“Would you stop?” Newt hisses, tugging his sleeve out of his soul’s mouth.
“Newt?” Leta asks, hesitating and cocking her head at him curiously. Newt can - just - see the shadowy outline of her own soul, something small and inquisitive peering over her shoulder. It’s a mark of how well he knows her, how close they are as friends, and the fact that she’s never seen so much as a stray tail-wag of his is something he tries not to think about.
“She’s worrying again,” he says, frowning down at the dog. “Which she doesn’t need to do, because nothing’s going to go wrong.”
The dog - his soul - raises an unimpressed eyebrow and snags his other sleeve to try again.
“Oh,” Leta says. “We can go back, if you’re worried. Sorry, I didn’t realise.”
“What - no, I’m not worried. She is. It’s fine. C’mon Leta, we’ve been planning this for weeks.”
She’s already leaving though and he scowls in ungracious defeat. “If your soul’s worried then you’re worried,” she calls back to him. “The mooncalves will be there next full moon.”
The dog, black and white with a luxuriously silky coat, trots smugly after her and barks when Newt is too slow to follow. “Heel,” Newt snarks as he obeys. “Sit, stay. Roll over. I thought dogs were meant to be loyal and obedient, but no. I got the overprotective worrywart. Do I look like an overprotective worrywart? No. Clearly, you’re someone else’s soul, or just some random dog ghost that appeared in the night and stole mine. I wouldn’t put it past you.”
“Newt, you’re muttering again.”
He pulls a face at Leta. Then another at his soul, who is looking immeasurably happier now that they’re headed back in the castle instead of out to the forest at night, and is carefully scouting round corners for prefects.
Newt rolls his eyes, but dutifully hides behind a tapestry when he’s told. It’s his soul doing the telling, after all. You can’t argue with yourself.
Except, apparently for when you can. Newt’s expelled, his brother’s gone to war, he’s going to follow him - and his soul won’t let him go. “He’s Theseus,” Newt hisses, yanking his sleeve back and continuing to shrink his stuff into the battered suitcase he found. “We’re not going to abandon him.”
The dog dances in place, as frustrated as he is, then tries to steal his registration forms. “Give those - hey! Do not chew that up, that’s the only ID I’ve got and I need - hey!” Newt salvages the soggy scrap, then throws it down in disgust. The charm’s bust; it displays his real age, too young to sign up.
“Listen,” he says, then levitates his case out of reach. “Listen damnit. We can’t stay here. What else are we meant to do? It won’t be that bad. I'm not changing my mind, so could we please just - could you do what a soul is meant to do and back me up for once?”
The dog whines, ears back, tail curled down. She crowds closer to Newt, butting her head against his lanky, unmuscled form and growling softly at the fake ID. “It won’t be that bad,” Newt repeats quietly, reaching out to stroke behind her ears. “We’ll be fine. Are you going to help me fix the charm?”
She does. When the paper dries his age is written at 18 and verified by magic, and the spellwork behind it is better than it was before.
War is not better. War is worse. The dog curls round him at night and leaps between him and enemy spells and once when Newt falls unconscious he feels her pulling him out the mud before he drowns. War is worse, and on the worst days he hides with the dragons and admits to his dog that she was right and they should never have come, and she rests her head on his knee and licks his face to comfort him.
“Hush,” he mumbles. “It’s not illegal, it’s heroic. We’re saving lives.”
He gets a flat stare in response, followed by a deafeningly loud bark. Thank god he’s the only one who can hear it, because there’re at least four guards that he can see. “You are entirely far too concerned with the law,” he says. “Where did I go wrong with you. Do you think I should use a shield charm, or go invisible and rely on stealth?”
In answer, she huffs, then grabs his sleeve and tows him round to the circus’ back entrance. Newt hadn’t even known high-top tents had a back entrance. “See?” he says. “We’ll make a hufflepuff of you yet. Let’s go free some unicorns.”
In Egypt, they fall ill. That’s the only way Newt can explain it. He doesn’t know what’s wrong, or what’s causing it, but he feels - tight. Too tight. Constrained. He wakes up gasping for breath with his fingers clawing at his throat, but there’s nothing there. The dog flinches at things neither of them can see, hackles raised and backing Newt into defensible corners when the shadows come too close.
There’s nothing there. Newt knows there’s nothing, he’s checked, but she's on such high alert and being so overprotective that they barely make it out of Cairo alive. The thunderbird is safe, though, and when Newt stumbles his way through a splinching his dog hauls him over the sand to a sheltered place to hide.
“Oh fuck,” Newt says, staring at his leg with wide, shocky eyes. “Oh fuck, it’s, what do I do, I never - I got expelled half way through that course, I don’t know what to do, it’s bleeding oh my fuck.”
