written for the hogwarts forum, assignment three, and the tgs worldwide club
hogwarts prompt: Herbology: Dangerous Plants; Task 2: Write about a plant being used for nefarious purposes.
tgs prompt: Write a story about someone in a different culture/country. You must include a little of the country's culture in your story (mention food, language, names, places, holidays). — points, 5
incredibly long a/n: for this one, i chose belladonna, and belladonna is actually also known as "deadly nightshade" and can be used as poison, and also is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; the berries look quite harmless but when consumed are known to induce delirium and hallucinations. in HP canon, belladonna is used in potion-making.
just a bit of info on that. i am a woman of science and i like to keep things realistic (plus, facts. who doesn't love facts.)
also, i personally headcanon the Patils as Gujarati. not only because i myself am Gujarati and this gives me a lot more playing field than with the Marathi suggestion of Patil, but because one of the original last names for the Patil twins (on Harry Potter wiki) was Patel, which is a common Gujarati name.
all the Gujarati is stuff my parents actually say — and is also in the English script, because i don't trust google translate and i can't write in Gujarati myself. there are also different Gujarati dialects; i'm using the one my family speaks in, so there may potentially be differences depending on the dialects you're used to.
— also there's no negative intent toward Indian culture here, being an Indian pessimist i just wanted to capture a bit of the less positive side of our culture. also, i reference white people, but i certainly don't mean to bash them, just fair warning
— gujarati translations will be added in prose, but the implied ones you might not get will be below
beta note from dee (like firing): so the guy is half gujarati half punjabi because he was either armaan shah or kylo ren shah. sue me please. also i'm punjabi so i demand bff representation.
huge thanks to dee and di for betaing, my indian babes :) even after the reylo shenanigans
(i haven't even watched star wars. dee is trash this has been a PSA)
. . .
Padma cannot remember a time when she was not fascinated by the world.
Why does it change? Why do humans exist? Why does life exist only to end sooner or later? Why is everything ephemeral in the world — including the Earth itself?
Padma is a very curious being, a curious girl for a curious world. Everything to her is curious, and that is the way it should be, because curiosity is never cumbersome.
Parvati is not as inquisitive. Parvati has the same brown, classical hair, and the same aquiline nose, and even the same wheatish skin tone as Padma, but the twins are vastly different. Parvati is more interested in the mediocre things, the things that don't matter — how to learn magic, morality, integrity.
To Padma, Parvati is a fool for caring about those things. She needs to look at it the way Padma does: What is moral integrity in the long run when all that matters is power — and when no one bothers with integrity, honesty, and the good things anyway?
Morality is of no consequence to Padma. Consequences stem from the right actions at the right times, not from how ethical something is.
Power is the thing that takes a person far, power is the thing that takes one person to the top. And the top is the goal. To be first is the goal. To win is always the goal, because if it's not, then what's the point of life anyway? To just die? To live meaninglessly, groveling at the bottom? No. Padma doesn't accept that.
Of course, there was once a time when Padma did care about ethical actions. That was when she was eleven, but Ravenclaw house, failures, and a war have taught her better.
And of course, Harry Potter wins the war and all is well.
Nothing is well. The death of Voldemort does not erase the scars from the Carrows, does not erase all the other deaths — it erases nothing.
It births the darkness lying deep in Padma. It births a kind of twisted, sick fascination with death and murder and the consequences — and the benefit.
Oh, yes, there's always been a darkness in Padma, but the sheer audacity of the people thinking everything after the war would just magically be alright — that's what brings it to the surface. How dare they believe that feelings and hope and magic could make everything better? How dare they do that, when Padma knows that thoughts — power, effort — are what will make everything as it once had been. A strong leader, not these tragic idiots with their blather of Everything will be alright.
No, Padma wants to tell them. Nothing is alright. He is dead but we are not, and we need to fix everything he did. We need to act. We need to bloody change. Why does nobody understand what needs to happen here?
Padma does not say anything, though. Her parents would disapprove. She can imagine Mr. Patil giving her a disparaging look over his black cup of chai, sitting at the equally black family table — because Indian families always, always eat together — and saying, "Apre su che?" — "What is it to us?"
Gujarati parents are like that, though, Padma knows. They will gossip for hours and then dismiss it with an "Apre su?" — "It's nothing to us."
But of course, Padma is the perfect soulless Indian robot daughter, and as such avoids everything to do with politics and things that matter — so she does not speak.
Sometimes her parents talk about her sister's marriage — and Padma's too, always muttered in a mixture of Gujarati and English in the mixed up, odd way that most NRIs talk in, a dialect that doesn't belong to either of the two extremes.
The problem is that while there won't be anything on this front for a few years — well, soon enough there will be. While her parents initially had loved her complete apathy when it came to boys, girls, and love in general, now they won't be so accommodating, because Padma is getting older and with that age means marriage, and what is an Indian daughter if she doesn't marry?
