The third astrological sign in the Zodiac, Gemini, governs those born between May 22 and June 21.
"Shhhh, Parvatiji, please do not cry. You will wake your sister."
Indira Patil did not know what she had done in a past life for the gods to test her so. Since the birth of her girls, she had not slept in what felt like weeks. She had hoped that when she delivered Padma, grave and silent, into the world, that she had been lucky. That both her babies would be quiet and docile.
But Parvati, younger than her twin sister by two minutes, had already manifested her personality the moment she slipped into the world. Redfaced and screaming, she all but demanded everyone in the birthing room to stop and pay attention to her. She was always crying; round little face scrunched up while she expressed her displeasure. In contrast, Padma rarely cried. She didn't even whimper.
She also slept through the night -- something her younger sister didn't understand. Parvati rarely slept longer than three hours at a time without waking up to squall.
With a sigh, Indira sat down in a rocker and pulled Parvati closer, humming an old children's song her mother once sang to her. Her darling girls -- she was blessed indeed.
Astrologists describe Gemini as a 'mutable sign,' meaning it has an instinct and impulse towards change and versatility. Gemini easily adapt to the environment around them.
"It is a good position, much better than any I could work in Mumbai." Rajeev Patil sighed and ran his hands over his face, looking much older than his twenty-seven years. He had not been looking forward to this discussion with his wife. The offer was good, and it would give their daughters opportunities they would not have if they stayed in India. But Indira was the youngest of seven children, the darling of her family. Asking her to move halfway around the globe was difficult.
"But that is so far away," his wife countered, coaxing Padma to open her mouth for a bite of rice. "We would have to leave our families, our friends, our home." She managed a small smile for her little toddler when Padma obediently swallowed her food, but her eyes were tight with anxiety. "I don't speak English, Rajeev. You know this."
He sat down beside his wife. "You'll learn, jaan, I promise. I can teach you, or you could take a course. And the girls will grow up with the best England has to offer; education, opportunities, everything we could hope for." He reached out and brushed a lock of hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear. "It could be the start of something wonderful."
"What about the girls?" Her voice was high with tension, her brown eyes pleading as she turned to face him. "What of them? This is home."
Parvati let out a happy little giggle, clapping her chubby hands together. Rajeev smiled. "They're strong willed. They'll adapt."
Those born under Gemini are ruled by Mercury, therefore giving Geminians a 'mercurial' personality. Like quicksilver, Gemini can blow hot one moment and cold the next.
"But Mum, school's so boring! I hate it!" Parvati stomped her foot and crossed her arms over her skinny chest, lips curled down in a petulant pout. "Mrs. Haversham's a cross old cow, anyway."
"Parvati Patil, you will stop that right now. We did not leave a good life in Mumbai so you could waste your education giggling about boys with English girls. This is the third time this month your teacher has sent a note about your behavior in her classroom." Indira threw her hands up in the air in frustration. "When will you start taking your studies seriously?"
The nine year old scowled and snatched her book satchel off the table, ignoring the notebooks and texts that fell out. "That's why you have Padma!" She stomped out of the room, ignoring her mother's commands to stop and come back this instant.
With a sigh, Indira sat down at the table, propping her chin in her hand. "Durga only knows how much I love your sister, Padmaji, but I do wish she were more like you."
Padma glanced up at her mother and shrugged. "Sometimes, I wish I were more like her."
Gemini's element is Air. Those born under the Air sign prize intellect, value logic, and bring objective reasoning and big-picture ideas to projects.
"Your sister reads so much." Ellie, one of the popular girls at their school, tossed her curly blonde hair over her shoulder and glanced back at Padma. Ten bottles of nail polish, all in varying shades of pink, sat scattered around her bare feet. "S'not cool, you know, to read so much."
"She never likes coming to parties," chimed in Beatrix, Ellie's shadow. "Mummy said we had to invite her to sleep over, or you wouldn't come. I wouldn't believe you were even related, let alone sisters, if you didn't look exactly the same!"
"Padma likes to read," Parvati replied hotly. She liked her friends, she really did, but they could just be so rude about her twin. It wasn't Padma's fault she didn't like the same things they liked: boys, gossip, trying out makeup when their parents weren't around. It was a sign of her sister's loyalty that she agreed to come to these slumber parties at all. "Helps her make the best grades in our year."
Ellie shrugged, completely unphased. "Was just curious." Changing the subject, she continued, "Where did you say you were going to secondary?"
"I didn't." Parvati shifted, crossing her legs at the ankles. "It's a boarding school in Scotland. You've probably never heard of it."
"Posh totty, aren't we?"
Parvati grabbed her bag and stood, rolling her eyes as she did. "Whatever. I'm going to sit with Padma, you lot can stick it." Ignoring their expressions of faux-outrage, she stomped across the room and plopped down next to Padma. "Bloody cows."
"Thought they were your best friends," Padma said without looking up from her book.
"You're my best friend."
