—even in the city.”

“That sounds lovely.”

Ms. Goldstein sighs and it just barely hits his chin. “It really was.”

They jump apart when snow flies at them. Amara seems to be imitating a downed prey while her cubs throw themselves at her, crying out their high-pitched victory.

After a pause, Ms. Goldstein laughs lightly, one that sounds strangely breathless, and leans away from him to brush off the snow from her shoulders. Newt watches her distantly, quickly focusing on the wampus cats before he’s caught. For some reason he's left feeling like he's missed something.

“It's getting dark,” he says before anything can be said about an intimate moment that, for all intent and purposes, didn’t happen. With the lateness of the year, the light is fading quicker and the cold air bites at his exposed skin, while the compact snow underneath him slowly soaks through his coat and trousers. “Wouldn't want to be out for the hidebehind to stalk us.”


Despite the real threat of the hidebehind, Newt and Tina don't leave the wampus cave until the sun barely shines through the thick trees. They make their way to the school at a leisurely pace in silence that's almost comforting.

It's a clear night, the clouds retreating down the mountainside, leaving its peak open to the stars. On a whim, Newt tells Ms. Goldstein the different names of the constellations he’s learned during his travels and a few stories that go alongside them. He tells her of the seven sages that made the sun rise and shine, of the trio of dogs that hunt the hogs that make Orion’s belt, and the race that decides the twelve zodiacs. She seems to enjoy them.

Hundreds of burning lights flare like small wildfires all over the school, shimmering like fallen stars. With this view and at this time, Ilvermorny looks very much like Hogwarts, sans the rocky cliffside, and Newt finds comfort in that. It's become a home away from home.

No one, student or teacher, is out, leaving the two of them to walk through the corridors alone without worrying over being discovered and bothered. The festive decorations are long gone, replaced with the standard banners of the school’s coat of arms. The paintings’ snores accompany them as they make their way through the school; they creep past one of General Redfield’s frames, whispering and laughing in hushed tones like first-years out past curfew.

Newt’s insistent that he walk Ms. Goldstein to her room and she accepts his offer without complaint. She laughs when he turns a corner and nearly trips on the rug there, pulling him back the correct way to the faculty common rooms.

“So,” she says as they make their way past the Grand Hall, “will you be including American magical creatures in your book?”

“I’m still wondering that myself. There’s already so much prejudice towards magical creatures here. I’m worried that some bloke will up and decide that he’d very much want a wampus pelt for his wall.”

Ms. Goldstein tilts her head and the light from the torches dance on her cheek. “You really care about them, don’t you?”

“Of course!”

“Then it’s a good thing they’ve got you. They’re own personal guardian,” she says. “And a soon-to-be author too! Your book will be flying off the shelves and everyone will know your name.”

He ducks his head. “I’m not so sure my book will be as popular as you imply.” An academic book, especially one concerning a field scrutinized by the majority of the wizarding community, wouldn't be a bestseller. Newt would very much like it to be, but past experience gives him doubt.

“It'll be one of a kind. Like you.” Ms. Goldstein smiles. “What are you going to do after it's published?”

“Continue my research.”

“Really?”

“I find that there’s always more to learn, more to see—I've been wanting to study the fire slugs in Peru.” He pauses. “I haven't finished researching North American creatures yet either—haven't gotten the chance to search for the gowrow.”

Ms. Goldstein snorts. “Those don’t exist.”

“It's very evasive. No witch or wizard has been able to document it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.”

She shakes her head, but smiles nonetheless. “You are a strange man.”

It doesn't sound as belittling when she says it, none of the disappointment that comes from his extended family, the exasperation from his father and brother. In fact, Newt might say it sounds like a compliment or praise, that it’s a great thing to be so different, and for once he’s glad he’s never fitted in. He smiles at the ground.

“What about you?” he asks, if only to take the spotlight off himself. “Are you going to remain in Ilvermorny?”

“I've been debating that myself.” Ms. Goldstein sighs, swinging her arms like a child contemplating which flavor of ice cream to choose from. Her gait goes off kilter slightly and their shoulders brush. “I began teaching at Ilvermorny a year after I graduated, but I'd always wondered what it'd be like to work as an auror in the MACUSA headquarters in New York.”

“I’d think you'd make an excellent auror. No one I'd rather have investigating me.” He grimaces. Not exactly what he planned to say, but too late now.

Thankfully, Ms. Goldstein doesn't find it odd, instead offering him a grin. “Don’t you have a certain aversion to authority, Mr. Scamander?”

“Not to you,” he says truthfully.

“The feeling’s mutual.” She suddenly spins on her heel to face him. They’ve reached her room, the sight becoming a sort sad omen of a night coming to a close. She stares at her door almost, dare Newt say it, crestfallen, but when she looks back at him there’s nothing sad about her expression. “Look how far we’ve come…”

Newt’s left inarticulate, unsure what to say in response to comment like that, the words far more honest and tender than he’d expected. This seems to happen a lot, the moment stretching out and leaving them with nothing to do but stare. He shifts from one foot to another, suddenly nervous. His palms are sweaty, his necktie a smidge too tight, but none of it take precedence over the strange feeling overcoming him, as if he's expecting something to happen.

Before he can stumble through an awkward goodbye, Ms. Goldstein speaks. “You know I thought you were a right goon when I first saw you.”

He didn’t know that—well, he guessed. “Really?”

“Really.” She steps closer. “You had a criminal look to you, I could just tell.”

“I’ll have you know, I’m an honest man. No illegal activity for me,” he says, grinning when Ms. Goldstein makes a face, clearly not believing his lie. “And what about now? Still suspicious?”

“Oh, definitely.” She pats his chest in an act of familiarity he doesn’t expect. “But I’m willing to ignore it because, against all odds, I’ve actually begun to like you.”

“Must be my social personality.”

“Yes. I bet you could sway even the most difficult dragons with your irresistible charm.”

“Oh, no, I’m far too small for their tastes. Not even good enough for a snack.”

She laughs. Her eyes are different when she does, Newt notes, softer than he’s ever seen them. Very pretty, the shape of them alluring in every way. “And when you say sensible things like that, how can anyone not be smitten with you?”

“Mrs. Barrow, for one.”

“Well, just remember that there are a lot more people who are glad you’re here,” she says.  “I’m glad you accepted.”

He smiles down at her. “I’m glad I accepted too.”

It’s all so odd, Newt thinks suddenly. Friends came along as often as a hatching phoenix egg, his experience never quite matching up with what the word meant. He’s mucked up his chances before with many people, but he thinks he’s found some that might just last with Ephedra, Hector, and Ms. Goldstein too. They fit into a space he didn’t know he’d kept open, navigating his social rings one step at a time.

Ms. Goldstein looks as if she wants to say more, but merely smiles. “Goodnight, Mr. Scamander.”

Newt blinks, coming back to reality. He watches her leave, slipping through her door without a sound, confused as to what transpired. He feels as though he missed something, something important.

Pickett tugs at his hair and motions to something above them. Newt looks up.

Mistletoe.

Chapter Text

Newt underestimates how stubborn people can be.

Despite the break coming to an end, Queenie makes no notion towards her eventual departure, which is both a delight and problem. It leaves Newt in a peculiar state, enjoying his time with the Goldstein sister but wishing all the same that he could hide from her and her all-knowing eyes. Even so, in terms of pestering, the blonde legilimens could not be compared to that of teenagers because once the doors open and the rest of the student body return to Ilvermorny, he is bombarded with the inquiries of the youth.

It seems that Newt has, once again, become fresh pickings off the student grapevine.

“So,” Mildred says the first day back, the first to crack and with the attention of the entire classroom at her back, “I heard you and Ms. Goldstein were canoodling all alone in the forest.”

Thankfully, Newt is expecting the question and has an impassive expression to fall back on. He doesn’t look up from his shelves, fully intent on finding the jar of baneberries he misplaced before some unsuspecting student came across it. “If I recall, you were in Maine with your family, Miss Casterbury. I can only imagine as to how you could possibly know that when you had, in fact, not seen it.”

“Stephanie told me—said you were romancing Ms. Goldstein all winter break.”

He ducks his head, focusing on rearranging his herbs. The baneberries are nowhere to be found. “I can assure you that was not the case.”

Mildred idly picks up a jar, tossing it from one hand to another. “Why not? I think the two of you would make a cute couple.”

Newt’s quite glad that Ms. Goldstein isn’t here right now, too busy with her own class to attend this session (not that she’s required to attend anymore, which is a small disappointment). He wonders if she’s confronted with these rumors and makes anything of them. He hopes not.

“She is a fellow colleague—that would be highly improper.” He takes the jar from her, looking at its contents. Baneberries.

“Just like the way you two were dancing on the night of the dance? Improper like that?”

The nearest group of students perk up at the new information and it's Benjamin, usually so quiet and withdrawn, who asks, “You danced with Ms. Goldstein?”

“That's not—” Newt cuts himself off, finding that anything following would surely lead to his downfall. He clears his throat, setting the jar in its rightful place, and attempts to take charge. “We should be getting along with class. I'll not have any of you bring it up again. What's between Ms. Goldstein and I remains between us.” He flushes at the unintended implication and quickly adds, “Purely as colleagues.”

Eugene calls from the back, “That’s a bunch of baloney!”

“You get all goofy whenever Ms. Goldstein’s around!” someone else yells, except Newt can’t be sure who. He gives the students in the second to last row what he hopes is a withering glare (most likely not, as they simply laugh it off).

When he had considered accepting this temporary position, Newt had never expected this. His social life was not something he wanted on display for others to comment on, much less involve themselves in. Still, he persists. “I do not fancy Ms. Goldstein.”

Marina and her sister, Delilah, share identical grins even as the former says, “We're not saying you ‘fancy’ her, we're saying you like her.”

The rest of the class laughs.


 

Despite the ribbing and jokes, Newt’s feet take him to a specific corridor the next afternoon and stops right in front of a familiar door. He fixes his tie and brushes off nonexistent lint, nervous, before knocking three times.

After what feels like infinity, the doors pulls back slightly, wide brown eyes peeking from the crack, a head following after once he’s recognized. Ms. Goldstein looks surprised Newt’s knocking on her door (and, quite honestly, so is he). “Mr. Scamander! What are you doing here?” She slips through the sliver of space. “Don’t you have a class soon?”

“I do, but I wanted to ask if you’ll be joining us today.”

“I don’t supervise your classes anymore, Mr. Scamander.” Ms. Goldstein says, confused. She crosses her arms, the thinness of her shirt not enough to dispel the frosty air that manages to get past the variety of heating spells that keep the castle temperature moderate. “Didn’t Madame Peregrine tell you?”

“She did. I was, um, wondering if you’d like to join not as a supervisor, but as a guest.”

“A guest...”

Newt shoves his hand in his pocket so to not fiddle with them and show his nerves. He studies the wall molding as he talks. “Yes, well, I’ve grown accustomed to you being there... and the class certainly runs smoother when you’re around. And I rather…enjoy your company. That is, it would make me happy if you would…”

“Visit?”

“Yes,” he says quickly, taken back at his own eagerness. “And I don’t suppose you’ve ever ridden a hippogriff, have you?”

“No, I haven’t.” Ms. Goldstein frowns. “Mr. Scamander, are you planning on showing them to your classes? Isn’t that a bit risky?”

“All the more reason you should come along,” he says, looking at her shoes far more intensely than he should. Her feet are very narrow and he follows the the slope of them, stopping only when it meets the curve of her ankle. “I could use some help.” Ms. Goldstein still appears on the line and Newt tries to make his request more general and alluring. “You can invite your sister along if you want.”

“No!“ Ms. Goldstein says abruptly, passionately enough to have Newt jerking back, only to recompose herself. “I mean—she’s not here and it’ll take too long and—I don’t want to make you late for your class. Maybe next time.”

Next time. Newt focuses on those words more than he should. He comes forward slowly, his gaze flitting between her slacks and the edge of her sleeve, debating whether he should meet her eyes and possibly botch this up. “So you’ll come?”

“There’s not a lot of hippogriffs in New York.” Newt’s head snaps up and he sees Ms. Goldstein tucking her hair back, smiling shyly. “I wouldn’t know the first thing about riding one. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if I…um…” Ms. Goldstein steps back into the door, fumbling with the lock behind her before she finally gets it open. “I’ll just—my coat—wait here.”

Newt feels a wondrous smile stretch his face, unable to stifle it when the woman sucks in a sharp breath and disappear into her quarters. He feels excited, relieved even. Ms. Goldstein rushes back out quicker than he expects, in her usual coat and boots. The sight of her reminds of him of something he’s been meaning to do.

For once, he’d properly planned ahead, openly sought her out in the hopes of returning something of hers that has been in his possession for some time now. Newt drops some of his quills, then an empty ink bottle, hurriedly gathering them up before coming across the right pocket. He offers Ms. Goldstein her hat. “I believe this is yours.”

Ms. Goldstein doesn’t make a comment on the wrinkles, putting it on as it is, but Newt squints at what he sees. “Hold on…” He carefully picks off the pieces of hay that stick to the brim. “My workshop is a mess, so I apologize if—”

“It’s fine.” She reaches up and Newt hurriedly pulls away before they touch. Her hands flit from her hat to her hair in a frantic motion. “Thank you.”

Newt nods, not sure what his expression should be, or what to say for that matter. He swallows the awkward lump in his throat and tries to appear like this entire situation is normal for him, that he requests guests to accompany him. He offers his arm. “Then, ah, shall we?”

And feels his heart do a funny beat when she takes it.


 

Twenty minutes later sees Newt decidedly ignoring every look Mildred sends him when she spots Ms. Goldstein directing more than a dozen of fallen logs into a makeshift pen. In fact, he tries his hardest not to look anyone in the eye for most of an hour and a half all except Ms. Goldstein. He couldn’t hide from her direct gaze no matter how hard he might try, so he doesn’t.

Class goes swimmingly, no incident under his and Ms. Goldstein’s collective watch and supervision. With not a cloud in the sky, the untouched snow shines in the sunlight against the evergreens that have survived through the worst of the cold, and the mountain wakes with the small sounds of birds and thawing streams; it produces a calming aura that spreads to the herd and they follow Newt’s lead easily, proud and powerful. His mother will be proud to know that her behavior training has paid off, even Milton keeping composed in face of the jittery students. Stormswift even lets Charles come close and pet her wings.

After the lesson and the students are hiking back up the hillside to the school, with Ms. Goldstein’s help Newt gets the flock settled in the stables all except one. He’d promised her a fly around the school and intends to keep it.

“This is Agnes.” He pats the hippogriff’s mottled flank affectionately. “She’s been particularly excited for some exercise.”

Ms. Goldstein is barely eye-level with the middle of Agnes’s chest and her eyes dart about, taking stock in the size and broadness of Agnes’s body. “She’s...bigger than I expected.”

“Just got her flight feathers last year.” Ms. Goldstein doesn’t appear reassured. Newt doesn’t see her as a particularly craven person, but he’s found that some people were more adept with creatures while some would gladly keep away for no other reason than the unreasonable paranoia of being mauled. He wonders if Ms. Goldstein’s the former. “Mum has been training her since she could stand. You’re perfectly safe.”

Ms. Goldstein looks uncertain, but takes his word. She steps forward while Newt steps back and bows low. There’s a long moment where Agnes doesn’t do anything other than survey Ms. Goldstein, clicking her beak softly like she’s contemplating her next move, and Newt thinks that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, that he should just slowly pull Ms. Goldstein away and offer her tea instead. She’s still as a statue as Agnes comes closer and—

“Oh!” Ms. Goldstein stumbles and falls on her backside. “My hat!”

Agnes trots away, happy with her stolen treasure, kicking up the compact snow in a show of play.

“No—that’s not yours! Aggie!” Newt chases after her. “Come on! Give it back!”

Growing up with hippogriffs, he knows how stubborn they can be, and taking away a toy was more of a chore than anything else. Agnes shakes her head, whips the hat back and forth in a sort of “come and get it” kind of way. She wants to play and for Newt to partake, that much is clear, and usually he’d take her up on that offer, but their current plaything isn’t a quaffle. He’d only just given it back to Ms. Goldstein and, if they don’t rescue it, she won’t be getting it back anytime soon, much less in one piece. “Bad girl! Give me the hat!”

What proceeds is a prolonged game of chase, one that would’ve been over quickly if Newt could get a good aim for a summoning spell, but Agnes is as spirited and quick as a sprite. Ms. Goldstein says a good choice of curse words when they’re still unable to catch the runaway hippogriff, slowly going deeper into the forest and farther away from the stables. Here the air is wilder, the slope steeper, and the number of trees and upturned roots making for a difficult chase, but Agnes is only spurred on by the new scenery and navigates it as well as a wampus cat.

Ms. Goldstein manages to get herself nearly an arms length from Agnes’s trailing reins, closer than either of them have managed, only for her boot to sink in the snow more than she expects and Agnes to bolt the other direction. She nearly sprains her ankle. “Oh for the love of—”

Newt sighs and squints past the blinding snow. Further down the hill, Agnes canters about, carefree. “I have an idea.”

Following his direction, he and Ms. Goldstein split up, surrounding the beast, Newt circling behind to cut off the path deeper into the wilderness. A short count and Ms. Goldstein charges Agnes. She skitters away from the woman, unwittingly bringing herself closer to Newt, and doesn’t realize her mistake until he’s upon her. He throws himself at her side, pinning her wing with his body and limiting her escape. “Give it back, Aggie!”

Wrangling the occasional graphorn has given Newt enough strength and experience to hold onto a rambunctious hippogriff. He makes a grab at her head harness and yanks it down hard enough to make her neck bow. “Let go!” Agnes squawks, but stubbornly holds onto her prize.

Another pair of hands join in the fray and Ms. Goldstein is right beside him, ignoring the hooked beak that could easily strip her of her fingers and fearlessly pulling at her hat. It’s now two against one now and only a matter of time before they persevere. “This is mine!”

Agnes bucks, dislodging Newt, and her wing clips him under the chin, sending him sprawling back. He grunts when Ms. Goldstein’s weight drives the air from his lungs. Clumps of snow rain down on them as Agnes bolts away.

There’s melted snow in his collar and sticks in his hair, and when he sits up he’s more than sure he’s laying in a patch of mud, but Newt doesn’t mind. The warmth of the sun and the coldness of the air and the beating of his heart makes him feel awake and energized, like he’s chasing nogtails in Russia in the early spring. One quick search and he spots Agnes rolling around in the snow a little ways off, crowing her delight, and the way her feathers stick at her crown is such a ridiculous sight that Newt can’t help his fondness overcome his previous disapproval.

Ms. Goldstein pushes off him and Newt sees her hat in her hands. Despite the chance it’ll stolen again being slim, she crumples it up and hugs it close. She looks at Newt, face red and clumps of snow in her hair, and there’s a smudge of dirt along her cheek that invites him to wipe it away himself. “Maybe I should leave this next time.”

Breathless himself, Newt grins back. “Probably for the best.”


 

He should’ve known that he wouldn’t get off easy for helping Hector. Ephedra had a wicked side, one that had bore no room for treachery, even from friends.

Which is why Newt finds himself suddenly glued to the ceiling in the Sayre Hall. It’s a spacious lecture hall that looks more like a theater than anything else, it’s ceiling approximately ten meters high. He’s stuck between a painted bear that huffs and growls at his close proximity and a buffalo that tried to charge him despite the dimensional frame separating them.

Ephedra stares up at him, showing him his wand in her grip, pleased like a cat with cream. She’s dressed in a simple nightgown, but with a colorful robe with diamonds that shift and spin. “Now how did you get all the way up there?”

Newt laughs despite his predicament, amused just a little. “Very funny. Now would you please let me down?”

“No.”

That strikes all the humor from him. “You plan to keep me here all night?”

She smiles wide now and Newt realizes she’s serious. “Someone will let you down in the morning… hopefully.”

“That isn't—”

Ephedra pressed a finger to lips like he’ll wake the entire castle (and maybe he should). “Clementine.”

The pukwudgie in question steps out from behind her, dressed in a floral nightgown sized for a doll, complete with slippers and a dainty nightcap that barely lies on her head. “What do you want?”

Ephedra bends to be at her level. “Sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering if you could drop off Newt’s things at his cottage for me.”

“What am I, a house elf?” Clementine spots Newt above them and her frown deepens. “And can't you see that it’s late! I shouldn’t have to spend my nights unsticking wizards from the ceiling! You'll be hearing from Headmistress!”

“My case—” Newt tries to peel himself from the ceiling, but only lifts his upper back before it becomes useless. Some semblance of fear creeps into his chest at the sight of it, easy pickings for anyone foolish enough to take it, all the while completely and utterly out of his reach. It’s a disaster in the making.

Ephedra continues, unaware of the risk she’s taking. “Could you hold off telling Cecil until the morning?”

Clementine grumbles, but takes Newt’s wand nonetheless. “One day your jokes aren’t going to be funny.” She grabs hold of his case, sends Newt a especially shrewd glare, and then disappears.

Newt tries to channel his annoyance in one good scowl like he’s seen Theseus do a hundred of times, but being stuck as he is does the opposite effect if Ephedra’s smile is anything to go by. He’s far from intimidating. “I’ll have to agree with her on this one.”

“What are you hiding in that case?” she genuinely asks. “I won’t peek, but you’re making me interested. I might just let you down if you tell me.”

“I have multiple samples from my travels, poisons and the like,” Newt says. He manages to bend his knees, tries to turn to his side, but he's foiled again by the charm. Maybe it would have paid to listen to Theseus’s advice and actually listen to the lectures given when they were children at school, or at least practice wandless magic during his time alone. “It would be disastrous if they were misplaced.”

“Liar. Still, you have nothing to worry about. Pukwudgies are incredibly reliable and will care for it as well as you would.”

Newt doesn’t doubt the aptitude of pukwudgies, but no one, not even such headstrong creatures, were as knowledgeable and capable in dealing what resided in his case. “Would you please let me down?”

