(1937-10-27) Heritage
Details for Heritage
Summary: Enjoying their vacation to India, Ranjali and Audrey get to talking about Ranjali's family, and their disdain for the British. A worried Audrey reveals a secret to Ranjali.
Date: October 27, 1937
Location: India
Related: The Dance

Its been some of the best days of Ranjali's life, these days in India with Audrey. Days spent first admiring the beauty of the place chosen for them by Wolfgang, then introducing Audrey to as many traditionally Indian things as she could. This started with showing her lover how to wear a saree, as well as the midriff-baring skirts and tops she'd been wearing lately herself. There'd also been a day of dancing lessons, and all sorts of spicy Indian foods to try, and a trip to New Delhi to visit the bazaar (where Ranjali had insisted on purchasing something for nearly every single person she knew).

Most of the time, though, has been spent enjoying the wonderful seclusion of the house. Today has been such a day. Ranjali spent most of the morning in bed with Audrey, feeding her sweetmeats and fruit and learning as much as she could about the singer's body. She finally rose sometime after noon, dressed, and went out to the garden to enjoy the afternoon sun. She's there now, laying in the shade of a tree, her eyes closed to let her body concentrate on soaking up as much of the sunlight as possible. Her skirt and top today are white, trimmed in blue, and the henna tattoos she had done in the Bazaar stand out darkly still against her skin.

Audrey eventually emerges from the house, after a lovely nap induced by an excess of sweetmeats and Ranjali's attentions. She has been thoroughly enjoying the local style of dress, finding great glee in freely baring skin that would be utterly scandalous in London. Today she has chosen a top and skirt in bright red and gold. She always seems to favor bolder colors, obviously enjoying how they stand out. A light breeze catches her skirt as she comes down the steps and into the garden toward Ranjali. "There you are," she says with as smile, announcing her presence and being sure to pause (and pose) to present a vision for Ranjali's eyes when they open.

Ranjali's eyes open instantly at the voice. Pushing herself up on her elbows, she looks up, lips parting as she takes in the sight of Audrey, then spreading into a wide smile. "You should always dress like this." She says, starting to get up, "You look… " She sighs, blushing, "Ravishing. I think that is the best word for it."

Audrey giggles and does a spin, twirling the skirt. "I love it. It's so much more free." She moves closer, and settles down in the grass beside Ranjali, butting their shoulders up against each other. "But you wear it best of all…my goddess." She leans over, lips demanding a kiss.

Ranjali giggles happily, watching the display. She settles back down on the grass as Audrey sits, returning the kiss with utter abandon and with one hand that cannot help roaming over the singer's small top. She's grinning when she pulls away, another small giggle escaping her. "I came out here to think," She says, letting her hand drop to the singer's waist. "There are some things I wish to talk to you about. But I can barely think when you kiss me like that."

Audrey feigns a little pout. "Oh, I suppose I can stop kissing you if it means letting you think." She strokes a hand along Ranjali's cheek. "I like your thoughts. You know I adore you for your mind as much as for your beauty, don't you? I'm not that shallow," she chuckles.

Another giggle. "I never thought you were shallow." Ranjali's fingers, unable to keep stil, stroke lightly up and down Audrey's side, "It was getting to know your mind that took me from wanting you to loving everything about you." Leaning in, she presses a quick kiss to the blonde's cheek, then pulls back, grinning, "There's a festival in the city right now. I'd like to go tonight, if its alright. I've never been able to go to Navratri before."

Audrey's eyes widen with excitement. "A festival? Of course we should go! What is Nav…Navrati?" She has been struggling with the many unusual words she's encountered since coming to India. But she is making a concerted effort to learn as much as she can.

"Navratri." Ranjali replies, speaking the word slowly to make the pronunciation more clear. She regards Audrey with eyes that shine with happiness as she explains, "It is the festival of the three forms of the Goddess Shakti. The first form, Durga, destroys evil thoughts. The second, Lakshmi, gives pure thoughts, and Saraswati then bestows true knowledge. Also there is dancing in the streets, which I think you might very much enjoy."

Audrey gives a happy little clap, smiling broadly. "I would love it! Oh, Ranji, your culture is so beautiful and intriguing. I could spend years here, soaking it all up."

