There's a layer in the Fantastic Beasts narrative that I really wanted to tell (with speculation, o'course). This piece centers on Tina with angst and sadness that's hopefully canon in a different way. Newt's companion piece is three chapters long (found after this one).




(I'm Not Her)



There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy.

Tina knows loss. Small worlds can fall apart from something as simple as Dragon Pox. Mercifully, sadistically, she and her golden little sister are alive. A too-thin, too-tall Tina counts her blessings and disguises herself as a boy to sell newspapers, while Queenie boards at Ilvermorny over the holidays.

These elusive, flitty things—love, joy—are not free. Someone has to make the sacrifices, climb the ladder to some vague notion of success. So Tina does, until her sore limbs cannot move at night. And then she wakes up in the morning, because she has people to cherish, to protect, to raise, in the only way she knows how.

It's fine. There's nowhere to go but up, to give to the person that still matters. At school, Tina soaks up the spells she needs to survive. She hones the instincts she needs to climb further, higher, to a safer place. She feels a fierce conviction burn through her blood, like Dragon fire, because nothing is better than Queenie's sweet smile, sated stomach, and twinkling laugh.

"You're leaving, Tini."

It's not a question. Tina feels small hands tug at her dull paper boy coat, in the wee hours of Thanksgiving holiday. So there's a reason her sister insisted on coming home, after all.

Tina's rough, dry hands smooth golden curls. "Go back to bed, Queenie. There'll be a turkey here after I'm done today."

Queenie nods. It hurts, sometimes, because they're both wondering where that ladder ends, when Tina's climb stops.




There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy.

Tina's advancement as Auror is measured, the weight of her wand requiring her utmost. She puts the full weight into every never-ending day. Her respite is her sister, as Queenie walks by with black coffee for her and a wink for the boys. Then Tina grinds on. There's a brownstone apartment waiting for her sister at the end of her work day, and, in the wee hours of the morn, Tina also gets to crash, exhausted, into her soft bed, content to sleep dreamless sleeps.

She's grateful to return to a roof over her head, every night. Sometimes later, sometimes earlier. Some things never change.

"Are you alone, Tina?"

"Always alone, Mrs. Esposito."




It's absurd because the adoption she and Queenie never got turns out to be an unexpected blessing. Somehow, in the roaring twenties, pleasure is cheap but affection is elusive. Tina realizes the ironic kindness of life, having just her and Queenie raising each other.

This Second Salem boy looks at her with eyes that know loss.

She can't. She has people to cherish, to protect, in the only way she knows how. She can't compromise this job. Not when she's climbed this far.

There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy.

Tina believes in Credence. Surely he can do it, just as she's done it. And yet, she can't leave him alone, because his pain is striking. Tina wakes every morning to see the Second Salemers, not just because it's her job.

Climb, Credence. The American Dream is to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps.

She's in the crowd when it happens.

A different sort of strap entirely whips across the boy's back and—Tina realizes—he can't climb, he's already been broken, long before.

So she tries. She tries to pull him up, with her. All she succeeds in doing is pushing them both down.

No more. No more broken people for her.

She can't, when she has to keep climbing, to safety, to keep her sister out of the dregs of the 1920s, off the streets selling yellowed newspapers, earning pennies for oil and flour.




Newt faces the world with quiet glances and too-quick smiles. He's trying to ward the world off. I'm fine, thanks. Please leave me alone, I'll be off shortly.

His presence unnerves her. Tina's forced to choose, again and again, where her loyalties lie. Even as she feeds him, doesn't poison him, moves down, down, down, lowering into the death pensive for him, she wonders.

There's a deep pain to him. Queenie confirms as much.

There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy. Tina reminds herself of this, shooting Mr. Scamander glares that increasingly turn to looks of wonder, and then something unfamiliar and heart-wrenching.

She watches his moves carefully. Surely he's climbing, too. There's something he's fighting for, in that relentless pursuit of his, across New York. What is it? Newt collects his creatures—his life, love, joy—but that's not all. The way he says hello, then goodbye to his loves is heartbreaking. The way he lets strangers into his life, only to leave them, is even more so.