“Goodnight, Newt.” Ephedra offers him a pleasant wave, laughing to herself, before leisurely making her way for the door. The light dims until he’s left in perpetual darkness.  

Newt rubs his face tiredly and settles in for a long night.


 

It’s Mr. Graves who find him the next morning, unimpressed at his explanation and unsympathetic to his back pains.


 

Some of his creatures escape.

Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the ridiculousness of his niffler or the faultiness of his locks that cause the mess, but rather, with the unbridled curiously of a child. Ultimately, it is his own careless that brings it to fruit.  After weeks of being stationed at Ilvermorny, he’s gotten more than a little comfortable with his surroundings, enough so that his diligence with his case suffers a few bad decisions.

Leaving a room with third-year witches and wizards, wild Americans at that, is an obvious disaster in the making when one really thinks about it. But he’d forgotten to bring the portfolio of tests for the third time this week, putting him even further behind, and, in a moment of insanity, had trusted that they could handle themselves in the short time he’d be gone to retrieve them. With his case safely tucked away under his desk and with a stern command to remain in their seats, he’d left.

He should’ve expected them not to listen.

Six minutes, that’s how long he’s gone. Just six minutes. He’s racing back the moment he hears the ruckus that is undeniably that of his rowdy third-years, the papers forgotten, left to ruin in the snow, practically sprinting when the vague burst of volume refines into actual screaming. Barely two meters away he gets a whiff of what been unleashed through the foggy window and practically charges the door.

His heart leaps to his throat at what he sees because there’s a small graphorn in his classroom, trampling about and making an absolute mess of things. The children huddle in the corner and, in the center, his case. Opened.

Newt’s moves without thinking, seeing a scaled, four-fingered hand curl around the lip of old leather. Before the kappa can open the lid further, he throws himself on top of it, slamming the lid shut with the entirety of his weight.

“It’s alright—everything’s—” His case rocks and he almost loses his grip. He settles himself more securely, fumbling with its locks. They close with a final click and an unhappy hiss from within. “—fine.”

Except there’s still a rampaging graphorn out and about. “Professor, what is that?”

“Hm? What? Oh, the graphorn. No need to worry, it's merely a baby—harmless, completely harmless—”

A few students scream when it tumbles into one or two desks, shattering them.

“—not completely harmless, but still a baby—please, could we stop the screaming, you'll startle it.”

The smells, the sights, it's all too new. The baby graphorn lurches from side to side, tentacles quivering as the classroom is filled with high pitched voices. It makes a desperate cry and Newt’s heart squeezes, recognizing the call as one for it's mother.

He tries reaching out, palm down and exposed for the tentacles to feel, but the creature misinterprets his action and rears back in momentary fright. Four-thumbed feet stumble back, splintering wood and crushing glass. Some students grip their wands tighter than necessary and Newt knows exactly what they're thinking—he's seen it in the eyes of adult wizards in the field, deaf to his pleas.

“Do not attack,” he orders sharply, watching as students flinch and feeling something in himself harden. He is not one for threats, but the harshness in his tone is undeniable and the students have the sense to listen. “It will make no use even if you do. Graphorn skin is tougher than a dragon’s and can repel most spells.”

Even so, this could not continue. Though slim in chance, one of the children might send a spell that may cause traumatic harm to the creature in their panic. In addition, no matter the size and age, graphorn skulls were particularly thick, their horns even more so: one good hit, even accidental, could break bone.

“Everyone along the wall.”

They follow his command quickly. He locks the doors with a wave of his wand, clearing away the remaining desks with another. The baby graphorn whines, circling anxiously.

Newt stamps his foot. Once, twice, the third getting the graphorn’s attention.

Squealing, it does a turn about. His face is a familiar one and it focuses on him immediately, the rest of the room and people ignored. Good. That will make getting it into the case a little more easier.

He stamps again and again, always in threes. Pause, stamp, stamp, stamp, and repeat.

And then— success!

He's in luck, the little graphorn looks to regularly practice with its sibling when it throws its head side to side in acceptance of the challenge. It stamps out a response, wiggling as little ones do whilst playing, fear forgotten in favor of the game.

They circle each other.

Male graphorns challenged one another for the chance to woo the females; it’s brutal and relentless, smashing heads and necks with enough force to shatter metal. Even those domesticated in the mountains participated in the ritual, the unlucky trolls riding them often throne from their seats. Newt wouldn't be ramming heads with the baby (not if he could help it), but he could play the part of the challenger for most of the steps.

A few attempts fail, the graphorn falling back at the last minute, but Newt’s undeterred. He shakes his head like the males do when their patience runs thin, then shift his weight low in preparation for a charge. This time will be the one to do it. “Come on—your mum’s in here—”

The level of understanding his creatures have of his language is still a mystery to him, but he expects it's more than many wizards give them credit. His words must mean something to the little graphorn, or at least strike a memory, because it calls out to him, stronger and more confident than before. It wants to be back with its family as much as Newt wants it to be reunited.

The graphorn takes a few steps back, tucking its head. Newt does the same, waiting.

It charges.

Newt’s ready. He opens his suitcase in front of him, stepping forward, meeting it head on. It leaps straight into the case, swallowed whole, and the force of it knocks him back and he nearly tumbles over his desk. He shuts it close, locking it without hesitation. The classroom is absolutely silent and he takes a moment to catch his breath. “What else came out?” he asks.

No one answers and Newt focuses his gaze onto Mildred. She’s made of tougher stuff, clear-headed and brave, and Newt thinks she’d do well as a curse breaker. Even possibly a career in his own field. “These weird-looking birds that kept disappearing.”

“Brightly colored? With long beaks?”

She nods and Newt inwardly curses his luck. “Diricawls.”

As much as he'd like to take off and search for his creatures, he can't. In past experiences, he's been able to dive headfirst into a problem, but now he has a roomful of students who will no doubt follow him. If he ends class early, word will undoubtedly find its way to the faculty, putting him in hot water with the headmistress—or worse, Ms. Goldstein.

He could obliviate them all, but that might create an even bigger scandal.

All eyes are on him when he gets to his feet. “Right. Clean this up and I’ll be back in a giffy.” He hurries to the door, case in tow, only to double back. “No one’s to leave until I return.”

He’s too rushed to stay long and assert himself, so he doesn’t, forgoing searching the forest in favor of the castle. Easily frightened, diricawls preferred warm and dry climates, so they must hiding somewhere indoors. Newt wonders where in the school would he find a replacement for small cave opening or burrow.

He takes out the januscope and thinks of the diricawls, only for the needles to misbehave and spin erratically. He shakes the instrument. “Would you help me find what I need?”

Then, surprisingly, the needles freeze and there’s a small pull in his hand. After a wobble, it directs him towards the corridor to his right and past the main building of the west wing; he follows its guidance religiously, gaze fixated on the ever-changing needles and now the road he walks on. As focused as he is, he isn’t as clueless to miss the sound of someone being shushed from a little ways off. Pickett squeaks, also having heard it. Newt backtracks suddenly and, when he notices nothing out of the ordinary, leans over the wall opening into the courtyard. He frowns at what he sees. “I specifically told you all to wait until I returned.”

Mildred pops out from her hiding spot without a hint of guilt, Eustace and Thomas at her back like usual. She barely comes up to Newt’s chest, but she makes up for the lack of height by fearlessly planting herself before him like a stubborn Ridgeback. “We wanted to help catch your creatures.” Her words are blunt and honest.

“I’m perfectly capable of handling it myself.”

“It’ll be faster with help.”

Newt turns heel and gets back to the matter at hand. “Go back or you’ll be down twenty house points.”

They chase after him. “Students aren’t supposed to be left unsupervised during class,” Mildred says confidently. “So, you see, by following you we’re doing the right thing.”

“Shall I make it thirty?”

“How were you hiding all those things in your case?” They don’t sound scared, only interested, and that makes Newt worry. “And why there they in there in the first place?”

“I’ll take points from each of you.”

“How'd you catch them last time?” Eustace asks, undeterred.

“Many trials and error—and a lot of luck.” Newt stops abruptly. “Is there nothing I can say to make you listen to me?”

They shake their heads. “Nope,” Thomas says cheerily.

Newt huffs, bundling all his annoyance in a ball and stuffing it deep down. Stubborn Americans. “You can’t speak a word to anyone.”

Mildred mimes a locking motion by her mouth. “Mums the word.” Newt has no choice but to accept the childish promise. He checks the januscope and thankfully, it's still working properly. They set out again.

“Are they dangerous? Your beasts?”

“Most likely they’re the ones in danger, what with the weather. They’re originally from Madagascar. They’re alway feeding, so they’ll head somewhere that has a viable food source.”

Thomas snaps his fingers. “How about the kitchen?”

A reasonable guess. “Right. There first and then possibly the Potions storage room. They’ve been known to eat an eye of newt or two,” he says, turning the corner and—

—nearly collides into Ms. Goldstein.

Newt stumbles, barely getting his feet under him as he comes to a stop. He has the sense to turn on his heel, Ms. Goldstein following his lead naturally.

“Mr. Scamander!”

“Ms. Goldstein,” he greets nervously. He really should have taken a sip of a Felix Felicis. “What are you doing—here?”

“I could ask you the same thing. I thought you were going to be at the stables again.”

“Um, change of plans.”

“And your class?” she asks just as his students come around the corner behind her. They stop short when they spot Ms. Goldstein and backtrack quickly.

“They're, er, around…”

Her brows furrow. “You're letting your student run around the school unsupervised?”

“Yes,” he says. “We have many things to do, you know.”

“What could you possibly need to do in the halls?”

“Oh, you know…” He grimaces, his mind blank of possible excuses.

Ms. Goldstein looks at him shrewdly. She’s close to interrogating him, Newt’s sure, or maybe she’ll drag him to Hector’s office for a dose of truth serum. “Are you planning another presentation? Please tell me you’ve run it by Headmistress—”

“You do have a class soon, don’t you, Ms. Goldstein?”

She does and they both know it. “Don't think you can change the subject.”

Newt flashes her a smile, reaffirming his grip on his case, ready to finish this conversation and be off. “Wouldn’t dream of it. Perhaps we could continue this another time? Over tea?”

She strengthens her stance and meets his gaze head on, a force to be reckoned with, and Newt thinks that she’d to well in a place of power, especially as an auror. Theseus might even like her as well. “Please don’t do anything majorly disastrous and make me report you, Mr. Scamander.”

“I’ll try.”

She scrutinizes him a little longer, but must know that she won’t catch him in the act, and bids him curt goodbye for now. “Tonight at eight,” she says.

She leaves with only one or two glances back and Newt keeps up appearances, remaining rooted to the spot until she’s out of sight. He sets off when he’s sure she won’t be doubling back. His students stare at him when he gestures for them to come out. “Come on! Quickly!”

“Tea?” Mildred asks.

Newt ignores the girl's tone and the positively amused looks the other two are sending him. There’s an implication in there, Newt’s sure, but he chooses to focus on more important matters, such as finding evasive diricawls. “Yes, well, we should resume our search.” He focuses on spotting any crevices that they might come across, perfect for a diricawl should one need a sleeping place.

“Professor,” Mildred says, walking in step beside him. “A few of us have been talking—”

“That’s not a good sign.”

“—and we’ve come to the agreement that you should take Professor Goldstein out.”

Embarrassingly enough, a canister and one or two shiney knick knacks he uses to cajole his niffler drop from his inner coat pocket at that exact moment and Newt fumbles with cleaning it up, wishing for once that he could present himself as confidently and easily as Theseus, a man who expected to be considered and listened to by people of all ages and statuses. “I’d rather not hear the gossip, if you don’t mind.” They cut through the western courtyard.

“Don’t be a dorcus! It’s not gossip! I haven’t seen Professor Goldstein interested in anyone since you came along!”

“Really?” he asks before he can stop himself, flushing when Mildred becomes absolutely elated. Newt really doesn’t want to take romantic advice from children barely hitting puberty, but he doesn’t know how to stop it. He clears his throat. “This isn’t proper conversation. ”

They ignore him. “You both go against school rules!” Eustace says. “You’re like them Lambus and Haesito brothers! Partners in crime!”

“Partners in crime?” He jumps the small ledge, trekking through the snow that’s piled along the stone. His diricawls could be buried under it all. “I hardly think Ms. Goldstein is a troublemaker.”

“That’s because you weren’t here last year. Mom said she nearly ruined Ilvermorny!”

Newt frowns. That seems like a monumental disaster, one that should’ve been relevant news upon his arrival, except he’s heard not a word of it besides small hints and hurried whispers.  “What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but Estelle said that she went down to Adams and—”

“Are these yours, Mr. Englishman?” says a gruff voice behind them. Thomas and Eustace jump and Mildred pulls out her wand.

“Point that stick somewhere else, will you?” It’s all for naught when the person in question steps out from a shrub and Newt is more than relieved at the familiar face in front of him. William peers up at him like usual, irritable, but exactly where he needs to be. He’s wearing a tie. He presents the basket in his hands, pulling back the napkin, revealing what lies inside: diricawls.

“You found them!” Newt says, bending down to the pukwudgie’s height. The little birds cheep at him innocently. “You're brilliant!”

“Spotted them eating the jumping rutabagas in the greenhouse.” Just as William says, the flightless birds crowd around the center of the basket, the remaining vegetables giving a halfhearted jump.

Newt counts them. One, two, three… he's missing two. “You wouldn’t happen to have seen two more, would you?”

“Still in the school gardens, most likely,” William grumbles. “Ran off with most of my turnips!”

“I’ll see if I can help you plant more tomorrow.” That is if he still had a position here by that time.

Eustace goes to pet one of the birds, only to yank his hand back before he’s nipped at. “Can we lure the rest with anything other than rutabagas? Like apricots or peaches? I missed lunch.”

“You’ll not be destroying my gardens even more or you’ll wake up with a swamp in your bed!”

Newt waves away the boy. “Thank you.” Threats aside, William has done Newt a great service, lifted a weight off his shoulders with the capture of his creatures (even if it was only a handful). The chicks are ushered into his case, Newt determinately ignoring the curious eyes of his students, and he covers their view of it with his body. “I won't be able to make it to tea today, I'm afraid.”

“Good,” comes the gruff reply. “I'll finally have some peace for once.”

“He’s got a date with Ms. Goldstein.”

Newt stiffens. “I do not—”

“I don't need to hear about your social life, Englishman.”

“I—” he begins, only for the pukwudgie to disappear before his very eyes. Frustrated, he glares at his students, namely at the one girl who doesn’t know when to leave things be. “Not another word out of you Miss Casterbury or I’ll have you cleaning after the hippogriffs.”

Mildred snorts, but falters when he doesn’t relent. “You wouldn’t… would you?”

Newt gets to his feet and heads for the greenhouses. “We’ll see. I’m feeling particularly wicked at the moment.” There’s snickering at the back of the group. Despite Mildred’s outgoing and slightly disruptive personality, it isn’t often she’s in trouble, but there can be exceptions. “Please put your wand away.”

She grudgingly does what he asks. “I had to threaten Charles not to follow us, you know. He was going to squeal on you, Professor.”

Flattery and the like had no effect on Newt and he lets Mildred know. “If you’d stayed with the rest of the class then there wouldn’t be any need for threats. And don’t hex Mr. Thompson unless you have right reason to.”

“There’s always a reason to hex Charles.”

Newt has to stop himself from smiling then. It’s difficult to give out punishments when the student in question was a favorite, and a spirited one at that. “Then I think it’s best you don’t tell your professor that.”

The greenhouse is empty when Eustace peeks inside, Ephedra nowhere to be seen, much to Newt’s relief. He ushers his students in with a command to touch nothing, all too aware of what might happen to him if any of the plants were meant with an untimely demise. He’d rather not spend another night stuck to the ceiling.

The hollyhocks are gone, replaced with the usual rows of tables cluttered with pots and shovels and the like. Newt gets to his hands knees and peers along the floor for a hint of small feet. Unsure where William’s personal garden is he motions for his helpers to search one end of the room while he tackles the other. They passed through the more volatile and dangerous plants quickly, no sight of the diricawls.

There’s a clatter and a curse. Eustace pops up where the mandrake pots are. “One of them’s here!” he says as Newt spots the other trudging through the vines of a venomous tentacula. It disappears before it's snared and pops up by the fountain.

“Keep quiet! We don’t want to scare them away!”

Newt hurries down the aisle when it reaches the water and jumps in. He’d forgotten to mention that diricawls can’t swim, not to mention that they are as stupid as a troll and just as clumsy when born. He rescues the little bird, bringing it up shivering and wet. There’s a small tadpole wriggling in its beak and it swallows it whole, utterly pleased with itself, and Newt wonders how its species survived this long. “Ready to head back to the nest, hm? Molly’s probably worried sick about you.”

It peeps and settles in his palm contently. Newt carefully slips it in his pocket after filling it with some mulch he keeps on hand, and takes its sibling before it wriggles out of Thomas’s hands. He drops in a few flobberworms just in case. “In you hop.”

When everything’s over and done with, and his diricawls are safely back inside his case and he’s returned his little trio of stalkers to class, there’s an even bigger problem has to be dealt with. They’ve done an excellent job cleaning up, only a few thick cracks in the floor and walls, but Newt can take care of the rest himself. He taps his fingers again the lid of his case, wondering how to go about his current predicament. It’s in his best interest if word of this escapade doesn’t spread to the rest of the school.

Newt’s all too aware of how they look at him, like it’s the first day of class and he’s reverted back to being an outsider, the predator that needs to be watched in case it dangers the herd. Being an outcast is something he’s come to expect, little things that always set him apart from everyone else, but that wasn’t something to be disappointed about, at least not to him. He was always fine standing on the outside looking in, but the ridicule, the constant whispers, being stared at like some exotic beast in some Muggle zoo, that’s what he disliked the most.

“Let's keep this our secret, shall we?” he asks when they’ve gathered around him, waiting for an explanation he doesn’t want to give.

Mildred crosses her arms. “That depends. Do I still have to clean the stables?”

This secret is far more important than following through with a punishment. “No, you don’t.”

“If we’re negotiating, then can we have an extension for the assignment due on Friday.” Emil says. “It’s too high-leveled for us.”

“It is not.” He knows it because they’ve only just covered the material and, really, the digestive system of a dragon isn’t too difficult to comprehend. “I just went over it last week.”

A couple of them grumble something underneath their breath, probably about how they haven’t even started the assignment, and he wonders on the concept of young minds. It seems very mundane that the topic has diverged from wayward graphorns to a seven-paged synopsis of a dragon’s bowel movements but here they are. Even as he watches, the rest of the class begins to lose their shock in face of clearing one assignment off their plate.

He sighs. “Yes, yes, I’ll give you a pass on that. You’re leeches, all of you.”

“And the discussion on flesh-eating slugs?”

“Don’t push your luck,” he says, confident enough to set this boundary. “But this stays between us, alright?”

One by one, they affirm their promise. Newt is unsure how far that will go, especially from children, but a blood oath is out of the question, as is an unbreakable vow. He’s limited in options.

“Why do you hide them in your suitcase?” Alma asks.

“Because when I asked about bringing some specimens for show, I was refused. Makes no sense to have a class about magical creatures without actual creatures,” he says. Technically true. He is, after all, in possession of a multitude of magical beasts, all of them illegal in America, but he’ll keep the true number to himself.

“Do you have any other creatures in there, Professor?” Mildred asks when Emil says, “Is that even legal?”

“No, I don't,” Newt lies. “Just what you've seen. And the Headmistress has allowed me to keep them as long as they don’t run amok.”

“Like today.”

He flushes. “Yes, exactly like today. And that is why you mustn’t speak a work to anyone—unless you all prefer writing essays and lectures.”

They all assure them that that’s the exact opposite of what they want. “You’re the best we got, Professor,” Gilbert says, some of his pronunciation off enough off to be noticeable. “This class is much more exciting with you than with Professor Heming.”

Charles leans back in his seat and throws his feet on the table, and grudgingly admits, “Even if you’re a little odd sometimes.”

There’s a general consensus and Newt feels a small hint of warmness gather in his chest that competes with the nagging in his brain that urges him to distance himself from this. He contemplates for a moment before saying, “How about a treat then? You’ve all been good sports about all this.”

People are easier to deal with when they’re full, Newt’s found, and American children are no different. As soon as he conjures up a bottle of the expensive fizzy drink he’s seen down in the shops of Babbington they're tripping over themselves in an effort to get. "You have to admit it's better than Butterbeer!"

"You might be right," Newt admits and there's a cheer like it's something to be celebrated, like he's tossed aside his upbringing and turned onto their side.

Most of the them huddle in the middle of the class, Mildred at the center, proudly retelling the story of how they captured the remaining diricawls, the tale more adventurous and exciting than Newt’s remembers, dangerously egging on Charles into what could turn into a small spat. Marina and Delilah carefully hang his coat, cooing at the two diricawl chicks while they sleep in the pocket. Gilbert stares at his case like he expects more until Newt very purposely stuffs it into the corner under his desk. Aubrey and Leonard show off their expertise in transfiguration, changing an assortment of things found in the classroom into cups, each one perfect and plain, while Emil transfigures a beetle into one as well and chases Alma around the room until Marjorie turns his shoes into cement block. Harriet happily offers her help to pour the drinks.

Newt almost feels guilty. There’s only one decision to make and there’s no debate about it, really, because it’s the best and safest option he has. That doesn’t settle his nerves when he excuses himself to gather some sweets rather than summoning them, the vial of Swooping Evil venom weighted heavily in his pocket. 

Chapter Text

Like all mysteries Newt comes across, he’s persistent to learn the truth about the strange happenings in America.

The elusive beast running amok along the eastern coast is a persistent thorn in Newt’s side. He has pages and pages on it, filled with his own words and knowledge, crossing-examining every possible combination of sightings and lore. It’s frustrating, knowing he’s the most equipped for the job but still falling short when it comes to solving the problem. For he knows that he has to do more, has to get undeniable proof to give his words standing, and can’t stay within Ilvermorny’s borders to do it.