Laughing, Ranjali leans back to watch Audrey looking so happy and beautiful in the bright sunlight. "Thank you. I do not… often think of it as my culture. But I suppose I do feel rather connected with parts of it. I, too, have often wished I could stay longer. We only had a few short months each summer when we were younger." She lifts her hand to Audrey's hair, skimming her fingers along the locks and sobering a little, "There is another thing I need to speak to you about. I must visit my mother's family before we leave."

Audrey nods, her excitement abating not one bit. "Oh, I can't wait. Do they live far from here? Perhaps we could invite them here for dinner. Is that alright? There are so many protocols I'm still learning." Already, Audrey is planning out meals and what she'll wear.

Ranjali smiles a little, hesitantly, "Perhaps… if you like. Its just… " She sighs. "You remember my telling you that my father is a Muggle? Well you see, my mother's family is pure-blood. Do you… know much about what that can mean?" Catching her lower lip between her teeth, she looks worriedly into Audrey's eyes.

Audrey's glee drains from her face in an instant. Her eyelids grow heavy, and she looks down at the grass between her fingers. "It means…they wouldn't approve of you being with a Squib." Her breaths deepen, and her jaw sets. Subtle signs of old anger and hurt brushing near the surface. She might normally hide such things. But here, alone with Ranjali, she wears no mask.

"No, no Audrey, its not that." Ranjali drops her hand, searching for the singer's and grasping it tightly the moment she finds it. "Forgive me, I didn't think of that. I doubt they would even notice, either. No, its… well, its because you're British. You see, they decided to blame Britain for taking my mother away, when she married my father."

Audrey frowns, her brow crinkling in confusion and worry. "So…they won't like me because I'm from Britain? But…you're British." She tries to make sense of it, but she knows all too well how little sense there is to be had in prejudice.

Sighing, Ranjali nods. "I am. They choose to ignore this. I've never truly understood it myself. But apparently as soon as they found out that Bastian had gotten into Hogwarts, they just showed up and started taking him to India every summer. And the same thing happened when I got my letter. They barely speak to my parents, but they treat us as though we've been part of their family since we were born. I asked my mother about it, many years ago." She shakes her head, sighing again, "She just said they were too traditional for their own good."

Audrey rubs a thumb over the skin of Ranjali's hand, still frowning. "So you think they won't like me? Even though I'm try to embrace Indian culture?"

Ranjali shakes her head once more. "I don't know, truly. They may say nothing. They may not. I've heard them say things about the British before. It was the reason I asked my mother about it. And I think it may be why Bastian doesn't come anymore, unless he has to. There is one way, possibly, that this won't be an issue. But I will have to send a letter ahead and see if it can be arranged."

Audrey worries at her lip, trying to look hopeful. "What way is that? I don't want to be trouble for you, Ranji. But…I want them to like me. I can prove myself. Truly."

"Oh, Audrey." Ranjali leans in for a soft, short kiss. "I'm certain they will love you as much as I do. If I can arrange for my mother's aunt to be there." She trails her fingers over Audrey's side again, and offers a small smile. "The one who taught me to dance. She is a performer, like you, and I believe she would have the others treat you more kindly."

Audrey's eyes flutter at the kiss. The news about her great aunt brings a smile with a little more hope. "That would be lovely." But concern still lingers around her eyes and mouth. It takes several false starts, but finally she manages to say, "What if…I wasn't British?"

Ranjali frowns, at first not understanding. "What do you… do you mean, because you aren't a witch?" Now this is something she hadn't considered. Not until Audrey brought it up earlier. "I don't know. Its not something that ever came up, during my visits. But I would think… that it might be a little different? Family seems more important here, than such things."

Audrey shakes her head. "No. I mean that…I'm not British." It's not a question this time, but a statement of fact. "I wasn't born in Britain, Ranji. I'm…a fake." She winces at her own admission, her eyes pleading for understanding.

"Oh. What?" Ranjali blinks. Her head tilts, a frown of confusion wrinkling her brow. "I don't understand. Where are you from, then?" She keeps holding on to Audrey's hand, even in her surprise, and searches her lover's features for some clue as to her origins.

Audrey takes several silent breaths. She never wanted to face this again. She'd put it behind her. But…she can't keep this from Ranjali. Not from this woman who has poured so much of herself into her. "I was born in Ireland. A…small wizarding village called Bottledown." She swallows, wetting her lips for the hardest part. "My name…isn't Audrey Taylor. It's Aiobheann Tooley." Her hand trembles a little under Ranjali's, as old emotions and memories bubble up.

