Leta clasped the mug between her hands, the warmth of the tea inside heating her chilled hands. An awkward silence separated her and Newt, who sat in front of her, stirring yet another spoonful of sugar into his tea. Of course, she thought. He always put an excessive amount of sugar in his tea. It was one of the many things she'd observed over the many years they'd been friends, and then more than friends.
The silence continued, the only sound an occasional clink of Newt's spoon against his mug as he stirred the light brown liquid. It was an awfully cumbersome setting, she found, and it wasn't the relaxed, natural state that they'd so regularly assumed whenever they were together. Perhaps it had to do with Newt going to New York? Leta rolled her lips, a nervous habit, before speaking, trying to break the ice that'd slowly began to form between them. "So, how's your manuscript going?"
Newt looked up at her, a bit taken aback. Out of all things, his book was what she was most interested in? He was sure she'd ask about his creatures or how he was doing first. "It's going well, I just have to finish a few pages and sketches before sending it off to the publisher. I'm just having problems coming up with the words to describe the grindylow. They're incredibly complex creatures, you see, and I don't want to write them as seeming dangerous when they're really not, but I also don't want to write them as harmless, because they can become hostile without proper care. Grindylows are incredibly misunderstood."
Leta smiled into her cup, a sign of admiration. She'd always marveled at his fascination and love for any and all creatures. It was a rare thing, for someone to appreciate them as unconditionally as he did. It was his appreciation for them that got him expelled from Hogwarts in their final year. "That's good, really good. What do you plan to do after it gets published?"
Newt considered telling Leta about his promise to Tina. He felt as if he could tell Leta anything, and every thing. She was his friend, he felt comfortable telling her things. "Once it's published I'll have to plan where I'm traveling to for publicity. I'm hoping I'll be able to visit America- I've got a promise to someone."
"A promise?" Leta inquired, raising her eyebrows and setting her mug down, growing increasingly curious. It was no secret he'd made friends while in New York, but to make a promise to come back to America for someone was an entirely different story. "To who? For what?"
"Oh, you don't know her..." Newt answered, looking away. He silently cursed himself, for he'd said far too much and gotten Leta interested. He didn't particularly want to explain the details of his stay in New York to her. He'd read enough about what people believed happened during it in The Daily Prophet, who'd deemed him "The Hero of New York," but still managed to throw some negativity about him in there, as they always do, stating: "Mr. Scamander seems to be trying to live up to his brother, war hero Theseus Scamander, but can he?" He'd found the whole article ridiculous and simply ignored any questions or owls he received from journalists. His stay in New York was an entirely private one, the only details being ones from rumors spread by other witches and wizards or released to the general public.
He'd grown progressively agitated when he read articles that weren't focused on him- more so, his friends. One friend in particular. Of course the Prophet was interested in the life of Tina Goldstein, she was an ex-ex-auror who'd caused a massive scandal, people were bound to be captivated by that story. She was also a young, attractive woman, which made the stories even more scandalous. The New York Ghost, however, seemed less into fabricated stories about people and more into facts about events, much to Newt's ease. He couldn't bare thinking of Tina reading the abhorrent passages written about her by people who only know her name.
"Her?" Leta echoed, her expression unreadable. A pang of jealousy and hurt rang through her, and she had to remind herself that her and Newt were not together anymore. He could befriend anyone he pleased- just because he befriended a woman didn't necessarily mean they were together. Besides, Leta told herself, she couldn't be angry even if they were together, because what she and Newt had had been over for years. It wasn't fair on anyone. Still, she felt a strong surge of envy go through her at the mention of another female in Newt's life.
"Yes," Newt said tentatively, unsure of what to say next, lest he upset Leta. Their relationship was still fragile, and he didn't know what was okay to say and what wasn't. He was acutely aware of her feelings- and his own. "The girl- Tina- I promised to bring her a copy of my book on the docks before I boarded the ship."
Leta was hurt now, really hurt. She couldn't help it, anger just seemed to bubble up inside of her. Anger and envy. "Tina Goldstone? The one who disarmed Grindelwald?"
"Yes, her, but it's... it's Goldstein, not Goldstone," he clarified. He found his thoughts drifting to her, something he'd found inescapable since arriving back at London. The curl of her hair, the sound of her laugh, the way she smiled when he told her he'd bring her her copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in person, after he'd gotten it published. They were all thoughts that rushed to his mind after a long day, or when he was simply bored. He found himself missing her, hoping to find a letter from her every day when the owl came to deliver mail. He knew it was silly- he'd never even told Tina his address.
"I read in the Prophet that she got fired for attacking a muggle. As well as turned you in," Leta apprized, her tone a bit higher than usual. She hadn't meant to sound accusing, she was just stating what she knew. Leta knew when Newt admired someone, and she could tell by the way he said her name that he was somewhat intrigued by her, a thought that pained Leta and made her slowly begin to not like Tina.
Newt stiffed, growing defensive. "The muggle she attacked was abusing her son," he explained through gritted teeth. "She had to do something. And she only turned me in because she's an auror, and an excellent one at that. If I'd seen an American walking around the streets let out an unfamiliar and illegally owned, at least where I'm from, creature in the middle of King's Cross I would've felt uneasy too. Everything she did was rational. I'd left her house and taken a muggle with me in the middle of the night, there were strange things happening all around the city, of course she was going to turn me in. She tried turning me in from the start, but instead was humiliated in front of me and her colleagues. Tina was just doing her job, and obviously she learned the truth about my creatures and I, or Grindelwald wouldn't have been defeated."
"Must be some auror if she doesn't even have her job," Leta scoffed, picking at her nails. She didn't know why she said it, it was a thought that'd slipped out and regretted it the moment it did, because Newt seemed absolutely furious.
"Mind you, she got her job back after defeating Gellert Grindelwald, with a little bit of persuasion on my side. She's one of the strongest and bravest witches I know and is definitely along the ranks of my own brother as an auror, maybe even as good as him. So don't you dare try to make her seem like less than she is, because she is one of the kindest, caring, brave people I've known."
Leta was shocked at Newt's sudden outburst. It was entirely unlike him to react like that. Even when somebody insulted his creatures he didn't react like that. He'd calmly explain to the person why they were wrong. Clearly, Tina Goldstein meant a lot more to him than he cared to admit.
"I'm sorry, I was just stating what I knew," Leta apologized, looking into Newt's hard gaze. He was silent, studying his cup of tea instead of answering her, "You must like her a lot," she mumbled quietly, after the silence had persisted for far too long again. This wasn't going as planned- Leta wanted to be able to have a good visit, not have him leave angry at her for insulting one of his friends.
"It seems so," he replied, swirling a finger in his tea absentmindedly. "She's just a friend, though. A close friend."
We were close friends, Leta thought, and she almost said it- but kicked herself in the shin instead. Mentioning their past relationship, especially when there was such a tense atmosphere around them, would not be the way to go. She took a sip of her now cool tea, and studies him over the brim of the mug. He seemed tired- of course he was, he'd been spending all day and night writing his book. But there was also something else about him, something she couldn't pinpoint. Was it... happiness? Leta decided not to stress over it, knowing exactly why he was happy. And it had nothing to do with her, it was because of a raven-haired, American witch in New York.
"Well, I'm glad you could make friends who accepted you for who you are. Anyway... how was New York?"