She's no different, receiving his quiet, unassuming care. Somehow, he's hoisted her back up her ladder, the one that she momentarily forgot why she was climbing. Her Auror badge is restored, and that counts for several rungs.

"Thank you," she says at the dock, something in her eye (it might be moist, wet joy).

She receives a promise in return, and she believes they've both changed.




She sees him again after her small world falls apart.

The No-Maj's call it the Great Depression. Wizards and witches have already started fighting Grindelwald's war, but it's later that American troops sign on to what they dub World War II. More than stocks collapse around New York, and people are out in the streets, pain and hurt all around.

Reading the chaos spilling from her Wizard newspaper, she sees the name 'Lestrange' printed in a small sentence of a small article in a small section. Magical creatures are being used in the war, on the Paris front. By someone with an affinity for them since Hogwarts school days.

"You're leaving, Tini."

It's not a question. Queenie's eyes are sad and too much like that day so long ago. Tina wraps her arms around her little sister, her golden sister, her reason for surviving in America. She cries her farewell tears.

But she needs to leave, now, for herself.

The old mantra is dead. Inverted. It makes no sense to old Tina's pragmatism to just be.

There's more to joy than love.

There's more to love than life.

Tina's willing to join the war, join him, even if it means some sacrifices.




Under the quiet, soft gray of the Normandy skies, she sees his ruddy hair and freckles, too stark against his pale, gaunt face. She's dressed like an English nurse and he's dressed like a war officer. It's all very wrong.

Regardless, they crash together. Their shaking hands touch, making sure of one another.

"W-why are you here?" his voice is breaking and his leg is broken.

"Why are you here?" she returns. "Did you meet Leta?"

Newt crumples, the adrenaline shooting from his thin frame, deserting him like so many other things during the war. His eyes are grim and red. "Yes. Yeah."

She hugs him, even as her heart is shattering, because she wants to keep him from breaking, first.

"Where is she? Can we help her?" Tina whispers into Newt's ear.

She feels his neck turn, his head shaking 'no'.

"Leta's dead."




Tina moves in his circles, watching him, steadying his trembling hands. She's like his ghost, except he's already got one, inside, haunting him.

They announce her name at English parties the British way, and Porpentina has never sounded farther way from the truth. Tina climbs these rungs, though, until her sore limbs cannot move at night. And then she wakes up every morning because she has a lone, lost boy to cherish, to protect, in the only way she knows how.

Eventually, his father decides it's for the best, lest people talk about the American hanging off Newt's arm—or rather, on whose arm he hangs off, poor boy (what the war's done to him besides a bad leg, no one's quite sure).

The talk of engagement is in name only. Even so, Tina has never imagined this is what her life would lead to (she's emblematic of American meritocracy, and now they would have her marry into respectability). Maybe this is a different way of climbing, she convinces herself. There are sacrifices one has to make.

However, there are certain ceilings in England that she's never encountered, in her climb in America.

Tina learns she's a Half Blood, and that Newt, for all of his eccentricities, is a Pureblood. She learns that there are ranks, even among Purebloods. Lestranges are Pureblood, too, and sit at the top, like Dragons hoarding a pile of ancestral gold, breathing fire at lesser beings like her.

When Tina accompanies Newt at his home in the evenings, she watches his hands quaver picking up his tea. She knows the War has hurt him—hurt his creatures, but hurt him far more.

"You can let me in, you know," she says. "I'm here to help. We promised to see each other again, and I thought I'd help you finish your book, once this war's over."

He gives her a too-small smile, almost like he wants her to leave.

Tina's heart breaks, because Queenie's always reciprocated her affection, but ah! Goldsteins and Scamanders have very different blood, so different it's added an extra label, behind their last names.

"Would you rather Leta Lestrange be here?" she whispers.

He can't answer. So he doesn't say anything.

Tina knows why.