"Bottledown… Even… " Ranjali echoes, trying to pronounce the singer's real name softly, to get a feel for it. She's still watching Audrey, looking for the truth of it in the woman's face, and thus sees the difficulty that she has with her confession. "You… were unhappy there? And so you left? Is… is it a stage name, then?" She squeezes the hand in hers, trying to show her support as she seeks also to understand.

The relief at Ranjali's attempts to understand is plain on Audrey's face. She nods in confirmation. "It was horrible. I hated it there. It was Toby that got me out. But…he didn't make it." She winces, fighting back the tears that threaten whenever she speaks of her first love. "I left Aiobheann behind. I wanted nothing to do with that life anymore. So…I became someone new when I came to England." She lifts her shoulder in a little mock glamour pose, as one would expect of the starlet Audrey Taylor.

Seeing the relief, Ranjali offers a small, encouraging smile. She blinks as the singer goes on, lips parting as she is told another piece of Toby's story. Then, slowly, she sits up, freeing her other arm from having to support her. She lifts this now free hand to her lover's cheek, sliding her thumb across the cheekbone as she says, "You became yourself, I think. Otherwise you would not shine so brightly. And whoever you were before… if you want to tell me, someday, then I will listen, and be glad to know yet another part of you. And if you wish, I will tell my mother's family you are from Ireland. But if you prefer not to think of it, then I need not mention it again."

Audrey leans her cheek into Ranjali's hand, her smile slowly returning. "I just want them to like me. But…what if it got back to your father that I'm Irish? Would he…forbid you from me?" Again that worry plays. She might make gains with the family in India, only to lose ground back in England.

Ranjali tilts her head, considering this. "It would not. Though… my mother has changed him a great deal, as I have grown. Even if it did, I think he would not object. Often my father reacts to things as his own family taught him, only to realize later that he does not truly feel so strongly himself." She chuckles, "It can make for interesting moments, when someone has an announcement to make."

Audrey tilts her head, then 'aaahs' in understanding. "You mean like…when you told him you prefer women?" She considers things, lifting her hand to press Ranjali's against her cheek, not wishing to let it go. "I think…you're right. I became who I was supposed to be. Aoibheann is gone. I don't want to become her again just to please anybody. I became Audrey Taylor so I could be free." She swallows hard, steeling her resolve, "I don't want to go back to the chains of my childhood."

Ranjali nods, rubbing her thumb over Audrey's cheek as her hand is held in place. "Then you shall never have to." She asserts. "I know I would not allow this. And I rather suspect your… friend Mr. Montague would also do anything in his power to help you. You will be Audrey Taylor for as long as you wish to be."

Audrey turns her face to kiss Ranjali's hand, and smiles adoringly at her. "Thank you, Ranji." She leans in to pull her lover into a tight embrace. "I'm glad I told you. I feel freer. I don't want to have secrets from you. But…I like that you know. You can be my secret keeper."

Ranjali smiles widely, and as she is pulled into Audrey's arms gently kisses the side of her neck. "I will keep all of them, then. I think you already know all of mine, or I would tell you every one of them this very moment, I think." She pauses, closing her eyes for a moment before adding, "Thank you. For giving me this secret to keep."

Audrey rubs Ranjali's back affectionately. "I've wanted to. Ever since I told you about Toby, I wanted you to know everything. I just didn't know how to say it. I was afraid you'd think me a fraud." The kiss to her neck sends a shiver through Audrey, and her fingers instinctively go up into Ranjali's hair, cupping the back of her head.

Ranjali makes a little moaning sound, at the back of her throat, as the hands go into her hair. "I should never think such a thing." She murmurs, accompanying her words with more small kisses, "You have shown me the real you, before this day. Your name and where you were born do not change who you are."

It takes a great deal of willpower to draw away from those kisses, but Audrey does, so she can look Ranjali in the eyes. "Thank you. You are so much better than I deserve." She sighs with deep satisfaction. She has all the creature comforts she could desire, a career that she loves and that keeps getting better, and a lover that truly adores her and knows the real her. It may be that she is getting everything she's ever desired. Claiming Ranjali's lips one more time, she sinks with her to the grass, and the two women lose themselves in their bliss.

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