Tina knocked on the suitcase. There was no answer. She hesitated for a moment, then went inside.
Newt was down there, buttoning up his shirt. He looked up, startled, as Tina climbed down the ladder.
"So sorry," Newt said. "I didn't hear you."
"I… I hope I'm not intruding," said Tina, trying not to blush as Newt finished his last button. "Just, thought I should to check on you, is all."
Newt blinked in confusion.
"Me? Oh, I'm perfectly fine," said Newt, flashing a forced smile at her.
"You were in a duel," said Tina flatly.
"I've spent quite a lot of time in the field, and not all beasts are, ah, happy to see me," he explained. "I've gotten rather good at healing charms and potions, see. Scrapes. Bruises. Broken bones, that sort of thing."
Newt stared at his feet for a moment. He looked up suddenly at Tina and asked, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," said Tina, who hadn't been hit by any curse. "I'm fine. And Queenie, too. But she's a lot more upset than she's letting on. I can always tell."
Then her face fell and tears pricked at her eyes. The weight of the previous evening hit her suddenly, and all at once. Credence… the Obscurus… Grindelwald… and her once-fellow Aurors firing curses into the dark cloud. Credence, who had begun to regain his human form, cried out in agony… and then was gone.
And, of course, the revelation that the real Percival Graves had been lost from their midst and was likely dead. A few Aurors would be interrogating Grindelwald now, with the hopes that Graves, or what was left of him, could be recovered.
Newt seemed to register her distress.
"Tina…" Newt started, but seemed stumped about what else to say.
"He wouldn't have lived long either way, would he?" said Tina, her eyes desperately grasping at Newt. "Credence?"
Newt didn't answer right away. His jaw tightened and he looked as though he were trying to collect his thoughts.
"Well," he began slowly. "Obscurials are not known to survive very long, but, Credence… I've never seen or heard of anything like him before. That was an unusually powerful Obscurus. Credence may well have been the oldest surviving Obscurial in written memory. Perhaps ever. It's entirely unprecedented."
Tina wasn't quite sure how to phrase her next question.
"When we were on the rooftop," she began. "You said something. You said 'they're not killing him' and then you Apparated after him. At the time, I thought it was idiotic, but you… you had a plan, didn't you?"
Newt's eyes looked rather damp. He blinked very quickly and went about tidying up his work bench.
"Well, you did come after me, didn't you?"
Tina took his point.
"I knew that boy," she said as an answer. "None of it was his fault. He didn't deserve what the Aurors did to him."
Newt looked up at her. There was a dark shadow behind his eyes that Tina had never seen before.
"I did have a plan," admitted Newt. "Well, just an idea, really. I'm not sure if it would have worked."
"You could have helped him?" pressed Tina.
"I could have tried," said Newt.
"How? Everyone knows there's no cure for an Obscurus. It would have killed him in the end."
"There used to not be a cure for Dragon Pox, either," Newt pointed out. Then, he seemed to shrink into himself, realizing he may have said something too personal; Tina and Queenie's parents had died of Dragon Pox.
Tina didn't mind, though. She raised an eyebrow at Newt, urging him to continue.
"The Swooping Evil venom," he explained. "I've been studying it for a while. It's good for more than Obliviating entire cities, you know. I originally thought it would be best used for Obliviating bad memories, see."
"What about the Obliviate charm?" Tina pointed out.
"Ah, yes. Useful spell, but it has its limits," said Newt.
Tina glanced around the interior of Newt's shed, and her eyes fell on something she hadn't noticed there during her last visit: a small picture frame with the moving picture of a young woman. She was very pretty. Stunning, even, with high cheekbones and delicate features. The girl's confident, seductive eyes followed Newt as he worked around his shed.
It suddenly hit Tina-She had never once, in the past two days, considered that Newt might actually have a woman in his life.
Newt seemed like a bumbling fool when she first met him. And so odd. Impossible to be romantically favorable to, well, anyone.
But even more recently, ever since he had saved her from the Death Potion, when she began to notice how handsome he really was, how bright the green in his eyes was… It had never once occurred to her.
Tina wondered who the girl was; she couldn't help herself. She could be married to Newt, for all she knew. A knot formed in her stomach, and she felt like a fool.
Newt didn't seem to notice any of Tina's ruminating. She quickly averted her eyes from the picture of the pretty girl.
"Listen," said Newt, "Would you… would you mind walking with me? I need to tend to the creatures…"
"Of course," said Tina.
The inside of the case astounded her still, and for a few wonderful moments, she was outside of her head and her sorrow as she followed Newt to the Graphorns and past the Fwooper nest.
"See, the Obliviate charm is useful enough for masking details and confounding," Newt explained as they walked among the creatures. "Works well enough for making muggles forget when they've seen magic. But it only masks memories. It doesn't fully remove them."
"There's a difference?" asked Tina.
