It had been less than a year.
It had been less than a physical year, but it had felt so much longer to Tina Goldstein. She remembered the days she had spent with him. They had started very, very badly, and really they had almost ended worse. In those few, short days, Tina Goldstein had nearly arrested him twice, had been arrested herself beside him, had been sentenced to death, had broken out of MACUSA imprisonment, had tried to save an obscurus, had rescued a few fantastic and magical creatures, and somehow, despite her best and most practical intentions, found a very strong and consuming connection to this man that she had spent all these months since that goodbye at the pier, trying to forget. And now he was back.
Mr. Newton Scamander, self-proclaimed magizoologist was back in New York City.
Tina shifted uncomfortably in her spot, rubbing her wool-covered hands together, wishing she could simply magic herself some warmth as she waited at the pier for her special arrival. Even though the weather was not low enough to snow and freeze the waters around the city, it was early December and a very wet year. Slush and sleet were a common occurrence, and standing here near the water's edge waiting for the steamships to release their passengers was bringing a biting chill to Miss Goldstein's bones.
"Tina," she suddenly heard behind her. She spun so quickly she nearly lost her balance, but the moment she saw him, everything warmed.
There he was. Newton Scamander was standing before her, in the flesh. She'd been here before, many months ago, wondering if she would ever see him again and hoping, even praying she would, and now he was here.
"Mr. Scamander," she couldn't help but hide the inexplicable smile that lit her face. This was not a man to be very perceptive of others' thoughts or emotions, but he saw the smile instantaneously and mirrored it on his own, freckled, face. "It's great to see you again," Tina Goldstein finally admitted to herself, and her visitor.
Newt had to wait a moment, thinking of the words to say. He opened his mouth as if to speak, perhaps to let her know he'd missed her too, or maybe just so say I came back for you. Instead, he finally settled on a much less expressive and characteristically awkward "Hello."
If it were possible, Tina's smile widened. "Hi."
Newt smiled, but he didn't speak. The two of them just stood there, watching each other, waiting for someone – either of them – to break the silence. It was only when Newt shifted weight from one foot to another and rubbed his hands together did Tina begin to notice the wind creeping in and biting cold of ocean mist and near-freezing temperatures seeping into her clothes and chilling her skin. She quickly gathered her words and with a deep breath to warm up both body and courage, she asked him the first thought that came to mind.
"Are you hungry?"
An hour later the pair sat opposite of each other in a small and secluded corner of a hidden magical establishment. Tina had magiced herself a sparkling flapper dress, and Newt had ensured his bowtie was neat and collar straight upon entering the particular establishment. An hour had passed though, and the combination of a hot meal, a roaring fire floating off to the side, music filling the room, and prohibited liquor running through their veins had warmed them deeply to the point where the pair were much more relaxed with another and Newt had already lost his coat, loosened the bowtie and undone a few buttons of his shirt. Tina resisted the urge to toy with the simple string of pearls around her neck. She didn't much like dressing extravagantly, and sitting their in a rather intimate setting with someone she had a profound and unexplainable connection to was a foreign experience. Despite it all, there was an ease to being in the presence of Newton Scamander. Perhaps it was all they had endured together those months ago, or maybe it was just the liquid courage during its job, but Tina felt almost….comfortable being around him.
"I have a professor at Hogwarts interested in bringing my book into the magical creatures studies there. It would be a first time that magical creatures are included in a wizardry curriculum at Hogwarts." He said the words with a sense of pride, but the look in his eyes showed some doubt.
"That's wonderful, Newt," Tina remarked. "
Newt made a face.
"You look worried about the prospect," she remarked.
He looked her in the eye before admitting the truth. "I haven't finished the manuscript."
Tina raised an eyebrow. She had assumed he had come back to hand her a copy of his manuscript as promised. Newt's admittance of his incomplete task, however, hd her questioning his return even more. "Why are you really here, Newt?" She asked the words far more bluntly than she had anticipated, and the moment they left her lips, she regretted them.
Newt didn't answer at first, but his expression changed and his eyes fell to the table again.
"Is everything alright?" Tina asked much more gently this time.
"I fear the truth behind my visit is a lot less noble and far more inappropriate." It was then that he finally looked up again and met her eye and what she saw burning in his eyes was far less timid and far more daring for usually quiet and gentle Newton Scamander.
"Is there anything else I can help you with tonight?" a surprisingly pleasant house elf asked then, breaking the hot silence. Newt quickly cleared his throat and looked away, finally breaking the fiery stare.
"No thank you." He looked back at Tina, but that look was still in his eyes, deepening the green hue she saw and making a warmth seem to grow in her. "In fact, I think it's getting rather late. I'm not quite accustomed to the times yet and I haven't slept well as of late."
The pair rose, and despite Tina's objections, Newt refused to allow her to cover the tab, explaining that this was his holiday and he wanted to treat a friend to an evening as part of his trip. He also noted that if his manuscript really was soon to be published, he was going to come into a substantial fortune.
They made their way out of the opulent room and up the enchanting stairs to the magically hidden and non-descript no-maj 'pharmacy' storefront. It was only once they were standing outside that the reality of their surrounding sank in.
It was raining. It was raining, but not just a slow shower of warm water falling from the skies, it was slush and ice falling from the heavens with such an intensity it hit the earth with a roar of sound and explosions of ice and water in all directions. The wind blew violently, and Tina had to grasp her coat tightly around her not to get blown to the side and lose her footing. Tina turned to Newt and he looked just as disappointed in the weather as she, though not entirely surprised.
"Where are you staying during your visit, Mr. Scamander?" Tina had to practically yell over the roar of the city sounds and icy downpour.
