They were so different but, much like the old cliché ‘opposites attract’, Padma was drawn to her like a magnet to its twin.
After Harry brought Cedric’s bruised and broken body back from Little Hangleton graveyard, Cho sat on the sofa in the Ravenclaw Common Room, enveloped in Marietta’s arms, and sobbed.
Padma watched as Luna, with a melancholic smile on her face, gently sat down next to them, took Cho’s hand in hers, and cheered each tear.
“It’s good to cry,” she said encouragingly, but not unkindly. “Tears feed Volantem Dolorems, you see. They’re little flying creatures that feed off the salt and the sorrow…and they’re a declining species.”
Marietta swatted Luna way with a dismissive frown, but Padma saw that Cho had paused in her crying, a look of incredulity in her eyes; the grieving girl’s lips had curled into a smile of affectionate amusement.
Padma had a favourite spot on one of the window seats in the Ravenclaw Common Room. Sometimes, Luna would sit with her there, sharing a midnight-blue blanket with embroidered gold stars - a blanket of the night sky. Padma would cherish her warmth and treasure her company.
“How can you believe in things you can’t see?” she’d asked Luna after the Cho incident.
“Do you believe in love?” Luna had asked, in a characteristically lilting voice that made it sound like she was singing.
“Yes. Of course.”
“But you can’t see that.”
“But I can feel it,” Padma argued. “That’s my evidence. And so can everyone. We know from literature - and art - that it’s a universal, shared human experience, so it must exist in some way.”
“Voldemort can’t feel love,” Luna said simply, and Padma chilled at the name and marvelled at how Luna could say it. “Besides, I can see Volantem Dolorems. Everyone could if they really wanted to. They’re just not looking properly.”
When Hermione assembled the first meeting of Dumbledore’s Army on one bitterly cold winter’s day in the Hog’s Head, Padma had gone because Parvati was going, and she’d gone because Lavender was going, and the two Gryffindor girls wanted to satisfy their salacious need for gossip.
Terry went because Anthony was going because Michael was going, and Michael went because he wanted to impress Ginny Weasley.
Marietta had gone because Cho was going, and Cho went because she had a crush on Harry Potter.
But Padma noted how Luna had gone because she believed Harry Potter when so many others thought he was lying and, well, because it was the right thing to do.
Weeks later, Padma watched Luna in the Room of Requirement as she stood amongst the bursts of white, ethereal light of other people’s Patronuses. She saw Luna’s pale blond hair flow around her head like a halo, and thought that she’d never seen anything more beautiful.
When Luna went to fight with Harry at the Ministry, Padma wondered at her bravery - one eagle amongst five lions.
“Why weren’t you sorted into Gryffindor?” Padma asked Luna during the last night of their fifth year as they sat on the window seat under the blanket of midnight blue.
“I think the Hat saw that I value knowledge over bravery,” Luna said dreamily. “Courage is meaningless - possibly dangerous - if you don’t know what you're being courageous for.”
Padma didn’t feel her galleon burn at the end of her sixth year. It lay forgotten at the bottom of her trunk. Luna had kept hers inside the pockets she’d magicked into her clothes and her pyjamas. When she’d felt the heat of it, she ran to the Astronomy Tower without question.
Later that evening, as Padma stood by Dumbledore’s fallen body, lighting her wand in tribute, she realised with an icy horror how close Luna had come to death. She silently cursed Draco Malfoy and thanked liquid luck.
That night, Luna and Padma sat on their window seat again; neither girl could sleep. Padma thought of the fragility of life and how she couldn’t take second chances for granted.
“Do you - do you think you like boys . . . or girls?” she finally managed to ask Luna, her mouth dry and hands wringing together nervously.
“I like both,” Luna answered matter-of-factly, and hope soared in Padma’s heart. “I’m not attracted to people’s appearance, you see.”
“What - what are you attracted to?”
“You can see people’s souls?” Padma tried not to sound too incredulous. “What do they look like?”
“They’re usually made up of colours,” Luna replied.
Then she leaned towards Padma, narrowing her eyes as if trying to discern something in the air around Padma’s head. She felt her cheeks warming at the scrutiny. Luna was so close she could make out the individual brown specks on the corks of her necklace, could smell the scent of cherries, earth and wet grass. Padma inhaled, trying to breathe all of Luna in.
“Your soul looks like shades of blue and green - much like the ocean,” Luna explained. “There’s a little bit of crimson - your sister has the same colour, but more of it. It’s all rather beautiful. And the colours ebb and flow like the tides of the sea.”
Padma could feel her friend’s warm breath on her cheek, and it sent a delicious tingling skipping down her spine. “The moon and the tides are inextricably linked, Luna.” The words came out a whisper.
Luna smiled, her eyes wide and innocent. “Oh, I know.”
And Padma only had to lean forward by a hairbreadth in order for her lips to meet with Luna’s in a sweet, tender and delightful kiss.