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By Your Leaf

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“Come drink this tea so I can practice my Divination,” Parvati calls out as she sails into the room carrying a steaming teapot in one hand and a cup in the other. Her opening the door means that Padma can once again hear the dulcet tones of Abra ka Dubra, the classic Indian wizarding band from the ‘40’s that their Aaji plays endlessly at top volume. While this was nostalgic for the first two days of their time in London—a reminder of home staying ever the same even while they’ve been away at Hogwarts—now it’s just loud and annoying, which is pretty much the way it used to be when they lived here full time.

Padma sighs and swishes her wand to cast cave inimicum shantata, her mother's favorite Latin and Marathi-blended spell. It creates a spatial bubble that insulates a room against the endless noise outside. It also passive-aggressively insults Aaji, who usually responds to any requests for quiet by raising the volume even further.

“I’m so tired of drinking bad tea so you can study the leaves. Couldn’t you at least put a little ginger in?” Padma grumbles, dropping her wand as she flops back onto her bed.

Parvati rolls her eyes, and sits down next to her. “No, because you know as well as I do that the leaves need to be free to settle into their patterns. But here, cheer up; I made Darjeeling this time, so at least you won’t feel the lack of milk.”

Padma groans, but obediently sits up as Parvati carefully swirls the teapot before pouring out a leaf ridden cup in the worst form of tea etiquette yet.

Padma stares into her cup with mild disgust. “Paro, this is more leaf than tea.”

“Shut up,” Parvati mutters, flushed. She grabs the cup and heads into the bathroom to dump out the tea.

She hands Padma the now empty tea cup and casts an absent scourgify on it. “Okay,” she whispers, “first I have to focus on you and our bond to each other. Then,” she raises the teapot and gently swirls it once more before pouring out a clear stream of fragrant amber tea. “Yes!”

Padma checks and the ratio of tea to leaf still feels mite higher than it should given the existence of proper strainers, but it’s a far better effort.

“Think about your future as you drink it. Really focus on that,” Parvati orders for the millionth time.

Padma shoots her a look, but obediently closes her eyes to focus on her future as she takes her first sip. It’s hard to focus on something so abstract though; much easier to imagine the effect on her bladder all this tea is going to have, or what classes she’s going to take in fourth year, or what their mother is going to say when she comes home and finds out that Parvati has decimated her carefully preserved stock of first flush Darjeeling while trying to figure out Padma’s future.

“Don’t drink it down too far,” Parvati says sharply, and Padma is sorely tempted to retaliate by drinking even the dregs. Instead, she silently hands Parvati her cup and waits to have her fate pronounced.

“Hmmn,” Parvati carefully shifts the cup, waiting for the dregs to fall into their required symbols. Padma’s tried this before, but doesn’t really have the talent for it, though their mother claims that they’ve had seers in the family before, back in India. Parvati in particular tried badgering her for more information, but she just got very quiet and locked herself in her room, so they’ve since learned to leave it alone. Padma suspects that whoever it was didn’t have quite as happy a fate as they’ve had.

She’s asked Aaji about it, who just snorted and said, “The British conquered by stealing hope. Can you think of something more hopeful than someone who could see the end of their tyranny?” She’d heard comments like that all the time growing up, but a few hours in the Hogwarts library with books that talked about “controlling the local magical populace” and “weeding out potential radicals early,” blanketing the stories she’s grown up hearing in the dry terms of governance rather than enslavement, just made it that much more real. It’s been enough to convince her not to ask again.

“I think I see a club,” Parvati mumbles, peering more closely into the cup, and Padma refocuses on her. “Or maybe it’s a spade? And a cat? Maybe an apple too.”

“Let me see.” Padma shoves close, and watches as Parvati points to symbols that, until that moment, had seemed mostly like unshaped globs, but now seem perfectly evident.

“See?” Parvati says, pointing them out one at a time. “There’s the club, but it’s got a bit of a blob on the top so maybe it was trying to be a spade. And that’s the cat with its tail in the leftover tea there. And that’s clearly an apple, which shouldn’t be surprising at all since you’re the brain in the family.”

Padma sits back, and huffs her hair out of her face. “So what does any of that mean?”

Parvati scoots off the bed to get her Divination textbook from their shared desk. “I think it’s…” she murmurs, flipping through its pages. “Ah! Okay. Here. It says the apple is a sign of good knowledge, but we knew that already since it’s you. Okay, the spade is a sign of good fortune, so that’s basically saying you live a charmed life. But if it’s not a spade, then the club is a sign that an attack is immanent. And the cat is supposed to be a deceitful friend, though who knows why because loads of people have cat familiars and they’re not deceitful at all.”

Padma blinks. “So… either I’m smart and lucky and have a bad friend, or I’m smart and have a bad friend and someone may attack me? Seems a bit all over, Paro.”

Parvati stares morosely into the cup, shoulders slumped. “Yeah. I need more practice, I think.”

Padma eyes the sad twist of Parvati’s mouth as she fiddles with the tea cup, rolling it between her hands. She’s deflated so quickly after being so excited about this new aspect to her magic.

Padma throws her hands in the air. She may as well kiss her bladder goodbye. “Well, we have a whole pot of tea left. Why don’t you try again?”