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Love Is Not Love Which Alters When It Alteration Finds

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Newt is delighted when an auror from MACUSA announces one afternoon, a week after Grindelwald has been incarcerated and the real Percival Graves been found, that Theseus Scamander is due to arrive in America the next morning. He’s not seen Theseus for some months and can’t wait to introduce his brother to the new friends he has made here, especially Tina, and update him on his rather remarkable adventure in New York.

Excited, he goes early to meet Theseus at the docks and does a double take when he catches sight of his brother disembarking the boat. Theseus is taller than Newt and has always been broad and muscular. Now though, Newt can see that his brother looks like he has dropped at least a stone in weight. He’s pale and drawn, with big dark bags under his eyes – Newt decides in an instant he is going to force to him to eat at least half a dozen treats from Jacob’s bakery over the next couple of days. He hurries up to Theseus and greets him with a hug.

“It’s good to see you again, little brother,” Theseus’s smile for Newt is warm and genuine, if weary looking. “I hear you are quite the celebrity in New York.”

“Not really,” Newt shrugs self-deprecatingly and changes the subject. He worriedly examines his brother. The navy blue muggle suit he is wearing is neatly tailored and makes his loss of weight even more obvious than robes would have done. “Have you been eating properly, Theseus? You’re awfully thin!”

“I’ve been terribly busy,” Theseus says vaguely and somehow Newt gets the impression that his perpetually-honest brother is not telling him the truth for once.

He looks so exhausted and unhappy that same protective urge Newt feels when he looks at his creatures flares up in his chest. “Well, we must have breakfast first then!” he says firmly, taking Theseus’s arm and towing him along. “And you can tell me all about what’s been happening in England.”

Theseus allows Newt to lead him to a nearby diner where they both order coffee and pancakes. Newt tucks into his with enjoyment, watching anxiously as Theseus eats slowly, moving the pancakes around his plate and only finishing about half of them.

“Theseus, what’s the matter?” he presses urgently, starting to feel a little alarmed. Where is his confident, grinning big brother who teased him and laughed with him? “Has something happened to Mum?”

“No, no, Mum is fine. She sends her love,” Theseus assures him. “It’s just all this business with Grindelwald. While he’s been here, his followers have been wreaking havoc in Europe. It’s been manic back home.”

Again, Newt is not sure he believes him, but Theseus looks so terribly exhausted that he can’t find it in him to press the subject. He answers all of Theseus’s questions about Grindelwald’s incarceration and about how Percival Graves was doing – he had forgotten that Graves and his brother were longstanding acquaintances. He carefully avoids mentioning too many of the instances where he was in real danger, but Theseus still looks tense and uneasy by the time Newt concludes his story about his New York adventures. Newt wonders to himself if it would be sneaky to immediately take him to meet the Goldstein sisters in the hope that Queenie would read his mind and mention what was so clearly bothering him!

“You must stay with me, of course,” he says aloud. “I’ve been renting a small flat close to MACUSA while I’ve been helping with the aftermath – couldn’t trespass on Tina and Queenie all that time! But there’s plenty of room. We can head there now and you can rest a little – you look like you haven’t slept in days!”

Theseus agrees distractedly and, when they have finished their breakfast, Newt leads his brother to an empty alleyway, grabs his wrist and apparates them to his current address. He tries to persuade Theseus to rest but his brother is a stubborn git and insists that he is not tired and must head to MACUSA immediately. Thwarted, Newt asks for his help in feeding his creatures first so that he can accompany him there. He still feels strangely protective of Theseus in his current state and wants to make sure the American aurors treat him well.

Newt is delighted to find many of his creatures remember his brother. The mooncalfs crowd round him and nuzzle him affectionately while the fwooper flies two or three times around his head before perching on Theseus’s outstretched arm. His niffler, meanwhile, comes scurrying up, eyeing Theseus’s pocket watch but retreating satisfied when the elder Scamader hands him a gold coin. Newt feels a soar of triumph when he realises Theseus is genuinely smiling and loves his creatures all the more for being the cause of it.

All too soon though, his chores in his case are complete and he can no longer stall his brother. Though he’d prefer it if he could leave Theseus here to sleep and be nuzzled by mooncalfs all day, his brother is clearly eager to get to MACUSA and begin exchanging information with his American counterparts.

Making him promise that they would meet for lunch in the early afternoon – Newt suspected Theseus just wouldn’t ear if left to his own devices – the younger Scamander leads him to MACUSA.

When they arrive at MACUSA, several of the junior aurors are waiting for Theseus and he’s made quite the fuss of. One particularly officious fellow called Winchester is positively sycophantic and Newt has to fight not to roll his eyes. Luckily his brother has never been prone to conceitedness – all this ‘war hero’ business was enough to turn some people’s heads completely!

Theseus has always composedly stated that he did what anyone else did during the war, and is only branded a hero because he survived until the end. He's never been one to bask in glory.

Today however, Newt is astonished to see Theseus making minimal effort to chat; normally he is much more sociable! Shaking the aurors’ hands politely, he asks to be directed to Percival Graves immediately. Newt reminds him that they will meet for lunch and watches, puzzled, as Winchester guides Theseus away to Director Graves’ office. Perhaps he is merely worried about his friend? Maybe he’s worried that Grindelwald, while impersonating Graves had read some of his letters and got his hands on Ministry secrets?

