Cho doesn’t quite look at their face in the hairdresser’s mirror, and instead focuses on the hairdressing cape’s pattern.
“So, what would you like?” Pansy says, as she bustles around behind them.
Cho glances at the woman—man—person?— getting their undercut touched up, and the top of their hair dyed pink by another hairdresser. It’s their first time in this hairdressers’, first time in a place that isn’t their parents’ usual. It already feels more modern. Cho’s eyes dip away.
“Just a trim,” they say.
Pansy purses her lips, a hand on Cho’s shoulder. “Are you sure?” She casts a privacy bubble around them. “Not to brag, but your hair can be a great form of self-expression,” she says.
Cho has always had long straight hair. The typical asian hairstyle for women. Even if a tiny part of them wants it off—what if it goes wrong?
“I’m a fabulous witch,” Pansy says. “There’s nothing a little magic can’t fix. If you don’t like it, I’ll give you a free fix-up session later.”
“You really don’t need to,” Cho protests.
Pansy scoffs. “We’re friends now,” she says, tone leaving no space for argument. “So. Whatever you want. It’s always the time to experiment with hair, especially now that we don’t have Hogwarts rules saying we have to have natural hair—whatever that cis-heteronormative shite they meant. So, like, fuck the world and their bullshit. Have whatever hair you want.”
Cho’s heartbeat picks up. “I…” They glance into the mirror, at that other patron. “Could you shave off the sides? Blue on top?”
Pansy’s brows rises, and a pleased smirk grows on her face. She summons a book of glossy photos of men, women, and gender-ambiguous people with short hairstyles.
“Like this?” Pansy points out.
“Yeah,” Cho breathes.
Pansy leans in, head next to Cho’s. “If you don’t mind me asking,” she says quietly, “Even if it’s rather late to ask—but are your pronouns they/them? Mine are she/her.”
Cho can’t quite meet Pansy’s eyes in the mirror. Slowly, they nod.
Pansy gives them a pat on the shoulder. “Thanks for telling me,” she said, sounding genuinely sincere—a rare thing.
When Pansy returns with hair clippers, something in Cho starts to shift.
It has taken Cho years before she realises that they is right. It was wilful ignorance, really. In Hogwarts, she—they—were attracted to boys. That made them normal didn’t it? And then Cedric died, and the pre-War, and War, and post-War happened, and there wasn’t time to think, just time to do. And when there is time to think, Cho has tried to ignore the jolt of hurt when someone says she, and woman, and witch, afraid that maybe Cho’s just internalised the sexism.
But the pang never goes away. If anything, it grows worse and worse.
It’s taken Cho so long to accept their feelings, and to realise that things aren’t binary. They aren’t black and white—which feels ironic, really, given that they’re East Asian in the UK. That their ethnicity is similarly a minority as their gender.
It’s taken Cho so long to allow themself to call themself they. It takes Pansy a moment to accept. It takes Pansy barely minutes to cut down Cho’s hair.
They feel light, both their head, and their heart.
Pansy smiles. “See? You feel better already,” she says smugly. “A happy Cho is a much more attractive Cho, if you don’t mind me saying. And you’re going to look in even fucking badass with your new haircut.”
Cho tries not to blush, but their skin is lighter than Pansy’s. They focus into the mirror instead. Their head feels tingly as Pansy’s fingers tug and shift, the clippers buzzing against their skin, and scissors shortening the hair on top.
“My mum thinks short hair on asian girls looks ugly,” Cho admits.
Pansy shares a brief commiserating look and flicks bag har own sharp bob. “Our parents suck,” she says with a shrug. “I have cut my hair as short as yours, now,” Pansy says, fingers tugging through Cho’s hair. “My mum said that being gay was for white people. Didn’t know how to tell her that white people made being gay wrong in the first place.” Pansy scoffs.
Cho’s eyes dip down. Their parents have said the same thing.
“But I think my current hair suits me,” Pansy says. She smirks when Cho looks up at her. “It has the strong vibe of I’ll whip you into submission and cut you shit fuckers down, don’t you think?”
Cho giggles despite themself. “Yeah. Suits you….a lot.”
Pansy’s eyes sharp through the mirror. “Hmmmm,” she says. She summons over a booklet and directs Cho to pick out their favourite colours.
“Er, just blue?” Cho points at a fairly greyish blue.
Despite that, they spend a good chunk of time with Pansy cycling through slightly different shades of blue, despite Cho’s protests of, It looks fine!
“Now it looks fine,” Pansy finally says, settling on a blue that’s darker at the roots, and lightens towards the tips, almost like the gradient in the sky. Pansy smirks. “Long straight hair like yours would have been easy to manage. But now, let me introduce you to the world of hair styling products.”
There’s a lot, admittedly, from hair mousse, to hair gel, and using it on wet versus dry hair. Somehow, Pansy’s able to coax Cho’s straight hair into slight waves, and giving it volume, and Cho just can’t stop looking.
Pansy’s eyes are warm and appreciative. Finally, she steps away, taking off the cape.
“How do you feel?” she says, nudging Cho to stand.
Cho finds it hard to recognise themself in the mirror. Not because it’s bad, but because they never thought they would be one of them. One of those confident people with a sharp haircut and coloured hair. They can’t help but linger in the floof of the hair, the blueness of it. Their head is light, and yet they feel floored.
“Blue hair,” Pansy says. “That makes you a main character in an anime.”
Cho snorts. “You think?”
“Now we’ve just got to figure out what kind of anime it is. Do you think it’ll be a romance?”
“I’ll need long pink hair for that,” Cho shoots back. They turn around and face Pansy. “I think you’ll be in a mafia anime. You’ll be the Boss, dressed in sharp suits, and taking heads from people who don’t you can be yakuza.”
Pansy smirks. “Thanks, that’s the best compliment anyone has ever given me.”
Her tone has an edge of sarcasm, but her demeanour is amused and rather self-satisfied, and Cho grins back. They wonder why they’ve never talked to Pansy properly before, and they really, really want to know more. The confidence buoys them up, makes them say, “Pansy, are you free for anime and chill? Luna gave me some queer anime recommendations.”
Pansy’s smirk deepens. “Darling, I’m always up.”
A curl of something good wraps in Cho’s heart. Pansy’s darling isn’t because they’re a girl. It feels much more.
Cho allows Pansy to take some pictures of their hair, and they pay, and organise when to meet.
“And, oh,” Pansy says, just as they’re about to leave. “I’ll bring the Pocky, and maybe we could, you know, attempt the Pocky challenge ourselves.”
The door closes in Cho’s flushed face.
Well. That’s certainly something to look forward to. Despite the gloomy London day, it feels like bright blue skies.