And Everything Nice
Luna plucked a bluebell and twirled it between her fingers. “If he kissed you,” she said, gazing at the flower as though mesmerised, “what would you do?”
“Die,” Ginny muttered. “Worse -- I’d probably throw up. All over him.”
“He probably wouldn’t want to kiss you again if you did that,” said Luna, sounding as though she were imparting sage advice.
Curious, Ginny stole a glance at her, but the other girl was still transfixed by the spinning bluebell. She looked oddly mystical, sitting cross-legged on the grass, her robe pooled around her, the late September sunlight spilling onto her dishevelled blond hair. Her pupils were tiny dots in her large grey eyes, her pale eyebrows were drawn together as though in deep concentration, and her lips were pursed thoughtfully.
“He likes Cho Chang, anyway,” Ginny said, still watching Luna.
“Cho Chang is very beautiful.”
“I play Quidditch better than she does. It’s true,” Ginny insisted, though Luna had not reacted. “I’ve been practicing with my brothers’ old equipment. When no one’s looking, of course. I caught the Snitch in less than five minutes, once. It wasn’t easy, either. I’ve been practicing in all kinds of weather.”
It was a strange smile. For one thing, it did not reach her eyes. For another, it gave Ginny a twinge, as though she had just learned there was something she could not have.
“You could play for Gryffindor,” Luna said.
“I would,” said Ginny. “But someone has to leave the team, first. Not Harry. I don’t want to be Seeker. Don’t want to be -- I don’t know -- singled out, the way Seekers are. Although it would be nice trouncing Malfoy.”
“And Cho Chang?” asked Luna.
“I’m glad you don’t play Quidditch for Gryffindor.”
“Oh?” said Ginny.
The other girl nodded. “If you did, Ravenclaw would always lose.” She looked up then, her smile deepened, and again Ginny felt that odd twinge.
“I’m not that good,” she began, and cut herself off, wondering why she was telling Luna that.
“Yes, you are. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if Harry likes Cho Chang, because she likes Cedric Diggory. And he likes her. He’s very handsome,” she added almost as an afterthought.
“He’s as thick as a Bludger,” Ginny snorted. She uncurled her legs and stretched them out in front of her. She wanted to hike her robe up and feel the cool grass against her skin. She wondered if Luna would say anything if she did. She doubted it. Hairy legs wouldn’t bother a girl like Luna, and it wasn’t like it had been weeks since she’d last bothered to shave -- only three days. There were some other kids doing things by the lake, but no one seemed to be watching the two of them.
As Ginny had predicted, Luna said nothing about her unkemptness. She didn’t even glance down when Ginny, having pulled her robe over her head and tossed it aside, rolled her jeans up to her knees. The grass did feel nice against her skin.
Luna said, “If Cedric Diggory kissed me, I wouldn’t know what to do.”
Ginny frowned at her. “Why would he kiss you?”
“I don’t know,” said Luna. “That’s why I wouldn’t know what to do. But I think I would like it. I’ve never kissed anyone.”
Ginny was not at all surprised, but refrained from saying so, though she doubted her words would hurt the other girl. Sometimes she thought Luna knew what most of the other students thought of her, what they called her behind her back. Other times Ginny thought she had to be oblivious. If she did know, she never seemed perturbed, but then, Ginny did not know Luna all that well. They weren’t close friends. She wasn’t even sure why Luna had followed her out to the lake this afternoon or why, for that matter, Ginny had not tried to get rid of her long before this.
“Have you ever kissed anyone?” asked Luna.
The question did not startle Ginny, though the incurious tone was a little unnerving.
“Um, yeah,” she replied. “Actually. There was this boy who lived in Ottery St Catchpole. Well, I reckon he still lives there. I haven’t seen him in years. My mum and dad taught me and my brothers when we were little, and sometimes this boy came over for lessons. His parents are wizards, but he turned out to be a Squib. That’s why he’s not here. He kissed me, once. It was weird.”
“Where did he kiss you?”
“In the front garden. We were waiting for his mum to come get him, and no one else was there.”
“I mean…where did he kiss you?” Luna seemed interested, now. She was leaning forward, her elbows on her knees, the bluebell still pinched between her fingers, but apparently forgotten. “Did he kiss you on the mouth?”
“He kissed me on the cheek,” said Ginny, blushing unaccountably. She never blushed -- six teasing older brothers had taught her to school her expressions -- except in front of Harry Potter.
“What did you do?”
“I didn’t even know he was kissing me,” Ginny admitted. She grinned, and tried to will her cheeks white again. “Felt something wet on my cheek, and then -- I sort of turned really quickly, and hit him in the face with my hair. Not very romantic. He didn’t do it again.”
“What would you have done if he did?”
More than a little unnerved now, Ginny shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. What would you have done?”
“I don’t know,” said Luna. “I don’t know him. I know what I would do if Harry Potter kissed me.”
Ginny scowled, but there was nothing boastful about the other girl’s tone. She might have been making an observation about the weather. “All right,” Ginny said. “What would you do?”
Luna coloured slightly, but still managed to sound serene as she said, “I’ll never tell.” She tilted her head slightly and added, “I would know what to do if you kissed me.”
Ginny stared at her. It was only now that she realized how closely the other girl was leaning. She could discern each wheat-blond eyelash. She could smell her. Luna had been eating violet wafers; the scent was on her breath and Ginny was inhaling it as well as the scent beneath it, the scent of…Luna. Ginny closed her mouth.
“I’m not gay,” Luna informed her matter-of-factly. “I just know what I would do if you kissed me.”
She smiled again, and Ginny choked on the breath she had been holding. There was the twinge again. There was the feeling that she was missing something and would never find out what it was, let alone have it.
You are so strange, a part of her wanted to tell the other girl. Another part of her was curious, Ginny realized, and wanted to ask -- rather badly -- What would you do if I kissed you?
Still smiling, Luna moved forward slightly. Ginny flinched away involuntarily.
The other girl’s expression did not change. She sighed -- Ginny felt her own lashes stir. Then Luna touched her lightly on the nose with the bluebell and, while Ginny blinked in bewilderment, climbed to her feet and started back across the grass toward the castle.
Ginny watched the pale hair until the sunlight stung her eyes. Glancing down she noticed at Luna had dropped the flower. She picked it up and played with it and wondered what it was she had been given, and what she had been denied.