Your panic attacks came at some of the most inopportune times. The symptoms varied and sometimes you could ride them out, finding a quiet corner to breath and relax. But today, no matter where you went–a dark corner, the ladies’ restroom, outside–you couldn’t escape.
You felt as if all eyes were on you. It seemed like everyone was watching you and you were mortified. It only intensified your anxiety. Without a second thought to your friend Newt Scamander–whom you left behind at the shop on the corner–you retreated to your apartment less than a block away.
Once inside your apartment, you shed you peacoat; the sash around your waist was too tight. As you realized your sanctuary was close at hand, your heart started to race, your breathing was becoming erratic. You started to worry that being in your bedroom would not be enough to calm you down.
You set down the suitcase that weighs heavy in your grip. You hadn’t realized in the moment that you’d absconded with your friend’s precious suitcase, which he’d entrusted to you. It was as if his creatures could sense your anxiety.
The second that you set it down on the floor of your bedroom, the latch on the case popped open. The sound was like the reassuring knock on the door from of a loved one, checking on you. Seeing it as an invitation, you opened the case slowly. Nothing jumped out at you, which was a relief, since you’d realized that was a possibility a second too late.
The world within Newt’s suitcase was unusually quiet. The expansion charm seemed to expand your own lungs. You were finally able to take a deep breath. After breathing and counting to five, you resolved to enter Newt’s case in search of a quiet and safe place.
Newt found you huddled up in a chair in the small cabin that was the entrance to his suitcase. Niffler was in your lap, judiciously pulling out objects from his magical tummy pouch and presenting it to you as if these gifts would lift your spirit. You smiled fondly at the small creature because while you didn’t care about someone’s personalized watch, you appreciated the thought.
“He must think shiny things will make you as happy as they do him,” Newt commented quietly, his hands hidden in his pockets and his shoulders slumped to make him smaller and less imposing. Still, you were startled.
“I’m so sorry, Newt. I’m so sorry I ran off with the case. I just…I couldn’t be in the shop anymore. I don’t know why but it was just too crowded and too small. And I’m just so sorry. And I’m sorry for entering the case. I know I should’ve gotten your permission.” In your haste to apologize, you’d worked yourself up all over again. There was a tightness in your chest and your breathing was shallow and fast, indicating how close you were to crying or hyperventilating.
Newt approached you with all the grace and caution that he did any startled animal. He shushed you and held out his hand to slowly reach out to you. Niffler was surprised to find Newt behind him. He squeaked once before jumping off your lap and running away with all of his treasures.
“Well he’s guilty of something,” Newt muttered to himself. The corner of your mouth tilted up at his humor. “Do you want to be alone?” Your response was to accept his stretched out hand. You shrugged and tilted your head, indicating it was not a yes or a no. “Would you mind if I tried to help?” he asked. You weren’t sure what he could do. It’s not like he had any salves or potions that could help, unless it was something that would make you sleep.
You allowed yourself to be eased to your feet. Newt’s calloused hand was gentle. You focused on the rough feel of his skin. It was so tangible. So revealing of his human nature. He was a kindred spirit. Someone who had worked hard in his life, following his passions, the ups and downs, the pleasure and pain. He had struggled and overcome his obstacles. Surely you could too, right?
Newt rested his other hand on the small of your back and put enough pressure there to urge you forward.
“Let’s get you out of this small room, shall we? I think I know what we can do,” he mumbled, almost to himself. Of course, you had only gone from the small shop to his small cabin in the suitcase, so when you stepped out into the expanse of his magical creature zoo (as you liked to call it), that tightness in your chest swelled. You took a deep breath and upon exhalation, your body relaxed. “Come with me, darling,” he whispered, steering you past the various habitats.
The sky behind Frank the Thunderbird brightened exponentially when he saw you. He cawed sweetly in your direction, flicking his head up as an invitation for your touch. He had to lean far forward from his habitat to reach you as Newt paused to let you stroke the large, golden animal’s head. The feathers on his face were so soft. You sighed as your fingers slid along them.
“Frank is always so happy to see you,” Newt commented with a grin. “Come along,” he spoke after another second.
The Graphorns tossed their head and bellowed happily when you passed by. One of the babies started to run towards you but he was held back by one of his parents. You giggled, and told them you would come back to them.
Niffler waved at you from his nest with a ruby ring in his small paw. The Erumpet was rolling around happily in the tall grass of her paddock and Dougal the Demiguise had climbed down from his perch to follow the two of you.
