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Fear in Itself by LunaStellaCat

Format: Short story collection
Chapters: 1
Word Count: 7,065
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong violence, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Young Adult
Characters: Charlie, Luna, Newt
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 05/31/2017
Last Chapter: 06/02/2017
Last Updated: 06/02/2017

Summary:
Rolf Scamander gets help from Anthony Goldstein and discovers something about himself.


For Dossy Vilja, who inspired this one.

 

Hope you enjoyed this one.  Any reviews would be appreciated.  


Chapter 1: Fear in Itself
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Hospitals and similar sanctuaries acted as safe havens. People did things and left their lives behind, and all got erased. It was like being Obliviated without the trouble of a Memory Charm. Rolf had never been though such an experience, or he at least couldn't remember being placed under such a spell, but that was the point. He traveled to New York so often it was rather like a second home or a home away from home. On the day of his forty-second birthday, he walked the streets of New York with his grandfather.

“Over here,” said his grandfather.

Newt pointed with a gnarled hand and used his blue umbrella as a walking stick. It clashed slightly with his peacock blue vintage coat, but he didn’t care. He’d first visited the States in 1926; he’d been twenty-nine and worn the thing everywhere with his Hufflepuff scarf. It was 2014, nearly 2015, and frankly, when a man turned 117, he really no longer gave a shit. Newt had fed his New York publisher at the Obscurus Books publishing house that very line earlier this morning, and Rolf had struggled to keep a straight face until he’d walked out of the office. He’d lost it in the corridor.

“I went too far,” said Newt, stopping to catch his breath. He wasn't talking about distance because they had Apparated into New York City. He reconsidered the meeting and shook his head. Rolf kept his mouth shut because he’d guessed this was best, yet it was the wrong move. Newt was white-haired now, skin and bones, and moved slower. “The next thirty seconds are yours. Feel free jump in anytime, grandson.”

“Really? Oh. Okay.” Rolf leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. Was his grandfather really going to let him tell him off? “You don't know everything, Mr. Scamander, although you think you do, and an editor saves lives. You told me that! You’re arrogant, and I’m sorry, but you’ve got a God complex. That’s dangerous.”

“I beg your pardon?” Newt rounded on him and stopped beside a Muggle ambulance station at a firehouse. “Boy, I raised you. Don’t think I won't knock you down.”

Rolf made a tutting sound and raised his hand. If he’d been given the chance, he was getting this out one way or another. He showed his grandfather the face of his Cartier wristwatch. Newt Scamander was a sweet old Englishman. Everyone had their flaws. In fact, Newt had told him that a man’s flaws were as enduring as his strengths; people who knew people saw these things.

“I’ve still got fifteen seconds? What’re you doing?” Rolf nodded, honestly a little frightened of his old grandfather. Newt took his wand out of his coat and pointed it at the umbrella. He charmed the umbrella into whacking Rolf soundly round the head.

Rolf, chortling, raised his arms protectively and laughed when it started sprinkling. “You don't consider humans when you ought to sometimes. That would really help your public image. And you should wear what the Scamander Foundation picks out for you. Miss Clearwater keeps you fashionably timeless for a reason, and you fight her because you’re the grumpy old man telling gnomes to stay out of your garden. The coat, though? I like the coat. Is it part of my inheritance?”

Newt stuffed his bruised hand in his pocket. “What inheritance?”

“Ouch.” Rolf raised his hands in a gesture of surrender and beat off the umbrella. Its charm wore off. Rolf cast an Engorgement Charm on it and held it over him and his grandfather. Newt leaned on him. Newt had fallen the day before in the kitchen and then again in the bathroom. “How’s the leg? You want to sit down?” 



“You sit down. Shut up, Newton,” said Newt, pointing again at a nearby dumpster. A nearby firefighter on a smoking break waved at them. Newt returned the wave halfheartedly. “This is where your mother left you the day you were born. Right here. The hospital is over there.”

Rolf nodded, piecing it together as Newt pointed with his injured hand and complained because he forgot it was hurt. Rolf was a grown man. He’d put this family drama to bed ages and ages ago because he’d been truly fortunate to have his grandparents raise him as their second son. His mother, a Brazilian woman born to immigrants, hadn't been in her right mind and had been addicted to a handful of substances. His father, Frank, was still on that road. Rolf’s mother, Maria Silva, had been seventeen and lost.

“She threw me away,” said Rolf slowly, wiping his face with his free hand.

His grandmother, Tina, had told him this over and over, though he’d never taken it literally. Rolf had two small boys of his own and this weighed on him unexpectedly. Maria Silva had given birth at the nearby hospital and thrown away her problems a few blocks away. It was cold in New York in Christmastime.