Newt keeps up-to-date with the happenings, reads the Muggle and wizard newspapers alike, hoping to strike gold in a pile of rubble. However, it’s to no avail; the sites are cleaned up by government officials, the Muggles’ minds wiped clean and his leads buried under hundreds of years of secrecy. By the end of the month he’s set aside to find the beast, he’s left no more closer to the truth, squandered by ignorance of muggles and the ever consistent scrutiny of one Mr. Graves.

“You’re awfully interested in these disruptions, Mr. Scamander,” he says one Saturday afternoon, having waited for him at the southern courtyard, leaning against the gate like their meeting was an everyday occurance. “Why do you keep traveling down the mountain?”

“No reason. Just curious about happenings with the Muggles.” The courtyard is abandoned and Newt half expects his subordinates to jump out of the shadows at a moment’s notice. He grips his case handle tightly.

“It must be a beast,” Mr. Graves sounds like he already knows.

“It’s not.” Newt knows he right, but also knows that his facts would turn to dust in a debate with the man no matter how right he is. Madame Peregrine would listen, he just had to find the right time to tell her.

“You sound incredibly confident for a tourist. What do you think it is, Mr. Scamander?”

“I don’t know…” Newt turns away then and hurries toward his cottage, his only place of solitude within this foreign place.

“Be careful, Mr. Scamander,” Mr. Graves calls out after him, his voice dripping with suspicion. “Someone might confuse your interest for something more discriminating.”

Newt stops going down the mountain after that.

He knows what’s ravaging American Muggles is not a beast and knows that Mr. Graves won’t believe him no matter what he says. From his previous encounters with higher authority, political and educational, his word has often been tossed aside or his expertise ignored in favor of the more violent opinion of those who didn’t understand, but could scrounge up excuses better worded than he could ever dream of. And yet, the problem always arises that whenever he gets the chance, and the nerve, to discuss his findings. He’s never been fond of intimidation, especially when it’s used to control people, and his dislike for the American aurors rises with every interaction. There’s not a soul who know of his notes and research except William, but he’d more expect to be drowned on school grounds than for the pukwudgie to spill his secrets. Still, the paranoia that he’s been found out (for something that’s entirely legal) keeps him tense.

Mr. Graves’s suspicion is warranted when the owl’s come with morning papers. Another attack on the Muggles. Grindelwald followers initiate a riot, killing five people. An invisible terror is stalking eastern coast, putting the populous in a right panic. What was once a problem overseas is now hitting closer to American homes and still, Grindelwald is nowhere to be seen. Newt can see the apprehension take over the faculty, sees it in Ms. Goldstein’s face when she reads her daily newspapers, when he passes by a group of aurors, in the way Hector’s mood is less than anything but cheerful. Headmistress Peregrine takes time before each feast to comment on the going-ons, calm and collected.

“Recent news has tarnished the beginning of the new year, but let us not cower and fear the uncertain future” she says. The hall always settles and seems to exhale at once, the very sound of her voice reassuring. “We will not be frightened and we will not lash out in fear. All I ask is that you keep your minds clear and your hearts open.”

Even with Ilvermorny safe from the man, his presence pervades through the school in multiple ways. Americans display their opinions very openly, even when they shouldn’t and Newt hears half-conversations that borderline disturbing as Grindelwald’s words are argued over and considered. With each day, students take their sides and a schism begins to divide the student body.

Hector puts an end to a fight outside the kitchens, Ms. Goldstein ends another in the eastern courtyard, and Ephedra tells him she’s never taken so many house points in a year. Newt hears some of the ghosts go on about the horrors of their lifetime, while a few of them recount their public burnings and hanging; most of them are not obviously marked, but Newt can see off-white marks in that would be bruises in another lifetime. Breeding fear doesn’t help and that’s exactly what the ghosts are doing, but Newt can’t stop spirits who are still lost in their own stories.

There’s not much he can do except continue on like nothing is different, act like a movement so radical it could undermine everything wizards have strived for for centuries. He goes on about murtlaps, what ingredients they provide, the way to identify how extreme of a reaction one is getting after a bite, how to treat it, and so on. No one openly speaks to him about Grindelwald and his fanatics, least of all the students, and so he keeps his thoughts on the matter to himself; creatures he can debate and defend for hours without fear of convoluting the mind of children, but politics is another matter entirely.

So it’s that in mind that when he enters his classroom the following week and all the conversations die immediately, Newt is suspicious. Suspicious and maybe a little nervous, thinking of the last time they had come together and how he’d made sure to use the proper dilution of the Swooping Evil venom. Still, he doesn’t comment as he makes his way to the front of the class.

“Alright,” he finally says, setting his case on his table. “What were you lot going on about now?”

He expects someone to jump to their feet and tell him bluntly what ridiculous and slightly humorous general consensus they’ve come to, but no one does. They appear uneasy, a first for Newt. He’s become accustomed to their resilience, his Americans, and to see the problems of the world begin to affect them is worrisome.

He takes a stab at the dark, hopes that his assumption isn’t completely off, and tries to act as good as a professor Dumbledore was to him. “While I understand worry, you are all completely safe here. There’s no reason Ilvermorny would be a target, so there’s no use worrying over little nightmares.”

From their seats, Charles scoffs, his expression tight, and even Mildred doesn’t appear her normal self. The rest grumble and whisper some more, only half-reassured by his words. Even a small chance of disaster can cause dissatisfaction and anxiety within the masses, even if logic spoke otherwise, and children were often more susceptible to it.

It brings back the guilt again, building in the chasm of Newt’s chest over what he’s done. He’s obliviated his own students and then told them to trust in his words despite his lies. None of the situation sits well with him.

That’s why Newt decides to give them something to be happy about.

“About the report on dragons…I’ve given thought on it and decided that it’s a smidge to high-level for you all. Best push it back,” he says. “You’ll have another week.”

The mood changes quick enough. There’s a loud noise as the entire room exhales in relief. “Thank Merlin!” Emil says, slumping in his seat. All of the back row begin chatting and laughing, while Harriets sniffs, shoving the assignment back into her bag, already done and expected to pass.

“We can go over it, if you like.” Most of them find it agreeable while those in the back groan at the impending lecture. They’d wished for a free day, but Newt can’t give it to them, not today.

The dragon on the board snorts and huffs, chalky flames rocketting out of its nose, and Newt hopes that this time it won’t kick away the words he writes. “Cooperate or it’s the eraser for you,” he tells it sternly.

His misdirection works and soon enough it’s a regular classday. They all gag over the four-compartment stomach and Newt knows that none of them were listening the first time he went through the material. He talks about the time lapse between meals that can extend to months, about the bacteria that grow within the one stomach compartment and which parts of the meal break down first. He’s about to go into the excretion of the waste before he realizes that Emil is actually gagging (or doing s good expression of it).

Mildred raises her hand, but doesn’t bother to wait to be called on. “What about the discussion on flesh-eating slugs? Can we be excused from that?”

Newt pauses. “Don’t push your luck.”


 Ms. Goldstein is a good listener, a good outlet for Newt when he can’t seem to understand. While Hector goes on about his aptitude in wandwork and what it means for possible attackers and Ephedra assures him of the secrets their faculty have up their sleeves in case of emergencies, Newt’s more inclined to speak with someone who’s more blunt about the situation.

“There’s nothing here that Grindelwald would want,” she says, just as Newt knew she would. It’s good to hear that someone agrees with him. The happenings with the Muggles are strange, but nothing about it spells out the beginning of a revolution. Threatening non-magical people without an apparent reason seems too disorganized and chaotic for the villainous figure. “The school is well-defended and has hidden escape routes through the mountain.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“They’re only used as desperate measures.”

“Why anyone would want to try a hand at storming a school is beyond me.” He leans back in his chair, trying to imagine the scenario. “I wouldn’t dare try it myself knowing Hector and Ephedra.”

She gives him a sly look. “You’ve actually thought about it, Mr. Scamander?”

“Yes and no. I don’t think I’d get very far. You’d probably stop me before I tried.”

Ms. Goldstein seems happy about that.

From there the conversation turns menial before fading into comfortable silence. While Ms. Goldstein is on top of her work, Newt is certainly not. Even striking an assignment from the curriculum hasn’t lessened his load as much as he’d like.

Ms. Goldstein examines the collection of texts he’s stacked on the bookshelf, most of them foreign and infinitely better than anything the Americas had to offer, one finding her her interest enough for her flip through. Newt lets her go as she pleases while he finishes up on the reports.

“You certainly have quite the variety, Mr. Scamander. I can’t even read this.”

Newt glances at the book in her hand and recognizes it immediately. “It’s in Mandarin.”

She squints at the ink black characters that fall in neat columns, then at the rows of leather spines on his shelve. “What else do you speak? French? Chinese? Russian?”

“I’m passable in some of them, yes. It’s helpful to know conversational phrases and I’ve found that most creatures can identify with the dialect most common of their territory.”

For some reason Ms. Goldstein finds that funny. “Do you speak Celtic to kelpies? Or do they prefer cockney?”

Newt flushes. “You really don’t think my accent is that thick, do you?”

“You’re a proper English lad, you are.” Ms. Goldstein’s imitation is quite atrocious, her words drawled out like that of a cobbler. She puts more enunciation than she should, a waggle to her head, and then spouts random phrases that are nonsensical on their own. “A chip, chip, cheerio.”

“Now I know I don’t sound like that.”

“A little.”

He scoffs, but doesn’t try to argue with her. He’s come live with the jokes on his behalf and even enjoys some of them. “Better than you lot who can’t pronounce the simplest of words right. You butcher them. Ske-dule.” He grimaces the moment he says it, like he’s broken an ancient proverbial rule.

The woman across from him laughs and it’s enough to make him forget about what they were originally talking about; he even considers insulting his upbringing and try his hand at a few of the phrases he’s heard her say time and again, all with the intention to make he smile. But it passes quicker than he expects and Ms. Goldstein turns away, shaking her head, unaware of the flowery thought that had bloomed in his head. Newt swallows a sigh and returns to his work. He thinks nothing of her scrounging around his things (with his case by his side, there’s nothing to worry over) and it’s peaceful.

“What’s this?” she asks after some time. Newt looks up from his work and he immediately panics at the sight of the little wrapped box in her hands. His chair topples over in his rush to get to her.

“No! Don’t—”

Too late, the lid flies off, letting loose a wild grito , loud and prolonged. Ms. Goldstein drops the box with a yelp, but can’t escape the lasso that rushes out, fast and efficient and with a mind of its own, and Newt’s not quick enough to draw his wand before it ensnares him too. He and Ms. Goldstein collides into one another, the rope happily wrapping around them and tightening until they’re snuggly pressed together shoulder to hip.

“Sweet Mary Louis! What is this?” Ms. Goldstein’s cheek hits Newt’s chin and she tries her free herself like a trapped kneazle, easily making up for Newt lack of initial reaction. She arches her back and he’s forced to follow along.

Newt freezes and feels Ms. Goldstein do the same. After the sudden commotion, the room is eerily silent, the snow outside cushioning any kind of noise from the wilderness. Ever so slowly their profiles line up. Newt swallows.

“Mr. Scamander.” Her voice is calm, but Newt’s not fooled. It spells out trouble for him, whether this inconvenience is his fault or not, and he feels like he’s going to be paying for this dearly sooner rather than later. “Explain. Now.”

He clears his throat. “It was, um… a gift from Hector.”

“A gift?”

“Yes. He said it would, um…” Newt flushes. Snatch a date , Hector had said in the stables. He’d been warned by the man himself and still hadn’t figured it out; he only had his own ignorance to blame.

“It would what exactly?”

Their noses brush momentarily and Newt wishes there was more space to move. “I’d rather not say.”

Ms. Goldstein curses the man, says a number of incredibly colorful and convoluted things about his family and his wand, and Newt knows there’s nothing to save him, professional jokester or not. A woman’s wrath is not to be taken likely. “Well, can you please untie us?”

He would if he could, but there’s another problem. He flexes his hands, only to discover that they’re stuck just above Ms. Goldstein’s hips, and he curls his fingers into fists, unwilling to attempt anything remotely improper. “I can’t, er, seem to reach my wand.”

“You can’t—“ Ms. Goldstein doesn’t have any notion against such things, wriggling against his chest. The movement has them tittering for a horrible moment and Newt thinks that they’ll topple over, and then they’ll have a different kind of problem. “Oh, this is just great!”

In a worst case scenario, neither of them are able to reach their wands and are forced to wait for someone to come along and released them. That would be all well and good if it were Hector himself, or even Ephedra for that matter (Newt might be able to handle the teasing), but the likeliest possibility is his evening class walking in first, a embarrassing situation for the both of them. Newt might just prefer his current predicament than deal with the lashback of that.

Suddenly Ms. Goldstein’s hand presses against the bone of his hip and Newt’s body seizes up like he’s been hit with a full-body bind. “What are you doing?” His voices comes out higher than he’d like.

“I can’t reach my wand, but I think I can reach yours.”

“I-I don’t think that’s necessary—I don’t like, um—”

Ms. Goldstein glares at him and there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to look but at her. “Do you want to get out of this or not?”

Yes, he’d very much like to ‘get out of this,’ as she so eloquently put it. That’s why he keeps his mouth shut, his eyes averted to the ceiling, and counts to ten. He tries his hardest to ignore the fact that he’s pressed against a woman’s he’s barely met only a few months ago or how Ms. Goldstein’s breath is right against the sliver of skin just above his collar.

Ludicrously, the idea to congratulate Hector in his planning springs to mind. How was he to know when Newt and Tina would meet, much less be in the same room when his gift was opened? Better this than with another member of the faculty. Newt’s unsure if he’s thankful for the scenario or if he’ll ever be able to speak to Ms. Goldstein again.

Her brows are furrowed in concentration, her gaze directed somewhere at his jaw as she squeezes her hands through the rope and reaches his holster, and Newt refrains from jerking away and toppling them over himself. A few tries and Ms. Goldstein manages to reach his wand and slip it out of his holster. She waves it only for nothing to happen and groans, and Newt feels the sound very acutely. He has the sense to be apologetic over the uncooperation of his wand. “Go on. Take it.”

The touch of her fingers has his tingling. He struggles to remember the right spell until finally , the rope falls to the floor limp with a flick and they immediately step apart. Newt looks at his shoes, unsure of what to say and not particularly inclined to say anything at all. He’d rather just escape to his case and lose himself to his creatures.

Ms. Goldstein wordlessly gathers the box and hands it to him.

“You can, um, say that you found me,” he says quietly. “Or maybe it’d be best if we didn’t mention this to Hector. He might try again.”

He’s slightly worried when he notices the redness in her cheeks, coupled with the thunderous expression on her face, the beginnings of a storm about to ravage an unsuspecting port. “I’ll deal with him.”

Newt’s tempted to ask what she plans to do, but is interrupted. He spots something that most definitely isn’t snow or a tree through the window. A gaggle of students coming down the mountainside, Mildred leading them like usual.

Ms. Goldstein follows his line of sight and spots them as well, her previous anger melting into panic. She knows just as well as Newt they couldn’t possibly pass of the moment as anything other than awkward and neither of them in any shape to act normal in front of a group of children, especially gossiping ones. “You can leave through the greenhouse,” he tells her before he realizes it.

A quick glance up from the floor and he catches her eye fleetingly and there’s an understanding between them. She reaches out, but seems to rethink what she planned to do. Instead, Newt’s given a fleeting smile. “Thank you.”

She ducks past his office and through the door just as Newt begins to hear the high voices of his students. He fiddles with the januscope in his pocket and tries to ignore the slight pull he feels that’s directing him to follow after.


 Newt is heading to dinner when he sees Hector and can only stop and stare at the sight.

Hector genially waves at him as if nothing’s wrong. “Ha! I knew it’d work! Did you and Tina cash it for long?”

“Can you please hurry up to the infirmary?” Mr. Hidalgo crosses his arms and glares at the man over his shoulder. He’s at least a head shorter and stuck to Hector’s back the way he is, his feet barely reach the ground. “I’d like to eat soon.”

The westerner ignores the man’s complaints. “I expect a detailed tale when I unstick this slug.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” Newt says while Mr. Hidalgo grumbles, offronted. Hector doesn’t believe him and Newt accepts that this is one fact he’ll never get through.

“She’s a real spitfire, ain’t she?”

Newt flushes, but doesn’t offer a retort. Instead he watches the man hitch his personal hitchhiker higher and proudly make his way down the hall, waving off the jokes the ghosts and portraits throw out. Pickett gives a startled squeak when the rugs pulls themselves out from under him and he stumbles down the stairs.

The students are already starting their meals when Newt sits himself beside Ephedra, who’s already in the middle of a discussion about what can be done to make a sticking charm last as long as three days. They don’t mention Hector, nor Mr. Hidalgo, but during dessert the man himself comes waltzing into the Hall with his arm slung around the potions professor’s shoulders and he takes in the students’ applause like a performer during an encore, and it feels as if he’s returns from a year-long quest than a trip to the infirmary for a stubborn spell. A man of the people, his easy smile lifts the mood in a way that no one could, isolating this one moment into one more comfortable.

Newt sees the proud gleam in Ms. Goldstein’s eyes and thinks that Hector is right about one thing. A real spitfire.


 There’s a soft knock on the door. Newt unlocks it while remaining at his desk, trying to remember which pile of papers is what and if he’s already gone through them or not.

Normally he’s not one to stay late and would prefer to retire for the night to go through feeding rounds, preen the feathers Frank can’t reach if he has time, but Hector’s prank left his more than a little frazzled and unable to focus on much besides the most intense of chores. It reminds him of being stuck at his desk at the Beast Division after a particularly riveting adventure, an imaginary ball and chain that keeps him grounded.

“Evening, Mr. Calderon,” he greets as the boy falls unceremoniously onto the stool across from him. Pickett is scampering from one end of the desk to the other, determined to help him locate the list of items he needs to have restocked. “You've been quite busy, I hear. This is your third detention this week.”

Robert hums in agreement.

“Hector told me you forwent a duel for fisticuffs. Any particular reason why?”

The boy shrugs. Newt sighs and wonders how he’s supposed to connect with him, must less rehabilitate him and bring out the obedient child within when he himself is still desperately holding onto the troublemaker within and the freedom it represents.

“It was an unfair advantage, but the kid was as wild as a bucking griffin,” Hector had said about the disagreement. Newt thinks back to his old school days and the problems that he faced at the expense of their peers, recalling the names and rumors that Leta faced with a stubborn vengeance and a dangerous disregard for safety. Bullies, it seemed, were universal.

“I was never one for fights—that's not to say I didn't have one once in awhile—usually out of my control. I wasn't the most popular chap—something to do with my less than normal personality… that and my odd habit of dissecting horklumps and the like.” He finds his list under a stack of ungraded papers meant for the fifth years (he would have to look at those at some point). “Was this fight about something particular?”

Arms crossed, Robert glares at the side wall. “This sap in Potions wouldn't pipe down about something he didn't know anything about. When he didn't stop, I got him right in the kisser.”

Newt considers the answer, head bobbing from side to side. “I can't say I condone your actions, nor can I say violence is never the answer—for, in some species, it is—but might I offer some advice?”

The boy still doesn't look his way, but nods nonetheless.

“It's been my experience that as long as there are people on this earth, there will be fools eager to talk about how they know best.” Newt thinks of his past classmates, his fellow colleagues, and, sometimes, even his family. “And, well, if we stopped our lives to confront every individual who thought themselves better, then we wouldn't have much time to live at all, now would we?”

Robert twists forward suddenly, face passionate. “You don’t know what he was saying, Professor! He had no right—”

“He had every right to speak his mind, just as you do. It's both a curse and blessing—having the freedom to speak whatever we wish.” He tries to appease the boy with a smile. “We mustn't let their words get to us.”

“Aren't you… don't you worry about what other people might say? What they think of you?”

“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice. I won't allow myself to suffer because of words that may or may not be true.” No more, he tells himself.

Robert doesn't respond, merely glaring at the ground, and Newt doesn't speak.

He doesn't mind the silence. Past experience has taught him that he'll get an answer if he's patient and, although Robert is not an angry bowtruckle, Newt assumes that the situation is similar enough. He takes the time to look at the last of his papers, reports on the effect of spells on magical creatures; most of them are adequate, a few going above and beyond his expectations for a simple assignment. He marks them accordingly, waiting.

“Professor…” There is a hesitation in Robert’s words, as if saying them will release a bomb upon them. “What do you think about Grindelwald?”

Newt pauses, but only for second. He starts back up quickly, but not fast enough to roll past the moment. “I assume this was what the argument was about?” he asks, focusing on the remark he writes on a less than thought out essay. Besides the scratch scratch of his quill, the sounds of the forest outside are almost silent. “Questioning the loyalties of others.”

“Yes,” Robert answers, face going frantic in the moments leading up to their shared eye contact. “I wasn't… I mean… you know…”

He does not know, but takes a guess anyway. “I'm not one of Grindelwald’s fanatics, Mr. Calderon, if that's what you're asking.”

The boy stutters, embarrassed. “I-I didn't…”

“It's quite alright. I understand—tensions are high and no one is safe from inquiry, even students.”

Newt sets aside the rest of the papers, abandoning the work in favor of something more physical. With his list in his hands, he scrounges around the classroom for the supplies.

“We’ll be feeding Chizpurfles to the venomous tentacula today. Collecting the regurgitated shells will be relatively simple—now, picking off some leaves, that will pose a real challenge.” After some contemplation, he snags a small medical kit from the shelf. “After that, I’ll make us some tea and we can talk more about this boy from potions—”

Robert grimaces.

“—or would an extra lesson on carnivorous plants be more of an interest?”

The boy smiles and Newt can't help but give one in return.

“I thought so.”


 His conversation with Robert was a warning, yet Newt doesn't heed it.