Tina and Queenie arrive at the building very soon afterwards, looking forward to meeting his brother and Newt has to explain they’ve just missed him.

“Queenie, can you hear anything in his head from here?” he asks hopefully. “I’ve no wish to be nosy, but he’s not himself and I’m getting rather worried about him.”

Queenie stills, evidently searching through the cacophony of thoughts which MACUSA must be for her. Her beautiful face clouds sadly and she closes her eyes sorrowfully. “Oh, the poor dear!” she says.

Newt stomach sinks. “What is it?” He asks, almost desperately. “What’s wrong with him?”

“I’m afraid that’s not my place to tell, honey,” Queenie says sadly. “You need to wait for him to tell you on his own. Be kind to him, won’t you?”

“Of course I’ll be kind to him!” Newt splutters, perplexed. “He’s my brother! Can’t you at least give me an idea of what’s wrong, without being specific?”

But Queenie will say no more and Newt has to spend the whole morning wracking his brains, coming up with more and more ludicrous ideas as to what could possibly be making Theseus so stressed and unhappy. Tina sits with him in her newly reinstated office, lending quiet support, and Newt is grateful for it.

“He’s always looked after me, you see,” he explains to her. “It’s only thanks to him, really, that I got the job in the ministry. I’d been expelled and no one was really willing to trust me, but after everything he’d accomplished in the war, the ministry couldn’t refuse him. And at Hogwarts… I never fitted in but he wouldn’t let anyone bully me. I don’t like not being able to help him in return!”

“I guess it’s because he’s oldest,” Tina says knowingly. “You get used to being the one doing the protecting! Listen Newt, talk to him at lunch and explain this to him. It might help!”

Lunch time comes and there’s no sign of Theseus though. Wondering if his brother and Graves have got so caught up in discussing Grindelwald that they’ve forgotten the time, Newt excuses himself and winds his way along to Graves’s office. Normally, he’d let Theseus come along in his own time but it doesn’t look like he’s done a very good job of remembering to eat recently!

He treads quietly. He knows it’s rather sneaky but he wonders if perhaps he might hear his brother confiding in Graves what he won’t confide in Newt. He pauses outside the door, but he can hear nothing.

He pushes it open the smallest of smidges and stares in surprise.

Graves is sitting on the edge of his desk, Theseus standing between his spread legs, and they are wrapped in each other’s arms. Their collars are undone, ties loosened, and somehow this seems more sensual and intimate than if Newt had caught them naked. Even with Newt’s rather limited experience in the romance department, he can see that they are kissing with the tender familiarity of established lovers. Graves’s hands are wound in his brother’s fair hair and it’s very clear they’ve both been crying.

Suddenly, Theseus’s strained appearance makes sense, as does his insistence on seeing Graves immediately. He would have been sent a letter saying Grindelwald had been holding and impersonating Graves as though the man was no more than a colleague – what agony he must have gone through, Newt thinks sadly. But why didn’t he just say? Now he comes to think of it, Newt hasn’t seen his charismatic brother even look at another witch or wizard in years!

Newt knocks gently on the doorframe and the two of them spring apart like lightening, swinging round in a panic to look at the now-open door. Newt meets his brother’s eyes and his heart almost stops when he sees the look of sheer terror on Theuses’s white face. It’s gone in an instant, replaced by a calmer mask, but Newt doesn’t think he’ll ever forget the look as long as he lives. He doesn’t need Queenie Goldstein’s skills at legilimency to understand what is going on now.

Though not criminalised like the muggle world, homosexual relationships were still taboo among most of the wizard world; especially in the aftermath of the war. Amongst the old pureblood families, it was considered a witch or wizard’s duty to settle down and produce the next generation. Those who rejected that idea in favour of a same-sex partnership were sometimes ostracized or worse.

And that was what Theseus feared…his family’s reaction. Newt wants to cry, he really does. How could his brilliant, brave brother ever have imagined – after everything he’d done for Newt – that Newt would give even the slightest of damns who he loved, and that he would turn away? How long has he had to keep this secret for fear of being cast away? For fear of not being loved anymore?

Blinded by tears, Newt hurtles into the office, past an alarmed looking Graves, and throws his arms around Theseus’s neck. “You stupid git!” he says thickly, feeling his brother’s arms wrap around him in return. “Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Newt, I…” Theseus tries to respond, his voice rough and cracking.

“I love you, you wonderful, kind, stubborn, stupid bugger!” Newt says fiercely, hugging Theseus tight enough almost to choke him. “And if you thought that would ever change, then you were wrong!”

It takes some moments before either brother can regain their composure but when Newt draws back, there is something healed in Theseus’s expression that makes him want to sag with relief. He turns to be introduced to Graves anew, not just as the Director of Security, but as his brother’s partner of nearly eight years.

And should anyone, in New York or in England, think for a moment about treating Theseus with any kind of prejudice, well they would answer to Newt…and an entire case of magical creatures!