“Look at me. She was a girl. And she was scared out of her mind.” Newt had suspected what Rolf’s mother was going to do and had followed her. He had found his grandson wrapped in hospital blankets and carried him back up to the hospital. “You were addicted and strung out … and some creatures do this. Some eat their young. Cats and Kneazles do. You weren’t Christmas breakfast.” 



“Grandpa!” Rolf burst out laughing. Newt shrugged, pleased he'd lightened the mood. Newt Scamander showed his awkward funny side now and again. Rolf couldn't imagine abandoning his four year old sons, his twin boys, because Lysander and Lorcan were his life. Smiling, deciding he’d put this to bed, he draped his free arm around his grandfather’s waist and suggested they grab a bite to eat. “The Sandwich Shop?”

“Ooooh, yes, please,” said Newt.

The publisher, Mr. Worme, hadn't known that it had been Rolf and not Newt who had made the corrections for the fifty-first edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (The fiftieth edition had indeed been special because this was the last one Newt touched, although few people knew this.) Thirteen years ago, the book got released to Muggles. Rolf had found this particularly enjoyable because Newt had fretted over the small stuff and insisted he needed more Muggles and No-Majs as friends.

“Grandpa, why didn’t you send me an owl when you fell yesterday? Not hours later. But straightaway?” Rolf closed the umbrella when they entered the establishment and set it on a nearby hook. A house-elf dressed in casual clothing led them over to a booth. They sat down. “Why did you fall?” 


Rolf knew almost immediately this was the wrong question. He’d made this mistake before, so he should've known better, yet he’d stepped right in it. They ordered drinks and an appetizer. Rolf, who had gotten comfortable with his marriage, had started to pack on what Charlie Weasley referred to as the pudge. He went with a side salad with no dressing and a so-called light gillywater. How could gillywater be light?

Newt glared daggers at him and ordered potato skins and a dark stout. “I don't know, Rolf, why is the sky blue? Don't be smart and give me the answer. What a stupid question! I’m old.”

“Sorry.” Rolf handed him a thing of wrapped silverware. Newt grunted.

“Order a beer. You signed off on your first edition.” 


“I can’t.” Rolf sipped his gillywater.

“You are a sad, sorry man.” Newt asked the house-elf for another tankard of stout when she came back around.

Newt had been married for seventy-five years and set the bar for others. Tina had truly been his best friend because she let him live his life. She’d passed a month ago at the ripe old age of 113. Technically, Rolf hadn't signed off on anything. He’d forged Newt’s signature with the old man’s permission. Technically. as they shared a name and Rolf’s full name was Newton Artemis Rolf Scamander, he’d done nothing wrong. They shared the same handwriting. Rolf usually gave his name as Newton R. Scamander. And that middle initial had been a struggle during the paperwork avalanche.

They both ordered the French Dip. Newt scoffed at Rolf’s plain baked potato. “Rabbit food and a baked potato? What're you doing for Christmas dinner tomorrow? Going to sit there with your hands tied at table?”

“No.”

“Luna doesn't care that you’re putting on weight. You’re not fat.”

“I know.” Rolf suddenly felt self-conscious. Because Newt acted as both his father and grandfather, they’d grown to become rather close friends. Rolf couldn't keep anything from him, and he didn’t even try. He wiped his chin with a napkin and figured he’d pay for this later. “Got an early Christmas gift for you.”

Newt looked interested. “Oh?”

“Yeah. Only it’s coming this spring.” Rolf cheated and put a knob of butter on his potato. The sides of Newt’s mouth twitched; it was quite obvious he’d guessed it already. “We’re pregnant again. Act surprised tomorrow.”

“Oh, Grandma’s going to be delighted.” Newt downplayed his happiness.

He didn't only love the twins; he lived for them some days. The old man stayed on the last leg of a marathon, and they all knew he felt as though he was ready to go. For a moment, Rolf realized, Newt had forgotten his wife was no longer with them. Rolf nodded, not bothering to correct him. This Christmas was going to be a difficult one. This thought had occurred to him before, of course, though it hit home in this moment. Newt, he suspected, faked his happiness almost as often as it struck true.

“Grandpa?” Rolf reached out to grab his injured hand and healed it with a tap of his wand. Newt’s mind had drifted. After Tina had passed, a counselor, a friend with a sympathetic ear, had warned Rolf aged spouses followed each other to the grave. Rolf got up, left a tip for the house-elf, and helped Newt to his feet. “Want to go to Central Park?”

“No.”

Rolf grabbed his umbrella and took off his old Hufflepuff scarf. He draped it over his grandfather’s neck. He left Newt standing there and entered The Coffee Bean, a wizard’s coffee shop and bookshop and ordered two peppermint mochas and a bag of snickerdoodles.

Newt shook his head. “Saying no to the diet today?” 


