Christmas at the Burrow is a fearful and wonderful thing, Hermione thinks. Nothing like the quiet mornings at home, just her and her parents, carefully opening gifts and saving the wrapping paper for next year. Here the rooms are noisy and the paper is torn off and thrown away. Crookshanks chases a bit of enchanted tinsel around the room and nobody minds when he sets the tree to shaking and the ornaments to rattling.
There's an hour of lull between the presents (wonderful) and the dinner preparations (fearful) while everyone tries to make themselves presentable. Hermione has had her bath, but she wants --needs -- to wash her hair and there seems to be no chance of getting back into the bathroom in time.
She sits at the kitchen table and leafs through One Hundred Helpful Household Charms; maybe there's something in there that she can use instead. But the charms seem dodgy and anyway, she wants to use the new conditioning shampoo she bought before she came. It promises sleek, it promises manageable and Hermione has just enough holiday optimism to think that it might at least enable her to get a brush through her hair afterwards.
She hears a jingle of bells and scrape of chair and looks up to see George sitting opposite. At least she thinks it's George. Yes, George for certain Weasley, with a maroon jumper and a bright red hat (with bells on), both clashing horribly with each other and with his orange hair.
He plucks the book from her fingers. "Thinking of setting up a salon?" he says. The bells ring every time he moves. He's been wearing the hat since 7 AM and Hermione (and everyone else) was tired of it at 7:05.
"Will you take that off?" She doesn't give him a chance to reply, but twitches it off his head and drops it on the chair beside her.
"You can cut my hair if you like." George runs his fingers through his hair and it stands up in tall spikes for a moment, before gently falling back. "But no curls. Fred curled my hair once when we were children and it was traumatic for me."
Hermione smiles to think of it. "What was the trauma?"
"I had to black Fred's eye." George puts his hand on his chest. "It hurt to do that to my own brother."
Hermione laughs. "I wonder who was prettier -- you with your curls or Fred with his eye."
"I'm surprised you wonder," George says. "Since I'm still prettier than Fred."
"Of course," she says. "So long as you're not wearing that hat." She frowns it a little. "Maybe I should wear it myself, since I can't get in to wash my hair."
"Wash it here."
"In the kitchen sink?" Hermione had never even considered that. At home, that would never have been allowed. But at home, she has her own bathroom, with lemon-striped towels and pink soap in a fluted dish.
"Mum won't mind. She washed our hair here often enough when we were little. I'll get you a towel."
George leaves in search of one and Hermione summons her shampoo. She runs the water and it's nice and hot. Must be a sturdy heating charm in a household this size.
The towel George drops beside her is green and faded. She bends down and hopes she won't hit her head on the tap.
"Here," she hears George say, "let me." And then he's beside her and his hands are in her hair, guiding her under the water. He turns her head a little, side to side, and she feels the weight of the water pulling it down.
Her first thought is to push him away, to do this herself. Who knows what he might be up to? Her hair might be as green as the towel by the time he's done. But his hands are gentle and she can't quite make herself distrust him.
The shampoo is cold at the nape of her neck. George works it in slowly, massaging her scalp with firm strokes. It's been a long time since anyone else washed Hermione's hair for her and she'd forgotten how good it feels. Her scalp is warm and tingling and she doesn't know if it's the shampoo or if it's just George.
Her eyes are closed and she rocks a little with the push of George's fingertips. She's calm, she's relaxed, more relaxed than she ever thought she'd be at the Burrow, at Christmas. Then George shifts so that he's standing half behind her, leaning over. His leg is pressing hers, his chest is against her shoulder.
The warmth floods out underneath her skin and she knows that it's not the shampoo. It's George that makes her tingle and she's suddenly glad of it. Something in her stomach twists and she catches her breath.
The water runs over her head again. George pushes the water through her hair, squeezing out the soap and catching his fingers in the tangles. So much for the new shampoo, Hermione thinks, and smiles because she doesn't care.
Then the water is off and George wraps the towel around her head, twisting it away from her face. Hermione stands up and she's dizzy for a moment. George is smiling at her and she smiles back. "Thank you," she says. "Is my hair green now?"
"No," George says. "It's lovely." He bends down and Hermione knows that he's going to kiss her and then he kisses her, brushing her damp cheek with his damp fingers. She puts her hand on his shoulder and the kiss is longer than it should be, Christmas morning in the Weasley's kitchen. But then there are voices in the other room and they spring apart and stand looking at each other for a blushing moment.
"Happy Christmas," Hermione says, too loudly, and they both laugh.
"Happy Christmas," George says and squeezes her hand quickly before he darts into the other room, catching up his hat on the way, and joins Ron and Ginny in an argument over whose presents are better.
Hermione goes up to her room and dries her hair. It's behaving quite well today. "It must be the shampoo," she says aloud, then falls back on the bed and laughs and thinks she'll ask George to go for a walk with her after dinner.
F I N I S
Halrloprillalar "Hal" email@example.com FIC: http://prillalar.com
Wesley is our King.
Please post a comment on this story.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: Importance of Grooming, The
Author: Halrloprillalar [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | PG | 5k | 04/18/04
Summary: A houseful of people and only one bathroom.
Notes: 1000 words of holiday fluff. And a sucky title. Sue me.
Disclaimer/Other: Rowling, not me.
distribution: Archive anywhere. Email forwarding allowed.
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