She noses at his hands, teeth catching on the end of his sleeve, and Newt curls his fingers instinctively around the bottle. “Dittany?” He reads. “What do I do - hey, wait what are you - ow.” The dittany burns, but it does its job, and Newt’s leg slowly reforms into something he can walk on.
“Huh,” he says, as the dog inspects the scar. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
The illness doesn’t go away. By the time Newt gets to New York he feels like he can barely breathe every time he wakes up, and he spends the first morning vomiting in the toilet and cursing the fact that it wasn’t just sea sickness like he thought. She sticks close, too close, so much that it’s almost hard to walk through the crowded city streets.
“Is it a wizard thing?” Jacob asks, the fourth time Newt’s had to stop and wait for his soul to stop blocking the way. Jacob’s own soul is a monkey, Newt thinks, maybe one of the primates - he caught a glimpse of it when Jacob was staring in wonder at the creatures in his case. Not for the first time, Newt wishes he could share his dog with someone else. Not everyone. But. It would be nice, he thinks, for some people to see him the way they sometimes let him see them.
“No,” is what he says out loud. “Wizard souls aren’t any different from muggle ones, as far as I know. Mine just disagrees with me a lot.”
“Oh,” Jacob says, taken aback. “I’m… sorry?”
Newt would laugh, except his dog is curled miserably around his knees, staring out at the world as though it would hurt him. “Don’t be,” he says, dropping a hand to bury in the silky fur. “She’s just looking out for me. I wouldn’t have her any other way.”
In MACUSA’s holding cells they’re interrogated by a man called Percival Graves. Newt’s dog tries to rip his throat out. When they’re sent to be executed, she bites through the cuffs before Pickett can even crawl down to them, and barely gives Newt time to rescue Tina before she drags them away. They run through secret passages and disused access tunnels and Tina looks at him oddly and asks how he knew they were there, and Newt waves the tattered ends of his sleeve at her in answer.
After, when Graves turned out to be Grindelwald and Picquery had him arrested, when Tina’s reinstated and Jacob’s memories have been wiped and Frank is flying hurricane-high and riding the wind to Arizona, Newt stands on the dock and watches his boat pull out of the harbour.
“We were meant to be on that,” he says, but it sounds distant even to him. The dog gives him a muffled bork in reply, teeth clamped around his wrist, tail tucked low between her legs.
She’s started looking raggedy. Her silky fur is going bald in patches. There’s a red welt developing around Newt’s neck from where he wakes up in the morning and has to remember how to breathe.
“Ok,” Newt says, letting his soul pull him insistently back to the city. “I’m coming. It’ll be ok.”
“Oh,” he says when he finds the man. He’s in chains, rough iron that suppresses his magic and has rubbed his skin raw and bleeding. It matches where the dog is losing fur.
“The fuck are you,” Graves rasps, shifting to hunch protectively over the little sugar-glider in his hands. It too is chained, one spelled-iron link that closes around its throat like a collar.
“Um,” Newt says, trusting his dog to keep watch while he works on undoing the wards. “I’m Newt. I think I have your soul.”
Graves freezes. His gaze darts between Newt and the dog, and there’s something undeniably vulnerable about realising that he can see her. She steps between them, hackles raised, and growls a warning, and that, of all things, makes Graves relax.
“Yeah,” he says, a vaguely hysterical note to his voice that suggests he thinks he’s dreaming. “Mangy mutt that likes to fight. Sounds like me.”
“You should see her when she’s happy,” Newt says mildly. “She’s beautiful.”
The wards fall, and Newt busies himself with releasing the chains and misses Graves reaction. When the last iron link cracks open he feels it like a weight lifted off his neck, and the sugar glider squeaks and scrambles up to perch on Graves’ head.
“You’re going to drag me on an adventure, aren’t you?” Graves asks, sounding resigned. “And then you’re going to get in trouble and I’m going to have to rescue you.”
“Well,” Newt says. “You’re going to make a fuss about breaking the law, and then you’re going to worry too much about everything that could go wrong. But you’re also going to be there to make sure it doesn’t go badly wrong, so that’s ok.”
Graves barks out a laugh, and chokes through the coughing fit that follows. Both Newt and the sugar glider hover awkwardly over him, Newt with a spell to ease his airways, the sugar glider with a tiny hand tugging comfortingly on his ear. “Sounds like me,” Graves says when he can speak again.
“Good. But first, you’re going to come home and get better and I’m going to look after you until you’re well again.”
“And that,” Graves says, and raises a finger to stroke the sugar glider with a fond smile, “That sounds a lot like you.”