“It’s my birthday. What diet?” He handed him a coffee. Rolf ate his feelings. Really, according to Charlie Weasley, Rolf celebrated his birthday over two days to give the stragglers a chance to pass their Christmas gifts off as a two-for-one deal, and in the rest of the world this was all right.

“Forty-two.” Newt sipped his drink and stopped outside Macy’s on Fifth Avenue. Rolf saw this as nothing more than a department store No-Majs loved. A Demiguise got trapped here ages ago. “Don’t you want your Cartier serviced?”

“Not here. Next stop? London?” Rolf hated running errands on his birthday, but he always inevitably found himself in a fix. Newt nodded and offered Rolf his arm. They appeared next to the familiar brick wall. Rolf made this as painless as possible and ran into the publishing office on the south side. The editors lapped up another hour and a half of his time. “Done. I wanna go home.”

“Birthday half gone with no fun?” Newt smirked when Rolf said he hated the commercialism of the holidays. He liked the coffees.

“‘One more thing, Mr. Scamander.’ 'If you wouldn't mind, Mr. Scamander …’ How do you escape these vultures?” Rolf rubbed his hands together.

Rolf nodded at the publishing house and forgot to adjust his world traveller wristwatch; he made a mental note to adjust this when they got home and tossed their empty coffees in a nearby bin. After fifty some editions of the old Hogwarts textbook out there, Rolf would’ve thought they had this thing down to a science. They Disapparated.

Lorcan and Lysander met them at the front door when they got home. Rolf put down his things and scooped up the boys and plopped them down on the couch in the sitting room. Newt sat down in his old armchair. Of course, with the time difference, Newt’s comment about half the day being gone was off by five hours. They’d arrived in Dorset at dinnertime.

Luna called from the kitchen, and Lorcan said they were having spaghetti for dinner. Rolf nodded, thinking this was all for the good, except for the fact that Luna couldn't cook. She couldn't cook well. Something was definitely burning.

"Go save your wife before she burns down my house," said Newt, his eyes half-closed.

Rolf dashed into the kitchen and grabbed the garlic bread out of the oven. Who started on the side dish before boiling pasta? His wife. That's who. Rolf shooed her out of the way and cracked open a window. His waved his wand, thinking quickly, and decided on spaghetti aglio e olio. He was not Italian. An American-born Brazilian was the furthest thing from an Italian, but he understood tricks of the trade. Pasta boiled itself and a knife minced cloves of garlic on a cutting board; the sauce finished itself and the dish Levitated itself onto the table as parmesan cheese, the good stuff, got grated over it.

Luna sliced a loaf of bread and supervised a tossed salad. "You're a good housewife."

"You're not allowed in the kitchen tomorrow." Rolf chuckled dryly when Luna said maybe this was her plan all along and called the boys for dinner. He grabbed the olive oil and pecked his wife on the cheek. She gave him a strange look. "What is it?"

"Did you meet her?" Luna sat down in between Lysander and Newt. She sliced the boys' spaghetti.

"Who? Oh, Maria Silva. Yeah, er, no," said Rolf. Newt had taken him to the woman's apartment, but he'd chickened out and Disapparated. Lorcan asked who this woman was, and Rolf registered the pained look on Luna's face. "No one. She ... she's a lady."

"Luna," warned Newt, using a spoon and a fork with his spaghetti. Luna said nothing and draped her napkin over her lap. When the boys finished, they let them leave the table without a fight. Newt sipped his wine. "You can tell him off now."

"One step closer to putting this to bed, you said. You needed this. Your words." Luna got up and slapped the napkin on the table.

Rolf had been going to see a counselor every few weeks for the past few years because she'd insisted he'd needed someone to talk to. She'd insisted Rolf either couldn't or wouldn't talk to her. His vices were food, sex, and cigarettes. He'd dropped the smoking habit again, and his weaknesses weren't exactly in that order.

Rolf shrugged. "I am all right."

"Why can't you sleep? That woman ... she left a forwarding address in Rio de Janeiro, and you lapped at it like a parched dog. She's your mother."

Rolf, tired of circling back to this row, concentrated on finishing his spaghetti. He moved it around the plate because he didn't feel hungry. Angry, he got up. "She's not my mother. My mother died, thank you very much. Why do you care?"

“I love you. Rolf ... you're hurting." Luna followed him down the corridor. She tone sounded less accusatory and filled with concern. Rolf had been making strides until his grandmother passed. "What do you want?"

Rolf pressed his lips to hers in a last ditch effort to shut her up. "Come to bed."

"No. The counselor said this is one of your distractions. Newton, we can't." Luna sighed when he pulled at her clothes. She pushed him away with difficulty and straightened her dress. Healer Anthony Goldstein might have kept things private. Rolf realized he should've kept his mouth shut and not shared certain things to his wife. "No sex for you. Figure this out."