There’s schism between the student body and, while there’s no obvious division or rivalry, it only worsens as the days go by. Hector and Mr. Hidalgo’s temporary attachment lifted spirits, the good mood lasting longer than Newt might expect, but it doesn’t overshadow reality. The students aren’t stupid to the going ons of the world, can’t be calmed and swayed with candies and laughs for all their childhood years.  

Newt tries to keep up the facade that everything is just as it’s always been, if only to help with the Headmistress’s united front. He’s supposed to be the authority figure, the person who the students look to in times of crisis and, while that’s quite a big leap for him, he tries to take a note from his brother. Aurors were often hypocritical slaves to the law, but they did organize and keep numbers under intense situations with the right leader, and Newt has to grudgingly applaud them on their efficiency (not that he’ll ever tell Theseus that).

Except sometimes things don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to no matter how determined one might be. That there’s nothing he can do to stop a collision course with the unwanted future because no matter what he does, he can’t control it or the people that inhabit it. They’re unknown variables in a complex equation, ones that don’t act as he does and doesn’t see what he sees. Sometimes people don’t like how he sees the world and it makes his view of wizardkind a little less kind with every clash.

It starts with an innocent question.

Newt’s walking around class as his students finish their write-ups on the reproduction system of marmites, offering help and direction when needed, and stops at one table in particular. Mildred, for all her fire and confidence, is the least artistic person he’s ever met; if he squints carefully, Newt assumes her drawing is that of lobalug, if a bit deranged-looking. It’s one of their calmer sessions, a relaxing day for them all in face of the tension that plagues the school, but Newt should know that things don't always go according to plan, least of all for him.

Charles is the least involved in the class (even less than Estella), so it’s a surprise he willingly brings up a personal inquiry. “Professor, what creature would require more bulk for feeding: dragons or manticores?”

Newt does a string of calculations in his head for the question being asked, making personal assumptions, and comes to the answer fairly quickly. “That would be dragons.”

“But you told us they only eat once a month.”

“Yes, but they are rather ravenous. They’re often used in wizard warfare,” he says, “but the fact is dragons almost always try to eat their handlers. Whether or not they can go without food for weeks, they prefer to be fed more frequently.”

“Have you worked with dragons before?”

“During the war, yes. I was with the dragon division working with Ukrainian Iron Bellies. Eastern front.” This tidbit of information isn’t new, already come up when they first started on the discussion of the fiery beasts, but he supposes that not everyone was listening. “They were sent to a reserve when it was disbanded.”

“So they aren’t used for that sort of stuff anymore?”

Newt grimaces. “Well, there are still some settlements where Iron Bellies are being trained. There’s a belief they can be tamed and ridden by wizards.”

“Can they?”

Newt thinks back on his days with Corps and the trouble he came across with his superiors. “Tamed? No. Ridden? Occasionally.”

There’s some murmuring at that, the possibility and recklessness of such a feat as riding a dragon a sort of thrilling fantasy. He even considers diverging a story about crossing Czechoslovakia in a nighttime flight, but thinks better of it.

Not everyone considers the positives of riding man-eating creatures. Charles takes the more realistic route of thinking. “Rumor has it Grindelwald’s looking for magical creatures.” It’s abrupt and blunt.

At the infamous man’s name, there’s gasps. There’s no taboo against speaking of Gellert Grindelwald, but there’s a general consensus that no one’s to speak his name else bring up disputes and mismatching opinions. Newt feels it as well, the ill will the string of words present, and is momentarily shocked at the abrupt turn the conversation took. “I'm well aware of the rumors, Mr. Trimble. But still, rumors are rumors, seldom holding but a grain of truth.”

Mildred appears tense, blatantly glaring at Charles, but says nothing before turning back to her work. Newt offers her a copy of his own notes, especially the illustrations he’d drawn, and hopes that she can copy as best as she can by the end of the class. A quick look at the rest of his students and most of them go back to their work, albeit a little more distracted. Charles does not.

Newt doesn’t say anything more and let’s the boy mull over his thoughts, hoping that he reaches a conclusion after class is finished and that it’s not entirely violent in nature.

Humanity is like a coin, Newt thinks, able to flip with an easy toss. Good to bad, friend to foe. He has hope, he really does. He hopes the world will change for the greater good. He hopes he can show his fellow wizards that not everything unknown and a nuisance has to be eradicated, but knows that he has to start from the bottom up. Start with the small things and slowly show that there’s nothing to fear, from the grumpiest of kneazles to the rowdiest of nundus.

Like many of his hopes, reality has a habit of dashing them.

“How many hands would they need to control half a dozen of dragons?”

“I wouldn’t know.” These questions feel like a interrogation and would like nothing more for them to be past it and onto more important and safe subjects. They're currently behind schedule, so the quicker they get back to the assignment at hand, the more time he has to teach (and the quicker this class can be over). “As far as I’m aware, they don’t see my profession as all that important.”

Newt has never ignored that fact that his work and love of creatures are seen as less than to most wizards, Gellert Grindelwald undoubtedly included; he’s never met the man (nor does he want to), but what limited preaching he’s heard in the passing and blaring from newspaper print that Grindelwald and his followers have adopted makes it clear that those with a voice care not for those who lack it. What’s disheartening is the fact that it’s being taken to by so many who don’t know better and he can only assume—hope that fear is the cause.

“Could he get by with less? If the hands were good at what they do?”

“I don’t think so,” he says. “Even if Grindelwald wanted to keep dragons, it wouldn’t be through natural means. There were rumors concerning the treatment of magical creatures during the war on the Western Front. Many of of them were under the imperius curse, forced to fight.”

“That'd be an easy way to capture them, wouldn't it?” Charles insists. “Just cast the curse and keep at it from there?”

“What?” Newt blinks, not understanding. “I-I wouldn’t know…”

“Charles! Quit it,” someone hisses urgently, except Newt doesn’t know what’s happening. He thinks he’s missing something, like all the children know what’s really being said, but won’t tell him. The underlying meaning is overshadowed by the unsettling inquiries.

Despite the warning, Charles continues unhindered. “It’d be best for everyone if they were controlled, wouldn’t it? I’m sure lots of dragonologists do it and lie to not get caught.”

The words ring similar to a old memory, bringing him back to the Eastern Front and with an assemble of men and women who didn’t care for the creatures they were using. Newt remembers fighting tooth and nail against their cruel recommendations, tired on the flimsy line of what was justified as inhumane when concerning dragons, ignoring their reasons. It’s best for everyone, they’d say, they’re just beasts. The setting and people are different, but the feeling he gets is the same.

Newt has the sudden desire to organize his herbs, and he does just that. It's an easy escape from facing his students. “Magical creatures aren't humans—they're wilder, running on instinct. Even under the curse, getting them to obey wouldn't come without problems. They would be fighting back every step of the way and their handlers would most likely be covered with injuries showing just that. Dragonologists get burned on a good day, so you can imagine how dealing with a cursed dragon is like.”

“You don’t look like you have a lot of burns, Professor. How did you deal with dragons?”

Newt feels himself freeze, a frozen statue of a man he doesn't know. Needles prick his muscles, stabbing mercilessly at his heart in the hopes of its failure; it doesn't break, no matter how much he wants it to, but it does splinter. Cracks of grief mark him, hurting him with the implication of those words.

They are his creatures and he loves them; loves them with all his being, has done so since he was just a small boy grasping at his mother's skirt as she feeds her beloved hippogriffs. He can't blame them for the pain they give, not when they don't mean it—for that is another reason to love them. The scars are what make them his , and just the thought of returning them, of raising a hand against—

“Class dismissed.”

The room is silent. It's so odd and jarring that Newt’s almost regretful he uttered the words. Almost, but not quite. Charles’ mouth is open, tirade cut and forced back down his throat with Newt’s sudden showing of backbone. Eyes from every angle stare at him and there is confusion, but also shock. They hadn’t thought he would fight back.

“But we've still got half an hour left!”

“You were going to show us the fire crabs by the pond!”

He tries for a smile, but fails spectacularly. “Maybe another day.”

Not bothering to gather his papers, or clean up for that matter, Newt grabs his suitcase. To leave his students unattended in a classroom would be an infringement on school policy, but that’s not something he cares about right now. The desire to escape hasn't been this strong since his expulsion; he feels the same, ashamed, unable to look anywhere but the ground, suffocating under the presence of people he doesn't want to be near.

So he leaves.

Chapter Text

A good thing about Friday is that once it's over, one can look forward to the solitude of the weekend. A miniature holiday, well-deserved.

Newt deserve some solitude.

Unlike being on his own, he can't up and decide to make a small expedition into an inhabited part of the jungle for a few days and throw himself into his work, cut off from the world outside by tangled vegetation and flooded rivers. Here in America, under the strict code of Ilvermorny, he’s well and truly stuck, limited to the invisible barrier that makes up the state.

Supervising children has never been more of a bother than it is now and Newt absolutely refuses to face his students this soon. Some kind of word of what happened must have got out because Ephedra doesn't ask him any questions, agreeing to take on his class when he asks with as little words as possible.

“I'll tell the Headmistress you’ve been called to a conference with your publisher or something,” she tells him, pressing one of her sweet grass candies into his palm. “Don’t worry about your class. It'll be a stretch with my kids, but I can handle it.”

He nods his thanks and leaves, hurrying to escape the whispers that have been following him since the afternoon before. He departs before any of the students, Apparating the moment he's crossed the invisible border that separates Ilvermorny and Babington Hills. He makes a trip to the Muggle town—Adams it’s called—for a trip free of magic and wizards and students.

Muggles have always been fascinating to him. They could do so much, create such strange machines and inventions to make up for their lack of magical ability, refining constantly for the best quality. Automobiles were absurd to him, the workings behind them completely and utterly baffling, but that didn't mean he couldn't appreciate the minds that were behind it. At a scientific standpoint, they were as delightfully bewitching as his creatures.

But what’s supposed to be a quick trip to clear his head turns into a exasperating ordeal. A small discourse at the local bank involving his niffler and a random Muggle sets him off course, and before he knows it he's framed for a heist his niffler had the gall to try.

“Can’t you go one day without slipping off and making a mess of things? Honestly.” he scolds his niffler, grip unrelenting as it squirms in his grasp. It takes some effort, but he gets the greedy creature into the case. There’s shouting from the Muggle police, most likely searching for the culprits, but the bank’s outer infrastructure hides Newt well enough so he doesn’t bother to worry about being seen.

He sighs, weary, before turning back to the other problem. “I’m awfully sorry about that—”

The portly man jabs a finger at his case, cowering against the stone pillar Newt had pushed him towards. With a suit a smidge too small, he appears out of his element, all bug-eyed and gasping. “What the hell was that?”

“Nothing that need concern you.” He straightens the man’s coat, dusting off nonexistent dirt. “Now, unfortunately, you have seen far too much, so if you wouldn’t mind— could you just stand there...” He smiles. A small blip in his outing, that’s what this is. All it needed is a quick fix and he can get on with his day. “This will be all over in a jiffy.”

The Muggle makes a face, muttering, and presses against the wall like Newt has dragon pox. Out of sight, Newt brings out his wand, and turns—

—just as the corner of a suitcase catches him in the temple. He falls back with a yelp.

“Sorry!”

By the time Newt regains himself the man’s already in the open street and swallowed up by the gathering crowd. Newt wonders how he didn’t see it coming. He rubs his head, wincing. “Bugger.”

A familiar bob catches his eye, the face to go with it magically appearing from the sea of confused Muggles. Newt ducks back before he's seen, going over possible excuses in his head. Nothing he comes up with is sound, so he decides to go for the simpler option—namely, walking out with no explanation and hoping for the best. He pockets his wand, takes a breath, picks up his suitcase, and, with an air of nonchalance, steps back out in the open.

She's closer now, heading straight for him, but he's determined to pass it off. There are many reasons to be out, all of which could possibly lead him to the bank.

He nods and gives her an awkward smile. “Good afternoon, Ms. Go—”

She moves faster than he expected, grabbing his arm, and the world is forcefully warped until darkness presses against every inch of him.


Ms. Goldstein Apparates them in an abandoned alley and shoves him against the brick wall. They’re both out of breath.  “What are you doing?”

“I'm sorry?”

In the distance, there's a high, shrill ringing. “I saw you—in the bank!”

Newt frowns. “You were following me?”

She nods at his case, ignoring his accusation. There’s a bit of mustard on her lip. “What was that?”

“My niffler.” He shakes his head. She had her own group of students to watch over in Babington, so to have her in front of him is surprising. “You do remember when I interrupted your class—”

“Why in the name of Deliverance Dane did you let that thing loose again?”

“I didn't mean to—” He points at her mouth or, rather, at the mustard. “Sorry, you have something on your—”

Newt doesn't expect Ms. Goldstein to jerk back so violently. She slaps his hand away, taking care of the stain herself. “You didn't mean to?”

“No. He's generally harmless. The only thing for you worry about is your belongings—anything shiny and he's all over it.”

“You couldn't have picked a worse time to let that thing loose!” They were on good terms last time they talked, Newt’s sure of it, so he doesn't understand where this sudden anger is coming from. He debates on whether or not to ask what's got her wand in a knot, but thinks better if it. “Mr. Scamander, you've been here for almost half a year and yet you have no idea how the wizarding community in America works, do you?”

Now that’s an unfair assumption. He’s learned more than enough during his time here. “I know quite a bit, actually. I know your way of living is quite backwards than England—”

Wrong choice of words, he realizes, judging from Ms. Goldstein’s hardened expression. “Well, here we have a higher risk of exposure,” she snaps at him. “The Salemers have supporters all over the Eastern coast. Hopefully you've heard of them during this little trip of yours?”

He thinks about the crumpled paper in his pocket from the women preaching in front of the bank. He’s come across a variety of Muggles, but the ones here are especially accusative. “Yes.”

“Then you know we're in a situation here!” He remains silent, unsure what to say. Ms. Goldstein sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “At least tell me you took care of the No-Maj.”

“The what?”

“The No-Maj.” He stares at her, perplexed. “No magic! The non-wizard!”

In all his days at Ilvermorny that’s the first time he’s ever heard of the word. The ridiculousness of the ban against Muggles gains another tally. “Yes—sorry, we call them Muggles.”

“You wiped his memory, right? The No-Maj with the case?”

“Um…”

For a moment Newt thinks her eyes are going to pop out of her skull. Her gobsmacked expression doesn't last long before her anger resurfaces, all of it directed at him. “You—” she starts, then stops. Newt stays silent as she takes a deep breath, then another. Finally, in a strained voice, “Who else knows of the runaway No-Maj?”

Newt’s impressed with how well she composed herself. Generally, this was where people had enough of him, either leaving or giving a smack or two. “Ah—no one.”

“Good, that's—good.”

He glances back at the street, wondering where this situation will lead them. “Will you be, um, getting MACUSA involved?”

Ms. Goldstein levels him with a stare. “I should…” Newt’s anxiousness must show because she sighs like she’s going to do something she regrets (like Theseus when Newt had brought home a litter of crups one summer afternoon). “Let’s see the case.”

“What?”

“The case,” she says, motioning towards his suitcase. “Show me that it's under lock and key. If anything happens for the rest of your stay at Ilvermorny, we're going to need to prove that it was under no fault of you or your niffler. Show me your case and we can put it down in writing that it's secure.”

That would be all well and fine, an exemplary plan indeed—except he has more than a thieving niffler in there. “That's quite unnecessary.”

“Unnecessary?” She stares at him surprised and, if he's honest with himself, hurt. “I’m trying to help you! The least you could do is work with me!”

He tugs his case away from her when she reaches for it and that’s when the anger sets in. He sees the weeks of bonding fading away into nothing, all the trust between them dwindling with this one act of defiance. She grabs his arm. “Fine. Don’t show me. I’ll take you to Headmistress Peregrine then. She’ll be more than interested in what your niffler has done.”

Her word is final and Newt doesn’t try to argue against it, knowing full well that doing anything to dissuade her would lead to a battle he won’t win. Running would only incriminate him. Without another word, she whisks them away from the Muggle street and to the imposing brass gates of Ilvermorny, and it feels as though the whole school knows he’s in for trouble, like it has spies just beyond sight, judging him for the light treason he’s committed.

It's becoming a regular occurrence for her to drag him along. Any other day, Newt would have happily used this time to further his almost-yet-not-friendship with his fellow colleague, but, as of right now, that option flew out the window some time ago. Instead the journey is less than friendly, Ms. Goldstein berating him the entire way to the view of every laughing painting and curious statue. In one particular corridor, the busts of former headmasters silently follow their path from their podiums.

Newt half-heartedly smiles at the students they pass by, nodding as he should, but he thinks that he’s failing at keeping up appearances. For once, the spiraling staircase leads him in the right direction and soon he and Ms. Goldstein are facing the huffing griffin that guards the headmistress’s office. The woman herself is leaning against her desk when they enter, looking as though she expected them; Mr. Graves is nowhere to be seen and it’s a stroke of good luck in an otherwise unwanted scenario. Newt begins to worry.

“You have something to show me, Tina?”

Ms. Goldstein grips his arm tighter when he falls back. “Actually, Mr. Scamander has something I think you’ll want to see.”

Newt doesn't move and Ms. Goldstein snatches his case from him his hand. There’s a few whispers from the portraits and Newt can only follow as she places it on the table for everyone to see. She opens it and—

Newt doesn’t know what to say to the dozen or so pastries in his case.

Headmistress Peregrine idly picks up a scone, taking a bite, humming as her eyebrows rise. “I didn’t know you were such a baker, Mr. Scamander. These are delicious, but not warranting a last minute meeting.”

No matter how hard he tries, Newt can’t get a word out. Horrified, that’s currently the feeling settling in the base of his stomach. It constricts his throat, sets his mind blank, and leaves him stupid. This isn’t his suitcase, which meant…

Headmistress Peregrine eyes them, cataloguing their expressions in her usual stern and calm manor. She plucks a swirling pastry from the batch, sniffing if. “I assume there was some mixup? If so, please handle it before coming to me again.”

Neither he or Ms. Goldstein say a word.

“If that’s all Ms. Goldstein, I have some more important matters to deal with,” the headmistress says, taking another scone as she steps away. “Wonderful job with the pastries by the way.”


Outside the Headmistress’s office, they stare at one another in the small space, only to be ejected when the griffin screeches and the wings bracketing its mantel shove them away.

Ms. Goldstein, with the case still in hand, marches away, her face flushed and twisted angrily. “I can't believe you didn't obliviate that man! If there's an inquiry, I'm finished!”

Newt follows helplessly, dodging a group of native ghosts that mutter in foreign tongues. One jabs his shin with his corporeal spear. “Why would you be finished? I'm the one who—”

“I'm not supposed to go anywhere near the Second Salemers!”

Now that’s somewhat of a surprise. “Why not?”

She stops in the middle the entryway into a courtyard and Newt almost runs into her. She appears panicked. “No reason.”

“That doesn’t—”

She whirls on him, intense and an avalanche of determination tumbling with every word. The case is shoved into his hands rather roughly. “We have more important things to worry about! Your niffler in fact! Who knows what it’s done while in the hands of a No-Maj!”

He sighs, trying to not be offended. “It’s a thief, not a menace.”

“From what I get, you don’t seem to think any creature is a menace—not even with the claws and the fangs and the flames and the venom.” She leans in close, miming each description, exaggerating her motions to a ridiculous degree.

Newt stares at her, not sure what to say. He thinks that perhaps she’s feeling more frayed than she’s letting on, but can’t be too sure if it has something to do with him and his case or another problem.

Ms. Goldstein hurriedly steps back, visibly frustrated. “Nevermind.”

As much as he’d like to stand around and be berated any longer, there’s more important matters that require his attention. With a semi-formulated plan and vague understanding of the American Muggle cities, he starts to walk away.

He's pulled back by the sleeve of his coat. “Where are you going?”

“I thought it was obvious. I'm going to search for my niffler.”

“You can't leave the grounds!”

“Why not?”

“It's late! Someone will see you! The aurors MACUSA stationed here are already suspicious of you—sneaking out this late is only going to make it worse.”

“Well, if you're with me—”

“That won't work either.”

There's definitely something else, something she's hiding and he knows nothing about. He wishes he’d been nosier and inquired about the rumors surrounding her. She won’t disclose anything, he knows, so he’s stuck in the dark for now.

After a moment he says, “I do have perfectly healthy hippogriffs at my disposal.”

“No!”

“We can be as quick as a golden snidget.”

“Why would you think riding hippogriffs—that you illegally transported here unsupervised—into a No-Maj town is a good idea? Do you want to be arrested?”

“No-Maj,” he scoffs. “Might as well yell you’re a witch and be done with it.”

“Better than—what did you call them—Mugglers? I can’t believe you didn’t know what a No-Maj is. Did no one ever mention it?”

“Muggle,” he corrects. “And you Americans have somewhat tabooed the word and every affiliation with non-magical people, so it’s very easy.”

She glares at him, but doesn’t offer a rebuttal, which leaves them right where they were before. None of this arguing solves the problem of getting back his case and they’re no less closer to figuring out what to do next. All they have is some Muggle’s case full of sweets...

Getting to his knees, he opens up the case and stares at the collection of pastries, each appearing handmade and meticulously organized. He picks up a glazed one and sniffs it.

“You’re eating? Now?”

Newt ignores her. This is familiar, he knows it. “This may sound strange, but I’ve had this before.”

“What?”

“The students have taken up the habit of giving me delectables.” He stares up at her. “They’ve often told me about receiving free samples from a nice man.”

“You're not saying…”

He shrugs. “It’s possible.”

“May I remind you that fraternizing with No-Majes is illegal, so if you’ve been letting students—“

“I never asked where they were getting them,” he says and wonders if he should have. He’d allowed many freedoms to his students, keeping the smaller misdeeds to himself as they do for him. “I thought they were talking about a wizard in Babington.”

She looks like she doesn’t believe him. Thankfully, she brushes past him and begins pacing along the hallway, and Newt thinks of Amara prowling about her cave. “Well, we need to find out if that No-Maj is who they’re getting them from! And how they’re sneaking out of the school in the first place!”

