They made friendship bracelets for one another and vowed never to take them off. That summer Ginny went on holidays with them, because she knew she wouldn't get to go anywhere with her own family, and anyway, the thought of being separated from Luna for two whole weeks seemed unbearable. They didn't take the bracelets off even when they went swimming, though the threads stretched and loosened in the water and the colours started fading. A friendship bracelet was like a sacred pact. You could never take it off your wrist, no matter what happened.
When Mrs Lovegood died, Ginny's mother brought her over to the house and while she was telling Luna's father how sorry she was, Ginny went to find Luna. She was sitting quietly in her room.
Ginny wanted to ask her if she was okay, but she knew that would be a stupid question. She had thought maybe that Luna would cry, and even though she didn't want to see her best friend crying, she could hug her and then at least she'd have something to do.
She sat down on the bed next to her friend. Luna looked up. "Ginny. Hello."
"Hi," Ginny said. She remembered what her mother had said a few minutes ago. "I'm sorry for your loss," she said. It felt like she was acting in a play, reciting this phrase for Luna.
Luna smiled slightly and said, "Thank you. She's not really gone, though."
Ginny didn't know what to say to that. It all seemed wrong. Shouldn't Luna be at least a little bit upset? And not be acting so strangely?
She stayed friends with Luna because her mother told her that Luna needed a good friend right now, and Ginny wanted to be that friend. But she thought maybe her mother was wrong, for once, because Luna didn't seem to need her.
Luna started spending her time reading about things that Ginny had always been told were made-up, and even though she didn't want to say that she didn't think they were real to Luna's face, she started to think that maybe Luna wasn't quite normal. It was like the way she believed that her mother wasn't really gone. It scared her.
Ginny started spending her time helping her mother around the house and playing Quidditch with Ron. After Ron went off to school, and she was left alone, she fiddled with the bracelet around her wrist and wondered if Luna ever missed her.
She suspected that Luna didn't even think of her that much, though.
She was relieved when they were Sorted into different houses. When the Sorting Hat put Luna in Ravenclaw she wasn't surprised. Luna read a lot and knew about all sorts of things. It made sense for her to be in Ravenclaw.
She wasn't sure where she'd be. All her brothers had been placed in Gryffindor, but she thought maybe she'd be in Hufflepuff. Fred and George had said it was the only house who would take a silly baby like her, but Percy had said that she was quick enough for Ravenclaw. Ron had said that once she wasn't in Slytherin, he'd be happy.
When the hat was placed on her head she thought for a brief moment about being in Ravenclaw with Luna. At least then she'd have a friend in her year, even if it was someone who she didn't understand anymore.
But she was glad to be in Gryffindor with her brothers, and away from the girl who all her classmates avoided because she was "so . . . weird."
Luna came to see her when she was in the hospital wing. Ginny wondered how anyone knew where she was. She later found out that Ron had told her.
Luna knew right away that it had something to do with the diary. When Ginny told her, Luna believed her. Most people wouldn't have, she realised.
The next year, when a girl in Slytherin asked if she was friends with Loony Lovegood, Ginny said, "Her name's Luna, actually" and left it at that.
She still wore the bracelet. Once, she reached for her wand to enlarge it so it would slip off easily, telling herself that it was childish to still wear it.
But she was still friends with Luna, sort of. Taking it off meant a definite end to a friendship. She kept it on.
She respected Luna. She liked Luna. She didn't always understand Luna, though.
She didn't understand why, in their fifth year, Luna spent so much time with Harry. She thought maybe it had something to do with Harry losing Sirius the way Luna had lost her mother, but did that justify the two of them spending so much time together?
She wondered why she felt so resentful of it. It could hardly be about Harry, could it? That was a thing of the past. Perhaps it had something to do with the way they always seemed to be together, so that the chances of stumbling across Luna on her own were reduced significantly.
She knew it shouldn't bother her as much as it did.
She heard rumours that The Boy Who Lived was going out with Loony Lovegood. That night she took off her bracelet.
"You took it off," Luna observed the following day when they were both in the library.
Ginny looked up in surprise. She hadn't realised that Luna had even noticed she still wore the bracelet.
"This isn't because of what people are saying about me and Harry, is it?"
She struggled to find an answer. Yes? No, of course not. She wasn't sure. "I don't know," she said finally.
Luna held up her own wrist, with the seven-year-old bracelet still around it. "It's not true."
In Ginny's dormitory, Luna tied the bracelet firmly around Ginny's wrist again. It was only when Luna was so close to her, with her fingertips brushing against her skin, that she realised.
"Maybe I should leave the bracelet off. I'm not sure I want to be friends with you." At the hurt expression on Luna's face, she hastily elaborated. "I mean –" She pressed her lips against Luna's for a moment, and then pulled away. "That's what I mean."
Luna stared at her. "We're still friends," she pointed out as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, and then leaned in to kiss her.