There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy.

Sometimes you hold onto things because you can't let go.

Surviving looks different, for everyone.




Tina's never been jealous of the dead. She considers it a success to live. That's why she's been climbing, surviving, making money and filing paperwork. Her merit comes from her ability to keep waking up and going to sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

It's harder in England.

Though she's had her job at the chateau hospital, which sends her to ambulatory missions across the Channel, after the war ends, women are expected to go back to their homes.

Tina doesn't have a home to return to, here, and the most recent letters from Queenie report that she and Jacob have remembered each other. Tina can think of nothing better than knowing of her sister's happiness, but also knows that being there, with the couple, would twist her aching heart further.

She moves out of the guest room of the Scamander Estate because Newt has his creatures, and she believes he'll be alright.

Maybe Tina will go back to America, but the Magical Congress has been hit as hard as the real Congress, by war and Depression. Not many believe in the American Dream anymore, when people are just starting to rebuild. There's upheaval of anything old—installation of anything new. New Deals. New jobs. New lives.

Tina tells herself that she'll start anew, too, maybe move to France, where there are openings in their Auror Commission.

Someone leaks her job hunting status to Theseus Scamander, Newt's brother and head auror at the Ministry. He's a larger-than-life personality. Theseus is used to making decisions for others.

"Stay, Tina," he says to her when she reports to his office, prepared to tell him all the reasons she can't.

He gives her that look, as if he knows more than he lets on.

"Newt would want you to," he says. "Please."




He's out feeding his mother's hippogriffs, his back to her as she draws close. His hair is the same shocking auburn under the day's light, reflecting the golden hues of his charge.

"I wanted to say something to you," Tina calls to him.

He whirls around in surprise, turning back to pet the equally shocked hippogriff with a 'woah there, girl'.

"I'll meet you inside after you're done," Tina says, as casually as she can muster. "I'll make black coffee. I bought the beans from an Italian refugee, today."




He's sitting there, swirling his bitter coffee. She's already downed hers. Tina has to pace herself now, she's been so used to black or red or grey tea, for months and months. But enough is enough.

"I'm not Leta," she whispers. "But I feel about you the way—the way I imagine she might have, once. If things were easier for both of you."

Newt's voice is carefully neutral. "Leta didn't care about me. That's why I wasn't enough to save her, at the end."

"She didn't take you with her. Leta knew your paths had separated for good." Tina's heart is breaking, but it's healing, too. A strong heart made for survival, pumping caffeine to her tired limbs and tired brain.

She takes Newt's cup from him and downs the lukewarm bitter brew like alcohol, refilling his with a fresh hot batch.

"I have to thank Leta for that," Tina whispers, unable to look across the table. "I can't figure out how to hate her, when she's so different from me."

Newt's calloused hand finds her cheek and he draws her close, his breath fanning her ear, his whole body quivering.

"Thank you," he says, before moving away.




There's more to life than love. There's more to love than joy.

She's not told anyone she knows that she's back in the City except her old landlady. Tina walks the steps of her old brownstone, relishing the familiar muted echo against the wood and carpet. Mrs. Esposito hasn't found a full-time renter yet, since Queenie moved out right before her honeymoon, and Tina's glad to have lodging for a few weeks, before she settles on future options.

It's late when she gets back on a particularly rainy night, because Tina was filling out paperwork regarding diplomat positions at MACUSA. The bureaucracy there has only increased, perhaps a reflection of No-Maj government to bolster the economy post-crash.

She sets her rainboots by the door, and hangs her coat to dry.

"Are you alone, Tina?"

She smiles. "Always alone, Mrs. Esposito."

There's a creak of wood behind her.

"Not quite," says a voice.


She turns.

Newt Scamander's standing there, trailing a wet puddle onto the carpet. He's carrying his familiar suitcase, wearing his old blue coat. His green eyes are wide and he looks bewildered at the sight of her. Tina knows by now that that's just Newt, when he's the most focused.

"Mr. Scamander."

"Newt," he corrects her.