"Yes," said Newt, though he didn't expound, for he was now very busy caring for the baby Occamies.
"Now," Newt continued after a few minutes as they walked deeper into the case, "the Swooping Evil venom is much more physiologically amenable than the Obliviate charm. It's extremely potent. It removes memories more thoroughly than a charm could."
"Alright," said Tina, still not understanding. "Well, that Swooping Evil stuff definitely saved the day up there. But I still don't see…"
Newt looked thoughtful for a moment.
"It could be said that we're made up of our memories, couldn't it?" he said. "So, if you woke up tomorrow, all your memories gone, you wouldn't really be you, now would you?"
"I guess not," said Tina, though she couldn't think of anything more ghastly than to wake up without knowing who she was.
They paused at the opening of a large canvas flap. Tina peered through the opening and saw beyond into a dark, snowy landscape. Newt really did have a flair for charms, she reflected, watching a single snowflake trail down to the ground.
"See, I've long suspected you could change the very nature of an Obscurial by altering or removing a few very specific memories. It would have to be very targeted, but it could be done."
Tina looked at him, gobsmacked.
"You mean… you could make them forget whatever awful thing had been done to them to make them suppress their magic? And that would cure them of the Obscurus?"
"In theory, anyway," said Newt. "I'd been meaning to try it, ever since Sudan."
On Credence, were the unspoken words.
Newt gazed into the snowy enclosure. He looked as though he were about to cry.
"You don't suppose there's any chance MACUSA would return that Obscurus, do you?" he asked.
"Oh, I meant to tell you," said Tina, remembering the owl. "We've been asked to give a statement at a MACUSA hearing tomorrow. Both of us. Madame Picquery herself will be heading the committee. I'd say she owes you one. Can't see her saying no if you ask nicely. And it's not like MACUSA has a use for it."
"With any luck," said Newt. "It'd be a shame to lose it."
They walked together, slowly, back to the shed. Something occurred to Tina.
"How did you figure all that stuff out about the Swooping Evil, anyway?"
"Ah, well, a few experiments here and there."
"On yourself?" pressed Tina.
"Who else?" said Newt. "First time I tested it out, I lost two weeks. Had no idea where I was when I came to."
Tina had to chuckle.
"You're a genius, you know that?" The compliment flew out of her mouth, unchecked. "You're absolutely crazy. But you're a genius."
"Thank you, Tina," said Newt, stiffly. Tina noticed a distinctive blush in his ears. "And I hope they'll restore you to the Aurors, after all you've done. You deserve it."
Tina felt tears once more prick her eyes.
"You really think so?"
"Most definitely. You were right about those Second Salemers all along, and they'd be daft not to recognize that. If they'd listened to you sooner, last night may never have happened."
Now, Tina felt herself blushing. She didn't know what to say.
"Listen, Newt… um. Would you like some cocoa?"
"Yes," said Newt. "Thank you."
He caught her eye and smiled awkwardly.
"I think I'll even stick around and drink it this time."
"Don't let it eat you up," said Queenie the next morning over coffee.
"What?" said Tina.
"You saw that picture he has of Leta Lestrange. It's all you've been thinking about since you got up this morning."
"Leta Lestrange?" said Tina. So that was her name. Lestrange. Not Scamander. Still… She was a girl important enough for Newt to keep a picture of her.
"So he keeps a picture of his best girl around. So what?" said Tina, feigning indifference, however futile.
Queenie gave her a look.
"You were never good at admitting when you liked someone."
"I don't—" started Tina.
"Yes you do."
Tina sighed. It was useless, trying to hide any of this from Queenie.
"It's all right," Queenie reassured her. "I ain't gonna tell 'im. But I think you should."
"Why would I do that? He has Leta…"
Queenie shrugged innocently.
"Actually, I ain't so sure about that."
Tina folded her arms and regarded her little sister.
"You've been nosing around his head. You gotta stop doing that, Queenie. It's rude."
"I know, I know," said Queenie, looking sheepish. "I couldn't help it."
Tina, torn between scolding Queenie and wanting to know more, gave up and leaned forward.
"So, they're not… she's not his…?"
"I don't know," said Queenie.
"What do you mean?" asked Tina.
"I mean I don't know! Some people are harder to read. All I know is whoever Leta is, he got real hurt 'cause of her."
Tina had a lot to ponder. She stared at her hands. Newt would be setting sail for England in a few days time, and she'd likely never see him again.
"If it was me, I'd ask him about Leta Lestrange," said Queenie seriously. "Before he leaves."
"It's none of my business. I don't want to pry," said Tina.
"I know. That's why you've got me to push you ask him anyway. Besides," said Queenie, her eyes flashing. "I think he likes you, too."
The corner of Tina's mouth twitched.
"You think or you know?"
Queenie smiled mischievously in answer. She picked up her coffee mug and swept out of the room.
"That's for you to find out, Teenie."