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Disclaimer: These characters belong to a woman with far more talent than I will ever have.
Of Locks and Lobes
Hermione grabbed a towel and a hairbrush and took off for the bathroom. She had half an hour while Mr. Weasley took Ron to pick up Harry, and she intended to use the time to take advantage of the temporarily (a rare thing, in the Weasley household) empty bathroom. Pulling her messy hair from its ponytail, she turned the knob with her other hand.
“Oh, Penny, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise—“ Hermione began to back out.
“No, no, you’re fine. I was just fussing.” Penelope gave her a small smile. Although Percy had been forgiven, his fiancée was clearly not entirely comfortable with her future family. Their week at the Burrow had been Molly’s idea, as a chance to reacquaint Percy with his family and for her to get to know her future daughter. Penny spent most of her time offering to help with the dishes and huddling in corners when she was refused.
“Oh, I love that look on you!” Hermione admired the half-pull of curls falling down Penny’s back. “Your hair is just gorgeous.”
“Really? Well, thank you,” Penelope said, showing her first real spark of emotion all week. “You know, I think it could work on you, too. Would you like to try?”
“Oh, my hair’s impossible. You could never get it to do that.” A resentful glance at the mirror.
“Nonsense! My hair looks just like yours.”
“Really?” Hermione let her eyes flicker to the tumble of smooth curls falling down the older girl’s back.
“Oh, yes. And all it takes is a bit of Lockhart’s Frizzbeecurl and a little technique. I’m so used to it by now that I spend five minutes in the bathroom every morning and run out the door. C’mere, I’ll show you.” Now that she had something to do that she was comfortable with, Penny was brisk and capable. She pulled the younger girl toward her and turned her around, reaching for a lavender potion bottle on the counter.
“I can hardly believe that it’ll look like human hair with less than two hours’ work,” Hermione grumbled, watching Penelope squirt a pasty turquoise squiggle into her palm.
“Oh, it’s not that bad, even now,” Penny replied.
“Yes, it is. I look horrid.”
“You know, I hated mine for years. But…here, watch…smear it over your hands, and then just rake them through, like this. Yes, but then my sixth year Percy told me it was the first thing he ever noticed about me…I only did half, you try.”
“He noticed you for hair like mine?”
“Yes, that’s it. Don’t do it too slowly, it’ll get caked on. Yes…” Penelope grinned in reminiscence. “He said the way it was flying everywhere made him think I must have a very active mind.” Both girls laughed. “He still loves it. It always winds up out of its bun or braid every time we—“ she stopped abruptly and blushed.
“Never mind,” Hemione smiled at their reflection. “I get the idea.”
Penny smiled back. “Now, watch again. Take a bit more, just in a lump. And kind of scrunch a bunch of small sections of your hair up in the other hand and grip it with the goo.”
“How did…how did you…know? That Percy liked you?”
“Well…actually, it was my hair.”
“Well…I sat next to him in Transfigs. I was working on an essay for McGonagall and I guess my hair was in his face. You know what that’s like, fluff flying everywhere…not too much, that’s the real danger with this stuff, overdo it and it looks like a greaseball.”
“Oh…well…usually my seatmate, whoever it was, would just kind of bat at it until I realised and I flipped my head to hang it over the other shoulder. But out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach out to touch it…and he just stroked it…lightly, I would never have felt a thing…and he had the most…beautiful expression on his face, kind of awed and dazed…” Penelope had stopped ‘scrunching’, her hand still raised and a dazed expression of her own on her face.
Hermione watched the other girl’s reflection wistfully. With a start, Penny came to herself. “And then he saw me looking,” she said with a small laugh. “And his ears got so red…”
“The ears are a dead giveaway with the Weasley men,” Molly said, from the doorway. “I thought Arthur’s were going to explode on our wedding night.”
“Mrs. Weasley! Hello…” Penelope stuttered. Hermione watched her new friend’s face collapse as she realised Percy’s mother had overheard the story. She took pity on her.
“Penny was just helping me with my hair, Mrs. Weasley.”
“Well, it is a bit of an improvement. My, I never realised your hair was so similar. It does look nice in curls…although I’ve always liked yours, Hermione.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione sighed, with a slight eye roll. Although even she had to admit that her hair, now that it had been Frizzbeecurled, was rather pretty.
“Now I saw that! And I mean it! Will you let me try something?”
Penelope moved over to let her future mother-in-law take the reins. “I saw this arrangement in Witch Weekly yesterday and I thought I’d suggest it to you, Penelope. But now that I’ve seen Hermione’s hair tamed a bit, I think it will work very nicely for her, too. Hand me that bobby pin, will you, love?” She worked in silence for a few moments.
Hermione, far more comfortable around Molly, smiled into the mirror. “What about you, Mrs. Weasley? When did you first see the telling lobster ears?”
“Well…Arthur’s younger brother, Reece, got to Hogwarts, and he’s one of those people who tease you on every possible point until they find your sore spot, and then they start rubbing it in. He spent a few months tormenting his own year and his sisters while he fiddled around for some way to get to Arthur. And then he noticed my hair.”
“What?” Both girls, simultaneously.
“Well…two-thirds of the Weasleys have married redheads. It’s not exactly a tradition, it just seems to turn out that they fall in love with red-haired women. I was the only girl in Gryffindor at the time with red hair, and Reece took it into his head one evening to tell Arthur that he was going to marry me. And Arthur refused to look at me. He hissed at his brother to shut up, kicked him under the table, and focused on his dinner. Potatoes. But his ears were the same color as the potato skins. And I knew.” She smiled softly, fastening a final bobby pin. “There.”
Hermione sighed a little before she spoke. “Thanks, Mrs. Weasley. And you, too, Penny.” Tilting her head, and turning from side to side, she began to smile. “It really does look nice, doesn’t it?”
“Hermione? Molly? We’re back!” Arthur’s voice rang up the staircase and the women hurried for the stairs. Molly and Penelope went automatically to their men, planting an absentminded kiss before turning to greet Harry. Hermione ran to fling her arms around him.
He gave her a small smile. “Hello, Hermione.”
“Welcome home, Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said, her arm around her husband’s waist.
“Hello, Harry,” Penny murmured, as Percy cuddled her to him.
“Mrs. Weasley, Penelope.” Harry was grave. Hermione turned to share a worried look with Ron, her curls swinging behind her shoulders, and caught his fingers as they reached toward her back. She looked at him, her gaze inquiring. His ears were red.
Many thanks to Angelfeather for the excellent beta!