"But it's my birthday," he whined, fully aware he sounded like a little boy.

"That sounds like a problem," she said, leaving out the sympathy and patting him on the cheek. Rolf complained he had nothing in common with his counselor. "He's Jewish ...you're a Jew. Hanukah. Start with that."

Rolf, grumbling, followed her back down the corridor and gestured at the Christmas tree in the sitting room. Newt had set up a menorah merely out of habit, though this is as far as they went to celebrate the holiday. Judaism followed the mother, so he technically wasn't Jewish, and Rolf never observed the Jewish holidays. Hanukah ended this evening. He lit the eighth candle with his wand.




His next appointment with Goldstein was on January ninth. Rolf's problem, as Anthony Goldstein put it, was he took one step forwards and three steps back. Anthony was a thin man who chose to wear Muggle clothing. A half-blood wizard, he dabbled with a little of this and a little of that. He'd gone to school with Luna. They sat in a handsome office in Hogsmeade. Rolf, as always, commented on the stupid couch and took the chair opposite Anthony's desk. He was unmarried.

"How was Christmas?" Anthony conjured some tea and shuffled his papers. Rolf handed over his bound journal like a student handing over homework to a professor.

"Fine. We didn't do much." Rolf hated small talk. This man knew his deepest, darkest secrets and stayed out of the friend zone. Anthony asked after the boys, and Rolf said they were fine, too. Anthony rarely took notes with quill or parchment.

"Sleeping?"

"No. Not since Grandma ... I'm not sleeping well, no." Rolf cut to the chase. He liked Healer Goldstein, he really did, because the man sat down and had a chat. He wondered idly if Anthony and he were related because his grandmother carried the same surname. "Got a sleeping potion for me?"

"No," said Anthony. "Anything new?"

Rolf figured he might as well come out and say it. He'd been placed on this celibacy diet for a year now. "Don't kill me."

"Why?" asked Anthony, drumming his fingers on the table.

"Luna's pregnant." Rolf smiled when Anthony congratulated him and frowned a little. It had been one night months ago after a fundraiser for the Scamander Foundation held in London. Anthony gave him a sly, knowing smile and showed him a photograph in a tabloid publication, courtesy of the Daily Prophet. Rolf made a mental note to remind Rita Skeeter his family was off limits. In it, Luna was walking down Diagon Alley with the boys in tow. "Damn."

Anthony grabbed a scratchpad and dipped a quill in an ink bottle. Rolf complained for the umpteenth time that he really didn't see what his love life had to do with any of it. Anthony was in an open relationship with his partner, Dean Thomas, and they didn't have these stupid rules. Anthony said his next session had cancelled, so they had an hour and a half, maybe two, to be trapped together. He left to go to the bathroom and came back.

"Okay. Here's the thing. For you, you, Mr. Scamander, there is no enough." Anthony rested his hand on the closed doorknob. Rolf searched for escapes and got lost in them. They'd established this in a previous session, though Rolf swore he was wrong. Anthony shrugged. "Okay. Say when."

"What?" Rolf frowned at him, confused.

“You’re in free fall, my man. There is no enough. If you bury yourself in your wife, you're not solving anything. It's not because you love her, although you'll tell yourself that." Anthony held up a hand to stop Rolf before he started to say something. "I have no doubt you love your wife, Rolf. You're a pleasure seeker. If I grounded you, you'd be looking for the next big thing. You want to know why? I'll tell you."

Rolf strode over to the door and rested his hand on the door handle. "Let me out."

"No." Anthony pretended to shuffle through his papers. He tapped the reset hourglass on his desk. "She left you. Your father didn't want you."

"I don't want ... what do you know?" Rolf rounded on him, stepping away from the door and pacing the room. Anthony nodded, satisfied, and calmed himself when Rolf shared the story about the New York trip. Rolf, taken aback by the tears in his eyes, shook his head when Anthony settled himself contentedly behind his desk. "Why're you smiling?"

"You're talking, Rolf." Anthony said it had taken three long years to scratch the surface, but they were finally getting somewhere. He cleared the rest of his afternoon, waving away Rolf's objections and left to momentarily clear things up with his secretary. He came back with a bag of rabbit food filled with celery, cucumbers, and carrots and perched himself on his desk. "Whenever you're ready."

"I spent three sessions talking to you about Billywigs," said Rolf, cracking a smile.

"Yeah. That was boring." Anthony snapped his fingers and conjured a container of dressing and a serving dish. He shook the bag at Rolf. "Poppyseed dressing."

Rolf shrugged and helped himself. It tasted good. He figured he was at least headed in a different direction, so he continued, "Are we trapped in here all day? Is that a thing?”