When you both came to a stop, Dougal’s tail wrapped around your ankle and he hugged your leg. His small hand stroked your calf and it was a strange but comforting sensation. You weren’t used to someone paying so much attention to your leg; it made you grin and when Dougal saw your smile, he smiled in return. You giggled and reached down to pet him on the head.
You hadn’t realized Newt had left your side until he was returning.
“Pardon me, Dougal,” Newt spoke fondly. Your heart skipped a beat when you recognized the luminescent Marmite in Newt’s arms. You’d only ever watched him care for the creature. You’d yet to do it yourself. Were you really fit for this responsibility now?
You were breathing fast and your brow was furrowed with concern. What was Newt’s intention with this? How could this help you? The closer he came to you, the sooner you realized that he was going to hand the nursing creature to you.
You did your best to mimic the placement of his arms so that you cradle the Marmite. He was reluctant to release Newt, with so many tendrils wrapped around his body but he did eventually. Newt gave you the bottle and the Marmite resumed his feeding.
“Are you sure I should be doing this? I’ve never worked with him before,” you asked Newt, concerned. He nodded and smiled with encouragement.
“I trust you. He’ll trust you.”
Slowly the Marmite’s alien-like tendrils surrounded you, some of them hugging your body. Others floated around you in the dark space of his habitat. You’d never been so close to a Marmite.
“Notice how he occupies the space around you,” Newt murmured in a soothing tone. “Realize that you are not alone. He’s hugging you. Dependent on you. So many of my creatures love you too, Y/N. But also see how his tentacles flow through the air,” he coached you. “There will always be room to breathe. You can own the space around you like he does. Recognize what you can and cannot control.”
“There’s so much I can’t control,” you spoke, dejected. Newt tilted his head so that his green eyes could catch your gaze.
“But you can learn to control so much more than you think. Remember, most wizards think these creatures can’t be controlled and so they must be eliminated. But you and I, we learned how to care for them. And so while we can’t control them completely, we can understand them and navigate the situations we find them in.”
The tension in your body relaxed when you realized what he was saying.
You looked down at the Marmite’s face and lost yourself in the features of the glowing animal. It took some effort and close inspection to look past the glowing to see the lines of his face. You realized he was watching you closely as he suckled at his bottle. He wasn’t about to question who this new person was, as long as they were feeding him.
“Let his glowing guide your breathing,” Newt suggested. “In and out. You’re not too warm or cold. Let your body relax more. Let the Marmite ground you in this moment.”
The luminescence emanating from him pulsed as the creature breathed and you realized his temperature under your touch fluctuated with each breath. Everything about the Marmite was soothing. The texture of his body, the glowing, the temperature, the gentle pressure of his tentacles around you.
“How do you feel?” Newt asked after a long minute or two. He smiled tentatively as he watched you. You’d practically forgotten about Newt for a moment, which was ludicrous since it was all due to him that you were here.
“Good. Better, I think,” you sighed quietly.
“Excellent. Do you want to keep feeding him?” Newt asked happily. You let yourself look away from the Marmite and looked at Newt’s face.
“I think I’d like to hug you now instead,” you voice cracked slightly as you fought the urge to cry with happiness. Newt didn’t realize at first your crying was good. He moved quickly but gently to remove the Marmite from your embrace and set the creature down in his nest. One of his tendrils held the nearly empty bottle now.
“I’m sorry. I thought it would,” he spoke nervously, coming back to you. You wrapped your arms around his waist and buried your face in his chest. Newt’s strong arms enveloped you and one hand rested on the back of your head. He stroked your hair to comfort you.
“No, no, it did. Thank you so much, Newt.” You lifted your head to look up at Newt. You were close enough to count his freckles but that was a hopeless and infinite task. Newt grinned in response to your own smile.
“Oh, oh well of course. Anything for you. My creatures aren’t the only ones that are fond of you,” he spoke rather shyly, unable to meet your gaze for a moment.
When his green eyes focused on your face again, he tenderly wiped away a tear on your cheek with his thumb. He continued to caress your cheek as if touching you was what grounded him in reality. Slowly, you leaned in to brush your lips against his. Newt’s response was soft and shy. The pursing of his lips was delayed for a second but when he did, he kissed you back. When your lips left his, you looked up at him to read his face, unsure of his reaction.
“I’m so–” you started to apologize but Newt shook his head and the corner of his mouth turned up in small smile.
“I suppose if you’re ever in need of comfort and the suitcase isn’t nearby…I’ll always…you know…be here for you…because…well you know…”
And you did. You knew exactly what he was trying to say.