The Sun is bright in Gemini. It favors writing and other forms of communication -- as their ruling planet, Mercury, was the messenger of the gods. Gemini's greatest strength is communication.
The house was silent as Padma settled into her bedroom nook. It was her special place; a cushioned bench built below her bedroom window. It overlooked the back garden, which their mother kept full and alive with different flowers and herbs. It was the end of August, and none of the flowers were still blooming. But it was quiet and green. Padma quite liked it.
Flipping open her worn leather-bound notebook, she pulled out her quill and ink bottle, wetting the tip before she began to write.
August 31, 1991
It's strange to think that tonight will be the last night Parvati and I spend at home until Christmas. I've never really spent much time away from Mum and Papa -- neither of us have, even when we went to visit family in India. I don't know if I'm supposed to be sad or not. I'm not right now, but I'm not very excited, either.
Is it natural to be scared?
We have our wands now. Parvati's is aspen wood with a unicorn core. Mr. Olivander said it was "reasonably supple," whatever that means. Mine's dogwood with a dragon core, and "hard." Again, I'm not entirely sure what that means. Hopefully the library at Hogwarts will have books on wandlore. It seems like a fascinating study.
We have an owl, too, one to share between us. Her name is Shivani, and she's the most beautiful bird I've ever seen. She's quite large and tawny; a barn owl, I believe. We've only had her a few days, but we know what she likes to eat -- mice and weirdly enough, Chocolate Frogs -- and that she likes to turn her back to us when she sleeps.
Mother's bought us a new set of stationary and says we're supposed to write every day. Papa said just for the first week, and then we don't have to write every day. He also gave me a new diary, since this one's getting quite full. He said I'll have no problem finding another writing nook at Hogwarts. It's in a castle, bigger than the Queen's in London (but definitely not bigger than Windsor Palace), with lots of hidden corridors and places to explore.
I hope I like it. Parvati will -- she's never met an adventure she didn't love. But she makes friends with everyone. What if we're not in the same House? I've been reading, you know, and I know that we might not. I think I'll be put in Ravenclaw, but I don't think Parvati would fit in there. She doesn't like to read for reading's sake.
It's getting pretty late, and I should probably go to bed. We have to be up early to Floo to London for the train, and I'm sure Parvati will forget something and Papa will have to come back and fetch it for her. I'm leaving you here, diary, locked in the box under my bed. I wonder, looking back, how funny this will sound when I reread this in the future.
-Padma K. Patil
Gemini's symbol is the twins, which represents the duality of the sign. Gemini can relate to opposing visions simultaneously, posses dexterity, and have a knack for multi-tasking.
She could hear the whispers from the other first years; the whispers that weren't about Harry Potter. Parvati knew identical twins weren't normal; in fact, they were downright rare. In their matching robes and ties not yet distinguished by house, their long hair straight and pulled back with ribbons, Parvati and her sister were indistinguishable.
She ignored the whispering and clasped Padma's hand, smiling when her sister squeezed in return. She would be brave and stand beside her sister, her best friend, no matter what.
Except... they were being Sorted. What if they weren't put in the same House?
And then Professor McGongall was calling her twin's name, and Parvati's heart was in her chest, thumping wildly as Padma let go of her hand and climbed up the dais to the stool and the stern Scottish woman with the hat. She placed it gently on Padma's head.
Not five seconds had passed before the hat shouted, "RAVENCLAW!"
One of the tables to her right burst into applause and cheers for their newest member, and Parvati's heart sank. Ravenclaw was the swotty House -- that was what Pansy had said on the train. She wasn't a geek; she didn't even like school! Padma's eyes found hers as she slipped off the stool, and Parvati managed a big smile for her sister.
Then it was her turn. "Parvati Patil."
With a brave face firmly in place, she stepped up and took her seat on the stool. The hat slipped over her eyes, and she nearly jumped when a voice whispered in her ear.
"Hmmm, you're very different from the Patil that was just here," he said -- it sounded like a he, at least, and if a hat could talk, then it could have a gender. "The thirst for knowledge isn't nearly as strong as your sister's."
"Please," Parvati whispered, "put me in Ravenclaw."
"Ravenclaw? Oh no, child, you've not the head for Ravenclaw. But there's courage there, lots of courage. Your path is different from your sister's, which is why I shall put you in.... GRYFFINDOR!"
Happy cheers and cries came from the Gryffindor table, which helped to lighten Parvati's heart as she slipped off the dais and joined her new housemates at the long table. She sat next to a girl with curly blonde hair, who quickly introduced herself as Lavender, an Aquarius from Leeds who liked Witch Weekly, nail polish, and lip gloss.
Parvati blinked. She'd never met anyone who introduced themselves by their astrological sign before. Maybe she would be alright without her sister in her house. "I'm Parvati, a Gemini."
Glancing over at the Ravenclaw table, she met her sister's eyes and smiled. New friends were wonderful, but they would never be more important than her twin.