“Nope.” Anthony said lunch was on him. Rolf asked where he wished to start. “New York, New York. Never been there.”

“Right. How Jewish are you?” 

Anthony reached under his shirt and flashed a Star of David necklace. Rolf mirrored the gesture and showed him a chain with an identical symbol hanging from it. Since he marked Tina as his mother, he followed the faith. Not really.

“I was messed up as a kid. Like, as a newborn, Grandma said they kept me in the hospital for weeks to wean me off … whatever Maria pushed through her system. Newt expected me to die.” Rolf mirrored Anthony’s nod. “I saw her on my birthday.”

“Maria Silva,” said Anthony, jotting something down on his notepad. He got his coat and gestured at Rolf to follow him. It was too lovely to be cooped indoors. The man had a quick word with his receptionist and stuffed his hands in his pockets as they headed outside.

“Maria Silva. She’s pretty. I mean, I saw her. I didn’t …” Rolf doubted he’d ever possess the strength to confront his mother. She gave birth to him, so she was his biological mother, but she was not his mother in any other sense. Anthony nodded. “She’s a grandmother. And she doesn't even know it. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Life’s crazy. We’re related. I checked.” Anthony clapped a hand on his shoulder and said they were distant cousins or something. Rolf had honestly mentioned it as a joke, an offhand comment. He gave the same apology he’d given for weeks. “Sorry about your grandmother.”

“Me, too.” Rolf knew this wasn't the correct response. Dean Thomas walked over to them. “Oh, look.”

“Life. Dean, this is Mr. Scamander. Or Rolf. Rolf, this is Dean.” Anthony transfigured his scratchpad into a spiral notepad and stuffed it in his coat. Dean and Rolf shook hands.

“Luna’s husband?” Dean smirked at Rolf and dropped his hand. Rolf said yes and Dean asked if he could borrow Anthony for a moment. They stepped over to the side and Anthony handed Dean a pouch of Galleons. He handed over a sealed envelope, too. “Thanks.”

“We’re buying a cottage together,” explained Anthony enthusiastically as he watched Dean race down the street. They went into The Three Broomsticks together. The plump barmaid, Hannah Abbott, stood behind the bar. They wanted private quarters and opted for a booth in the back. “You’re allowed to drink. Fun for you, eh?” 



“I don't really drink,” said Rolf.

“I know. So, why the sudden interest in Maria Silva? You’ve said you’ve been down this road before.” Although they didn't talk much, Anthony had obviously heard bits and pieces about Rolf’s life. Rolf took stab at it and shrugged. “Mind if I have a go?”

Rolf studied the menu and shrugged his shoulders again. They both ordered cherry sodas.

“It’s your grandmother or perhaps the baby on the way? Newt raised you to hold family in a high regard, and no matter how screwed up she was, Maria Gabriela Silva is your mother.” Anthony drained his glass and slammed it on the table. “And she’s an awful disappointment. She disappoints you. She plays this catatonic dead person. Stop me when I’m there.”

Rolf gaped at him and closed the menu he wasn't even reading. “You’re scary.”

“I’ve been in your head for three years, Mr. Scamander, or rather, sir, you’re in mine.” Anthony thanked Hannah for the refill and the complimentary chips. “Your turn.”




Rolf breathed a little easier after this meeting with Healer Goldstein. Anthony insisted they chip away bit by bit, and they did, and it felt as though this weight lifted off his chest. Luna noticed it. Months later, she watched him rocking their daughter to sleep in the nursery. This was the first night they were home from the hospital. Luna wore an open dressing gown and stood in the doorway.

“Scamanders don’t have girls.” Luna acted dead on her feet. After the boys were born, she’d sworn right, left, and centre they weren't having another child. At the hospital, Newt had actually checked twice. Poppy was the first girl born into the Scamander family since 1870. Newt’s mother had been the last one. Rolf sighed, content. “I think he’s still in shock.”

“You’ve got to work to surprise that man,” he said, sitting back. Luna got the credit. “Go to sleep. I’ve got her.”

“Newton?”

“Hmmm?” Rolf had closed his eyes and gotten up to pace back and forth to stretch his legs. Luna stole the chair and wrapped herself in a blanket. He started laughing.

Luna forgot whatever she was going to say. “What?”

“Oh, I was thinking Poppy’s never going to date. Between Newt, me, the boys, and Charlie, she’s screwed. Nice and proper.” Rolf smiled serenely and went into the kitchen. Luna followed him and rolled her eyes.

“Charlie and Newt. Can you imagine?” Luna wrapped her dressing gown tight around herself and let her hair down. “I’m going to shower.”

