Date: Sunday, September 4, 2005
Location: Kingsley’s Room
Character: Hermione, Kingsley, Neville
Rating: Any Age
The owl arrived as Hermione was getting out of the shower. It was a school owl and seemed most annoyed to be sent out so early in the morning. She wrapped a towel around herself and took the parchment from the owl. He didn’t even wait for treats before he flew away. “Well, good morning to you, too,” she muttered as she glanced at the parchment.
She recognized the scrawl of her name, brisk and sloping to the right, and tossed the parchment on her desk before she went back into the loo to dry off. She hung her towel up to dry, put lotion on, and went back into her room to find something to wear. Sundays were her lazy days. She normally went into Hogsmeade for breakfast or occasionally just stayed at school, and then she took time for herself to read or visit with friends if plans were made. She’d woken earlier and read a little before she’d gotten out of bed and taken a shower.
A note from Kingsley this early on a Sunday morning meant he intended to reach her before she left for Hogsmeade but it wasn’t an urgent matter that required him to come upstairs to the fourth floor to speak to her directly. He would usually just floo if it was something important and preferred to send an owl. She thought he rather enjoyed summoning her with an owl because he probably missed that aspect of commanding a team of Aurors back when he’d worked at the Ministry. Of course, he knew better and she deliberately took her time brushing her hair and braiding it before she finally picked up his note and sat in her desk chair.
“Well, at least he’s learned how to say please,” she murmured as she folded the note and put it down.
When she and Kingsley had first begun their unexpected friendship, she’d discovered that he could be quite demanding and rather sulky. She liked to tease that it had been his work as a Muggle secretary that had given him such impatience and that particular snarl but she knew those particular traits had been present from the time she first met him. He was still quiet and moody more often than not and no one would ever accuse him of being falsely friendly or social but he had finally learned over the years that friends usually follow up demands with ‘please‘ and ‘thank you‘.
It amused her greatly that he and Neville had become close because Neville was warm and open around most people whereas Kingsley had spent far too many years in the Moody School of Don’t Trust Anyone Constant Vigilance. Neville believed the best in all his students but he was by no means naïve, not after everything they’d faced during the war, and wasn’t a gullible passive pushover like some seemed to think. Kingsley was imposing and didn’t trust any of his students as far as he could toss them until they’d proven they were worth a knut, but he was an excellent teacher and had a calm patience that let his students learn without being scared of him. Well, not too scared, at least.
Kingsley’s comment about not being paranoid intrigued her so Hermione didn’t procrastinate any longer. She tucked a bit of money into her pocket in case she did go on down to Hogsmeade for a possible brunch, which would have nothing at all to do with the fact that Fred and George might still be in town. True, their possible presence would be a nice addition to her normal routine as it had been the previous day, but she had no idea when they actually planned to leave so she didn’t give the possibility of them joining her for another meal much thought during the trip downstairs to Kingsley’s rooms.
Breakfast yesterday had been very enjoyable. She hadn’t realized just how much she missed Fred and George until recently. She’d not seen them hardly at all after the war was over and the friendship they’d developed during the final few months before Voldemort’s defeat had just gradually faded away as time passed. Now that they were back for their visit, however, she was reminded of things forgotten over the years. She was thankful she’d run into them again before they left. They’d had a nice visit over breakfast and she knew she would need to make an effort to write them once they went back to Canada because she really had missed having them in her life even in a small way.
When she arrived at Kingsley’s room, she smiled at the Minotaur in the painting and gave the password. She stepped inside when the painting moved and was surprised when she saw Kingsley smiling smugly in his favorite chair. Well, Kingsley smiling smugly wasn’t anything particularly shocking but the long white hair currently atop his bald head was a bit startling.
“Preparing for Halloween already, Kingsley?” she asked with an arched brow and glance at the bright white locks.
“I was right,” he said simply. He tugged at the long hair that was actually very realistic and showed signs of being a very good charm. “Do you see? Now admit that you were wrong.”
“I actually don’t recall ever telling you that I preferred the natural smooth look to long white hair,” she said matter-of-factly, easily concealing the fact that she didn’t quite know what he was right about. “It actually brings out the shade of your skin quite well.”
“I didn’t do this!” he suddenly sputtered before he glared at her. “You’re a brat, Granger. I told you that those miscreants were up to no good this year and you didn’t believe me. Well, here’s your proof.”
“The students gave you long flowing locks?” she asked with a slight twist of her lips. She would not laugh. She would not laugh. Oh, God, like she could help it! She giggled and tried to look serious.
“Go ahead and laugh, girl. We’ll see how you’re laughing if they do this to your precious books,” he replied knowingly.
