The letter arrived that morning just as the hazy sun peaked over the crest of gray buildings, and before Tina had even pulled herself out of bed. The neatly enveloped note landed by aid of a disgruntled looking owl – it's almond and cream colored feathers a ruffled, wind beaten mess, and despite invitation, the bird did not stay to rest from its long journey. With mindful fingers, she gently took the parcel from its animal carrier, murmuring her thanks as it flew back amid the indistinct aura of the August morning. Tina blinked after the bird, watching until its figure was lost in the yellow light until finally, with sleep heavy eyes, she marveled at the mail in her hand. A profound fissure of joy worked through her, and Tina had to bite back a smile knowing the letter was undoubtedly from him.
Regardless of the unwitting sensations pulsing through to her very core from holding the parcel, Tina waited to open it. The letter – his letter – would remain untouched, seal unbroken, for the mere reason of having something to look forward to once her workday was over. She gingerly set it on the table, giving the envelope a longing and hopeful glance as she took to her morning routine in her usual no-nonsense way; a quick bath, a good scrubbing of her face, and a mug of steaming coffee accompanied by toast with jam. Tina did her best to ignore the letter poised readily on the wooden surface, teasing her with its familiar mystery.
Later, she prompted. If you read it now, what will you do after work?
Tina finished her breakfast feeling bitter and defeated by her own reasoning. However, by the time she made it to MACUSA, she was certain she should have read Newt's letter before leaving. As if to add insult to injury, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was experiencing an uncharacteristically slow and altogether grueling day, which provided little in the form of excitement or distraction. Dark Arts Doldrums was what such circumstances were aptly called by her fellow Aurors; those scarce days when everything was right in the wizarding world - and Tina hated them. There were no pressing cases that held her interest or matched her skill level, and, had it not been for buckets of tedious paperwork, she wouldn't have even bothered to come in. Grindelwald had been shipped back to Azkaban, and any dark arts related insurgencies where miles away from New York - leaving Tina at her desk feeling no more useful than a file clerk in the Wand Permit office.
Initially, falling once more into the Auror business had been easier and just as satisfying as placing the last piece into a jigsaw puzzle. Tina had been welcomed back with open arms and an array of congratulations for aiding in the capture of the greatest dark wizard to date. Those first weeks back in the old grind were invigorating, and Tina would have been lying if she didn't admit that the new-found praise from her colleagues gave her joy on some level. After the hiccup that lost her the job, their salutes were a great way to boost her self-esteem and jump back into the game. Besides the lessened workload at present, Tina would be forever grateful to be back where she felt the most useful, as well as for the handful of hours MACUSA stole away from her day - now that she would be returning to an empty apartment.
When their No-Mag friend's memories returned in slow, hazy increments, he and Queenie wasted no time in making their relationship absolute. Their secret affair rendered a secret wedding – a small celebration in upstate New York with only two guests, but copious amounts of joy and love to fill each of their hearts until the end of time. As Newt had promised in his weekly letters, he was there to witness Jacob and Queenie exchange a fluid mix of vows and rings under a spring moon, amid enchanted orbs of fairy light. That had been the last time Tina had seen the eccentric wizard from across the sea; arriving primped and polished for the occasion (to the best of his abilities), and even sporting a fresh haircut.
Before Jacob had his memories, and while Queenie was still living blissfully with Tina, Newt had shown up with a halo of tizzied hair, scraggly and wild (the way Tina liked it best), with an ill look about him, all the while denouncing the functionality of Portkeys. "They are completely uncouth," he'd claimed, in a tone that was both peeved and dismayed. His unannounced visit caused a significant and wholly unknown surge of something though Tina's very being, and she doubted she could blame it on the copy of his book that he'd brought her. When he finally risked a smile in her direction, Tina was almost positive she'd gone blind for a brief moment from his radiance.
