The Sugar Quill
Author: Poppy P (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Padma's Quest  Chapter: Chapter Two
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Chapter Two

 

"RAVENCLAW!" The Sorting Hat cried.

Padma Patil gripped the ragged hat by the brim and slid it off her head with trembling hands. She cautiously approached the second table from the left. The welcome was warm, several students actually stood up to shake her hand. Padma took a seat between Mandy Brocklehurst, whom she'd met on the train, and a curly-haired girl who smiled warmly at her and introduced herself as Penelope Clearwater. Padma finally relaxed. It was no surprise that she'd gotten into Ravenclaw. After all, both Mum and Dad had been in Ravenclaw. Padma smiled up at her twin sister Parvati as Professor McGonagall called her forward.

"Patil, Parvati!"

Padma admired Parvati's calm demeanor as she stepped forward and placed the hat on her head. She doubted she had looked that brave. The Sorting Hat took longer than it had with Padma. As the seconds passed, Padma began to fidget restlessly.

"Twins?" asked Penelope, noticing Padma's distress.

Padma nodded wordlessly, growing increasingly concerned. Why didn't the hat just hurry up and sort her sister into Ravenclaw?

"GRYFFINDOR!"

Padma felt the blood drain from her face. She looked helplessly at Parvati who pulled the hat off her head and flashed her a surprised smile before heading for the table on the far left. Padma could not help the little sound of protest that escaped her, as her sister was welcomed at the Gryffindor table. This had to be some kind of mistake. How could they be in different houses when they were identical twins? It wasn't right! Padma looked over at the Gryffindor table where two redheaded twin boys were congratulating her. Parvati was giggling happily. Padma found her vision suddenly blurred and she looked down quickly. She started as somebody squeezed her right hand. It was Penelope Clearwater.

"You must be disappointed about your sister. I'm sorry," she said with genuine sentiment.

Padma sniffled miserably and watched the rest of the Sorting with a woeful detachment. When the feast started, Padma picked at her food sadly, unable to eat much though the food looked splendid. She noticed another girl who didn't eat much either. She was an extremely pretty Asian girl. She looked young, but as Padma had not seen her being Sorted, she guessed her to be a second year. Padma also noticed that Penelope kept glancing at the melancholy girl with concern, although she didn't say anything.

Padma tried to talk to Parvati when the feast ended and they made their way out of the Great Hall. However, Parvati was too busy talking to the blond haired, Muggle-born girl they'd met on the train. Padma couldn't remember her exact name, but thought it was some kind of colors; Scarlet Green, perhaps? Whatever her name was, Padma felt a deep stab of resentment towards her, watching Parvati chatting away with her as they made their way up the marble staircase. With a deep sigh, Padma turned to follow her fellow Ravenclaws to their common room.

That night, Padma lay in her four-poster bed attempting to sleep without her sister in the same room for the first time in her life. She tossed and turned, unaccustomed to the bed and the night sounds of the dorm. How comforting it would have been to have Parvati in the same room! Unable to contain herself any longer, she slipped out of bed, dragged on her bathrobe and made for the common room, intent on indulging in a good cry.

Padma was surprised to hear two voices as she entered the common room. She was even more surprised to hear that one of the voices was tearful. The voices stopped abruptly as she entered. Padma tensed, ready to run back to her dorm, when a warm voice called out, "Couldn't sleep Padma? Come join us, won't you?"

Padma cautiously approached the plush blue chairs and sofas in front of the fireplace. Penelope Clearwater was sitting opposite the sad girl from the feast. The girl looked up at Padma through streaming eyes and managed a water smile.

"Hello," she sniffed. "You're Padma Patil aren't you? My name is Cho Chang. Sorry I didn't greet you at the feast. It's been a very difficult day for me." The weeping girl patted the sofa inviting Padma to sit down.

Padma sat down tentatively and asked with concern, "What's wrong?"

"It's my brother, Bing. He should've been starting his first year today."

"What happened to him?" asked Padma in alarm

Cho couldn't answer for the quiet sobs that overtook her. Padma turned to Penelope who said quietly, "He's a squib. He didn't get a letter."

Padma felt a great rush of sympathy towards the girl, her own plight momentarily forgotten. "I'm so sorry Cho," she said sincerely.

"Thank you," said Cho, wiping her eyes. "Mum and Dad knew of course, and I'd always suspected it, but we all still hoped it wasn't so. He was so excited, waiting all summer for his letter and it never came. He kept saying he hoped he'd be sorted into the same house as Harry Potter, and that he'd also like to be a Ravenclaw like me."

Penny patted her comfortingly and turned to Padma. "And why are you up at this hour?"

Padma hesitated. In light of Cho's revelation, it seemed shameful to admit she was upset about not being sorted with her sister. At least they were both at Hogwarts. "I…I…"

"You miss your sister." Cho finished for her.

Padma nodded, cheeks burning and looked down at the floor. She expected Cho to point out the obvious, but instead she gave Padma a quick hug and said, "I know. I think it's perfectly awful that they separated twins like that." Padma's eyes glowed with gratitude.

