The Path to Happiness
A Harry Potter fanfiction
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what you really want. In this
future story spanning several years, Padma Patil reflects on love and
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling.
When I first
met him I was wearing a pale blue robe with a silver pattern stamped on
the border. My hair was loose, hot against my back, and held in place
by charms and two sparkling clips. He was dressed in black and white,
and there was a hint of amusement lurking in his eyes as my mother
prattled about my abilities and qualifications. I kept silent until we
were left alone and even then he was the first to speak and smile. I
remember how pleasant I thought his voice was and how his smile
transformed his face into one that was more than just handsome. I
decided that I liked him, but I wasn’t ready to marry a man eight years
older, especially not when I’d just turned nineteen and was embarking
on a successful career in the Ministry of Magic.
So how did I
end up sitting on this marriage bed with henna on my hands, vermilion
in my parting and a wedding ring on my finger?
Why did I watch my twin sister cry as I walked around the fire with
him, the chants ringing in my ears?
am I doing waiting for a man I’ve known only a few short months to come
and take me on this bed and then the very next day take me away to a
country I’ve never seen?
I’m sure that I love him, my heart a
victim to the charm I observed from our very first meeting, but I never
expected that my choice to love would take me away from all that I care
about. I will have no friends, no familiar places, and no sister close
by. Visits will be few and distant, not even magic can cross the vast
gap between England and India so easily.
The sound of laughing
male voices draws near and then the door opens. He sends his friends
packing before they can make any more jokes and closes the door firmly,
looking at me. He smiles reassuringly, but I can’t stop the hammering
of my heart. I can’t help feeling nervous, although Parvati tells me
that the experience can be wonderful and the pain not so bad the first
He’s very gentle, touching me with experienced hands
until I’m ready, but it still hurts and I cry just a little. But
Parvati is right and it gets better, awakening feelings inside that I’d
only idly thought of in the past. Then it’s over and I lie in his arms,
the sweat cooling on my skin. He whispers that he loves me and I
believe it, murmuring the words back to be rewarded by a smile and a
rain of kisses on my face. It’s long past midnight when we finally
close out eyes for sleep.
The weather is hot and
oppressive. Even after six months I’m not used to the heat of Mumbai.
Inside the house it is cool, special spells cast on the stone to keep
the temperature just right no matter what is happening outside. But I
can’t avoid going out, as much as I would like to. My only comfort is
that Anthony will help me forget the discomfort by coaxing me to laugh.
He is the first friend to make this journey to visit, stopping by on
his way back from a job for Gringotts. I show him the sights of Mumbai
and the surrounding areas, enjoying the companionship and the chance to
be Padma again, instead of a wife and daughter-in-law.
last day, Anthony gives me a present, a pretty silver box from China
that he’s kept out of sight until now. I see an expression of regret in
his eyes as he says goodbye, clasping my hand and kissing by cheek. I
can’t stop asking what the regret is and he sighs heavily, looking away.
regrets not telling me his feelings while we were at school. He regrets
not having the courage to ask me on a date before I met my husband. He
regrets leaving me alone here.
So when he is gone I sit on my
bed and look at the Chinese box with thoughts of ‘what if’ chasing
themselves around in my brain and tears in my eyes.
my husband finds me and his face is ugly with anger. One of the
servants overheard Anthony’s confession and tattled to her master, and
so he confronts me. It’s jealousy that drives him to throw vicious
accusations at me, but my own temper overrides my logic and soon I am
screaming back at him, throwing things as I rage. All my frustration
and loneliness pours out as I unlock my emotions. Our voices rise as we
compete in volume, both of us determined to be heard and to drown out
the other. Then the charm he cast to shield himself from the objects I
throw bounces my last, wildly hurled missile straight back at me. The
sharp edge of the Chinese box scours deeply into my forehead and I drop
to the ground, his horrified cry of shock ringing in my ears.
I open my eyes, he’s holding me close, tears in his eyes as his
trembling hand touches the cut bleeding profusely on my brow. He begs
my forgiveness, saying that is only because he loves me so much that he
is driven mad by the thought of anyone else claiming my affections.
I slip back into unconsciousness, not sure whether to be pleased or
frightened by his confession of such deep love.
baby kicks me sharply and I suck in my breath. For the last few weeks
I’ve been marking off the days, counting down to the moment when I will
finally be free again. I’m sick of being huge and ungraceful, of
waddling when I walk and enduring jabs from tiny hands and feet from
the inside. I feel ugly and bloated, ill and tired all the time. My
emotions swing back and forth without warning, causing everyone to
tiptoe about me warily. Only my husband seems able to endure my moods,
sitting with me when I cry for my mother and sister, placing cool
cloths on my forehead when I overheat and even brushing my hair to help
soothe me when I’m fractious.
In the last three years we’ve
learnt much about each other and even now, when there are times I hate
everything and everyone, I’m aware that one deeper and lasting has
replaced my first shallow, tentative love for him. We’ve come through
our trials, the evidence of the worst still mars my forehead, a thin,
white scar, and there were times I wished myself back in England, but
he holds my heart now and the life kicking so determinedly within me is
an affirmation of our commitment.
As I sit and think about all this, shaded by the trees in the garden,
what I’ve been so anxious for happens: my water breaks.
hours later, after enduring pain that I’d never imagined, I’m lying
exhausted in a bed surrounded by a midwife and the best medi-witch in
Mumbai, and my son is placed in my arms. He’s red faced and crumpled,
clearly displeased with being expelled from his comfortable home in my
womb, but when his eyes open I feel such a rush of love that I almost
pass out. He’s mine and to me he’s the most beautiful child in the
world. When a finger touches his tiny hand I almost growl from the
protective urge rising within me, but the finger belongs to my husband
and this little child is as much his as he is mine.
shining, he takes our son in his arms and looking at him so infatuated
with the baby, my heart swells and the last shreds of longing for my
old life melt away. This is where I belong and this is where I want to
be. Some might accuse me of choosing wrongly by pointing out that my
mind could be put to better use than being wasted as a rich man’s wife
and a mother, but I would retort that, despite the twisty road that
brought me here, I am happy now and have no regrets.
How many others can truly say the same?