She raises an eyebrow, edging toward the bannister to lend her stability.

"So we're still friends? W-what are you doing here?"

He blinks, and turns to look behind, as if he's afraid her landlady will bust out of the peeling wallpaper and brandish a parasol at him or something equally unpleasant.

"Erm," Newt starts. "No, not friends. You see, I'd like to bring my fiancée back to Europe. That's why I'm in America."

Her heart breaks. "Who is she?" Some pureblood heiress working at MACUSA? Perhaps a naturalist, studying American creatures just as he was, all those years ago.

"This is most awkward," Newt murmurs.

He bounds up the stairs. Tina's eyes travel the length of his frame. Maybe it's an illusion, but he's filled out some. There's a sure spring to his step as he moves toward her, that she hasn't seen in previous months. And suddenly, he's in front of her, his eyes warm and scared and hopeful.

"I mean to… honor my engagement. To the American girl who followed me to Europe."

Tina's forehead creases.

"I don't take pity, Mr. Scamander. I've always survived just fine—"

"I-I-I know!" Newt interrupts, foot shifting awkwardly as his jaw clenches, unclenches. "You're the most wonderful, brilliant girl I know, and this… this is just for me. Tina, I'm doing this for me. And I'd like you," he breathes, softer. "To answer, just for you."

"Answer what?"

"Tina." His voice is firm. "Will you marry me?"

She's shell-shocked into silence, staring at him as if he's sprouted tentacles from his mouth like a graphorn.

"Sorry, so sorry," Newt says. He kneels, lays his suitcase out on the floor and rummages a bit inside. Tina's expecting some biting, kicking beast to come out, but it's only a very small box, with a very small ring inside.

"It's my grandmother's, then my mother's. She liked you very much, Tina." His eyes are fixed on hers, alarmingly focused and tender. "And I like you very much, too. I l-l—"

"I'm not Leta," she interjects, because she's tired of climbing, tired of not feeling good enough, in her own skin.

"You're not," Newt smiles, heartbreakingly sincere. He's still holding his hand with the ring out, his bad leg balancing as he kneels in front of her. There are tears gathering in his eyes, and his hair drips of the rain outside. "Merlin, I am so glad you're not."

A bright yellow parasol butts its way out of the wall next to them. It nearly stabs Newt. The Englishman makes a surprised noise, and Tina jumps.

"Oh for Merlin's sake, just kiss 'er, already! Tina! Your sister never took this long!"

Newt's mouth is agape. Tina smiles, weakly, and a small giggle escapes her.

"That's Mrs. Esposito," she explains.

"N-nice lady," Newt expounds, straightening while eyeing the now ordinary-looking wall warily. He redirects to her again. "Um, so, may I?"

Tina's eyes narrow. "May you what?" Take her back to England? Marry her? Plonk that glinting, pureblood Scamander ring on her finger?

She's still lost in her thoughts when it happens. Her eyes grow wide as his warm, calloused hands guide her chin up smoothly, fingertips like delicate lightning along her jaw as his chapped, tentative lips melt into hers.

He pulls back, eyes fierce. "It's you, you know. Only you."

She's always been the one giving. Tina doesn't know if she has the heart to take.

"How do I know, for sure?" she gasps, still catching her breath and trying to stifle the thump-thumps of her traitorous heart. "Men are just words."

Newt moves close again, his nose touching hers. "I agree. Humans are just words. Let me prove it to you, Tina. For the rest of our lives, if you'll let me."

Tina nods. She's been climbing, surviving, trying for such a very long time. She's going to do something for herself, answer him just for herself, now.

So Tina moves her hand to the back of Newt's neck and brings him forward, brings his lips down to her again.

She doesn't know what the future holds, but this moment, this moment brings her life, love, and joy—all at once.

"Atta girl!" Mrs. Esposito cackles from the other side of the wall.

Tina smiles. She feels Newt's answering grin, against hers.




End - Climb




Suzu: I'm thankful for y'all this Thanksgiving!