Chapter 15 : Homesick
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Let me repeat that name once more for the record.
Marlborough. As in, the province at the top of the South Island next to Nelson with no claim to fame except a whole lot of vineyards and occasionally beating us in the Sunshine Hours. I tell him this during our first lesson; he seems less than impressed he shares a name with the lamest place in New Zealand.
I’m allowed to say that, by the way. Nelson is unofficially at war with Marlborough and everyone I know from Marlborough hates the place too. Even its climate is boring – no storms, no snow, no nothing. I mean, we’re pretty much the same (there was some impressive flooding back in 2011 though) but we’re more interesting as a whole.
Trust me on this.
The teachers are far more demanding when it comes to homework – an essay a day from four or five teachers is unheard of at home, but apparently these teachers are fond of marking essays – and I wonder how anyone around here has the time to embroil themselves in the social dramas that seem to be going on all the time in Gryffindor. Rose explains to me that the other houses, especially Ravenclaw, are far more settled when it comes to such matters, because Gryffindors launch straight into arguments and relationships without a second thought of the consequences. I can’t help but compare that to the philosophy of ‘Never argue with anyone from Marsden or Kemp’ because Marsden kids are opinionated and we’re stubborn.
Once the initial wave of interest in all things New Zealand dies down, I spend about two weeks losing myself in Hogwarts culture before I start missing home. Considering I’ve never been out of New Zealand before until now, I’m impressed I managed to hold out for so long before getting homesick.
I spend a lot of time with Henry, just hanging out, because a) I really like him, of course, and b) I need to talk to another Kiwi. I find myself clinging to every reminder of home that I can find, but by early October the simple fact that I am on the other side of the world and couldn’t be much further away from NZ if I tried begins to hit home.
I don’t want to be a burden on everyone else in Gryffindor – I’m usually a really happy person, so I don’t want people thinking some major tragedy has befallen me (and I’m a tough nuts Kiwi and I will not cry in front of anyone) so when everyone’s talking about Weasley/Potter family business and people I don’t know, I quietly slip out, have a slight chuckle to myself about the stereotypical-ness of what I’m doing, and take myself to a nice deserted bathroom.
Where I lock myself in a cubicle, put the lid down, sit on the seat and sing God Defend New Zealand. First in Maori, then in English, punctuated by sniffling and sobbing and strangled cat noises.
I’m such a loser when I’m homesick. Georgia would laugh her arse off at me if she could see me now.
I miss Georgia. Stupid best friend not coming with me to England and leaving me instead with a South African who I can’t even talk to properly because it’s so damn awkward.
I’m the only Kiwi here.
How on Earth did Henry migrate permanently? I can’t even handle six weeks away from home.
Well, he did move to New Zealand, so that’s a fair point. Rose and Scorpius never got homesick, so that’s obviously proof that New Zealand is the coolest place in the world and why did I ever complain about it being boring? It’s not boring, it’s beautiful. We have Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds and Golden Bay where my family spends Christmas every year and I kind of miss Martin because he’s cool but not Nick because he’s gross, and I miss Ella even though she’s a Jafa and nobody knows what a Jafa is here.
I reach the end of the national anthem and cast around in my mind for something else to sing.
Pokarekare ana, nga wai o something something…something something something e…
I pull out a quill and try scratching a silver fern onto the wall, but I can’t draw and it ends up looking more like a scraggly feather than anything else. So I just sit, thinking about the mince and cheese pie I’m going to buy from the canteen when I get home, and the fish and chips on Rabbit Island that my family will have when me and my brothers get back from school for summer, and the garbled, colloquial, inflection-riddled form of English I’ll delight in using when I see my friends again because here I have to enunciate so they know what I’m saying.
One of the ghosts floats over the top of the cubicles and peers down at me. This is another thing I don’t like about Hogwarts – the ghosts. We don’t have any ghosts at Southern Cross because all the Maori and Pacific Island ghosts have a colony in an Unplottable island in the middle of the ocean called Hawaiki, the immigrant ghosts go back to haunt their home countries and the European ones hang out in Larnach Castle in Dunedin, which is a massive oversight on behalf of the Ministry of Magic because even the Muggles know it as the most haunted place in New Zealand.
“What’s wrong?” the ghost asks me with a sort of morbid glee.
I might as well, I won’t have another opportunity to do this. “You know I can’t grab your ghost chips, go away.” And I swat at her.
“Bro,” a flawless Maori accent calls from the middle of the bathroom, “Monique says you’re dumb.”
I open the cubicle and see Henry standing there, looking slightly sheepish. “Feeling homesick?”
“Yeah,” I mumble, avoiding his eyes. Great timing, when my eyes are all red and puffy and I can’t talk properly and oh Lord I’ve been singing.
He holds out a box of tissues.
“Where’d you get those?” I sniffle.
“Learnt it in Transfiguration.” Henry shrugs. “Obviously the Brits cry a lot more than we do.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” I point out, gesturing to my face.
“That’s nothing. You wanna know something? Scorpius cried three times while he was at Southern Cross coz he missed his mummy. Kiwis have balls.”
I can’t help but smile at that, but because I’ve been crying I also make this horrible sobbing sound as well.
“I like it when you smile, Adelaide.”
“What?” I stop dead, tissue halfway to my face.
“Better than when you’re crying,” he adds quickly. “Obviously. It’s good when you’re happy.”
“Oh. Yeah.” I turn away, dabbing my face and pretend he can’t see my reflection in the mirror.
“What are you doing Saturday night?” he blurts suddenly.
“Saturday night?” I repeat. “Um, turning seventeen?”
“I know. Other than that.”
“Not a lot, considering we’re not allowed out of the castle.”
“Keep it free.” He claps me on the shoulder and turns to leave. “Kia kaha.”
Disclaimers and Explanations:
"Pokarekare ana" is a Maori love song of disputed authorship that was written around 1914.
The lines "You know I can't grab your ghost chips, go away" and "Bro, Monique says you're dumb" are taken from the NZ Land Transport Agency's 'Legend' anti-drink driving ad, which has become a significant part of NZ popular culture.
Kia kaha means 'be strong' in Maori.
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