"Um…" Newt began patting at his coat pockets looking for something. "I have the address here somewhere. It's a hotel…" He trailed off his sentence as he continued his search. Tina saw his wand tucked quietly to the side of his coat and she could only imagine how much the man wished he could magic himself some proper protection from the storm right now. That or apparate to his destination. But here in the middle of crowds of people, it would not be a wise decision to wave a wand around, no matter the circumstance.
"Well," Tina began awkwardly, opening her non-magic umbrella. The falling ice and slush weighed door the thin plastic fabric of her umbrella enough that she wondered if there was even a point to having one in the first place. "Will I see you tomorrow?" She wasn't sure if he could even hear her, because he asked another question.
"Can I walk you home?" Tina was startled at first. A weary traveler, alcohol clouding his judgement, she was sure, and she knew he hadn't slept in heaven's knew how long, and he was offering to walk her home to her women's-only housing.
"I can walk myself, Newt," she knew she said it much too softly for him to be able to hear her over the roar of the storm.
"I wouldn't be able to sleep this night knowing I let a friend walk home alone in a storm like this at this hour." He was simply being chivalrous, she knew. Yet, his words had a strange and slightly awkward, caring tone to them. "Please, Miss Goldstein?"
So they were back to formalities, it would seem.
Perhaps Newton Scamander could hear her thoughts too.
She hesitated, looking back at the storm a moment where she could barely make out street lights and passerbyers, then back at Newt. "Thank you, Mr. Scamander. It's this way."
The rain fell hard from the skies, the intensity and low temperatures ever increasing with every passing moment. The walk should more appropriately have been considered a crawl for the speed at which they navigated in the direction of the Goldstein apartment. Tina struggled to see in front of her as the onslaught of semi frozen precipitation pummeled the side of her umbrella, and for a brief moment in time, she even considered giving up on abiding by all laws prohibiting magic outside of magical establishments and creating herself a waterproof barrier.
Almost there, she thought to herself and she continued along the dark pathway towards her apartment. Tina could feel her skin starting to tighten and tingle from the freezing moisture soaking into her coat and resisted a violent shiver from the cold. Behind her, she vaguely sensed Newt following along in the near glacial temperatures and for a moment, she felt even worse at agreeing to allow him to walk her home. He's here only for a few days, and I may just kill him from pneumonia with this weather.
Then again, Mr. Scamander was from an area that saw just as much snow and even more rain in a typical year than she, so she doubted if this were that different of an occurrence for him, despite the fact that it was early December.
Finally, she came to the steps in front of her apartment and jumped up the steps as quickly as her waterlogged boots and frozen toes could muster until she was under enough roof to block out the onslaught of frigid rains. Newt came up the steps right up behind her silently and finally had the chance to face her once he could put down his own umbrella.
"Thank you again, Mr. Scamander, for walking me home." Tina started a little awkwardly as she watched droplets dripping of his ginger curls and darken spots on his blue coat. Newt raised his glance from somewhere near Tina's feet to her eyes and she finally had a chance to meet his gaze.
He was silent. For a moment he just stood still, his eyes looking into hers as if searching for something he himself was unsure of. He opened his mouth, his pale and slightly blue lips opening for a moment, but then closing when no words came out. The quiet was awkward, both participants unsure of neither what to say, nor how to say what they wanted to speak. So, instead, Newton Scamander defaulted to the impersonal and well-trained customs.
"Of course, Miss Goldstein." He smiled but it was forced. "Have a good evening." He turned, his eyes quickly falling down towards the ground again as he raised his umbrella and turned towards his descent down the few front steps and back into the ever strengthening, frozen storm before him.
And Tina watched. She watched him start into the rain, his neck and back hunched and tightly wound close together as he tried to combat the unpleasant weather. The blue of his coat was starting to get fuzzy and he continued down the street, but her mind was scolding her in her own head.
Don't let him go. She knew how absolutely inappropriate and uncalled for it was going to be. This was not something Miss Porpetina Goldstein did, and yet, before she could really convince herself all of the reasons why she shouldn't, she lunged down the steps and yelled.
He stopped quickly and turned back towards her, his body still hunched down and close together and she noticed even more prominently now the blue of his lips and the paleness of his cold skin and he came close to her. She hadn't even remembered her own umbrella so he was even closer than either of them had intended and it made her heart skip a single beat and the words freeze on her lips for an instant before she could regain her thoughts.
"The weather is horrible." Her astute observation gave her the sudden urge to scold herself. That was not what she had wanted to start with. "What I mean is…." She was finding it difficult to breathe. It was cold; no it was freezing. Her feet were soaked, her coat was soaked, and her umbrella would have barely helped at all anyways. Yet what kept stopping her words were those hazel eyes looking into her own. "Maybe you can stay? Just for the night."
Newt's eyebrow just barely raised and for an instant Tina was almost certain the corner of his mouth rose too, but she was uncertain.
"You could stay in the guestroom. It will be warm and dry inside." She had to remind herself to take a breath.
"I…" Newt hesitated, his eyes momentarily rising upward towards the booming heavens as if trying to will the storm away before re-meeting her eyes. "I don't think that would be necessary…."
"Please?" The word slipped from her lips before her brain had the chance to process the request and deny it access. This time she didn't forget not to breathe, she actually held her breath for fear this was going to be the last breath she took in the presence of Newton Scamander. Tina could feel her pulse quicken and her already semi-frozen skin get even colder and her cheeks try desperately to pinken the more she thought about all the different ways such a proposal could be taken by a man. What if he thought this was a proposal to bed her? What if he misinterpreted her intentions? What if…
"Perhaps that wouldn't be such a terrible idea," he spoke through the words before she could finish convincing herself of an exit strategy from her proposal, and she didn't dare suppress the smile.