It's going to be hard, Padma knows, for her parents to find a nice, suitable Indian boy for her to marry. They hadn't been opposed to the girls "dating" white people like Harry Potter and Ron Weasley — really, they'd only ever gone to the Yule Ball, and Padma hadn't counted it as a date either way — but in reality, the only path for them is with an Indian boy, preferably Gujarati, but living in Britain they can't really be too picky. It's not to say they don't like white people, more along the lines of "different cultures" and "gorao ketla meat khaye che, d'you really want to cook meat for a gora?"
Since Padma is a soulless Indian piece of perfection, she doesn't point out that she doesn't have to be the one cooking. They're Indian parents, after all, and they don't understand that Padma wants to be something more than the wife who dutifully cooks thepla for her husband's lunch every day.
. . .
Of course, that's why it's such a surprise they find a man at all.
Padma's twenty-five when it happens.
Things in the wizarding world are still not alright. By this point, she knows they won't ever be, now, because if they're still preaching that feelings rhetoric and It'll be alright they won't ever stop.
And her parents call a man up to the house; he's reasonably tall, with the Indian brown-skin and an analytical disposition.
"This is Armaan Shah," Mrs. Patil introduces.
Padma thinks he's in the mafia. Honestly, that name is just a little bit too shady. And too Punjabi to be properly Gujarati.
Plus, he has an annoying smirk on his face, appraising, arrogant, in typical Indian man coddled by his loving mother fashion. He is a very average man, the kind that's always there but never mentioned — smart but too prideful to make anything of himself
Does he even drink chai? Can he be trusted? Does he drink — Padma shudders at the thought — fake tea, iced tea?
He is, obviously, a wizard, she's quite sure. Which will either make him even more insufferable or a little more relatable. Padma will bet on the former.
Oh, dear Ram…
No, Padma isn't getting married to this man.
. . .
As it turns out, she does. The affair is a casual, grand Indian wedding with too much music, too much food, and too many consequences.
He does not have parents — they perished in the War — and instead they live in an old apartment, angular and black and white and quite colorless. It is very clear that Armaan is incompetent at cooking, based on the various cup noodles strewn on the table.
It's messy. He could've at least used a Scourgify.
It's not the wedding that's important, it's the man. On their wedding night, they don't do anything — both mutually sensing their relationship is going to be nothing but professional — but Armaan asks, "So, what tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow," Padma replies, with tones underlining Obviously, you nitwit, "you will go to work."
"And you?" he wonders.
"I'll manage," says Padma.
"Will you, really? Are you going to stay all right?" He speaks as if Padma cannot handle herself at home. He speaks as if Padma cannot sit down and stay where she is. He acts as if Padma cannot do anything. It is a casually misogynistic suggestion, and Padma hates it, but she is perfectly soulless and as such does not say a word.
She smiles instead, a fake plaster of all her hate and resentment and desire to get out. "Of course."
Padma knows there is but one way to get out. The darkness in her calls, says, Do you want to live like this? Do you want to be a slave? Or do you want to be someone, someone with a purpose and someone who can fix this terrible thing we call a society with its 'feelings' rhetoric?
Padma knows the answer. She knows herself best, after all.
. . .
Belladonna is relatively easy to acquire — since she's a witch and belladonna is important in potions and everything — and it's in its natural berry form, which makes things just a tiny bit harder for Padma. It doesn't matter, anyway, because it'll get the job done.
Padma has planned the whole thing.
She doesn't count on missing him, but everyone will think she is traumatized. They will listen when she says she is afraid and doesn't want to get remarried. They will let her make something of herself and rise to the top.
The problem is getting the blame off her. She is the wife and she is the one making the chai, so naturally things will point to Padma.
There is a simple remedy for this problem: keeping the murder Muggle. The wizard authorities won't look into it if it's Muggle and she will have to distill the belladonna into a very fine potion that the Muggle instruments cannot trace.
It's not hard. Padma has her N.E.W.T. in Potions, after all.
Then she makes the chai and drops a bit of the clear liquid she's concocted into the Thermos he's using — because, of course, he does drink chai. He's Indian, and he has to go to work, so he has to take it to-go. Then she pours in the chai and stirs the bottle a bit, and that is that.
Padma hands him the flask with false sincerity and no regrets in her heart. The poison does its work.
She sees the headlines and she tries to feel something other than relief. She cannot. She supposes it makes her a bad person. Padma does not care.
. . .
translations (not included in WC):
"Apre su?" — "What is it to us?"
"Gorao ketla meat khaye che" — "White people eat so much meat"
gora — white, white person
chai — tea; more specifically, indian tea containing spices, etc. each family makes it differently, from experience