Rolf put the baby down after she nodded off to sleep. He went outside for a moment and found Newt seating on the brick front steps. He had his back turned and his head slumped onto his shoulder. Out of habit Rolf checked his Cartier wristwatch and wondered why the old man had come outside at three in the morning. He shrugged off his coat and draped it over Newt’s shoulders. He handed over the Hufflepuff scarf again, too.

Rolf shook his shoulder. “Come inside, Grandpa.”

Newt didn't move and the coat fell. He’d never blatantly ignored Rolf. Rolf, a little frustrated, went back inside and cleaned the bottles with simple cleaning spells. Luna had opted not to nurse this time around. Rolf watched his grandfather’s sleeping form from the kitchen window for a while as the dishes cleaned themselves in the background. Fifteen minutes passed. Annoyed, Rolf tossed a clean dishtowel over his shoulder and went back outside to rouse Newt.

“Grandpa, you’ll catch your death out here. Come on.” Rolf caught the scarf before it fell to the ground. He pushed the sleeve of Newt’s long-sleeved shirt up and placed his fingers on his wrist. There was nothing there. Rolf took a sharp breath and brought his trembling hand to his lips. He held Newt close and sobbed onto his shoulder.

The old man was gone.




They laid the old man to rest three days later next to his wife. Charlie had come home for the funeral. Newt Scamander had been like adoptive to him in his later years. After the funeral, they all headed back to the Scamander house. Rolf relieved Luna of the baby and pushed the pram into the office after he grabbed a covered dish. The office, Newt’s nest, had a large desk and a comfortable leather chair. The books and journals reshuffled themselves on the large built-in bookcases.

He hid in the cupboard and dug into a casserole dish with a spoon. The baby fell asleep after some gentle rocking, and he placed Poppy back in the pram. He sat Indian style and closed the cupboard doors. Minutes later, Charlie opened the cupboard doors and watched Rolf stuffing his face. Anthony Goldstein stood beside him. Rolf offered them the half-eaten dish.

“No, thank you,” said Anthony. “What is that?” 

Rolf shrugged. It was some cheesy potato bake with bacon.

“Never play hide and seek with me, Scamander.” Charlie went to the door and shouted that he’d found Rolf. Rolf rolled his eyes when he woke Poppy, but Charlie waved him down and walked around with the baby. He switched to a softer tone he sometimes adopted for the dragons. He quieted her. “She’s a pretty thing, isn’t she? Daddy’s going into a food coma. Yeah, but he does that, so it’s all right.”

“Rolf,” said Anthony, parking his butt on the carpet. “Let’s talk.”

“Nope. Go away.” Rolf declined the offer.

“Please tell me this isn't you sitting shiva. Newt Scamander didn’t observe religion,” said Charlie, sitting in the desk chair. He shifted Poppy in his arms. “Scamander, I bought you ice cream because I never know what to bring to these things. Mum said food. You want me to shut up?” 


Rolf shook his head and handed Anthony the dish. He left to dump it in the kitchen, but Anthony returned. “I should’ve locked the door.”

“Yeah. Too late.” Anthony sat on the day bed after he locked the deadbolt behind himself. He wore black dress robes and slipped off his shoes. “I’ve got all day.”

“That boyfriend of yours must get quite lonely,” said Rolf. Charlie chuckled. Rolf, realizing too late that this was rather rude, apologized, and Anthony said it was all right. Rolf wondered if Healer put this much work into his clients, or was he simply special? “Who recommended me back to you when we started our sessions?” 

Anthony glanced at Charlie.

“He’s fine. He knows … he understands me better than I do. Charlie, this is my Healer.”

“Scamander, I gave Mr. Goldstein your name because you needed help. I begged him to take you on.” Charlie looked away, slightly ashamed, and pressed his lips to Poppy’s forehead. Four years ago, Rolf had walked into a dragon encampment and prepared to end his life. Charle had saved him. “You aren’t allowed to quit.” 


“I wasn’t,” said Rolf weakly.

“You walked into a Peruvian Vipertooth site with nothing at dawn! You can’t tell me … you know better. You’re a Scamander!” Charlie told Anthony to keep his mouth shut as he passed the sleeping newborn overdo him. Charlie fell to the floor and crawled towards his mate on all fours. “I know it hurts. You’re retreating now. Look at me!” 



Rolf jolted in surprise and locked his eyes on his friend. “I can’t … there’s the Scamander Foundation … and he’s not here. I can’t.” 


“I know, I know.” Charlie held him in a tight embrace and said nothing when Rolf pulled at the back of his shirt and soaked it with tears. He cried, too. There was a knock on the door and Luna said something. Charlie cleared his throat and said patiently, “Give us a moment, please. We’re all right.” 


Luna stood there for a moment and her footsteps retreated.

“So, Mr. Goldstein,” said Charlie, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. He a gave watery chuckle as he gathered himself. “How good are you, mate? This man … he’s my man.”