“You would know better than me.”

She glares at him and looks close to cuffing the side of his head, only to suddenly perk up. “Come on! Up, up!” She hurriedly closes the case and grabs a hold of his arm as per usual, pulling him along before he’s gotten his feet under him.  “I think I know where we can find someone who can get us out.”

Soon enough they find themselves at the kitchen and the late night elves still about welcome with open arms and ready cups of tea and cocoa. Ms. Goldstein gives them a blunt, yet polite refusal. At the far end of the table by the third oven, a figure tries to hide from view.

“You’re past curfew,” Ms. Goldstein says pointedly at the student ducked under the wooden bench.

With their cropped hair and unshapely pajamas, Newt almost mistakes them for a boy, but realized his mistake the moment the girl steps out of hiding. A fifth year most likely. She bats her eyelashes at them, the epitome of innocent. “Couldn’t sleep. Thought I heard werewolves from my window.” Her accent is similar to Hector’s.

“Really,” Newt says, interested. He didn’t think there’d be cases of lycanthropy near the east coast. “What makes you think so? Did it sound—”

A sharp jab to his side and Mrs. Goldstein redirects the conversation. “We know students have been sneaking out to the No-Maj town. Don't try to deny it.”

“I don’t know nothing about that.”

“Margaret,” Ms. Goldstein warms. They seem to know each other quite well, if Newt has learned anything about social interaction while in America, specifically with children. “We both know you’re the one supplying the first and second years with booze.”

She motions to the collection of viles that Newt had initial missed, each one filled with an amber liquid and placed in what looks like a hollowed out textbooks. Beside them are half a dozen empty ink bottles. Crude, if not ingenious. He wonders if there’s an entire operation smuggling alcohol; he remembers two blokes in his year that managed it for a few weeks and wouldn’t put it past the Americans to give it a go as well.

Margaret keeps her head at the accusation. “They was already here.”

“Of course they were. Where’s the secret passageway you take to get off school grounds?”

“I never took no passageway anywhere.”

“Detention,” Ms. Goldstein says and Newt winces at the lack of empathy in her voice. The elves quiet and Newt sees a few slip away at the confrontation.

“I ain’t lying!”

“Should I start taking house points?”

“That ain’t fair! I don't know the way, honest!” Margaret flushes, her ears turning red. “I ain’t the one smugglin’ them in! Most of the time, couples use them pssageways to… you know…and no one’s asked me yet.”

“Ah,” Newt says because there's nothing else to be said. He doesn't know whether to be embarrassed or amused, but keeps a neutral expression for the girl’s sake. “Could you tell us the student who would?”

Before he can get an answer, Ms. Goldstein tugs him away. “No! We can't get anyone else involved, least of all more students,” she hisses in his ear.

That much is obvious. Newt’s gotten away with countless activities that could be labeled as illegal to know that the less people involved the better, but they’re limited on information and pressed on time.

“The pukwudgies might know the way,” Margaret says. “They know everything about this place. If there's another of them secret passageways, they'd sure know about it.”

Newt turns to Ms. Goldstein. “Maybe William could help us.”

“If we can find him.” She motions to girl to hurry off. “Thanks for your help. Off to bed with you.”

“What about my goods?”

Ms. Goldstein raises an eyebrow. “I thought you didn’t know where they came from?” She motions to the door and waves a house elf over. “Go on—and make sure she gets there.”

Margaret looks none to happy, but doesn’t put up a fuss. When they're sure she's gone, Ms. Goldstein vanishes the illegal liquor and grabs Newt and hurriedly leads him on an another trip across the school. After a few minutes, they’re at the snakewood courtyard.

With the birds gone for the season, it’s silent and lifeless, not even the wind strong enough to make the branches of the snakewood creak. They search the courtyard with fruitless results and not even after ten minutes is there a hint of the pukwudgie they need. Newt has half a mind to climb the snakewood itself and see if the creature is hiding above them, having a good laugh at their expense (not that William is one for jokes).

Ms. Goldstein kicks the muddy dirt. “Do you two meet anywhere else?”

“No, he's, ah, usually here—maybe he's at the entrance… either that or he finds me.” Newt walks back to Ms. Goldstein at the center of the courtyard. “Is there anyway we could send for him?”

“They aren't house elves!”

That’s more than obvious, but Newt doesn't bother arguing. Pukwudgies are too stubborn of a species to allow themselves to be anything less than equals, only their kindness tethering them to Ilvermorny and wizardkind. He just beginning to wonder if they’ll ever comes across who they need when something jabs his calf. Newt looks down to meet a grumpy expression. “Oh, William!”

“What do you want, Mr. Englishman?” is the pukwudgie’s gruff response. It’s a wonder how comfortable he looks in the lingering snow only in his day clothes and a simple fur draped over his boney shoulders. He’s covered in pines and smudges of what could be red clay stains his breeches, but his tie is pristine. “What's all this nonsense about you asking for me? I told you one afternoon tea is enough.”

Ms. Goldstein cuts in before Newt can explain. “We're sorry to bother you, but we desperately need your help. We need to get to Adams as quickly as possible.”

Willian turns his beady eyes on her. “Adams? The No-Maj town down the mountain?”

“Yes.”

The pukwudgie grumbles something under his breath. “Use the front gate.”

“We can't. We'll be seen.”

“Why do you need to get off grounds?”

“Mr. Scamander has lost something of his and I'm helping him find it.”

“And what is that exactly?”

“Nothing particularly important—” Newt says before Ms. Goldstein elbows him. “My suitcase.”

“You mean your charges?” He looks up surprised. “Don't act so struck, Mr. Englishman. You can fool them wizards, but not my kind. Sniffed it right as you got here. And the your little mishap from before only proved my nose right!”

Newt looks at his boots and not at Ms. Goldstein. “I—er, yes, my charges.”

Thankfully, she rolls past the new information in favor of their current goal. “You must know about the secret passage the students use to get off the grounds. Could you please show us?”

“You were a student here once, Miss Goldstein. Don't you know the tunnel the students favor?”

“I didn't—” Newt averts his gaze when she glares at him, red-faced in embarrassment. “Could you just show us the secret passageway?”

“Please,” Newt adds.

William huffs. “Wizards.” He begins to hobble away. “Well, come on then. I don't have all night!”

He grumbles and complains the entire way, right until they reach the Spiraling Staircase. William raises a small hand and curls his fingers in a way that would break a human’s, squinting at the constellations of the artificial sky, like a sailor might in the middle of the sea. He finds what he’s looking for because he sets off confidently toward the portion of the room baren of portraits.

Newt looks and sees a door where there hadn’t been one before. He examines it, noting the strange coloring of the wood and stone and how it melds with the pattern of the walls surround it. A sort of chameleon effect, he thinks, taking a quick sniff. “I must admit I was expecting it to be more obvious to be honest. Not in plain sight.”

“You’re lucky it hasn’t moved! Dealing with students going in and out all the time!” The pukwudgie throws his wrinkled hands up. “It shouldn’t have to bother with the two of you either!”

He snaps. The door creaks, opening up to a circular tunnel that seems to go on forever, a faint breeze flying through. Newt hears the sound of water and, if he squints, he can see the trickle of it along the pathway.

Miss. Goldstein doesn’t waste time. “Thank you,” she tells him while shoving Newt through. The tunnel doesn’t look as if it’s been used for some time, but it’s dry and spacious enough. “If anyone asks, Mr. Scamander and I are having…tea.”

William gives her a hard stare. “Why would anyone ask?”

“Because—”

“If you two are planning something foolish, I’d advise against it.”

Ms. Goldstein flushes and it looks slightly ridiculous, a grown woman being hassled by a small creature such as William. “We’re going to remedy Mr. Scamander’s mess before it gets out of hand. We’ll be back before dinner tonight.”

William scoffs. “Don’t expect any help once you’re in over your heads,” he mutters as the door shuts on their faces.

Chapter Text

Once they reach the end of the tunnel, they’re deposited into a small alleyway similar to the one Miss Goldstein interrogated Newt in. The doorway closes behind them, now a bricked-up window on this end. Once the coast is clear and no Muggles are around to see, Ms. Goldstein ushers Newt out and into the street. This late in the evening, only a few stragglers are out and about, the streets nearly abandoned aside from the occasional automobiles.

That is until they reach of street lined with less than spectacular brownstones, one that’s seen better days and could do with a new coat of paint; there Muggles of all sorts huddle in the street, murmuring and staring at the portion of the building that collapsed to create a big erumpent-sized hole. The mob crowds the street, shouting at the officer at the center, voices of the women and children shrill and anxious and the men rough and rude.

Ms. Goldstein is naturally pulled toward the commotion. Knowing that none of this will spell good for him, Newt sneaks away while she’s preoccupied. A simple confusion spell and he’s able to make his way through the throng of people, hopping up the front steps of the building with no one the wiser. He’s greeted by peeling walls and squeaking floorboards as he quickly examines every available room until he reaches the one with a door scarcely hanging by its hinges.

A gaping hole on the far wall lets in the chilly winter breeze, bits of pieces of stone and brick tumbling down from the ceiling upsetting the dust before it can settle. The rest of the room is looks as if a lived through rampaging beasts, worse than the graphorn habitat during mating season. Slumped in the corner, the very Muggle he’s been searching for moans. Newt checks up on him, peeks at his neck and the wound there, and realizes the problem. A murtlap bite.

On the bed, his case. Newt abandons the Muggle in favor of securing it. There’s frantic footsteps and then Ms. Goldstein appears at the doorway as he quickly locks it. “Was it open?”

“Just a smidge.”

“Is that crazy Niffler on the loose?”

“Ah—might be.” Among other things, he doesn’t say.

“Well find it!”

He huffs at her tone, watching her sidle up to the Muggle and check his vitals. When her attention is completely taken by the man huddled in the corner, Newt begins to make his escape. With only a glance at his case, coupled with the destruction of the Muggle’s home, it's obvious what has transpired. He needs to get away as quickly as possible.

“He's bleeding. Oh, he's hurt!”

Ms. Goldstein suddenly shrieks and Newt whirls around to catch the pale creature hanging off her sleeve. The murtlap struggles, but he gets it into his case in record time with minimal scratches and biting.

Ms. Goldstein eyes him and his case warily, even more suspicious than all the MACUSA agents breathing down his neck for the last two months. William’s words must come back to her because she asks, “What else is in that case?”

The man sits up, groaning. He catches sight of Newt. “You,” he says—accuses.

Newt offers a smile. “Hello.”

Ms. Goldstein rises to the occasion, quickly offering a hand to the man. “Easy, Mister, uh…”

“Kowalski. Jacob—”

Newt pulls out his wand.

Ms. Goldstein dives between him and the Muggle. “You can’t obliviate him! We need him as a witness!”

“Sorry, you’ve just yelled at me the length from the school to here for not doing just that.”

“He's hurt! He looks ill!”

“He’ll be fine. Murtlap bites aren’t serious,” he says as the man groans rather sickly. Ms. Goldstein glares at him as the man continues, dry gagging, and Newt quickly corrects himself.  “Although, I admit that this is a slightly more serious reaction than I've seen. But if it was really serious he’d have…”

Ms. Goldstein stands. “What?”

He hesitates at her stare before pushing forward with an uncomfortable grimace. “Well, the first symptom would be flames out of his anus—”

They both step back.

“This is balled up!”

Newt’s never been good with angry women—people in general, but right now he’s sure he’s in for a real tirade. “It’ll last forty-eight hours at most! I can keep him if you want me to—”

“Oh, keep him! We don't keep them!”

“You can't seem to do a lot of things.” Newt can't help but be exasperated. “You can't befriend them or marry them, which seems mildly absurd—”

“Who's going to marry him?”

Mr. Kowalski looks up, frown tipping towards offended.

Ms. Goldstein raises her hands in a universal gesture for silence. “We can't just leave him here—not like this. You're both coming with me.”

“I don't see why I have to come with you.”

The man stumbles. Ms. Goldstein’s grip is too weak to hold him upright and she gazes up at Newt, pleading. “Help me. Please.”

One look and Newt knows he won't be able to take his case and go, or else risk having an irritated woman hot on his trail. And so, resignedly, he helps haul up the Muggle and let's Ms. Goldstein take him along.


Queenie is, for better words, taken to the Muggle.

The severity of the lack of integration with Muggles is apparent with her reaction to seeing Mr. Kowalski. Newt would be astounded that she, a grown witch, has never spoken to a Muggle before, but he has far more important things to consider. Namely, how to excusing himself and making his way back to the town of Adams.

The aspect of having a dinner in the living accommodations of the Goldstein sisters is somewhat ridiculous. Even his best couldn't sway Ms. Goldstein and her sister is sly in the politest way imaginable, stopping him from leaving at every angle. Stupidly, he's forgotten that she's a legilimens and in his blindsightedness and hurry to leave he gets caught red-handed. Mr. Kowalski, the one man most out of place, looks almost at home, if not a bit sweaty and twitchy; when the candles are lit and Newt remains the only one standing by the door, the Muggle nods towards the vacant seat beside him and, even though they've only just met, Newt can't help but feel a little chastised.

So he sits. They have an impromptu candlelit dinner in the middle of the sisters’ dorm. It's a pleasant and wonderful meal, Queenie taking care of most of the conversation, chatting on about her life in New York and the perks of coming to Ilvermorny every Christmas ( I've cooked with the house elves more times than I can count—really? I'll tell them you think so! They'll be so happy you like their recipe! ), and yet Newt is still antsy and wants nothing more than to leave immediately. His creatures are running wild and he's stuck here by table etiquette. Nonetheless, he keeps his thoughts hidden for Queenie’s sake and smiles and nods when he should. For a few moments, he even finds some entertainment in the conversation, as both Queenie and Mr. Kowalski are kindred souls with that seem to connect instantly. Their conversation is a fresh breath of air after the chastising by Ms. Goldstein.

“That's sweet,” Queenie says when they've finished. She breezes through the late passing of her and Ms. Goldstein’s parents, something that Newt’s only just learned. “But we’ve got each other.” Her and Ms. Goldstein share a smile.

In face of the tender moment, Newt observes the room, little knick knacks that express their personalities. A suitcase is somewhat hidden by an ornate room divider, clothes spilling out, and he hurriedly looks away when he sees undergarments and delicates of the like. He sees a brass menorah in the corner of the room.

“It’s alright, sweetie.” Queenie giggles at someone’s thoughts. “Oh, we've only just met! Teenie and Newt have known each a bit longer—they’re both professors.”

Ms. Goldstein glares at Newt across the table.

“Oh, if only we’d met sooner! You could’ve seen a real wizard dance! It was swell! Newt said he's not much of a dancer, but Teenie was able to snag him for one.” Queenie giggles and her and Mr. Kowalski laugh like they've know each other longer than an hour while Newt idly studies the ceiling, the table, anything but the woman sitting across from him.

The lock on his case flips open and he clicks it close before Ms. Goldstein notices it. He desperately hopes for something to happen so that they can put this dinner to an end; he finds the perfect opportunity when Jacob begins to sweat profusely, enough that Queenie finally takes notice, and, through her, Ms. Goldstein. The murtlap venom is starting to affect the Muggle in earnest and Newt uses it to his advantage.

He quickly rises out of his chair. “Ms. Goldstein, I think Mr. Kowalski could do with an early night. Besides, you and I have to be up early tomorrow to catch my niffler.”

Queenie wrinkles her nose. “What's a niffler?”

“Don't ask.” Ms. Goldstein stands, clearing their plates with a simple wave. “You two can bunk in here.”

“I do have a place to stay,” he argues. It would be silly for him to spend a night in their room when he already has accommodations specifically made for him. This is a room for two, not four.

Ms. Goldstein summons a pile of blankets from the cabinet and shoves them into his hands rather forcefully. They are nose to nose and she doesn’t let him look anywhere but at her. “You are staying right where I can keep an eye on you. Tomorrow we're going to catch your niffler and then I'm taking you straight to Headmistress.”

They’re at odds. He remembers how annoyed he’d been when they first met, how much of an immovable force she was. So he follows her commands, albeit stubbornly and with a small fuss.


He sneaks into his case the moment Ms. Goldstein leaves him alone, inviting Mr. Kowalski after him. The man falls gracelessly into the stool Newt placed under the entrance, bug-eyed and breathless, but otherwise unhurt. He's now tomato-red and damp with sweat.

Definitely the Murtlap.

“You're a Muggle—that means our physiology is slightly different.” The proper treatment is given in less than a minute, Mr. Kowalski only grimacing once at the application, but accepting the pill easily enough. Really, Ms. Goldstein had nothing to worry about.

Newt discards his coat, turning back to see Mr. Kowalski fingering some of his papers. He cleans up the best he can, magicking most of his things to their proper place. “Don't mind those. They’re student essays.”

“Student…?” Mr. Kowalski eyes the flying papers, then the maps that line Newt’s shack, tracking the ink paw prints of rescues (now released) that travel the paper. “What are you like some wizard teacher or something?”

“I'm a magizoologist—currently a teacher on the management of magical creatures.” At the man’s confusion, he elaborates. “I study magical creatures. The teaching position is fairly new and only temporary.”

“What you're saying is… there’s a school for wizards?”

Newt rocks his head side to side, contemplating how much to tell. Secrecy had already been thrown out the window, he reasons, but saying anything would put him in a tight spot—well, an even tighter spot. Ms. Goldstein would have a few more words, then Headmistress Peregrine would be brought in with even more words. No matter how the might proceeded, he would be getting a stern talking to. “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located on the highest peak of Mt. Greylock. It was founded in the seventeenth century, I think.”

“Mt. Greylock? That's—” Mr. Kowalski shakes his head. “So, what, you just hop on up the mountain every school day?”

“No. Student and faculty live on school grounds during semester—Ms. Goldstein and I are no exceptions.”

The realization is clear to see. He had been out of sorts when they’d sneaked them in, but now his senses are coming back to him. “I'm in the—”

Newt nods. “Yes.”

“But we’re—”

“Yes.”

“And I'm not—”

“No.”

Mr. Kowalski sits back. “Oh.”

“It’s a lot to take in.” Newt pulls out the last of the cow carcass for the graphorns, finding the right kleever on his wall. “Best not think too hard about it.”

“Sure...” Newt hears the man openly gag when he begins cutting up the meat. Not the most glorious thing to go (far better than disemboweling), but it had to be done. “So you’ve, uh, been at the school long?”

“Only a few months. As I said, this is fairly new.” The meat slides into the bucket with a wet sound. He hands it to Mr. Kowalski. “Hold that.”

“Ew…” The man holds the bucket as far away from his body as possible. “So, uh, are you and Tina…”

“Are Ms. Goldstein and I what?”

“You know…”

Newt doesn't know. “I don't think I do.”

There are many things people find uncomfortable, ridiculous things that Newt doesn't know how came to be, from the length of a woman's stockings to conversations concerning the reproduction of animals. Judging by Mr. Kowalski’s expression, it seems he's found his uncomfortable subject.

“You know…”

Oh.

He clears his throat once, twice. “No, no—we’re colleagues. She's currently very angry at me and I don't think I'm in her good graces anymore—what with your involvement and my creatures getting loose.”

“Oh, uh, sorry about that.”

“It's alright. I annoy people, so it's bound to happen.”

From there, he dives head first in his schedule, preparing various meals quickly, and then cajoling the Swooping Evil to spit out its venom into a small vile. He must find out the damage done with the escapees and what not, but not without a little show and tell first. His presentation with the Swooping Evil goes along the same lines as it did with his first class, which puts a smile on his face.

Showing Mr. Kowalski his creatures, it reminds Newt of his class. Something so simple as feedings the mooncalves, it's beyond awe and wonder, followed by a laugh and smile that gives Newt hope. He looks at him and sees a kindred spirit, a anomaly that goes against everything said about Muggle-kind, against his creatures. It makes him feel as though there's hope yet for the world.

And when Mr. Kowalski says yes to his plea to find and capture his creatures, Newt believes he's found a not-so-regular Muggle.


Smuggling himself and Mr. Kowalski is much easier now that Newt knows of the secret passageway leading out of the school. The dark of the night provides more than enough cover and he makes sure to avoid the corridors dominated by more than half a dozen paintings (especially those with a familiar, yet inconveniencing General), sticking to vacant halls so that Mr. Kowalski has less to see and gawk over. All the portraits they pass are fast asleep and Newt leads Mr. Kowalski to the passage he and Ms. Goldstein took earlier without problem, neither a patrolling MACUSA auror or the occasional pukwudgie out to spot them.

Dissendium,” he whispers around the spot William had shown him and Ms. Goldstein earlier in the night. The walls shimmer and waver, the castle stubbornly trying to keep him from discovering its secrets on his own without a natural inhabitant beside him, and with a Muggle no less, but eventually reveal the wooden door.

Although he'd only taken it to Adams and back, Newt follows the winding tunnel with relative ease. Mr. Kowalski stares at his wand incredulously when he lights their way, baffled.

“A simple spell,” Newt explains and leaves it at that.

“I was watching you at dinner,” he says later, when they’re out of the tunnels and searching the streets of Adam. It’s similar to the small villages in England, only with a more colonial feel to it. There’s more automobiles. “People like you, don’t they Mr. Kowalski?”

“I’m sure they like you too.”

“Not really, no,” he says. “Some of my students like me, I think, but they like you and your baking as well. Had wonderful things to say about them.”

“Your students liked my baking? They’re like you, right? They’re...”

“Witches and wizards, yes.”

“And I met them…” Mr. Kowalski looks like wants to ask something (a question Newt probably shouldn’t answer but will), but shakes it off. He makes a sharp turn. “We’re going this way.”

The town is small, most of its residents in for the night, leaving it quiet. Mr. Kowalski fills up the silence naturally and Newt learns more about the man. He learns that he didn’t get his loan from the bank due to collateral, that the man fought in the Muggle war too long, that he learned baking from his grandmother. Newt finds that he’s tellings more about himself too and Mr. Kowalski seems interested in his experience with Ukrainian Iron Bellies.

