Despite the noise of the city, Newt halted immediately when his creature-keen ears picked up the sounds of quiet hissing.
Snakes were amazing and fascinating creatures. There was a large amount of them that were known to muggles, yet, a lot of those snakes were magical. It was due to the snakes’ intelligence and cunning that the muggles still hadn’t discovered anything out of the ordinary about them.
Many were in awe of dragons, thunderbirds, and hippogriffs and Newt thought that was fine because Merlin knew he loved those creatures too, but there was an allure about snakes that Newt thought went underappreciated.
It was sad that they were despised creatures in both the magical and muggle world. In the magical world of Britain they were shunned because of Slytherin, and in the muggle world for its association with Satan. It was ridiculous! They were just creatures minding their own business!
India, thank goodness, was sensible enough and appreciated snakes. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to be a Parselmouth in that country. Newt was quite envious of them. As a child, he’d spent hours attempting to learn Parseltongue once he discovered that there were people who could communicate with snakes. Of course, despite his best efforts, Newt couldn’t learn the language at all, even though he swore he was able to learn one or two words.
So, when he heard the hissing in the middle of the city of Muggle London, Newt stopped walking and set out to try and find the snake. Theseus and his mother could wait a few minutes.
The hissing seemed to be coming from beyond an iron-wrought gate that had the words Wool’s Orphanage at the top. It was locked firmly shut and on the walls, there were spikes that Newt recognized from his journey around the world. Usually, they would be used to keep creatures from escaping, which was completely uncalled for.
The so-called security measures would be no problem for Newt, though. With a quick Alohamora, the gates unlocked and Newt slipped inside.
The hissing took him around the side of the building, and now that he was closer, he was quite certain that some of the hissing wasn’t coming from a snake but a human! A Parselmouth! In Muggle London!
Newt quickened his pace and soon came upon a small child crouched behind a bush. The child, a boy of about the age of six, held a fully grown Common European Viper quite comfortably in his lap. The boy didn’t seem wary of the snake’s fangs at all as he petted the snake gently on the head. Newt wasn’t surprised by this because the little boy was definitely a Parselmouth, so it wouldn’t be difficult to ask the snake to not bite.
The boy turned around so quickly and so suddenly that Newt jumped. On his face was a mean glare that was surprisingly intimidating for such a young child. It helped that the snake had coiled itself protectively around the boy’s shoulders. The snake opened its mouth, flashing its fangs threateningly at him. Newt automatically crouched to make himself smaller and he held his hands up to show he meant no harm.
“Who are you?” The boy demanded.
His mouth opened as if to say something else, but his eyes wandered, observing the boy’s appearance and body language. At first glance, the boy seemed slightly underweight, though not enough to be much of a concern. The boy was hunched over the snake protectively and the snake seemed to be just as protective of the boy. Its head swayed back and forth, hissing loudly, fangs still bared at him.
Newt couldn’t hold back a grin, excited to meet a Parselmouth for the first time and heartwarmed that the creature and human were obviously protective of each other.
“What do you want?” The boy snapped impatiently with a hiss-like quality in his voice when Newt failed to say anything else. He was leaning a bit away from Newt- probably weirded out by Newt’s smile that, to the boy, had no good reason to be there.“Visiting hours are over- are you a kidnapper? I’ll make Balor bite you! And then I’ll scream for Mrs. Cole! You won’t get away!”
“I- I’m not a kidnapper- I’m a magizoologist!” Newt explained quickly. Flustered by the accusation, he forgot that this boy was living in a muggle orphanage and probably knew nothing of magic. Then again, there weren’t a lot of people who knew what magizoology was even in the magic community. It was a travesty.
The boy looked furious, obviously thinking that Newt thought that he was stupid like all the normal six-year-olds, “There’s no such thing!”
When the child opened his mouth to scream for someone, Newt thought quickly and acted on his first reaction which was to point his wand at the boy and say, “Silencio!” which rendered the boy completely mute.
Reading his lips, it looked like the boy was trying to scream, ‘Mrs. Cole! Help!’ before his eyes went comically wide and one of his hands flew up to his lips. ‘What?’ his mouth moved silently. The boy tried a few more words before turning a suspicious but slightly awed expression at Newt and mouthed the words, ‘What did you do?’
“A simple silencing charm. Don’t worry, it’s not harmful at all. It just makes you temporarily mute.” Newt explained, his eyes focusing on the snake held gently in the boy’s other hand.
The snake was no longer hissing threateningly at him and was looking at the boy in what Newt thought was worry. Newt glanced back up to see the boy looking at him and his wand with an expectant expression. The redhead tilted his head, trying to figure out what the boy wanted. When he realized, he exclaimed, “Oh! Right. Muggle-raised.”
The boy rolled his eyes, though he had no idea what muggle-raised meant. He looked down at something the snake said and dragged a reassuring thumb over its head. The snake seemed to calm at that.
Fascinating, thought Newt. He shook his head. He needed to give this boy answers! There would be time for observation later, surely.