When he'd returned a few months later for Queenie's wedding, well-groomed and slightly uncomfortable on account, Tina had trouble hiding that same fissure of unsounded excitement. Newt hardly left her side during the duration of the ceremony, and when he unexpectedly led her in a dance beneath the stars, she was sure it was more than amicable sparks glistening in his eyes as he drank her in. It was a bittersweet occasion; Tina feeling as though her sister and Jacob were moving far too fast. Queenie's marriage inflicted a new and dismal reality upon Tina, and that cloud swept over her, placing a veil over the jovial evening. But Newt was there with his smile, bathed in silver moonlight, to chase away all of her uncertainty. Quick as it all had seemed, cloud or no cloud, Tina could not think of a solid reason as to why Jacob and Queenie didn't deserve the happiness they'd found. Every sliver of joy life granted them was a precious gift and Tina was better for it, knowing her golden headed sister – the little girl she'd raised – was truly where she wanted to be.
Newt waited to return to England, staying almost a week, and Tina had an inkling it was to help with the transition of life alone. She was glad for that. Glad, too, for the unyielding empathy and patience he showed on those days she was feeling bitter and melancholy. She'd snapped at him a few times and never did he question her - Newt took it all in stride, and never to heart. He'd lived alone for much of his life, and generously provided her with much need affirmation of the positive attributes of single living. Every word he'd said Tina absorbed like a sponge, hoping to hold onto his wisdom long after he was gone and she was by herself. "Maybe you should consider a Kneazle" he'd suggested. "I find that my creatures are ample company on the days I feel particularly lonesome." She remembered giving him a soft smile at the suggestion, though she knew better. That won't be the same as my sister…. she'd thought.
Tina could barely recall a time in her life when she hadn't shared a space with someone; her mother, father and sister being the first. Then it was just Queenie, stuck to her like glue no matter how 'The System' tried to pull them apart once their parents were gone. The dorms at Ilvermorny slept a good handful of her classmates, not her sister, but at the very least there was someone there. After graduation – while Queenie was still suffering those last two years of schooling – Tina had a roommate to fill that void. Those two years were insufferable; her companion was a fellow colleague at MACUSA, and Tina was sure by the time Queenie was back home, she was going to hex the woman staying with her. Then after those two long years, she and her sister moved to the brownstone where they'd lived quite contently for almost a decade.
Just like the seasons, times changed; Newt ventured back to England, Queenie to Jacob's, and Tina felt the sting of isolation for the first time in her life. It had been unsettling – a struggle even – coming home after work to an empty apartment when she was used to being welcomed by the aroma of her sister's cooking or the lazy jazz playing on the wireless. Some nights Tina got little in the way of rest, unable to sleep in the unfamiliarity of a silent room. She missed the reverent breaths of her sister sleeping so near to her. There was no solace in the now stagnant air, and it was weeks before Tina trained herself to sleep without those accustomed sounds. Every day was easier, and little by little that dark cloud began to dissolve into a translucent mist. Eventually Tina was able to adapt to her new environment with the help of Newt's lessons. There was a silver lining to all things, she reminded herself; learning to take the good with the bad, and to focus all her energy on the bright side. The biggest was not having to worry about keeping the shields up in her mind, which - after a few weeks of not needing them - made her realize how tiring it had been to do in the first place. It was the thoughts that accompanied Newt's letters that she was truly happy to think freely, and that notion alone calmed her fraying nerves, knowing just how much teasing she was sparing herself from. The evenings were quieter, which Tina often used to indulge in long baths or a good book (his book) without feeling the need to entertain her sister. Mealtimes were certainly less appealing since Tina was not well versed in the magical art of preparing food, and so she greedily missed Queenie's cooking. Her sister had made it clear that Tina was always welcome to a seat at their table anytime, but she didn't want to impose.
That day had been no different, and after a boring day of endless paperwork, Tina greeted her mundane sandwich as if it were a feast fit for a king. She tossed it together with mirthless flair and too much mustard. Newt's letter was precisely where she'd left it that morning, propped against her mug to greet her. She hadn't forgotten about it, rather the opposite. Arguably, the note was the main reason for her poorly constructed sandwich, being far more eager to read his words than to fill her stomach with something so mediocre.
It was late, already dark for a summer's day, and she was tired - but an energy worked through her the second her fingers grasped at the parchment. The sensation was one she'd experienced many times, which now filled her with an alarming amount of joy.
