The first time he noticed her, her hair was long, loose and streaming out behind her as she ran after the Hogwarts Express, half crying, half laughing. Each strand of vivid red captured the sunlight and made her seem as if she were glowing. He was only eleven then, and didn’t care much for girls, but still, even then, the sight of her made his breath catch in his throat and slightly eased the nervousness he felt about starting at a new school.
The second time he noticed her, her hair was lank, damp. It had a sort of defeated air around it, and hung heavily in limp curls from her head. Beneath her lifeless locks, her face was flushed, burning, and the exact same shade of red as her hair. Behind her, catcalls and jeers rang out, taunting a small, messy-haired boy with bright green eyes and the toga-clad dwarf sitting on his ankles.
Even as he spat insults after her, he could not help but notice that, despite its lackluster style, her hair still caught the light and shone with its own kind of pride and beauty. But then, immediately after noticing this, he dismissed the thought as madness, and returned quickly to tormenting the boy he hated, and envied, above all others. “His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad…”
The third time he noticed her, her hair was done up in a sort of complicated knot, the first time he had ever seen it up and off her face. She was dancing with that ninny boy from Gryffindor, smiling, laughing, and wincing occasionally when he trod on her toes. As she twirled, the few tendrils of scarlet that had escaped from the up-do swayed gently, back and forth, entrancing him. The rest of her hair stayed drawn up in that gleaming mass of red curls, revealing a long, smooth, white neck. He felt involuntary shivers run up his spine as he watched her, but in a moment the feeling was gone and he passed the rest of the evening pleasantly enough with his loud, frilly, pink-robed date, who seemed to be permanently attached to his right arm. But even so, every now and then, he could still feel his eyes being drawn to that vibrant mass of burning red curls.
The fourth time he saw her, her hair was loose again, a riot of fiery curls that tumbled down her shoulders. As he twisted her arms behind her back, keeping her from rescuing her friends - who were currently being besieged by an obnoxious squat-nosed, pug-faced professor on a power trip - he accidentally caught a whiff of her hair. It smelled wonderful, like blueberry scones, cherry blossoms, vanilla and… and something else he couldn’t quite place. It was everything he could do to keep himself from just reaching up and tucking a strand of red hair that had fallen in front of her face back behind her small, delicate ear.
The realization of what he had just thought hit him like a ton of bricks, rendering him speechless just as he was getting to the good derisions against her friends, family, and reputation. Then she, taking advantage of his momentary lapse of awareness, swiftly elbowed him in the stomach, wrestled her way out of his grasp, stole her wand back and hit him with the wickedest Bat-Bogey Hex ever. He couldn’t do a thing except scream (in a manly way, of course) and frantically claw at his face. There is something quite disconcerting about having the things inside your nose enlarge themselves, grow wings, and then start mauling your head.
She leaned over and whispered fiercely in his ear that he really needed to stop sniffing her hair if he chose to keep his face the way it was. Then she promptly kneed him in the groin and flounced out the door, dashing off to the Forbidden Forest to save her schoolmates. He remained behind, crumpled on the floor, in quite a lot of pain, what with the elbow in stomach, bogies in face and knee in groin. Still though, through the muddled haze, he was able to make out the vivid color of her red curls - vibrant, gleaming - taunting him as each strand captured the fading sunlight and winked back a glowing shimmer.
After that, Draco Malfoy lost count of the time he noticed the youngest Weasley. There was just something about the way she looked- the way she spoke, the way she laughed- that rendered him powerless to keep his eyes off her. This by no means went unnoticed by his fellow Slytherins, which, in turn, led to endless hours of merciless teasing.
Of course, he blamed her hair. That was, after all, the only reason he kept staring at her. Really. Just look at it - a gleaming heap of fiery, vivid red curls atop her head, spilling over her shoulders and down her back. The stunning red color was so effervescent and the glossy light so bright - how could he not notice her? He was sure it had nothing to do with the way her amber eyes were flecked with bits of green and gold, or the way her creamy skin appeared to glow in the sunlight, or the way her whole being seemed to shimmer every time she threw back her head and laughed. Right.
Eventually, Ginny Weasley had had enough of the way the tall, arrogant, pale-skinned boy looked at her with those storm-grey eyes, and she strode up to him one day and told him to stop staring or else she would stab his eyes out with her wand (Secretly she didn’t want to - there was something in those glances that made her skin flush and eyes dance). This comment led to a full out shouting match between the two which, inevitably, led to a heated snogging session pressed against the wall in some dark corner, leaving them both breathless, disoriented and thoroughly unable to speak. After all, there is quite a fine line between love and hate, and it seemed as if the two of them had crossed over to the other side.
The seventeen million, three hundred forty two thousand, five hundred fifty eighth time he noticed her, her hair was free and spread out on the pillow beneath her head as she lay sleeping next to him. Although her face was a little more lined, and her figure a little more plump, her hair remained as vivaciously red and glossy as the day that she had married him, twenty five years before. Softly, gently - so as not to wake her - he traced his finger along the curve of her cheek. She really did seem to glow. A single strand of vibrant scarlet brushed against her nose, fluttering each time she breathed in and out. Tenderly he pushed it back, quietly tucking the lock of vivid red hair behind her ear.
Author notes: My parents' twenty-fifth anniversary was yesterday, so I decided to just add that little bit in there.
The ending isn't completely satisfactory to me, but the story just seemed to end itself there. I guess I can deal with that- after all, in the words of T.S. Elliot, the world will end not with a bang, but a whimper, so I guess the same can be said for oneshots.
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