Then they find his Niffler robbing a jewelry store and Newt expects nothing less from the chaotic little bugger. The small police force trying to arrest them are a slight hindrance (he was going to repair the jewelry shop and return everything, so it's a bit excessive), but the runaway stag provides an excellent distraction.

From there, they just have to follow the low calls and grunts into the forest at the town’s opposite edge. His protective gear fits Mr. Kowalski and he imparts the wisdom his mother had once laid upon him as a child before they dive into what might turn into a disaster. Worrying means you suffer twice. Despite the little problem with his erumpent frantically chasing a terrified moose and a raccoon momentarily snatching his wand, Newt has to say the night is progressing rather smoothly.

Newt!”

Then again, maybe not.

He’ll fix the more ravaged parts of the forest so to not draw unwanted attention later. It wouldn’t do to have a random Muggle question how so much destruction seemingly appeared overnight and Newt would like to keep the most of the habitat intact for the native animals. He hurries to the commotion that can only be Mr. Kowalski and the erumpent, finding them in the middle of the frozen lake.

She’s practically a pup, sweet and playful; a couple dozen tons heavier than most pets, but innocent nonetheless. It’s good luck that the ice on the lake holds her weight, but that means she’s free to chase after Mr. Kowalski, nearly trampling the poor man.

Newt gets her in the case in the nick of time.  “Good show, Mr. Kowalski,” he says because there's nothing more to say to a man who's been thrown headfirst into a magical world and nearly killed by an erumpent in heat.

A hand is offered to him. “Call me Jacob.”

Newt smiles. He takes the hand and they shake. “Jacob then.”

Chapter Text

All good things must come to an end.

Newt knows this, just as he knows books are meant to be finished. They’re filled with pages of adventure, chapters of twists and turns, both lovely and terrible, but every reader must come to the realization that the ending is upon them. His days with Leta, filled with wonderful things like sneaking in creatures to their secret hideout, carefree chases through Forbidden Forest early mornings, and quick dips in the lake whenever the squid was feeling lazy, were fleeting; he’d breezed through them too quickly and realized it was a story he wouldn’t enjoy.

So, when he exits his case into a room completely foreign to him, a small part of him expects it. He'd been without accident for too long, so long that he was starting to be paranoid, wondering what kind of twist he’d encounter next.

It’s not the Headmistress’s office, nor any room he’s seen before, but judging by the outdated decor he guesses they’re in a less used part of the castle. There are aurors stationed at each corner, at the door as well, and Mr. Graves is seated casually beside a lifeless fireplace. Headmistress Peregrine stands a dozen feet away and Newt tries to appear innocent as he steps out of his case, wiping off the lingering dead leaves that stick to his trousers and keeping his head down and his body low. He sees Ms. Goldstein behind her and pieces together a rough story.

“You’re in quite the trouble, Mr. Scamander,” Mr. Graves says with a hint of congeniality, only it’s like the reprimands Newt would get from his teachers after a particularly strong argument (most often during class and over the of irresponsible use of magical creatures in potions and the like), a sort of expected attitude that always led to him receiving detention.

“Oh—er, hello.” 

“Mr. Scamander,” Mr. Graves asks, getting his attention and nodding at Jacob who’d come up after Newt, “Who is this man?”

“This is Jacob Kowalski,” Ms. Goldstein says hesitantly—guiltily. She doesn’t look at Newt and he tries not to be hurt by the act. “He’s a No-Maj who got bitten by one of Mr. Scamander’s creatures.”

“Newt,” Headmistress says and she sounds disappointed, “you got a No-Maj involved?”

Newt’s disappointed a great deal of people, but like everything else about this school, he’s become to care about the people in it and what they think of him. He looks at the far wall to try and his hide his guilt; his secret’s out and there is no use trying to prove otherwise, only face the consequences. “Yes, I’m aware that it’s much more of a problem but, but I was going to obliviate him when I…” He clears his throat when he sees the blank expressions of the aurors, his time wasting as he rambles on. “Not a huge problem.”

Headmistress stares at him, her eyes serious. “Newt, a No-Maj has been killed.” She states it plainly, no dilly dallying, just a simple explanation that she must assume will make him understand his connection. Newt doesn’t, caught off by it. He’s always preferred open-mindedness to side-stepping around a problem, but this kind of attitude is something he might expect from his time on the Eastern Front, all hard edges and demands, not Ilvermorny. Death had no place in a school. “MACUSA has personally taken up the duty of dealing with the murder because of previous situations with the town.”

Now Newt’s confused. He’s sure they were speaking of something entirely different, his possible infraction of secrecy, not of murder. Suspicion begins to creep in. “Who’s been killed?”

The Headmistress’s expression changes slightly, still twisted like she’s licked an Acid Pop, but now it lessens, and Newt can’t decipher what she’s thinking. She’s a powerful woman, one who demands respect all the while presenting this inviting nature that reminds him of Dumbledore, and he expects her to be frank with him. She’s always been eloquent and understanding.

Mr. Graves leans forward in his seat and, as if his aurors are an extension of himself, they press in more tightly. “Ms. Goldstein already has a connection to the town, Adams. Made a scene and openingly displayed magic to a No-Maj there. We have to burn this Devil’s Snare before the situation gets out of hand and the school is threatened.”

That still doesn’t give Newt any clue, but to him it sounds more like an accusation. Headmistress Peregrine holds Ms. Goldstein’s hand gently and Newt is almost surprised at the tenderness. “This is only a formality we have to uphold with MACUSA. You won’t be getting a sack from me.”

Tina nods and accepts it, though with a few tears.

Mr. Graves sighs like he expected this, prepared for it. “We have reason to believe that your creatures are the cause of it, Mr.Scamander.”

 Their assumption couldn’t have been more wrong, Newt’s sure, because he keeps count of everything he has, from the largest creatures to the shortest billwig stingers. He’s missing a demiguise, not a rampaging killer. “They’ve done nothing wrong!”

“On the contrary, Mr. Scamander, you’ve done a high crime bringing them to America. Threatening the presence of each student in Ilvermorny by housing a collection of beasts.” Mr. Graves waves and the air flickers to life, a floating body hovering over the desk across from Newt. “To think that a student could have been harmed—or worse, killed—due to your carelessness and irresponsibility.”

Newt steps closer, eyes only on the corporeal figure floating above the desk. There’s the signs of heavy trauma, the curse-like markings focused on the neck and head, black, vine-like tendrils that seep into the skin and fade into the bloodstream. He’s seen this before, not so long ago, and his insides do an unsettling twist at the sight. 

Headmistress Peregrine is beside him, her mouth set in a thin line when he glances over. “You know which of your creatures was responsible, Newt?”

“No creature did this… don't pretend! You must know what that was—look at the marks.” He looks at the ghostly figure. “This was an obscurus.”

Headmistress stares at him intensely and her eyes have never been more piercing and her face so set. “That’s a serious accusation you’re making, Newt. You know there hasn’t been an Obscurus for decades…unless you can show us otherwise.”

Newt remembers William’s words. He needs proof, physical and undeniable proof, and sadly, his word isn’t enough. “I don’t.” The words taste like defeat.

“Then I have no choice but to impound the case.” At his admission, his suitcase is ripped from his grip and flies to Mr. Graves. The sight of it feels wrong. He knows every inch of his case, can recall how it got every scratch and scorch mark, loved every living thing it holds from the smallest billywig to his nundu, and to see someone so incredibly uncaring and cold carry his life in his hands has Newt’s heart in his throat.

“No…give that b—!” Newt surges forward and, despite being in a room filled with aurors, draws his wand. He takes one step and something akin to being kicked by a hippogriff hit him in his chest, sending him flying back; a force strikes him back down to the ground hard enough for his knees to bruise, pushing at his back and gripping his wrists until his limbs feel like they’re being pulled from their sockets. There’s a grunt beside him and Jacob’s bound the same way, Ms. Goldstein following suit in front of him.

“If you or your aurors harm my faculty any further Mr. Graves, I’ll have you removed from my school.” The Headmistress stands in between him and the aurors, the serpent broach at her throat writhing in anger.

“No—no—don't hurt those creatures—please, you don't understand, nothing in there is dangerous, nothing!”

“It’ll have to be held under lock and key for the time being.” Peregrine sounds painfully sincere, switching from giving him a worried glance and the aurors a scolding one, a mediator between two opposing sides. “But I assure you they won’t be harmed. You have my word.”

Newt tries to convey his pleads through his eyes, make her understand that nothing is adding up, that this smells worse than a sell-out in a smuggling ring. Surely she must see that they’re in a nest of wyverns and his clutch of eggs are a breath away from being devoured. “Please, you have to believe me—they’ve done nothing wrong. They’ve attacked no one.”

“We will get to the bottom of this,” she promises while Mr. Graves stands a little ways behind her, lurking in the shadows, an omen of ill will.

Newt’s herded out against his will and the door closes with a depressing finality.


 Barely more than a whisper, Ms. Goldstein offers him her condolences.

Stripped of their wands, they’re held in a cell in the highest tower, barren and equipped with just enough spells to keep them from freezing. It’s completely medieval from the wind that passes through the bars of the door to the single wooden cot in the corner, but that shouldn’t surprise him, not with how old the castle is. The wind moans its grievances, sad and lonely, and Newt squeezes himself in the corner like he can hide away from the mess he’s in.

Jacob, taking a hint from the less-than-inviting atmosphere, directs all his questions to Ms. Goldstein. Newt refrains from speaking to either of them and tries to ignore the hushed whispering of their voices.

The only reprieve of their isolation comes from a soft screech. On the other side of the barred door, a golden eagle stands on the worn stone, out of place in the white of winter. Tied to its leg, a rolled piece of parchment.

Ms. Goldstein crouches before it, minding the curved beak that could strip her of her fingers, and carefully takes the message from it. “It’s from Ephedra,” Tina says and Newt gives her a small glance. “‘I hope both of you are alright. I would be saying this in person, but the school is currently on lockdown and the faculty are forbidden from leaving the grounds by the orders of Mr. Graves. Hector has made a scene because of it and I’m more than furious at the handling of this whole thing. I won’t see you two and some poor No-Maj be punished for a crime none of you committed. Something about this doesn’t feel right.’”

Newt picks at his cuticles. He’s learned to trust Ephedra’s instincts with as much confidence as he would his own. They’ve been set up, that much is clear.

The cot creeks when Jacob sits heavily upon it. “So this friend of yours is helping us?”

“Maybe,” Ms. Goldstein says, only she doesn’t sound overly confident. 

More tapping, frantic now. Newt can feel Jacob’s unbridled energy, moving and twitchy as the seconds go by, until the Muggle gets fed up. “Can someone please tell me what this Obscurial—Obscurus thing is? Please?”

“There hasn't been one for centuries—”

Newt frowns at his hands. “I met one in Sudan three months ago.”

Obscurus exist, few and between. The world is different than what it used to be, the people smarter and more cunning, able to hide entire societies in plain sight while the rest of the world continues on in ignorance. And yet, despite all the secrets and caution, little pieces of hate slip through the cracks and taint the world with horrendous acts and sad tales. Newt thinks of all the children from Ilvermorny—his students, smiling and bright young boys and girls, free and extraordinary. 

He thinks of the one child he couldn't save. 

There’s a soft gasp and Newt glances up at Ms. Goldstein. She’s staring at him, eyes dark and intense, and Newt’s mouth continues on, giving explanation. “There used to be more of them but they still exist. Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by Muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. Instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus.”

“It's an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that bursts out and attacks… and then vanishes…” Ms. Goldstein quiets suddenly, resting her forehead against the bars in defeat. “Obscurials can't survive long, can they?”

Newt shakes his head. “There's no documented case of any Obscurial surviving past the age of ten. The one I met in Africa was eight when she…” He swallows. “…she was eight when she died.”

Jacob, clueless and unlearned of magical tragedies—of magical horrors, looks at them in disbelief. “What are you telling me? That a kid killed that man?”

Newt lets the silence answer for him.


 Shackled and seated in front of Percival Graves, Newt’s never felt more insignificant.

He and Ms. Goldstein are brought somewhere isolated, to a room he’s never been, and he thinks they can’t possibly still be in Ilvermorny. The layout is similar, yet everything's been stripped off the walls, no painting or desks. Everything about the room, the very air, is suffocating, its plain walls pressing in from all sides. You are a criminal, it all screams, you are different, so you will be treated as such.

The light shining down on him is too bright, his seat too flat, his cuffs too tight. His hands are chained at his back and his shoulders are beginning to feel the strain. Newt shifts, but doesn’t bother to voice his discomfort.

Seated in front of him, Mr. Graves is the epitome of authority, sharp lines that are exaggerated under the harsh lighting. He’s calm and tidy, a figure that demands silence and respect, and expects Newt to adhere to him. “You’re a strange man, Mr. Scamander.” He examines the files before him. “You were thrown out of Hogwarts for endangering human life—”

Newt winces at that. Even after all this time, Leta’s mistakes still haunt him. “That was an accident!”

“—with a beast. Yet one of your teachers argued strongly against your expulsion. What makes Albus Dumbledore so fond of you?”

He’s asked things he can't possibly answer. Why did Dumbledore support him when no one else did—when his expulsion was demanded by many? What did the man see in him, a then gangly youth that had just taken the fault for a crime that wasn't his? “I can’t say.”

“So setting a pack of dangerous creatures loose here was just another accident, is that right?”

“Why would I do it deliberately?”

“To expose wizardkind. To provoke war between the magical and non-magical worlds—risking our young generation to do it.”

“Mass slaughter for the greater good, you mean?” Newt feels sick at the thought of doing such a thing; he’d be no better than the wizards that abuse creatures for their own benefit, all in the name of a better world. There were necessary sacrifices, deaths that were a part of everyday life, but most of the choices he saw were greedy by design.

“Yes.”

Newt shakes his head and can’t help but include a level of disgust in his tone when he says, “I’m not one of Grindelwald’s fanatics, Mr. Graves.”

For some reason that makes the man twitch, a tiny change of expression following after. He looks more menacing than before, like a siren showing its true colors to a wayfaring traveler. “I wonder what you can tell me about this, Mr. Scamander.”

A wave of his hand and the Obscurus rises from his case, still in its protective barrier. It pulses and hisses, a swirling mass of rejection and madness. Ms. Goldstein gasps.

“It’s an obscurus, but it’s not what you think,” Newt says frantically, twisting to face her. He feels an undeniable need to explain himself to Ms. Goldstein (her and her only because she’s the one whose opinion matters, who he wants to prove himself to). “I managed to separate it from the Sudanese girl as I tried to save her—I wanted to take it home to study—but it cannot survive outside her. It can’t hurt anyone.”

He wants to say more, to convince her of his innocence, but his reasons are cut off and tossed aside by Mr. Graves.

“So it’s useless without the host?””

Useless.

Never before had he ever thought of describing a parasitical being as useless. An innocent child died, killed from within in front of his very eyes, and the thing responsible for it was useless? He’d taken it along with him and studied it, but his scientific nature didn’t inhibit him from seeing what an Obscurus truly was. A killing parasite.

Newt feels his anger rise, feels it boil and heat the longer he stares at the man before him. “That is a parasitical magical force that killed a child. What on earth would you use it for?”

There’s a beat of silence and then...

“You fool nobody, Mr. Scamander.” Graves stands, his hands in fists on top of the table between them, and leans forward into Newt’s space like a predator ready for the kill. “You brought this obscurus into America—into Ilvermorny in the hopes of causing mass disruption, breaking the statute of secrecy and revealing the magical world.”

“You know that can’t hurt anyone, you know that.”

“You are therefore guilty of a treasonous betrayal of your fellow wizards and are sentenced to death” Mr. Graves ignores him. Newt hears a sharp intake of breath from Ms. Goldstein behind him, but he doesn’t turn around to face her, too focused on the injustice being served to him. “Miss Goldstein who has aided and abetted you—”

He lurches forward in his seat as far as he’s able, tries to impress the wrongness of the whole situation. That the one person who’s least to blame shouldn’t be dragged down alongside him for a crime neither have committed. “No! She’s done nothing of the kind—”

“—receives the same sentence.”

Newt thinks and thinks, trying to find the words that he could spout to change this, but comes up blank. He’s at a fix, struggling to wrap his head around the reasoning that goes behind assuming that a professor and a stand-in could plot the downfall of a species, and nothing he comes up with makes any sense. It’s all happening too fast, each new development catching him by surprise and he can’t do anything to fix it. 

But then any kind of thought escapes him because all he hears is death and effective immediately, then the feel of a wand tip at his throat. He hears Ms. Goldstein’s startled sob, reads the words transferred to headquarters for sentencing on Mr. Graves’s lips, but doesn't truly comprehend them until—

“Your case will be impounded until further notice. It will be dealt with once you’ve been transferred to New York.”

A feeling of being doused in ice cold water runs over him, his heart practically stuttering over the sentence. His breath escapes him and his throat constricts, but he somehow gets his voice through. “Headmistress Peregrine—“

“This is no longer under her jurisdiction, so the decision falls to me, not her. I’m sorry it has to be this way.”

Wrong, it’s all wrong. “You know that can't hurt anyone, you know that!” Hands pulls him back, but Newt resists. The wand presses harder against his pulse, growing hot in a warning. He’s being fed lies and expected to swallow them. “You know that!”

Mr. Graves looks weary, but Newt can’t accept it, not when Ms. Goldstein and so many innocent creatures are being condemned because of this man. “Do it quickly—please.”

“You’re making a mistake!”

For the second time that night, he’s escorted out, yelling and pleading to deaf ears.

Chapter Text

Neither of the MACUSA agents speak as Newt and Ms. Goldstein are marched to an unknown destination. The school is oddly silent and Newt’s paranoia rises at the lack of life, not even the rustle of the always-aggravated curtains to calm him. Powerful wards are nearly impenetrable if cast right and only an impressive display of will and natural talent could pull it off; stifling the magic of an old castle like Ilvermorny is even harder. 

“Where are you taking us?”

Their guards, two men dressed in suits that shimmer with protective spells and masking charms that make their edges blur into the surroundings, don’t answer. Newt realizes he hasn’t heard or spoken to any of them since his stay in America; another oddity he’s finally noticing. Theseus had always told him it paid to know one’s neighbors and colleagues, that he should invest in those around him–even if it’s only to determine how minimally he could work with them.

Ms. Goldstein begins to snap out of her depression. By the tell-tale signs of her body language, with her strained neck and frantic eyes, Newt’s anxiety goes up another notch. Something’s wrong. They aren't being transferred, they’re being herded out of sight.

The spiraling staircase is colored in cool hues, the revolving shadows passing over the silent aurors as they take a door Newt’s never seen. The stone making its frame covered in dust while the handle creaks like it hasn’t been opened for decades. The portrait swings open, revealing a dark and damp tunnel.

Newt’s shoved in. Torches flicker to life the moment he stumbles in, one after another down the narrow tunnel, seemingly endless. It’s incredibly cold and damp, and Newt hears the rush of water above and surmises that they’re under some reservoir deep within the mountain, drops of water dripping down and making the flames sizzle. The smell of mildew is faint, but noticeable. The aurors step in after, the portrait swinging closed behind them, and they force him and Tina to file down the path.

The temperature noticeably drops as they make their way down, the air brittle and biting at Newt’s skin. His breath comes out in heavy clouds and the chains burn his wrists, but still they continue further and further, and the deeper they go, the more it appears that the stone hasn’t been used for centuries, abandoned and covered in grime. The corridors look all the same to Newt, not one inch of difference marking the pale walls, and soon enough he knows that, left alone down here, he'll be hopelessly lost. 

They stop when the tunnel opens up to a large room with a high ceiling, spouts made of stone circling above. There are multiple levels above, criss-crossing stone pathways that seem to go on forever, open mouths of dozens of doorways leading to the rest of the maze. A pool is settled before them, the center dark and endless, and Newt stumbles when he’s brought closer.

The water splashes, its murky color swirling into a shape. Newt’s focuses on the water, following the movements as the shape twists and turns. It's human, he thinks for a moment, but that can’t be right because the shape is all wrong–only he’s not too sure because maybe those really are legs and yes, that could be a face. It could be–

Tina. 

Newt’s sure it’s her, except she’s still handcuffed beside him, he knows she is. Curious, he makes his way to the edge, straining to understand the reason for the doppelgänger. A small part of his brain, the more analytical side, persistently reminds him that what he’s seeing isn’t real, but the more present part of him ignores it in favor of what’s in front of him. He leans forward.

“Go on,” one of the aurors says in lieu of his stalling, “get in.”

Newt would like that very much.

A sharp pain from his hand snaps him back to reality. He stumbles back, away from the edge that’s somehow become only a step away, eyes glued to the leafy snout as it turns slips back into the water. Clarity replaces his confusion in the face of Pickett’s worried shrills and Newt realizes the entirety of the situation at once. Kelpie, there’s a kelpie in the water.

And Tina’s nowhere to be seen, Newt realizes. He looks around him, but there’s only him and those blasted aurors. The front of his vest is covered in dark, wet spots, a small puddle of water around him, and the water ripples with action from underneath. Then that means–

A soft click, followed by tiny pricks along his palms tells Newt that Pickett’s been busy while he’s been enchanted. He takes in a deep breath and lets the freezing air clear his head even further; he’s thinks past his previous incapacitation and a risky, but quick plan starts forming; he has to act and act now or his chance will pass by.

A weight on his shoulder. “Come on, pal. Jump in nice and quick.”

Pickett takes matters into his own spindly hands, his squeaky voice raging from the auror’s sleeve. Newt uses the moment of surprise to his advantage, ripping out of the aurors grip while Pickett captures his attention,turning on his heel to whip his chains to the man’s temple.  He shoulders him out of the way and the man stumbles back, slips, and falls; the auror lands in the water with a loud splash! It must be enough to attract the kelpie because Newt sees the faint glimmer in the water race across the pool.

