images of elsewhere (the girls who forgot)
by bantha fodder

Padma wakes, gasping for breath. The air is humid and thick around her, pushing and bullying. She is sweaty and lethargic, no better than the tourists loudly traipsing the streets. She has slept too long if the tourists are out, but her body has yet to acclimatise from the cold Scottish winter to the syrup of India. Parvati fares no better, staying up late to write letters of complaint to Lavender. Padma complains to no one, and does not contemplate the opportunities she is missing whilst she wraps her body in an ancient sari and sings blessings for the newly dead in a language she has forgotten.


Parvati returns from India cloaked in mystery, and milks it for all it is worth. She forbids Lavender from copying her -- for once, she is beautiful and completely unique, and the boys of Gryffindor are suddenly noticing her. They think she glows, and suspect some exotic secret, rather than the dull truth of her grandmother's nagging advice. Her only concern is Padma, who looks the same but smells like India, and Parvati suspects her of learning Punjabi when she thinks no one is listening. Parvati makes note of the colours her sister wears when not in those of Ravenclaw, and counts the hours between each breath.


Surrounded by snow and the whispers of British history, Cho forgets. Her skin is pasty, made so by overcast afternoons and late night Quidditch practices. She enunciates clearly out of habit, and it is a surprise when the owl drops a package of moon cakes, joss sticks and ang pao in front of her, and no one else receives similar. She feels awkward, as she does every New Year, explaining once again to those who never remember her words from festival to festival. When she escapes to her room, Cho tucks the package into the locked chest at the end of her bed. She forgets they are there, and when she discovers them at the end of term, she tucks her shame in with them to keep her ancestors warm.


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