“I’m a wizard. I can do magic- it’s- it’s how I made you mute.” Newt explained. There were so many things rushing through his head that he wanted to tell the boy that he stuttered, “And you’re also- I mean- you’re- well, you’re a Parselmouth, which means you must be a wizard also.”
The boy looked very excited at this information- but also a little confused. ‘Parselmouth?’ he mouthed the strange word slowly.
“Yes!” Newt exclaimed, excited that the boy was willing to talk to him now and that they were talking about his unique ability, “That’s what we call people who can talk to snakes. It’s a very, very exciting- the ability- it’s quite rare in Britain, you see. Only descendants of Salazar Slytherin have the ability in this country- and there aren’t many of them left. I think the Gaunt family is the last known-”
Before Newt could ramble on, they were interrupted by a woman shrieking, “Excuse me, sir! How did you get in here? The gate was locked, I’m sure of it! You’re not allowed to be here right now! I must ask you to leave!”
Newt turned to see an older woman in high heels marching over to him with a stormy look on her face. At first glance, she looked mean and terrifying. Even though she was a muggle, Newt had no doubts that this woman could and would pick him up and toss him out.
“Tom, has this man done anything to y-” The woman gave a horrified gasp, “Tom Marvolo Riddle! You put that snake down right now!”
Newt hadn’t talked to the boy, Tom, nearly long enough. His mind worked fast. Later, he would admit that it worked probably too fast.
The woman stumbled and looked terribly confused and a little dizzy- a bit like a drunk person. “Wha?” she slurred.
At this point, Newt should have probably said that it was, in fact, visiting hours and that he had every right to be here. What happened instead was:
“I’m adopting Tom Marvolo Riddle, don’t you remember me?”
Next to him, Tom looked up at Newt with a hilariously incredulous expression. In his defense, Newt reasoned that, aside from selfish reasons of wanting his own pet Parselmouth, it would be better to adopt. The first reason, and Theseus would be proud of this reason, was that if he adopted Tom, there would be less of a chance of the Statute of Secrecy being breached. Two, some muggle families already struggled with their children having magic, and Newt couldn’t imagine how Tom would be treated in the future when he wasn’t related to any of these people.
It was an Obscurus waiting to happen.
“Adopting...Tom?” The older woman said in a confused voice.
“Yes, erm,” Newt got out blank pieces of parchment from his case and charmed it so that it looked like adoption papers, “Here’s the paperwork...all signed and accounted for.”
“Oh...oh yes...it seems so. That’s good…”
He put his hands behind his back and fiddled nervously with his wand, “So... since you have the paperwork now, I’ve come to pick him up today and take him home with me.”
The woman smiled, “Yes, of course...That would be acceptable. Congratulations, Tom. I hope you’re happy with your new family.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Tom said, finally free of the silencing charm.
After a beat of silence, Newt leaned down and took Tom’s hand gently. Tom normally would have shaken him off, but he was too shocked by the turn of events to say anything about it. The snake hissed but must have decided that he wasn’t a threat because it turned its head away from him. “We’ll go up to Tom’s room to get his belongings and then we’ll, uh, depart immediately.”
“I’ll say goodbye right now, I think-” The woman said, putting a hand up to her forehead, “I’m a bit dizzy and need a lie-down. Goodbye Tom, it was lovely having you here.”
“Goodbye Mrs. Cole,” Tom said, and then he and Newt left to do just as Newt said.
It took faster than Newt expected to retrieve and pack Tom’s belongings. The boy didn’t have much, just a few clothes and some books.
“Alright, then…” Newt licked his lips, looking around at the depressingly bare room before turning his gaze back at Tom. “Would you like to say goodbye to anyone?”
“No,” said Tom firmly. “Let’s just leave.”
Newt nodded in agreement and simply held out his hand for Tom to grab hold of. He noted Tom’s surprised, yet pleased expression, which was most likely because Newt hadn’t called attention to his lack of friends at all. At Tom’s age, Newt didn’t have friends either and understood how stressful and irritating it could be to be told repeatedly that he should make friends. Newt was sure that Tom would make friends in his own time. Newt certainly did.
“I don’t need to hold hands,” Tom said in defiance. The unsaid, ‘Only little kids hold hands’ didn’t go unnoticed by Newt, whose lips quirked into a slightly amused smile.
“I’m going to do magic that requires it,” Newt said placatingly.
Interested, but still not reaching out to hold Newt’s hand, Tom asked, “What are you going to do?”
“We’re going to disapparate. It’s a form of wizard transportation,” he explained and stretched out his hand pointedly.
It didn’t really explain much at all. Tom’s dissatisfaction with the answer was obvious. The child’s curiosity and interest in magic won out, however, and he held onto Newt’s hand. Newt wrapped his other arm around the boy and held him close and tight.
“Close your eyes and hold your breath,” he instructed.
Tom gave him a suspicious glare before he did as he was told.
“Hold on and don’t let go,” Newt told him and made sure he was secure before he disapparated with a crack.