Not wasting a moment, he tosses the Swooping Evil and it practically skips across the water's surface before it flies. Screeching, it launches itself at the other auror, knocking him out cold. From there, it circles the room and snaps at the kelpie’s head, as it rises out of the water, effectively grabbing its undivided attention. Their calls bounce off the walls as Newt hurries to where he last saw Ms. Goldstein.

“Ms. Goldstein!” he calls, frantic. The water is a dark, rippling sheet, offering not a glimpse of what lies underneath, only giving him his distorted reflection. “Tina!”

Time’s too precious to waste for the woman currently drowning somewhere in the ice bath before him. There's no other way of getting in except to dive in all at once and hope he won’t freeze immediately. Newt doesn’t give himself any time to think, he acts. Taking a deep breath, he jumps into the water. The sheer force of the cold shocks him, slamming into every inch of his skin and rattling his bones, soaking his clothes thoroughly until he doubts he'll ever be warm again.

It's dark, almost pitch black, under the surface, the last lines of light disappearing the further he gets. He's blind, but luck manages to be on his side, and his hand catches against something solid that he knows isn't stone. Tina’s sinking, but Newt stubbornly doesn’t let go and they manage to break the water’s surface. His coat drags him down and he has to push twice as hard to stay afloat.

One of his hands reaches out, touching stone, and the rest of him sinks a little. He grips the smooth rock harder, wills his muscles for one more push, and finally gets some leverage. Little by little, he gets Tina and himself up and out of the water.

The stone is cold underneath him and the air is already starting to freeze the tips of his hair, leaving him a shivering mess, but he slumps onto the floor gratefully. Small spindly hands prod his face a second later and he blinks back the water from his eyes to see a familiar sight. Pickett squeaks, worry etched on his little face.

“I’m f-fine,” he gasps. Now more than ever, he wishes he could rest, but now’s not the time nor the place. They had to get out of here before anything else came for their lives. “T-Tina! Tina!” He crawls to her prone form. “Wake up! Please wake up!”

Despite the cold and the stiffness of his fingers and limbs, he gathers her in his arms. He presses his hand against her cheek, panicking at the lack of resistance, wiping away the specks of ice that begin to form. A quick check assures him she's still breathing.

He shakes her, frantic. “Tina! Wake up!”

There’s movement beneath her eyelids and then, amazingly, she coughs and gasps and spits out water. She blinks up at him, dazed. “Newt…”

Newt smiles in relief. He wipes the hair out of her face, touches her jaw, her chin, her nose, anything he can reach. He does whatever he can to bring her close.

She struggles to get up. The chain at her wrists go slack and Pickett hops up Newt’s chest. “What…?”

“A kelpie. They’re f-found in Scotland and Britain,” he explains, helping her get to a somewhat sitting position, but still pressed against his chest. “They’re shapeshifters, but generally preff-ffer the form of a horse. They lure their prey underwater, drown them, and then eat them—p-preferably in that order.”

Tina grips his shirt with shaking hands, tucked so close that he can feel her hitching breaths against his neck. “T-Thank you.”

Their disagreements from before washes away in light of the near drowning, no longer relevant with the realization that there's more going on, plans and people they don't know throwing them to the wolves. A frantic laugh bubbles in the back of his throat, not quite making it out, at the sheer relief of it all and he can't help but cup Tina’s cheek with trembling fingers.

“W-Why are you la-laugh-ing?”

“I couldn’t tell you.” His dips his head. “You gave me quite a f-fright, you know.”

“I’ll kee-keep that in mind next time I’m l-l-lured into a freezing pool by a k-kelpie.” Her teeth chatter loudly, but she keeps his gaze and it’s a fire in the middle of a snowstorm, like liquid fire poured into water. “We ha-ave t-to leave.”

“Why?”

The stone groans and shakes, effectively breaking the happy moment, and water erupts from one of the spouts towering above them, falling into the pool in gallons at a time. One by one, the rest rumble and sputter out water in chaotic bursts, filling the room with a freezing mist. The pool begins to rise.

“Th-that’s why.”

A glance behind them and Newt sees the entrance they’d come through, now barred by a thick stone door with no chance of opening; the aurors are gone as well. His heart drops. They can’t leave the way they came. “How?”

“There’s an exit. We’ll have to go through the maze…”

Pickett squeaks. They have an angry kelpie lurking under its surface, waiting, so they had to get a move on. With that in mind, Newt pulls Tina to her feet, slipping an arm into her coat and around her waist when she nearly falls, murmuring a rudimentary drying spell. He forgoes propriety in the face of survival; they need heat and this is the best way to preserve it, simple as that. 

Still, he asks, “Is this—”

“Yes.” Tina mimics him, gripping his shirt with cold hands.

Small touches against his neck tell him Pickett’s already secure on his shoulder. Newt makes a call and the Swooping Evil abandons circling the Kelpie in favor of shrinking into his hand.

“What is that thing?”

“Swooping Evil.”

“I l-love it.”

Newt smiles despite the situation, but is interrupted by a screech. He looks at the kelpie for the second time, now a horse with a shimmering hide the color of dried seaweed and muddy water, cracks running along the skin of its back. It should be in the waters near Scotland, not in this ice bath. The mistreatment of humans has done a number on it and it shows. Newt thinks of the one he has in his case, how wild and dangerous it is, but still more trusting than he thinks this creature is and feels his heart breaking.

“We can’t save it.” Tina angles her head closer, tugging at his shirt to make him move. “D-Don’t have time. ”

Tina’s off-kiltered, nearly drowned, and soon to be suffering from hypothermia, but Newt more or less keeps his feet underneath him, and they make it to the corridor without problem. Walking helps, the burning sensation in his legs keeping him from toppling over and laying down in defeat. 

Tina ignores the first two corridors they pass, keeping to the left when the path splits, indicating Newt to stop at the third so she can pat at the molding until she finds what she’s looking for. She grips a protruding piece and twists until the entire thing clicks and pops out. A few things happen all at once. Newt hears a strange whirring sound, feels a slight trembling under his feet, and pieces of stone slide along one another until they’re standing before an arched doorway. Lights come to life one by one, an angelic path to guide their way delving deeper into the secret passage, golden splotches littering the ground like stone steps in a garden.

“It’ll lead us t-to the clos-sest wayout.”

“A-Amazing.” They hurry through as the glow pulses forward. “Having flooding underground tunnels s-seems like a poor—decision,” he says because that's the best thing to do—to keep talking, to keep awake. 

“Had t-to have an escape route in case No-Majes dis-covered the school. The tunnels work like a maze—it's constantly changing and if-f you can't see the path, then you—you'll be lost.”

“And the—f-flooding?”

“In c-case any of them got f-far.” She nods toward the thunderbird ingrained in the wall. “Only a witch or w-wizard can—activate the failsafe. Any non-wizards caught inside will be trapped and—”

Drowned. Frozen. Dead. Neither of them bother to bring up the full extent of their predicament. With no wands there's no way for them to stop the flooding.

“H-How do you know all this?” he asks.

“I was on the Com-committee my f-fifth year. We were sh-shown the tunnels in case ofan emergency.”

“A stroke of good luck, then.”

The night he’d been attacked by the hidebehind, how cold he’d felt then, it pales in comparison to how he feels now. Water fills his shoes, draining him of any last remaining heat he might have had. The cold sucks up his warmth faster than his body can replace it and he whispers a heating charm that manages to warm their cores. Tina sighs a thanks, taking on more of their weight.

The tunnels become more twisted, dipping down randomly and nearly sending him tumbling down, while at other times the steep incline of the stairs are impossible and it takes longer to get through one flight of them than it would to maneuver the Rotating Staircase. They manage it, but waste precious time with each new obstacle. Directions are turned around, going up leads them to a submerged section that might have been a resting place, while going down has them crossing a thin bridge high above the center pool. Each step takes them deeper and deeper into darker corridors and the only thing that keeps them from becoming lost is the golden path lighting their way. 

They’ve only traveled no more than a few minutes when Newt realizes he’s spoken too soon. It’s a sudden feeling, imminent that precedes a slight tremor, and Newt feels it in his feet and against the wall when he chances the sting of the frozen stone. Then there’s a sound to go with it, a dull roar that slowly increases, its echoes magnifying the sound until Newt can’t think past it. 

He meets Tina’s eye, then looks at the tunnel behind them. Ripples of water run along the walls, pouring along after them, each small wave growing with every passing second. The water level rises to the top of Newt’s boot laces, to his calves, and then he sees the wave. 

“We need to run!” He grabs Tina’s hand and sets off. With the sudden peril, his body finds enough energy to move quicker and faster than he had before.

They make it to the corner before the wave overtakes them. It hits them like a stampeding graphorn, knocking their feet out from underneath them and sweeping them up in one swift move. Newt’s thrown about, rolling with the current until he doesn’t know what’s up and what’s down, and he loses his only lifeline to Tina when her hand is ripped from his.

He resurfaces, fighting against the waves that try to push him under again. “Tina!” he calls, but it’s no use, the glowing thunderbird that was lighting their way gone, leaving Newt in perpetual darkness. And then he's falling, the water pushing him down, down, down. He can tell the moment he's dumped into a larger pool, the force of the water letting off and leaving him to float. He struggles to break surface, gasping.

“Newt!” His name echoes, ringing in his ears, and a low grinding sound follows close after, making the water tremble. Newt swings forward blindly, reaching a wall, only to feel it slide along his fingers. Something is happening with the room, assumably for the worse, and he can’t see a blasted thing.

He follows along the wall until it gives away and he finds his grip along the stone, jagged lifts that can only be stairs. The grinding of stone is near deafening now and it’s unfair of the world, to set a time limit with the odds set against him. With a herculean effort, he pulls himself up and onto the wet floor just as a heavy thud cuts off the water. Hands that aren’t his pull at his coat, helping him out of the puddle, and he practically collapses on top of Tina. For a long while, they lie there, the only sounds being the roar on the other side of the wall and their heavy breathing.

Newt extends his leg and his foot meets the hardness of stone. Any later and he’d been trapped. “You said this place would flood, but you didn’t say anything—” He stops to gather his breath. 

“Those are started by the Headmaster as a desperate measure. Someone must have set it off.”

“Bloody hell.” He pushes himself off her, relieved, before he notices that he hasn’t heard from a third of their little party. He pats down his coat, frantic. “P-Pickett! Pickett! Pickett!” He nearly sobs in relief when he feels the prick against his skin by his shoulder, hears the faint squeak from his clothes. “Thank Mer-lin, you m-made it.”

Tina isn’t as relieved as he is. “No, no, no, no! W-We need to f-find the path!”

Newt grabs her uppers arms, stopping her minor breakdown in its tracks. “T-Tina—don't panic!”

Though he can't see it, he can easily envision her wild and petulant expression, feel how close her face is to his. Tina grabs his lapels like she’s intending to shove him back, but is too weak to push him over. “What do you suggest I d-do in-stead?”

“We need to figure out how to get out of here and panicking won’t help.” He reaches out in the dark until he finds her hand. “Tina, please.”

“We c-can’t! Without our w-wands we’re—” She swallows down the rest of her sentence with a sob, her stuttering worsening with the cold and fear. “We’d have to find the path first and who knows if it’s underwater!”

She’s right, but to admit it aloud won’t help them. With no wands, there’s no chance for them if they don’t find their way. What they need is—

Newt frantically checks his coat, cursing himself for not considering the trinket before. It has to be there. If not, then they really are lost and nothing could be done to help them. “Come on,” he mutters to himself. “Where is it?”

“What are you d-doing?”

Newt crows with success when he finds it, wet but still intact. Against all odds, the little object wasn't swept away and he brings it out for Tina to see only to remember she can’t. He places it in her hand and curls her fingers around it to feel. “Can you use this?”

She must recognize it because she asks, “Where did you getthis?”

“Ephedra gave it to me. She said it w-would help me get around the school, but I haven’t figured out how to make it work.” He grips her wrists. “Can you use it?”

Rather that answer, she throws her arms around his neck. Newt nearly falls back, but holds steady and returns it the best he can. “So you can use it?”

“Yes! I know how to use it!”

She mutters something that sounds like Yiddish under her breath. Newt tries to wait patiently, but the situation has been pressing on him for some time and his composure is slowly withering. He can feel the water rise ever so slowly. He tries the heating charm again and curses his lack of practice with wandless magic when it fares no better than the first attempt. “Will we be able to see it?”

“I-I don’t know. If it’s c-close en-enough.”

Without his sight, touch and sound are all Newt focuses on. The sound of Tina’s breath and the fleeting moments of warmths when it hits his jaw. How her pulse pounds against his hand that grips her hip. He focuses on her and only her, waiting for a miracle with bated breath.

Tina lurches forward, following directions that Newt can’t see or feel, dragging him along pitch black of the tunnels. If there’s splitting paths, they wouldn’t know, trusting the little trinket he’d been gifted. Then a hint of yellow highlights the wall down the way, a beacon that sparks Newt’s fading determination. They stumble along, more of the stones glowing faintly when they get closer, beckoning them forward like a long lost friend. The path is back and they’re on the right track.

He hugs Tina closer, overjoyed that something’s finally working in their favor. “Brilliant!” The fear is still there, but he can spot some hope. She’s starting to believe that they can get out of here alive and it shows in the way the gold light reflects in her eyes, the worry lines around her mouth lessening slightly.

“Remind me to thank Ephedra when this is all over,” Tina whispers, smiling.

The golden light illuminates the tunnel, throwing shadows across the wall and Tina. He can finally see the shivers that wrack her frame, the tremble of her lips as her teeth chatter, a mirror image to how he feels. He’s reminded of what he saw in the water, the hallucination the kelpie gave him to lure him in, only he likes this version so much more. She’s real, heartbeat and all. 

“What did you see with the kelpie?” he asks suddenly. Now's not a great time to ask, but he wants—needs to know.

Tina doesn’t answer, but Newt didn’t expect her to, leaving the question hanging between them as they search each other’s faces. He sees his answer in the way her gaze darts from his eyes and down and back again, from the way she rocks closer only to back off at the last minute, and he’s astounded he’s only realized it now. Oh .

“I’m sorry I got you into this mess,” he says instead of dealing with this realization. He truly is sorry, wishes he’d done things differently, been more open to Tina with his beasts. Maybe they wouldn’t have been indicted so wrongfully.

Tina glances up at him. Her hair sticks to her skin around her jaw and neck and Newt forces his gaze not to drift to it. “I’m sorry I was so…”

 Newt tries for a smile, thinking back to a conversation that seems so long ago now. “Biased?”

“Ungrateful.”

In better conditions, Newt might’ve laughed; he’d always been the ungrateful one according to Theseus and to hear Tina apply her own view of him to herself is telling. He’s not holding the januscope, but is pulled forward nonetheless. “We’ve come a long way…”

“Yes.” Tina clutches the januscope between them like it’s goblin silver while the fingers of her other hand are fisted in his shirt, tugging him closer like she’s going to—

They jump at a sudden piercing scream, echoing so loudly that Newt’s unsure whether or not the kelpie’s close by or not. They’ve spent too long in this corridor, it’s time to move on.

Tina licks her lips. “Let’s go.”

Newt bobs his head in agreement, trying to shake off the yearning taking hold of his soul and focus on the more important matter at hand. Later , he promises himself and he’s not sure he’s lying to himself or not; it’s easier to focus on moving than pressing further on a subject neither of them are remotely skilled for. 

The water’s gaining on them, the sound ringing against the walls, and Newt’s more wary of it than the kelpie. Nearly drowned twice, they’re reaching the end of their rope, and it’ll be more than a relief to escape this maze and see the sky again. Newt’s might even welcome a conversation with Mrs. Borrow if it meant being somewhere warm and safe.

Finally, they turn the corner and are met with an empty room with a large circular door at its far end. It's made of the same stone as the tunnels, the carved figures on its surface more lifelike than any of the paintings above ground. Newt reaches out to touch the thunderbird spread along the edge, tracing his hand to the curled horned-serpent, then the wampus prowling at the bottom. The pukwudgie is to one side, bow drawn to what he assumes is the lock.

Semper fortis.” Tina slaps the door. “Semper fortis! Great! We can't open it without our wands.”

And just like that, their hopes are dashed. Newt turns in a circle, looking around for another way out, but spots nothing. Like the center room of the tunnels, there are spouts high above them, but no windows or hidden stairways, only the doorway they entered and the locked door before them. The golden trail ends here and only here. They can’t have struggled and fought their way to get here, only to be foiled when freedom is within their reach. “This design is bullocks.”

As if on queue, the rumbling above increases tenfold, and a column of water cascades down and barely misses Newt. The next spout erupts, then the next, and the next, each one starting until all six are bringing in water by the gallons, reducing their time by half.

The water is at his knees, then his hips. He pulls out the Swooping Evil, feels it shaking in his hand, growing heavier as it starts to unfold. “No—no—st-stay put. You'll only get c-c-colder.” Newt turns to Tina, desperate. “Is there anyway you can open it?”

“No, o-only a wizard ca—” She stops.

Newt reaches for her sleeve. “T-Tina?”

She steps closer. “Queenie.”

Newt blinks. “What?”

Despite the paleness of her lips, Tina’s smile is startling. “Queenie can pick up my thoughts better than anyone else’s—even at a distance. She could open it from the outside.”

“C-Could she have already been—following us?” 

“She's never failed me before.” There is a light in her eyes that Newt recognizes easily. Desperation. “She'll hear me.”

She abruptly turns away from him and he stares solemnly at her back. There's nothing he can do, only hope her confidence is placed in the right person. 

Semper fortis,” she says, again, again, and again. She's still repeating it when the water rises to their elbows, creeping up their chests. “Semper fortis, semper fortis, semper fortis, semper fortis—

They attach themselves to door, climbing it with the rising level. Water is a patient hunter, he decides as he lifts one hand—Pickett and the Swooping Evil trembling against his palm—above his head, more dangerous than any hidebehind. It waits, sinking its claws in their clothes and sucking against their skin.

“—semper fortis, semper fortis!” The water laps at their collarbones, at their chins. “—semper fortis!

A light pressure at his ring finger makes his chest ache, more painful than the sting of the cold and the burn in his lungs. A sad noise bubbles against the lip of water rising above his knuckles and Newt wants to cry at the soft goodbye.

“—semper for—

One last gasp for air and then the room is submerged.

Chapter Text

Sound is distorted underwater, Newt knows this. He's fallen into more foreign rivers than most Englishmen, whether on purpose or because of a moment of clumsiness; he's heard the muffled shouts of frantic guides and the low warble of an oncoming predator, learned to distinguish sounds as if his life depended on (as it usually does).

The sound of a stone door opening, now that's a new sound, one that's chaotic with its locks whirring and grinding. It's slow, prolonged despite the frantic beating of his heart and the pleading of his dying lungs. 

One moment he's weightless and the next he's jerked forward, pulled so forcefully that he’s practically numb to the shock of landing on hard rock. Still, he doesn’t stop, gallons of water rushing down the slope, dragging him along. 

Before he can get far, an invisible hand plucks him up and tosses him so quickly he's stunned. Tina follows suit, her weight falling on top of him, driving out what little remaining air he had in his lungs. They land in a mess in the snow and Newt would be thankful for the rest, but the ground beneath him is just as cold as the water and now there's a sharp wind hitting his face. The air burns when he coughs, but is relieving all the same. He clutches Tina closer, shivering.

Tina holds onto him just as tight, her cheek pressed against his chest. She grips his hand, the one still holding the Swooping Evil, and brings it closer. Newt somehow manages to uncurl his fingers, heaving a sigh of relief when he sees the bright cocoon in his palm, tail wrapped tightly around his finger.

“We're alive,” she breathes against the shivering creature.

Newt’s head falls back and looks at the night sky, clearer than it's ever been. Stars blink down at them and the moon is bright, welcoming them back, and he’d laugh if he didn’t know it would hurt. “We're alive.”

Teenie! Newt!

The near-death experience must have taken a toll on him because Newt doesn’t react fast enough, sluggishly twisting to spot a voice he only somewhat recognizes. He’s vaguely aware of Tina weakly pulling his waistcoat, her wheezing morphing into an almost-yell. “The k-k-kel—“

The kelpie, he’d forgotten about the kelpie. 

He's never seen a creature so full of rage, so intent on killing him, and he can't so much as move because there's a flicker of brown so quick he freezes. Then it's gone, replaced by blood-shot eyes and sharp, crooked teeth set in a gaping mouth and he cringes back, squeezes his eyes shut and—

thunk!

The kelpie flies over them, landing with a muted thud in the snow. It doesn't move. Maybe the cold finally became too much for its body to handle, impeding its mobility, slowing its blood flow. Maybe it has something to do with the arrow sticking out from its back or the blood slowly soaking into the snow.

“Teenie!”

Tina’s ripped from his arms and before he knows it, someone pulls Newt into what he thinks is a bear hug, eerily similar to those his father gave him when he was exceptionally happy, only this person is shorter in stature and wider in girth.

“Jacob!” he wheezes in relief. With that has happened with Tina and him, Newt hadn't thought about what had befallen the Muggle and if he'd been obliviated. He tries to reciprocate, but can’t quite get his limbs to do as he wants. Over Jacob’s shoulder, Queenie embraces Tina in a similar manner. 

“Y-You h-heard,” she stutters. “You op-open-ed it.”

Queenie pulls back for a second, eyes watery. “Of course I heard!”

Jacob looks harried. “You had me worried there, pal!”

Newt doesn’t quite know what to do with someone so concerned for his well-being, especially the Muggle he unintentionally dragged into a and has only known for the length of a night, but he realizes he likes Jacob. The man’s only been kind of supportive and Newt would like to reassure him that he’s perfectly alright now, attempting to stand on his own, but he slips on the slick serpentine trail of ice, the only thing left of their escape. Jacob prevents him from sliding down the rest of the mountainside.

“What happened to the two of you?”