“I’m pretty good,” said Anthony confidently. He handled the baby awkwardly and caught the bottle Rolf conjured before it slipped through his fingers. Clearly out of his depth here. He ended up handing Poppy over to Rolf, and Charlie laughed so hard he nearly wet himself and raced to the bathroom. “I don't have any. She’s lovely. What’s her name?” 


“Poppy Charlotte.” Rolf nodded at Charlie when he came back in and said proudly that two of the Scamander kids were named after him. Rolf admitted he was on a no sex diet, thanks to this Healer. Charlie shook his head vehemently and asked Anthony not to treat him for any reason whatsoever. Anthony pointed at Poppy and presented her as Exhibit A.

“All right. Tell him the other the side of the story,” said Anthony patiently. The sides of his mouth twitched.

“It’s an escape. I liked it … a lot. I wore Luna out.” Rolf shrugged when Charlie laughed. Anthony raised his eyebrows. “This is supportive Charlie.”

“Let’s get out of the cupboard, Scamander. People will talk, and you’re pretty, but you’re not that pretty.” Charlie offered him a hand and duplicated the desk chair with a Geminio Charm. They sat down. “Don’t tell your wife I was hitting on you.”

Anthony burst out laughing.

“No, sir,” said Rolf.

“How long have you two known each other?” Anthony shifted one foot underneath the other and smiled when Charlie said thirty years and Rolf said forever. “That’s friendship. Rolf, you've got three kids. I understand your grandpa died, I do, but you’ve got to hold on for Luna, Lysander, Lorcan, Poppy and Charlie. Why do you think you feel this way? Depressed like this?”

“I don’t know.” Rolf didn’t know if a chat in the nest counted as a session. He was a grown man in charge of his own destiny. Anthony suggested Muggle doctors and psychiatrists often prescribed pills to meet a quota without really getting to the root of the problem. 



“Chronic depression is a real thing,” said Anthony, putting a name to the diagnosis that he'd clearly held for a long time. He went on to to say some witches and wizards would tell him to get over it. Men were there to provide for the family and shove their feelings down. “You are not broken, and you are certainly not weak. It’s depression.”

Charlie heaved a sigh, relieved. Anthony reached inside his robes and handed him some corked vials. “These are mild sleeping potions. You shouldn't take it every night, and I’d be wary with your week old there.” 

Slipping his shoes back on, he went to answer the door and invited Luna inside. She wore a plain black dress and nodded when Anthony shared his findings with her.

“Is that something you fix?” Luna picked up the baby and tapped her foot. She went to change the baby in the nursery and came back to rephrase what she’d said. She’d put the baby down. When Anthony said it wasn't because his grandfather died, she said, “He wakes up crying at night for no reason at all. He gets this look.” 



“Thank you,” said Charlie, jumping at his chance for an ally. Muggles, Healer Goldstein continued, often called this a chemical imbalance. Rolf didn't feel as though they talked about him even though he was in the room; they saw things he missed. “It took you three years to land on depression?”

“No, Charlie,” said Rolf. “I wouldn’t talk to him.”

“Oh.” Charlie apparently found this hard to believe and rounded on him. “Three years, Scamander? So, the talking part of this is done?”

“It’s not that simple,” said Anthony, holding up a hand. “I think the sessions help, so I’d like to continue those, and if you’re worried about dependency …” 



“Have we met?” inquired Rolf sarcastically, gesturing between himself and his Healer. Anthony bowed his head, conceding with a gesture of surrender. Luna laughed. “I’d like that. And thank you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Scamander. My condolences and congratulations. What a beautiful girl.” Anthony shook their hands and left.




Life happened when you least expected it; Newt Scamander used to say this all the time. People went with it. Rolf wasn't Newt Scamander, but he was a Newt Scamander. A year after his grandfather passed, he made a really stupid mistake. Whilst on a trip to Romania to help his dragon reservation friends, Rolf had turned around, momentarily distracted, and got stabbed in the spine with venom from a pair of vicious Peruvian Vipertooths; the dragons swarmed him. Rolf lost control of his nervous system and landed himself in a wheelchair.

He was paralyzed from the waist down, a paraplegic, though he’d managed to get out of the encampment alive. The anti-venom, an antidote, had been too little too late. On the night the annual dinner for the Scamander Foundation, Charlie carried him in like a child and laughed good-naturedly as they entered the conference room. Laughter and applause greeted them. Charlie deposited Rolf in his old-fashioned wicker chair wheelchair.

“I was actually invited to this thing this evening. Not crashing a party this time,” said Charlie, leaning into the charmed microphone on the podium. He raised a fist towards where the Heartstrings Sanctuary, the Romanian dragon reservation, sat. He chuckled when his friends and colleagues cheered and roared. “I got a date.”

