All of My Haircut Works Part One by Joelsweet
The funeral had been a lonely one. There had been no point for Lark to give a speech, because he was almost the only one there. Only a few of Lark’s husband’s close family and friends had even bothered to show up. Lark’s husband’s name had been Octavian. Octavian had always hated his name. Thought it was too old fashioned and formal sounding. But Lark had loved it. They had only been married for a year, and then Octavian’s car had been hit by a drunk driver. He had died almost immediately. Lark wished over and over that he could change the past. But that would never happen. There was no time travel, no way to get his love back. And now, driving home from burying the only person who had truly loved him, the whole situation still felt like a bad dream to Lark. A nightmare, really. He kept looking over to his right, expecting to see Octavian smiling back at him from the passenger seat; asking what was wrong, why Lark was crying.
Lark’s parents had disowned him when he had come out to them as gay. He was kicked out of the house and went to live with his uncle to finish out high school. Lark had always been a good student, and graduated with high grades despite challenges. Lark’s uncle had then accepted a job which required him to move, and so Lark headed off to college and lived in a dormitory. Lark made quick decisions, and decided on a degree in English Language and Literature. To pay for a dorm and living expenses, Lark worked two part time jobs and still managed to go to class. He hardly got any sleep. Those were some of the worst years of his life.
After getting his degree, Lark quickly got a job as a social media manager for a company that created organic dessert mixes. He was paid well, and the job didn't take up too much of his time. It was then that he had turned his focus to dating on the side. He soon met Octavian, at the age of 23. Lark was swept away by the appealing, charismatic man. They were married a year later, and were able to purchase a home. Octavian worked as a studio photographer, and didn't have long hours, so they could spend a lot of time together. Lark and Octavian had begun to make plans to adopt a child.
And now, a year after their marriage, Octavian had been killed. And Lark didn't know what he was going to do. Their life together, so bright and full of promise, had been taken away in an instant. There was a huge hole in his heart. Lark pulled up to their house and got out of his car. He stumbled up the steps, and unlocked the door to the house. He entered, the familiar scent of Octavian slamming him in the face in an almost sickening way. Everything was the way Octavian had left it. His papers were piled up at his desk, his toothbrush still lying on the counter, his bottles of coca-cola still in the refrigerator. The large house seemed so empty and quiet. Everything there reminded Lark of Octavian. Lark walked up the stairs, hardly feeling anything around him, only the pain in his soul.
Lark pushed the door open that led to the bedroom he and Octavian had shared. He entered the connecting bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He hated what he saw. His almond shaped eyes, red rimmed and puffy, and his face, with its small, wide, rounded nose. And that hair… Long, shiny, thick, and midnight black; reaching past his waist. The hair that Octavian had loved so much. He took off the suit jacket he was wearing, as well as the tie and white shirt under that. They were dumped onto the floor unceremoniously. He was left shirtless, with his slacks still covering his legs. That hair, combed through and knot free for the funeral, was silky smooth against his back. Lark was overcome with despair. Never again would Octavian run his hands through those lengthy, straight locks, or call him his Rapunzel. Even looking at his own reflection, Lark was reminded of his lost other half. How could Octavian be taken away from him?! What had he done to deserve death??!!
In a fit of rage, Lark grabbed Octavian’s clippers and switched them on. A loud buzzing sound filled the air. Octavian had used them to shave his face and trim his hair. At the moment, the clippers had no guard on them. Lark brought the clippers to the side of his head and roughly tore them through his hair, leaving a strip of stubble behind. Breathing heavily, sobbing, and full of adrenaline, Lark watched as his thick tresses slid down and fell onto the tile. He brought the clippers through again and again, and two foot long raven locks soon littered the floor. Lark stared, horrified, into the mirror and saw that half of his head was shaved incredibly close to the scalp. What on earth had he done? On the left side of his head, his long, amazingly abundant, straight hair hung down to where it was neatly trimmed at the top of his ass; appearing as a waterfall of ink. But then, the right side was unevenly shorn so short… Lark’s tears continued to fall. He had loved his hair almost as much as Octavian had. But there was nothing left to do except clip off the rest. More gently this time, Lark ran the vibrating, screaming clippers through his lovely hair, until all of it had fallen to the floor. He switched them off and kneeled amongst his fallen locks; picking them up and sobbing. Lark took a shaky breath, and stood up.
He would live on.
Just a Trim
Hyacinth was incredibly anxious. He never liked going to get his hair trimmed, but it had to be done. He had been sent to his aunt’s house for the summer after he had finished high school. It was a nice, quiet environment for him to fill out college applications and relax. She really did live out in the middle of nowhere. There was hardly any cell phone reception on her small cattle farm, and Hyacinth had to drive half an hour to go and get groceries. The town was incredibly tiny, with only a few shops and a gas station. It was a little forlorn.
And now Hyacinth was in a predicament. The bottom inch of his near knee length hair was beginning to look ragged. Hyacinth usually went to a stylist to get his hair trimmed, but there was not a single stylist in the nearby town, or the second closest one. Only traditional barbers. He had asked his aunt if she had scissors, but she had a butch cut and only owned kitchen scissors and clippers.
So that was why Hyacinth was anxious. He didn't know this barber, and the barber might cut his hair way shorter than he wanted. Hyacinth tried to assure himself that everything would be fine, but he had an uneasy feeling in his stomach. All the people that Hyacinth had seen had had buzz cuts or were bald, and stared at Hyacinth’s lovely hair as he passed by. Hyacinth gulped, and pushed open the door to the small barbershop, a bell jingling overhead. The single customer and barber looked up, and their eyes filled with shock. They had never seen a person with hair that long and lovely. Hyacinth had left his cornsilk colored hair down for the day, so the cut wouldn't take as long. The freshly washed locks positively gleamed in the sunlight beaming in through the glass door.
