Let Down Your Hair
Ron and Hermione were arguing over some meaningless subject as Harry stared out the window. It was the last Hogsmeade weekend of the term and the village was covered with snow. Harry lifted a hand and wiped the mist from the windowpane. As he did so, he spied Ginny Weasley walking down the street. He lifted a hand and waved at her and she nodded back at him. Ron looked through the window over Harry's shoulder and beckoned at her to come in. She shook her head, but Ron gestured insistently and eventually she made her way into the Three Broomsticks.
She swung herself onto a seat beside Harry and started to unwind her long scarf, looking very disgruntled. The tip of her nose was ever so slightly pink and her bright red hair spilled over her shoulders. Ron looked at her and said, "What's wrong with you?"
She sighed. "I'm just tired, all right, Ron? And I've got an Astronomy essay to do, and..."
Ron stood up. "Do you want a butterbeer?"
Ginny nodded and watched him walk to the bar with a funny look on her face — she leant towards Hermione and said conspiratorially, "What's up with him?"
Hermione sighed. "Believe me, I have no idea."
Ginny looked at her with a bit of a grin on her face, and Hermione blushed. "No, it's nothing like that..."
Harry was curious. "Nothing like what?"
Ginny seemed about to answer him when Hermione said in a low voice, "Ginny Weasley, you say one word..."
"One word about what?"
"Nothing, Ron," Ginny said, reaching out for her butterbeer, but as she did so, she caught Harry's eye and he turned away to hide his laughter.
Hermione looked at him suspiciously when he turned around but she only said to Ginny, "How come you're on your own anyway? I thought you were coming in with Dean."
"And now I'm not."
"Ginny!" Hermione sighed in irritation as Ron and Harry smirked at each other. "Why aren't you with him now?"
"Well, cause — and don't you start Ron — turns out he wanted to go with Parvati anyway."
Hermione seemed to take this comment as an incentive for further conversation, for she and Ginny bent their heads together for ten minutes, talking in low voices.
Ron rolled his eyes and started telling Harry about the new move he'd tried for Quidditch, but Harry wasn't really listening. He preferred to drift off into space and enjoy the crackle of the fire and the warmth of the pub. A stray sentence, spoken lightly, caught his attention though, "I don't know Hermione maybe I should just dye my hair black."
Hermione's shriek of disapproval carried to the next table where a stout old witch who was busily packing her handbag looked up in disapproval. "Ginny Weasley, don't you dare touch a hair on that head!"
Ginny sighed and opened her mouth but Ron interrupted her, "What's all this?"
"Ginny said she was going to dye her hair"
"What! Ginny, Mum'll go spare — you know she will."
"It was a joke, Ron."
"Why would you joke about that?"
"No reason. Never mind."
Ginny drained the last of her butterbeer, smiling at Harry, probably as a thank you for not getting involved in the hair debacle. She stood up and picked up her coat. "Look I'm going to go back, all right?"
Hermione gave Ginny a concerned look and said, "Are you sure? Look, you can stay with us. Honestly, it's no..."
Ginny smiled. "I know, it's just, I'm tired and I've got that essay to do. So I'll see you all later, all right?" She waved to them as she left.
Ron turned around to Hermione. "What was all that about?"
Hermione heaved a deep sigh. "Isn't it obvious?"
Harry and Ron exchanged confused looks before answering in unison, "No."
She looked at them and said, "Well, it's partially because of you, Harry."
"What did I have to do with it?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and said, "Look, every boy Ginny's liked has preferred someone with black hair — Harry, Michael, and now Dean — so she was just joking that maybe if she had black hair, more boys would like her, that's all. I just didn't realise she was joking."
"What does she think some git's stupid enough not to like her because of her hair?"
Hermione swelled up with exasperation and Harry stared determinedly at the table. He could sense both of them gearing up for yet another argument and allowed his mind to drift off once again.
Several hours later Harry approached Ginny in the common room. Several rolls of parchment were spread out in front of her and she was leaning back in her chair with a look of total abandon. When she saw him coming, she spread her hands out and said, "Please, Harry not you, too. I promise that every hair on my head will remain its traditional Weasley red, cross my heart."
He smiled. "Ron had a talk with you, then?"
She shuddered. "Not a talk so much as a minor earthquake. Once I convinced him that I have no nefarious scheme to change my hair colour, he backed down a bit. Except then he wanted to talk about boys."
"I take it that wasn't pleasant?"
"Not even close. Where are he and Hermione anyway?"
"Studying in the library today. I wonder if he's worked up the courage to ask her out yet."
"He's actually worked up the courage to ask her out? I thought he was acting strange today." She paused, covering a yawn with her hand. "I'd celebrate but I'm too tired."
"Have you finished the essay?"
"Yeah. It was horrible. It still means I've got tomorrow free unless something cataclysmic happens".
They sat for a few minutes in silence, Ginny stifling the occasional yawn. Her eyes had just fluttered closed when Harry said, "Ginny?"
"You shouldn't dye your hair anyway, you know."
Ginny raised an eyebrow at him. "I mean, not just because your Mum would get angry or anything, but, just, you know, you have nice hair." She was looking at him wide-eyed now, but he blundered on regardless, "It's really long, and the colour — it's really pretty, Ginny."
There was a slight tinge of blush across her cheeks, but she just said, "Thanks Harry."
He sat back in his seat satisfied — he'd said what he'd wanted to. She did have beautiful hair and she should know that — someone should tell her that. Just because Dean was stupid enough to prefer Parvati didn't mean that Ginny should think she wasn't pretty.
Ginny yawned again and started to clear away her things. She pushed a lock of hair our of her eyes and said, "I'm sorry I'm going to have to go to bed, I'm just too tired. I feel half-dead."
He nodded and she said, "Good night, Harry." She touched his shoulder lightly as she walked towards the dormitory stairs.
"'Night, Ginny," Harry called out.
Ron and Hermione walked through the portrait hole hand in hand. Hermione sat beside him, beaming.
He snorted looking at them. "What are you too looking so cheery about?"
Hermione smiled at Ron, who grinned back, and for just a second Harry felt a dreadful twisting in his gut — from now on, it would be just the two of them — but he couldn't begrudge them this. He stood up, saying, "Well I'll leave you two lovebirds alone."
Hermione looked concerned. "You're not angry, are you, Harry?"
"No, I'll be back tomorrow, don't worry. I'd just rather not witness you two being all...you know."
"Good night, Harry."
He vaulted up the stairs, wondering how on earth Hermione and Ron had managed it.