“I can’t foresee even a first year attempting to give books hair but, well, that’s what counter spells are for, I suppose,” she mused, trying to imagine her favorite copy of Hogwarts: A History with long hair and not succeeding at all. “Besides, if they dare bring such tricks into my library, they’ll suffer from a dozen hexes that even St. Mungos won’t be able to locate. Do you really think that rumor is unfounded?”
She gave him an innocent smile and shrugged, neither confirming nor denying that she’d placed strong wards and protection hexes on her books and her library. “To look at the bright side, it is a very developed charm so Flitwick should be very pleased that at least one student in the school has mastered such a complicated charm,” she said helpfully, no longer bothering to hide her smile. “Come on, Kings. You have to admit it is rather clever.”
“It most certainly is not,” he denied sharply. “It is disrespectful and they should have done this to that barmy Wood so he’d be distracted by his hair and be quiet about Quidditch for awhile!”
“Yes, well, there was a time when I would have been quite irritated to see such a thing and would have promptly found the culprit, removed points, and probably sent them to Filch for detention,” she admitted as she sat opposite him and leaned forward to touch the hair. She tugged and it remained in place, attached to his head as if it was natural. It really was a complex charm and not one taught in school by any means.
“Filch? If I find out what foul child did this, I’ll force them to have detention with me,” he said with a slightly evil smile. “They’ll think twice before playing such a prank again. You can trust me on that one.”
“It’s been years since I’ve seen anything like it,” she said softly. “After the war, no one thought about laughter or tricks. That first year was so difficult, for everyone, and it’s taken them this long to finally start being children again. I don’t approve of pranks by any means, of course, and think they’ve got no place at school. However, I suppose mischief and pranks is part of being young and it’s nice hearing them laugh and seeing them actually enjoying themselves.”
“If they’d chosen another professor to torment, I might possibly agree that it is a nice change over the past couple of years to see them being children again. I am hypocritical enough, though, to detest the little pests for choosing me as their target for this particular prank and believe that a certain librarian would feel the same way if she were currently hexed with this ridiculous hair,” he muttered.
Before she could reply, the door opened and Neville hurried inside. He looked agitated but did a double-take when he saw Kingsley’s hair. “Uh, white is a lovely color,” he stammered as he gave Hermione a look that said ‘what the Hell is up with that?’.
“I need new friends,” Kingsley murmured as he shook his head and pulled the hair away from his face with a scowl.
“You know you’d miss us,” Hermione told him with a smile before she looked back at Neville. “Is everything okay, Nev?”
“No, everything is not okay!” he declared as he seemed to suddenly remember why he’d come to find them. “I checked your room first and you know how I hate trying to get past that one staircase that seems to hate me. Anyway, it seems one of my students has decided that all of the Abyssinian shrivelfig should be airborne. I went by the Greenhouse this morning to water a few things before breakfast and found them all floating above the tables. I tried finite incantatem and a few other things I remember from charms but nothing got them down. Help?”
“These are those lovely students of yours, Hermione, whose laughter and pranks make you smile,” Kingsley said smugly, obviously pleased that he wasn‘t their only target.
“If you don’t shut up, Shacklebolt, I’ll turn your hair bright green,” she warned as she stood up, thinking about the complex charm used on Kingsley and now one used on the Greenhouse. There was something nagging at the back of her mind that involved two particular redheads whose middle names should have been Mischief arriving in town for a visit right around the same time two very involved pranks happened, along with a few minor things she remembered hearing Filch grumbling about during the past two days. She wasn’t one who particularly believed in coincidence but was it really possible?
“Thanks for coming to look, Hermione. It won’t hurt them to float, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean I want to dodge flying plants,” Neville said as he made a face. “I was always pretty good with Charms but whatever they’ve used isn’t anything I’m familiar with.”
Hermione was pulled from her thoughts of mischievous redheaded twins and smiled at Neville as she pushed her suspicions from her mind for the time being to focus on helping Neville and then Kingsley. “Well, I’m not sure I’ll know what it is but maybe we can figure it out without having to bother Flitwick,” she told him as she stopped to wait for Kingsley.
“This is bloody ridiculous.“ Kingsley scowled as he stood up and gathered his long hair in one hand.
Neville and Hermione exchanged smiles and Neville managed to bite his lip before he laughed when Hermione suggested, “Perhaps you should put it up into a nice ponytail or something. I can braid it later, if you’d like.”
“I’ve got a better idea,” Neville said helpfully as he transfigured a chair pillow into a nice hat. “You can tuck it beneath this until we figure out how to get rid of it.”
“Oh, that is a good idea, Neville,” Hermione complimented as she took the hat and walked over to Kingsley. She slapped his hands out of the way and proceeded to twist the hair up into a bun and then put the hat on his head. “There. All better.”
“Hmph.” Kingsley snorted in the closest they’d receive to a thank you at the moment. He picked up his cane and walked to the door. When he opened the portrait, he looked at them and smiled smugly. “I told you I wasn’t paranoid.”