This is a rather short letter I have for you this week— far shorter than what you are used to— so I hope you'll forgive me for being concise. Do know that I have loads to tell you, but I'm saving all my stories to convey to you in person when I arrive next Friday…
Tina's chest grew suddenly tight and she reread the lines just to be sure her heart wasn't playing a cruel game on her.
…Much like this letter my visit will be short— a weekend stay - but I wanted to see you before I go away on my next excursion. Be well Tina, and know that I count the days until I can see you again.
A smile worked it's way onto her lips as she finished reading, a grin so taut across her face that the muscles pulled almost painfully. The amount of excitement that fell over her was unreal; never had written word filled her with such elation. A week, one week, and she could marvel at the constellations of freckles on his face; one week and her world would no longer feel empty – if only for a few days. In that moment she didn't allow that unpleasant thought to break her smile or steel away from the enthusiasm his letter brought. Her heart was suddenly too full to cast pity on herself.
With a content and hopeful sigh, Tina folded the message, stowing it back in its protective envelope, finishing her late diner. The hastily made corn beef sandwich was dull against her taste buds, not even the overabundance of the tangy mustard garnered its usual satisfying flavor. Any other day her modest meal would have rendered some nostalgia of the meals she used to eat while her sister lived with her, but her thoughts was far from the apartment in which she dwelled. The expanse of her mind recalled only hues of blue, auburn, and green; phantom scents of herb and earth filled her senses and the warmth it all prompted made her grin.
With a yawn Tina felt the weight of her day sink and settle into her bones. Her joints cried out with pops as she ambled to her feet, causing a grimace to turn her mouth from the slight twinge of pain. The discomfort faded quickly and she discarded her trash, sweeping the crumbs from her lap as she made for her bedroom. For a moment Tina hoped to find Queenie sleeping soundly in the ever empty bed parallel to her own. It's neatly made linens surrendered the truth, and Tina swallowed the grief that swelled in her throat. It was strange to consider that a friendly response to her sister's vacant bed, used to the sick churn her stomach often did at bedtime. A pang of selfish sorrow was much simpler to settle than the sick and heavy feeling she was used to suffering. One day, maybe even soon, Tina wished a glance at Queenie's bed would bring her a smile and the thought of how happy she was with Jacob.
The August air was thick, hanging heavily - almost to the point of suffocation. It wasn't a pleasant atmosphere for restful sleep, and Tina absently doubled the cooling charms in the room with a flick of her wand. She chose a simple pair of cotton pajamas, tossing her work worn clothes to a pile at the foot of her bed and making a mental note to get the washing done before Newt arrived. Before tucking herself under the thin sheet, Tina yanked at the corner of her mattress where she removed a hefty stack of envelopes held together with twine. The collection of letters were enough to press a smile to her lips, causing her dimple to crease her cheek. All at once, memories flooded over her with each letter. They had all been the highlight of her week, none so much as the newest. Its words were filled with hope and promise, and while she added it to the stack, Tina reminded herself that seven days was all she would have to wait. Seven days and his smile would greet her once more, filling her heart with rampant joy she'd never felt the likes of before knowing him.
A/N: *Cracks knuckles and clears throat* THANK MERLIN, I've finally got this damn fic rolling. This has been the bane of my existence and while this work and I are now on speaking terms, know that it has (and continues) to fight me daily. More than once I considered tossing it aside and jumping back to the familiar and loving series that is my Laughter Lines Universe, but I couldn't bring myself to abandon this. Admittedly, the first, probably 8 chapters may be a little lackluster, but I think my muse is back. *crosses fingers* -rant over-
That said, I'm currently working on the tail end of this, but I've got the first 8-9ish chapters ready to go. I'll be posting them weekly, thus giving me time to finish this bear of a story and start working on the next installment of my LL Series!
Furthermore, you can follow me on Tumblr at fandom-non-sense
That is where you can keep up with my progress, check out my favorite works by other talented authors and even find a link to keep me caffeinated so I write quicker ;).
Also HUGE thank you and shout out to my betas onebethatatime and katiehavok. They are the true heroes here and I owe them both so much for making these chapters readable.