Charlie conjured Rolf’s vintage peacock vintage and helped him shrug into it. After a moment, Charlie pulled himself together and took a rare, serious attitude. “Right. On behalf the Scamander Foundation, I’d like to the annual Festival of Lights. Tonight we honor those who have taken strides towards magizoology and conservation of wildlife. We thank you. I’d like to introduce the man behind the madness, Mr. Newton R. Scamander. Thanks very much.”

Charlie jumped off the platform and started racing towards the Heartstrings Sanctuary table. Luna shouted at him and he backtracked to lower the microphone for Rolf and reinforce the Sonorous Charm on the equipment. Chuckling, he clapped Rolf on the shoulder and raced back towards his seat.

“We don't rehearse. Nope. That doesn't happen. We’re idiots. The Heartstrings Sanctuary knows this all too well. And the wife.” The Heartstrings gang exploded and Luna raised her glass. “Thank you. It’s been one hell of a year, folks, and we all thank you for sticking in there with us. From the Rainforest Canopy in Rio de Janeiro to the Heart of Africa in Nairobi, to our friends in sanctuaries and reservations, you’ve all stepped up. Grandpa would be proud.”

Rolf paused for clapping and cheering.

“Before we start our dinner, I’d like to ask you to tolerate for a moment. Rolf took his wand out of his jacket and tapped it on the glass podium. An acrylic glass plague award in the spun and transformed itself in midair into a bird in flight.

A cool voice spoke as through an invisible surround sound system filled the auditorium. “Spirit of Phoenix is awarded to naturalist Rafaela Clara Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for her efforts towards the conservation of the Amazonian rainforest. Rainforest Canopy.”

A tall copper-skinned woman in an elegant teal gown stood and walked towards Rolf. Even at this distance, Rolf saw tears streaming down her face. Luna went to greet her and kissed her on the cheek. When Rafaela approached the podium, she spoke in rapid Portuguese. Rolf responded in kind and addressed her in her native tongue; he also translated her acceptance speech. He shook her hand and they posed for some photographs together. Luna escorted her back to her seat.

“Kowalski Keep. It’s given to a witch or wizard who dedicates his or her life to a cause. This year it goes towards dragonoology.” Rolf sat up straighter in his wheelchair and paused for dramatic effect as representatives from around the seven dragon reservations fidgeted. “Say what? You heard correctly. Newt made this call. Yeah, he went there.”

Rolf waved his wand again. A large hourglass formed itself from shards of crystal and glass. Next moment, and the sand trickled down the crystal shattered and reshaped itself into a beautiful Welsh Green. The acrylic shifted into a handsome green.

“Kowalski Keep 2015, dedication and soul,” said the cool voice again as the dragon figurine spread its wings. The voice was replaced by the voice of the deceased Newt Scamander. The dinner guests clapped appreciatively. “It makes you feel alive. You don’t stop … you cannot. In recognition of his soul, we award the Kowalski Keep to Mr. Charles Gideon Weasley of the Heartstrings Sanctuary, Deva, Romania. Watch it burn.”

The Heartstrings Sanctuary crew exploded and absolutely deafened everyone else. Charlie stripped off his blazer and tossed it to his team; he wore a Heartstrings Sanctuary t-shirt underneath and picked Luna up off the ground when she offered her arm. She squealed in surprise until he put her down. He headed towards the podium.

“‘Oh, yeah, Charlie, you should come to dinner. Why not?’ Nobody listens to you, Scamander. Seriously?” Charlie fingered the real life dragon and nodded towards the crew of redheads sitting at a table. He stared at Rolf. “I’ve got to speak again?”

“Looks like it,” laughed Rolf, rolling himself off to the side.

“Right. Well, I’d, er, like to thank the Ramsey Reservation in Ghana for saving our skin last autumn … you lot. Phenomenal. And Mum and Dad. And the family …. we breed like rabbits, so I’m not naming anyone individually … because I’ll forget someone.” Charlie chuckled as he pulled this off the top his head. Molly Weasley was bawling. Charlie glanced at Rolf for support and openly called him a cripple. Charlie’s voice broke unexpectedly. “The Heartstrings crew. You lot … amazing. Oh, there’s a sixteen year old Romani gypsy called Mirela Esmeralda who saved Mr. Scamander here. He’s my … he’s my best mate. Thank God for you, sweet girl.”

Charlie pressed his lips to the stationary Kowalski Keep and raised it in the air. He went over to Rolf, released the brakes, handed over the coveted award, and wheeled him into the crowd as house-elves Apparated onto the scene and plates and goblets appeared out of nowhere. Charlie whispered to Rolf and took his raised hand. They wove their fingers together and didn't let go as the cameras flashed.


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