Penny spoke up. "Yes, it does seem harsh, but I'm sure you'll find that the Sorting Hat was right. It always is."

*****3 years later….*****

They made an unusual trio. Seated before the Ravenclaw common room fire, the three girls talked late into the night. The unusual thing about them was the age differences. While most students at Hogwarts tended to bond with people in their same year, Padma Patil, Cho Chang and Penelope Clearwater were the exception. Theirs was a friendship formed from Padma's miserable first night at Hogwarts. Over the course of her first four years, Padma had befriended the girls of her year. She was good friends with Mandy Brocklehurst and Lisa Turpin was tolerable, but she shared a special bond with Cho and Penny.

Tonight the three friends sat in front of the fire discussing Padma's latest romantic endeavor.

"So let me get this straight," said Penny. "First, you hated Ron Weasley, now you have a crush on Ron Weasley. Makes perfect sense to me." Penny smirked.

"I never said I hated him!" protested Padma.

"Your exact words, if I remember correctly," said Cho, "were 'He's a great big red-headed idiot with the dress sense of a troll'."

All three of the girls laughed, but Penny suddenly sobered. "Girls, that's really not nice. Percy never mentions it, too proud I expect, but it must be awfully hard to feed and clothe seven children."

Padma cringed with guilt and hoped fervently that Ron had not noticed the disparaging looks she gave his dress robes the night of the Yule Ball.

Cho noticed Padma's discomfort and changed the topic. "So what happened to Mathieu from Beauxbatons?"

Padma wrinkled her nose. "He really likes Parvati."

"How can he tell the difference?" teased Penny. "Seriously, why the sudden interest in my little brother-in-law?"

"Future brother-in-law," Padma noted absentmindedly as she thought about why exactly she was suddenly interested in Ron. "I dunno, but he is cute though, isn't he?"

Penny was quick to agree, although Cho pointed out that Penny was hardly an objective judge, as Percy and Ron looked so much alike.

"They do not!" Penny and Padma chorused hotly in unison, causing all three of them to collapse in mirth.

"You should go out with one of the Weasley twins," said Cho, "then Parvati could date the other one and wouldn't that be lovely?"

"Goodness, no!" objected Padma. "She already thinks we share some kind of 'psychic twin powers'. Besides, they're too short. I like my men tall." Padma sighed. "Wasn't Ron brave during the second task?"

Cho snorted unbecomingly. "If you mean it's brave to agree to be placed in an enchanted sleep so that someone else can rescue you from the bottom of the lake, then yes, I suppose it was."

"Weren't you the least bit frightened?" asked Padma.

"No. Dumbledore assured us that we would be perfectly safe and wouldn't even wake up until we were out of the water. Besides, I had every confidence that Ced would find me." Cho blushed as she uttered her boyfriend's name.

"Well, Ron helped rescue Fleur's little sister," pointed out Padma.

"Yes," conceded Cho, "I suppose that's something."

"Did you see how she snogged him right in front of everybody?" asked Padma indignantly.

"Oh come off it!" said Penny, "It was just a couple of kisses on the cheeks. Besides, she kissed Harry too."

"Everyone likes Harry," said Padma

"Except Cho," sighed Penny with mock sadness.

"Don't!" cried Cho. "I still feel badly about turning him down for the ball. I'm so glad Parvati agreed to go with him."

Padma rolled her eyes. "Yes, apparently she turned down several offers including one from Dean Thomas, because the orb told her that a famous wizard would take her to the ball. I think she was shooting for Viktor Krum, but there you are."

"Did it also tell her she was second choice?" asked Penny innocently.

Padma smiled. "No, apparently it left that part out. Although it did tell her that in the future, she and Lavender will start a Floo system network of psychics that will reach people in their homes and take care of all their divination needs."

"Urgh!" exclaimed Penny, "Floo Network Marketers? Disconnect me now!"

"So, when does 'campaign Ron Weasley' start?"

"Tomorrow," said Padma decidedly. "And if I play my cards right, perhaps I'll get him to meet me in Hogsmeade this weekend."

"That's right," groaned Penny, "Hogsmeade weekend. I can't go, of course, I have to study for my N.E.W.T.'s."

"Percy too busy with work to meet you this weekend?" asked Cho perceptively.

Penny blushed deeply and mumbled, "Yes." Padma and Cho exchanged a look, but refrained from commenting.

"What about you Cho?" asked Padma quickly. "Are you and Cedric going to Hogsmeade?" Or are you heading to the old broom shed?" Padma raised her eyebrows slyly.

Cho flushed many shades or red before answering, "I don't think I'm quite ready for ….a …er…trip to the broom shed. Although, if I was, Cedric would definitely be the one."

"Well," said Penny sensibly, "there's no rush. Plenty of time for that when you're ready."

Padma thought about Penny's last comment long after she'd gone to bed. How did one know when they were ready? She was most certain she wasn't ready. After all, she'd never even kissed anyone. Parvati had, of course, she was always first to do everything! Well, thought Padma, she wasn't going to be timid about Ron Weasley. She was going to pursue him and that was that!

//
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