“No time for questions! Come on! We haven't got all night!” demands a gruff voice that sounds like an angel to Newt’s ears. Their savior pops up in the rocks above them, almost blending into his surroundings.

“William—”

“Save your words when you aren't freezing to death, Englishman!” The pukwudgie shoulders his bow. He hops down the rocks to stand beside the kelpie, his diminutive body shadowed in comparison to the dead beast. “Now come on!”

“W-Wait.” It takes a few tries, but he's finally able to reach into his pocket. Pickett doesn't offer up a fight, animated limbs now limpless, and Newt carefully unhooks the tail loop from his finger and offers the trembling creatures to the pukwudgie. “You're pouch,” he says with a jerk of his head. “Please, they need heat.”

William nods. He pulls a ragged cloth from his hair and carefully wraps up the two creatures before placing them in his pouch. His voice is kinder when he says, “Come along, Englishman. Let's get you and your friends somewhere safe.”

Walking sounds absolutely horrible, what with his feet frozen and his legs barely cooperating, but his teeth are chatting too much for him to complain. They follow William, the snow compact and up to his shins and, coupled with his lack of coordination, it's only with Jacob there that he doesn't crumble and let himself lie in the snow to freeze to death. By the time they get to a crack in the rock, slightly smaller than an average human, he's covered in snow and ice and utterly miserable. 

The cold wind cuts off the moment he steps through, a wonderful relief. Inside, the rock walls are smooth except for the engraved patterns and pictures, similar to those in the school above, colored in rusty shades that burn bright in the shadows. Newt doesn't study them for long, more important things to focus on, such as how he's supposed to continue walking with his clothes frozen and Jacob supporting him while a whole head shorter. 

What he does notice is the number of pukwudgies, each staring at them with somewhat surprise. He always wondered where the pukwudgies lived and he never considered under the school. There’s more to see, but Newt thinks this is as much as he’ll be shown. More of the little creatures fill in, each barely reaching his knees, and behind them—

“Professor Scamander!”

“Professor Goldstein!”

—his afternoon class. 

Well, a few of them. Midred leads Thomas and Eugene while Robert hangs in the back. The children surge from the opposite entrance, nearly trampling over the pukwudgies. Newt stares as they converge, most of them merely in their robes, hastily thrown over their pajamas. They stop short of throwing themselves on top of him, teetering at the edge of what’s proper. That's a good choice, Newt thinks, feeling ready to topple over with a small push. He can’t find the strength to answer their barrage of questions, which only spur them on.

“This is why I hate children! You're worse than screaming squash!” William waves a small fist. Other pukwudgies, even the younger ones, grumble in agreement. “Step aside! You're in the way!”

The students hastily part for the little creature, instead surrounding Newt, Jacob, and the Goldstein sisters, becoming somewhat of a second layer of the group as they delve further into the caves. Newt’s not complaining, not when their body heat knocks up the temperature a couple of degrees. 

They're herded to a makeshift bed (or multiple beds) of furs and skins set dangerously close to a fire. Newt collapses next to Tina, throwing manners aside in favor of huddling close and absorbing heat. Queenie and Jacob are seated on either side of them and the children sit however close they can.

William grumbles under his breath, then grumbles to a nearby pukwudgie, who then grumbles back. They bicker and snort in their language for a short while, finally coming to an agreement that has the other pukwudgie sent away and William scrounging around his shelves. “Make sure those two stay awake!”

Someone roughly shoves Newt and he jerks upright. He hadn’t realized he’d begun to doze off. 

Tina pulls her soaking coat tighter around herself, pressing her side against Newt’s. Compared to the warm colors of the caves and Queenie’s coat, she's unhealthily pale. Newt expects he looks no better. 

“Oh! You're both still wet!” Queenie does a complicated wave with her wand and Newt’s clothes dry instantly. The snow and ice melt away from his coat and hair, but the spell does nothing else about the cold still clinging to his skin, ingrained into his bones. 

 A bowl is shoved into Newt’s shaking hands. He nearly drops it. “Drink this.”

“What is it?” Jacob asks. He leans in over Newt’s shoulder, peering at the clear, rippling liquid. 

“Firewater.”

William doesn't offer anymore of an explanation, but that's fine, Newt doesn't need any prompting. He takes a sip and grimaces the moment it hits his tongue. Fire burns his throat, melting his taste buds, the liquid dropping down like boiling water into the pit of his stomach.

The drink is snatched out of his hands before he spills it all over his lap. “That's enough—don't want you to burn your insides.”

Tina’s offered the bowl. William yanks it back when she takes her sip. 

The pukwudgie from earlier comes back with two more of its kind, each holding a bundle of furs. They march over to Newt and Tina and begin to cover them layer after layer; the skins are heavy on Newt’s shoulders and warmer than any blanket he's ever had.

 The fire leaps up and out, crackling like fireworks, giving off waves of heat that leaves his cheeks burning like he's back under the scorching African sun. He could close his eyes and almost believe the savannah was spread out before him, with its bloody horizon and dry, autumn grasslands. But then the wind howls outside and Jacob shoes scrape against the rocky floor, and the scene melts into a more realistic one, of him hiding in a cave as a fugitive, nearly killed, waiting for his body to thaw.

And it does. Feeling comes back with every passing second, prickling sensations running over his skin from his toes to the tips of his ears. He clenches his hands, the pull of his skin still tight and stiff from the cold, painful and pleasant all at once. 

Queenie rubs Tina’s arms. “Better?”

Tina nods, color flooding back into her face and lips.

Jacob pats Newt on the shoulder. “You two definitely look better. What's in that stuff?”

“Nothing that need concern you.” William slurps down the rest of the drink. “Non-magic folk like you wouldn't last a drop. You'd burst into flames.”

Jacob looks startled.

“Your hand, Mr. Englishman,” a pukwudgie demands, suddenly appearing in front of him. Already acquainted with this little trick, Newt doesn't jump like everyone else, merely offering his hand.

The marks Pickett left are thin, red lines against the skin of his palm and fingers. The pukwudgie daps his hand with a bitter-smelling cloth before bandaging it. “It'll scar,” comes the gruff diagnosis and Newt nods absently (what was one more mark to the many already branding his body), eyes roving the burrow in search for—

“Your creatures,” William states from the other side of the fire.

—and there, looking like a miracle among miracles, are his precious creatures. An odd noise escapes him as he reaches out, strangled and urgent-like. Then his hands are full and he's greeted with the most beautiful sound: Pickett’s soft warble. 

William is still talking and it takes an effort to force his mind to concentrate, to hear over the loud beating of his own heart. “—such a fuss for something so small. Still, he's a fighter. He’ll come down with a cold, but he'll survive.”

Newt nods, saying nothing. He cradles Pickett close, sharing as much of his newly gained warmth as he can. He breathes deeply, closing his eyes as the bowtruckle hugs his left cheek.

The weight in his other hand grows heavy, the Swooping Evil coming halfway out of its cocoon to trill into his chest. Drool drips all over his waistcoat and spikes pinch into his arms, but Newt doesn’t complain; he hadn’t meant for it or Pickett to get mixed up in this mess and nearly killed. It didn’t hold a grudge against him and that’s all that mattered.

The Swooping Evil is made of sterner stuff, more so than a bowtruckle. Newt spots no injuries on its body or any rips in its wings. Still, he runs a thumb over its right eye ridge and smiles when it croons out a croaky tune in approval before folding back into itself.

He makes a mental note to acquire a chimpanzee sometime in the future. It deserves a hearty brain for all its help. Neither he nor Tina would be sitting here without it. “Thank you.”

William snorts. “Don’t think you’re so special, Englishman. Anyone would’ve done the same.”

Not true, but Newt lets the pukwudgie have the last word. Instead, he turns to the children. “What are you all doing here anyhow?”

Mildred tosses her hair back, looking proud of herself. “It ain't obvious? We're helping you!” A murmur spread through the rest of the group, each of them agreeing. 

“They were the reason we found you two,” Queenie supplies. “They're Newt’s students.”

She was answering a thought, Jacob’s most likely. That reminds Newt—introductions had to be made. “This is Jacob Kowalski.”

Queenie gives a little giggle and, with an almost conspiratorial air, says, “Oh, no—he's a No-Maj.” 

Robert eyes Jacob as if he’s never seen a No-Maj before and, considering the preposterous laws dictating America, probably never have (Jacob views them similarly). The other three don’t show any surprise and Newt knows they’re the usual culprits who sneak out of Ilvermorny.

“How did you know where to find us?” Newt asks, but suddenly recalls something and answers his own question. “You're on the committee, aren’t you.”

Mildred nods. “I figured they took you in the tunnels when no one saw you go through the entrance.”

“You’ll get in deep trouble if you’re caught!”

“I don’t think us getting expelled is a problem,” she says. “When you were taken by the MACUSA aurors, Headmistress Peregrine was arguing with the head auror, Mr. Graves. Something to do about not being told about your arrest.”

Robert nods. “Said that she was the person in charge here and that he couldn't arrest teachers all willy nilly. She was yelling at Mr. Graves to release you—”

“—saying he couldn't take you off school grounds just because he thought your beasts attacked the town.”

“But when he said he had already sent his aurors to escort you off grounds—all under President Picquery’s Peregrine got real angry.”

Newt’s almost relieved at the news. It’s the last evidence to convince him the headmistress had no play in recent events. “And how do you know all this?”

All of them grin.

The female pukwudgie tosses another fur over Tina. “Headmistress wasn't exactly quiet about it. Everyone on the mountain got an ear of it.”

A collective grumble sounds out. Newt blinks and suddenly he’s surrounded by more pukwudgies than he’s ever seen. At first glance they appear similar to one another, but he makes out the minor differences between them, even spots one he thinks is a child. They crowd him. 

“We had this place running in tip-top shape and now look at it! Them MACUSA wizards are searching the school for you two and making a mess of things!” There’s a general consensus, the crowd of them muttering about destroyed gardens and messy classrooms, cursing him in their rough language. “All because of your case full of monsters!”

Newt shares a glance with Jacob. “News travels fast.”

William jabs a gnarled finger at him. “News would mean we were surprised.”

Despite no longer needing the heat, Tina presses against Newt’s side, her breath hitting his jaw at the proximity. Hidden by the furs, she grabs his hand. “You knew about his case. Why didn’t you tell the Headmistress?”

One of them scoffs like the answer is obvious. “We thought Englishman had it locked up.”

Another makes a rude exasperated motion. “Only it wasn’t.”

“Faulty lock,” Newt mutters, embarrassed at being so openly chastised. “I was going to fix it sooner or later.”

“A piece of rope could’ve worked,” a pukwudgie grumbles. “And now look at the mess you’ve made! Magical creatures running amok! Now the house elves are crying and blowing everything into proportion!”

“I was taking care of it.”

One of the pukwudgies whacks his knee with its bow. “Yes, and what a fine job you’ve done!”

“Them MACUSA wizards are trying to keep it all quiet,” Clementine says. “So you best hurry and find the rest of your creatures before they start searching themselves.”

Tina shifts closer. “We need to catch your creatures before this gets worse.”

Newt agrees. He’s let them run amok too long and who knows what kind of trouble they’ve gotten into. “There's only one missing. Dougal, my demiguise.”

“Dougal?”

He nods. “Slight problem is that… um, he's invisible.”

“Invisible?”

“Yes—most of the time… he does… um…” He makes a face when he's the focus of multiple bewildered expressions. 

Tina’s face scrunches up. “How do you catch something that—”

“With immense difficulty.”

“Oh.” At his rushed response, her and Queenie laugh.

Newt gazes at Tina, relieved. So many things aren’t going as he expects, but he’s pleased that his social experiences are getting better. It wasn’t often he and his beasts make people laugh.

Jacob clears his throat loudly and Newt regains himself. He's been staring again, focused on one thing when it should be on another. “Right. He’s interested in human things so he'll still be in the town. Jacob, where would a primate find themselves a wide variety of Muggle-knick knacks.”

“I don't know—the shops downtown? They got a bunch of department stores there.”

“And where is that?”

“Where's downtown?” Jacob shakes his head, sighing. “You wizards sure don’t get out much, do you?”

Newt doesn’t know what that comment’s supposed to mean, but assumes that the Muggle will show them the way and that it’s only a matter of scouring the town before MACUSA is more involved. He tucks Picket into his coat’s inner pocket, close to his heart, and shrugging off the furs, stands. 

Only for his legs give out.

Newt had forgotten that he was nearly frozen only minutes ago and is caught off guard by his body’s betrayal. Jacob grips his arm while someone pushes at his back and Newt manages to get to his feet. His legs wobble under his weight, but somehow hold steady.

Jacob and Queenie quickly get to their feet when Tina tries the same. “You okay there, pal? What was that?”

“That'd be the firewater. A temporary side effect—you'll be fine once you get moving.” William prods the side of Newt’s knee and he almost topples forward into the fire. “You've got a little after mid-morning until it fully wears off. Once that happens, better get to a bed because it'll be goodnight.”

Plenty of time to catch Dougal, even if he had to relearn how to walk along the way. No worse than stumbling through the Australian outback with a missing shoe and suffering from a mild concussion. Newt has still managed to get the sample of wombat saliva he needed.

Jacob picks up his case. “I'll, uh, keep a hold on this for you.”

Newt nods, not trusting his strength just yet, and turns to William. There’s one more thing he needs to do before they go. “The force that’s been attacking the Muggles—”

“No need. We already know of the threat. I believe your kind call it an Obscurus.”

“You do?”

“We’re not purposely ignorant like your kind,” he states. “This is more our home than you wizards.”

The other pukwudgies agree with William. “We'll keep look out,” Clementine promises. “If this Obscurus decides to come near the school, Headmistress will need to be warned.”

Newt fishes around his pockets until he finds what he needs. Even with his near-drowning, his charms had kept his journal dry. He hands William his extra research. “This should be enough evidence if your word isn’t enough.”

William quickly riffles through the pages and squints at his writing. He scoffs. “Only male hodags shed their horns and it happens every four months, not three.”

“Really? Have you seen—”

“Save your questions for another time, Englishman.”

Newt nods, capping his curiosity. “Right.”

“You said you need to get to Adams. Quickest way out would be to go through the school seeing as you're on the wrong side of the mountain.” William eyes them for a moment, humming. He motions them to follow him, hobbling to the far end of the cave. “Lucky for you there's more than one hidden passageway out of the school.”

“Babington shouldn’t have wards in place. We could Apparate to Adams from there like before.”

“No luck. The gate’s been sealed for the time being. You’ll have to go the long way.”

A large tapestry floats to the side to reveal a wall with a simple repeating pattern made up of lines. The painting shakes, breaking and rearranging itself until it makes what looks to be a rudimentary map of the school—or rather, the tunnels underneath it.

“You're best chance is to take this tunnel here—” William motions to a path not too far from the center, a white imprint following his bony finger as he marks out the path. “It'll get you to the eastern courtyard—”

“The one by the kitchen, not the one near the field,” Clementine says.

“Yes. From there—”

“The quodpot field, not the Quidditch field.”

“Not important—”

“What does that one lead to?” Mildred asks. She points to a room on the other side of the map. 

A pukwudgie by Jacob snorts. “To the headmistress's office. Obviously.”

“Really? What about this one—”

“Enough with the interruptions!” William glares at the children until they quiet. He snaps his fingers and the map changes again, this time to what Newt assumes is the first floor. “As I was saying. From there it's a straight path to the next passageway. All you have to do is make it to the staircase there—the entrance will be right under it—and the No-Maj town’ll be down the mountain.”

“And take the kids with you!” Clementine demands. “They should be in their own beds, not invading mine!”

As one, the pukwudgies usher them to the back of the cave. The ceiling dips until Newt has to bend his neck, the walls narrowing, and while Newt could do without stepping in another tunnel the rest of his stay in American, these are much more preferable and he trusts William won’t lead him to his death. At the end of the passageway, the aged pukwudgie knocks on the rock and a slab of it shifts back and to the side to reveal an old-fashioned staircase fitting of colonial times.

“Hold on!” William plants his small body between them and the doorway. “You’ll need the password. Let’s hope Masked Marlon is in a singing mood.” He taps out a quick tune on his bow, remaining impassive until Eugene hums the tune back at him. Only then does he step to the side and let them pass. “Good luck,” he says and the tunnel closes.

Newt climbs the creaking stairs as fast as he can. The more he moves, the more control he has over his body, and he makes a mental note to ask William about the properties of firewater. Once he reaches a door at the top, he takes his case from Jacob. The passage looked to have led them to an abandoned corridor in the east wing and they start the paintings hanging there. Newt presses his finger to his lips and they quiet. 

We'll, most of them.

“Englishman! You’re alive!”

Newt refrains from groaning. “General—”

The painting catches sight of Tina behind him. “You as well, Ms. Goldstein! Well, isn’t this a surprise—I was sure the both of you perished! A few others and I even had a solemn moment in your honor.”

“Lovely, now if you'll excuse us, we must—”

Too late, the rest of their party is seen. “Merlin’s beard! What are you children doing out this late!”

“Beat it, General!” Tina coughs and Mildred rolls her eyes. “ Please .”

Redfeild looks affronted. “Well!”

“That's a painting,” Jacob says to no one in particular.

“Yes, and an annoying one!”

“Hear, hear!” one of the other paintings calls out, only to be shushed by the others. Jacob jumps, but manages to muffle his yelp.

Newt works his jaw. They didn't have time to waste conversing with mannerless paintings. The longer they stayed where they were, the faster they'd be caught. Hector had talked his way out with flattery, so they just had to do the same.

“We didn't mean any offense, uh, General.” Jacob hesitates and then gives the picture a weak salute. “But we'd really appreciate it if you kept your voice down.”

Blessedly, it works.

“Finally, a man who adheres to rank.” General Redfeild stands straighter, gripping the lapels of his uniform like he’s posing for a portrait. “Where is your party heading off to, may I ask, Englishman?” At least his tone is passable for a whisper. “And with a No-maj, no less!”

Newt makes his getaway while he can, tip-toeing past the slumbering totems bracketing entryway. “The Eastern Staircase.”

“Why that's right by my favorite frame!”

“Of course it is,” Mildred mutters, close enough for Newt to overhear. The owl face of one of the totems stretches its wooden wings and they all freeze until it settles with a snore. Thankfully, the next room is empty of magical items besides framed newspapers, each one praising Ilvermorny and everything it stands for, plaques of rules and praises for sponsors and scholars. New thinks it’s quick presumptuous. Tina slips ahead takes a risked peak into the connecting cooridor; she raises a single finger in warning and Newt’s relieved. One patrolling auror is manageable.

Tina whispers a silencing spell while he brings out the Swooping Evil. He throws it and watches it circles around, waiting for the resounding thud as it tackles the unsuspecting wizard. The creature croaks happily and he slips out into the open before it takes the chance to feed. The auror is unconscious on the ground, the Swooping Evil’s proboscis beginning to enter his nose. “Leave his brains!”

A firm call and it comes to him easily. Behind him, Thomas laughs at the downed auror, which itself isn’t the best of reactions from his students when Newt views it as an educator. They’re all smiling when he glances back, like this is some adventure on a page, and he’s not sure if it’s a good thing or not. (Theseus was always the hero, not he, and Newt doesn’t want people to see him as something he isn’t, so perhaps not.) Sadly, he doesn’t have time to discuss it and leaves it be.

They continue on. Robert runs ahead and checks the corner. “Clear!”

Redfield hurries across the length of each frame they pass, startling the other paintings, keeping up with their party despite Newt’s hopes. “I'd not go through that corridor, Englishman.”

 Mildred groans. “And why not?”

“Those fellows with hats are patrolling it as we speak.”

Newt ducks back and their group’s momentum is broken with an awkward collision. Tina grips his shoulders, peaking forward with him. Shu huffs when they spot some movement by the medals cabinet down the way. “What? You could've told us that earlier!”

“I believe I just did!”

“How many?”

“Oh, about half a dozen. There’s more than usual tonight.”

Newt should've known that it wouldn't be a straight path, not with how his luck as been the last couple of hours. Battling  a group of trained aurors isn’t something he’s keen and trying and the Swooping Evil can only take out so many before he’s incapacitated. He turns to look at Tina, hoping she has some idea how to get past.

“Of course, I would have done it differently—anyone could slip by their current pattern. I'd think that the captain leading them was an amateur—”

She turns to the painting above them, “Where would you send your troops, might I ask?”

“Me? Well, to get around them any informed captain would backtrack to the and slip through the Sayre’s Courtyard while the majority of them are stationed on this end of the wing. You know, my third favorite frame gives me a wonderful view of the snakewood.”

Silence, and then, “That actually sounds like a good plan.”

He looks at Tina who only shrugs. “Lead the way.”

It only takes a few minutes to backtrack and, as Redfeild had said, they’re not discovered or challenged. Newt wonders if he should tell Theseus about the absolutely unorganization of these American aurors and whether his outrage will be worth the explanation. He talks as he walks. “Dougal’s not the one to go parading off. The niffler, yes, but not Dougal. There must be a reason why he escaped with the others.”

“How are we going to find him?” Mildred asks while Eugene runs ahead, spotting the secret entrance before the rest of them. It’s a giant wooden mask as tall as him, colored red, green, and black. He knocks William’s short tune on its cheek and it bares its teeth a wide grin before swinging forward.

“One problem at a time,” he says. “And there will be no ‘we.’ It's far too dangerous for any of you to accompany us from this point on.”

“What? But we already helped—”

“—and if you are caught you'll most likely be facing suspension. Not to mention that we'll be heading to a Muggle town you are all forbidden from entering and, while Demiguises are inherently peaceful, I'd rather not add student endangerment to the list if possible.”

Redfield appears proud. “Less casualties—excellent decision, Englishman! Always consider your subordinates! We’ll make a commander out of you yet!”

Newt ignores him.

Mildred looks ready to argue. “But—”

“End of discussion,” Newt says and marches through the doorway without so much as a glance at the people he leaves behind.