A/N: Written for the Prompt of the Day on Hogwarts Online for the prompt tangled.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and I'm not making any money. Nor do I own any part of Tangled.
And then I'll brush, and brush
And brush, and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I've always been
And I'll keep won'dring…
When will my life begin?
~ "When Will My Life Begin?"; sung by Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled
Where Ginny's hair was long and red and straight, Lily's was long and red and tangled – her curls never could stay smooth, no matter how many times Ginny brushed them. But Lily's hair was so beautiful that, even though it would make both of their lives so much easier, Ginny couldn't bring herself to cut it.
So they would sit for hours, watching Harry and the boys run around the yard and laughing at them, or talking about something unimportant, or reading a book out loud to each other, and Ginny would brush her daughter's hair until all the tangles were gone.
Hermione finally pointed out that Ginny could use a potion or a charm or something, so that she wouldn't have to brush Lily's hair anymore, but by that time both mother and daughter loved the time they spent together brushing Lily's hair so much that Ginny just smiled and shook her head and kept brushing.
As Lily grew older, however, she and Ginny started spending less and less time together. Increasingly, Lily would rather be outside, running around with her brothers, or playing some game with Teddy, or just spending time on her own, sitting in her room for hours on end. Ginny started braiding her daughter's hair into a long plait so that she wouldn't have to take up so much of Lily's time brushing it.
And then Lily turned eleven years old, went to Hogwarts, and was sorted into Slytherin House.
She didn't change too much at first – just little things, like not laughing as much and watching people carefully, and she had a hint of smugness and distance from everyone else. Ginny was worried, but she wasn't upset.
When Lily turned thirteen, however, everything changed.
Ginny had no idea what had happened, but suddenly Lily was wearing short skirts and tight, low-cut shirts and high heels and too much makeup. And she wouldn't let her mother brush her hair anymore, not ever.
Ginny felt helpless, because she had no idea what to do to help her daughter – or even if she should, because Lily seemed happy, this way, even if the shadows under her eyes couldn't quite be hidden, no matter how much makeup she put on. Ginny decided to cross her fingers and hope and pray that everything would be okay.
When Lily came home from school after her fifth year, her hair, which had once reached all the way down her back in beautiful red curls, was straight and black and barely grazed her shoulders, and Ginny knew in that moment that she had lost her.
Ginny felt as though she didn't understand who her daughter was anymore – this remote, cold Lily was so different from the bright, bouncy little girl she remembered. Others told her that this had been coming, that Lily had been headed down this path for ages. But Ginny refused to believe that that was all there was to this, and she kept searching for something, anything, that would explain why her daughter had changed so much, so fast, because the girl Ginny knew would never do something like this, and she was determined to find the reason why.
It wasn't until the Christmas holidays of Lily's seventh year, however, that Ginny found her answer.
It was a normal family Christmas – kids running around screaming, grownups sitting, talking quietly in the kitchen, presents and wrapping paper and shoes all over the place. But for the first time in several years, Teddy Lupin and his wife, Victoire Weasley (now Victoire Lupin, of course), showed up at the door.
There were loud exclamations and greetings from all corners of the room, everyone welcoming them in. All except for Lily, who hurried into the foyer to see what all the commotion was about, saw Teddy, her ex-best friend, slapped him across the face, and walked stately out of the room again. It all happened in less than a minute, but it was all Ginny needed. She finally had her answer.
As she was trying to hurry after her daughter, Teddy, his cheek smarting bright red, grabbed her arm. "What's with her? And why is her hair black?"
"You," said Ginny flatly, and pulled a confused Teddy into a corner. "All this was because of you. You broke her heart, didn't you?"
The sudden appearance of a horrified, guilty, and slightly shifty look on Teddy's face confirmed what she had just said.
"Why?" Ginny demanded. "Why would you do such a thing?"
"Because I was afraid," Teddy whispered, his hair a dark, dull gray. "She was so young and I was scared of what her family would do to me. I thought I was helping her, I honestly thought I was doing the right thing." He shook his head. "I've regretted that decision every day."
"Well," Ginny hissed, because no matter what their intentions are, nobody is allowed to hurt her daughter, "you should have thought of that before." Teddy looked shocked, and she drew in a deep breath, reining in her temper with an effort. "Sorry. Look, Teddy it's still not too late to change your mind."
"What, are you kidding?" Teddy said, looking incredulous. "It's way too late."
Ginny frowned as an idea comes to her. "If she told you she still loved you, and wanted to be with you, what would you do?"
Teddy froze. "She wouldn't."
"Yes, she would," Ginny insisted, "because I know she still loves you."
"How?" He asked her, and Ginny pretended not to notice that his tone was desperate, pleading with her to find a way.
"Because I know my daughter," said Ginny simply. "Think about it, Teddy. Excuse me." She slid past her godson, his hair a blur of changing colors, and hurried up the stairs.
Hesitantly, Ginny knocked on her daughter's door. "Lily?"
"Go away, Mum," said a tearful voice from the other side. "I don't want to see anyone right now."
"I'm coming in, okay?" Ginny said, ignoring her daughter's words, and pushed the door open.
Lily is a mess of tearstains and smeared mascara and a broken heart. Ginny shut the door a bit harder than necessary, knelt beside her daughter, and gathered her into her arms.
Lily pushed back at first, as Ginny knew she would, but a mother never gives up and eventually her daughter gave in, clinging to her mother and sobbing into her shoulder.
Ginny held her tightly and let her cry, rubbing her back and kissing her – Ginny froze in shock. Lily's hair was no longer short and black, but long and curly and red and such a mess of tangles that Ginny could hardly believe it.
When the tears finally stopped, Lily pulled back and sniffed. "You probably think I'm an idiot."
"Never," Ginny promised her. "I think that you're beautiful and that Teddy was crazy for ever leaving you."
Lily stilled. "How do you know?"
"You're my daughter," Ginny smiled gently. "I know you better than anyone."
"And you don't mind?"
"Oh, sweetheart," Ginny said, and smoothed a curl out of Lily's face. "Like I said, you're my daughter. All I want is for you to be happy, whatever that takes."
"He broke my heart," Lily whispered, and another few tears leaked over from her eyes.
Ginny kissed her on the head and stood up, looking around the room. "He still loves you, you know."
"That's not fair!" Lily slammed her hands into the carpet. "He has no right to!"
Ginny frowned. "Do you not love him, then?"
"I don't know," Lily whispered.
Ginny found what she was looking for and walked around behind her daughter. "Let me brush your hair, Lily."
Lily turned her back to her mother and shook her curls behind her.
"Why did you change it back all of a sudden?" Ginny started brushing the ends of her hair.
"I don't know," Lily admitted, giving a small sigh as the brush worked its way through the long strands. She would never admit it, but this was one of the things she had missed most when she had grown up. "I never liked the black anyway, and I had a potion that would counter the effects of the one I took to change it in the first place, and all of a sudden I just… changed it back."
"You didn't have to change for Teddy to notice you," Ginny told her. "He noticed you just fine the way you were."
Lily said nothing, and Ginny knew she was thinking about everything that had happened, and trying to figure out what she was going to do.
"I don't know," she said finally. "I just don't know anymore."
"You don't have to figure it out right now." Ginny assured her. "You have plenty of time." She pulled the brush through the last tangle and stood up. "There. All done." She paused, putting her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Lily, just know that whatever decision you make, I'll stand behind you and support you all the way."
Lily stood and looked in the mirror at her red hair, no longer tangled, but perfectly silky and smooth, and wished that life's problems could be fixed as easily as tangled hair.
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