“Hold on a second, miss, I'll be right with you,” the barber said, and returned to his customer; who also tore his eyes away. Hyacinth didn't bother to correct him, just sat down in a wooden chair sitting next to the window.
Hyacinth shivered as we watched the barber complete the other customer’s cut. He wanted to cringe. The only hair left on the man’s head was a ¼ inch on the sides and ½ inch on the top. The customer was uncaped, no expression on his placid face. This man had probably been given the same cut for twenty years. The man stood up and set money on the counter, before leaving the establishment. The barber swept up the tiny hairs into a pile and then beckoned to Hyacinth.
“Come sit down.” Anxiously, Hyacinth shakily stood and stumbled over to the barber chair, where he collapsed. The barber wrapped a blue and white striped cape around Hyacinth and tied it snugly. The material almost felt like canvas or perhaps polyester. The barber grabbed a comb and quickly pulled it through Hyacinth’s hair several times, the strands parting easily like water.
“What would you like done, ma'am?” Now, the barber knew perfectly well that Hyacinth was male, but he wanted Hyacinth to feel guilty about having such long hair.
“Oh… Um… Just a trim, please. Like, one inch,” Hyacinth quietly muttered. The barber feigned surprise at his deep voice.
“You're a male?!” The barber asked.
“Um… Y-yes,” Hyacinth whispered shyly. The barber had an antiquated definition of “masculine.”
“Well, in that case, let me get the clippers!”
“No!” Yelled Hyacinth. “Just an inch.”
“Your hair is unhealthy. I need to chop off much more than that.” Hyacinth and the barber both knew this was a blatant lie. His hair was extremely healthy and well maintained.
“I don't care what you think. Just an inch,” Hyacinth firmly stated, grabbing the arms of the chair tightly with his hands.
“Alright.. If you say so…,” the barber said softly. He had no intention of following this instruction. He had a strong desire to see this lovely mane fall to the tiled floor. The barber watched as Hyacinth became tense when he heard the click of the shears being picked up.
Ssk! A loud cutting noise pierced the air, and a sheave of light blonde hair a foot long dropped to the floor. Hyacinth looked over his shoulder and gasped.
“I said one inch!” he said in a strangled voice.
“Oh! I'm sorry, I thought you said one foot!” the barber cheerfully responded.
Hyacinth stared, horrified, at the shimmering, severed lock laying lifeless on the tile. “I'll just even it out!” the barber suggested. Hyacinth sat perfectly still, frozen in terror, and he felt gentle tugging on the ends of his hair as the blades opened and closed around his precious tresses. His hair would only be waist length after this cut! But, alas, the barber had other plans for Hyacinth’s hair in mind. He hadn't evened the hair out at all, only randomly cut it; some locks only reaching to the middle of Hyacinth's back. Thick, beautiful blonde hair lay on the floor like a carpet of silk. Hyacinth looked over his shoulder again and felt like sobbing. His lovely hair had been brutally chopped at odd angles down his back.
“W-what did you do?!!” Hyacinth cried out.
“Maybe it would be even if you hadn't moved so much,” the barber coolly responded. Hyacinth was silent. He hadn't moved in the slightest. The barber held the shears to Hyacinth’s shoulder blades, causing him to shiver. Hyacinth didn't say anything; he was sure he would start crying if he did. His lemon-ice cream colored hair would be completely shorn in the hands of this demon barber, he was sure of it. The barber began cutting at Hyacinth's shoulder blades in a vicious attack. Gorgeous hair slid down the cape as the shears hacked through it. When the barber was done, Hyacinth’s hair was dangling an inch above his shoulder on the left side, and an inch below on the right. Hyacinth felt despair run through his shaking body.
“You moved again! Tsk, tsk, tsk. Now I have to try and even it out once more.” The barber now switched on a pair of clippers, and the loud buzzing cause Hyacinth to jump in shock and apprehension. The barber set them at Hyacinth’s nape and swiftly mowed through the hair there. Hyacinth hated the vibrating feeling of the clippers as they tore through his hair, screaming. The unguarded clippers shaved Hyacinth’s nape up past his ears, leaving white scalp and stubble behind. Hair was falling like rain onto the pile of shorn cornsilk locks. The clippers were switched off. Hyacinth had given up on holding his tears back. They dropped down his face freely. Hyacinth had never had clippers touch his head before, and it was something he never wanted to experience. The barber grabbed Hyacinth’s hand and forced him to feel the sandpapery hair left on the back of his head and nape. Long locks hanging from the rest of Hyacinth’s head still fell around his shoulders. Hyacinth choked on his sobs, hiccuping and desperately feeling the back of his head. His fingers were cold against his newly stripped, almost bare scalp. He hated the feeling.
“S-stop! P-please!!” Hyacinth struggled to make out.
“It's too late, dear,” the barber said, laughing gleefully. He let go of Hyacinth’s hand, and it dropped to grip the rests of the chair again.
The barber combed the front locks of Hyacinth's hair in front of his face and then snipped them incredibly close to his scalp. Some of the strands got caught in Hyacinth’s eyelashes. He felt them tickle his face as they fell and landed in his lap, mixing with tears that had collected there. Next, the barber positioned the scissors at Hyacinth's chin. He rapidly snipped at a rough angle upwards to the middle of the back of Hyacinth’s head, and then snipped downwards on the other side. Hyacinth sniffed as he saw in the mirror the choppy, awfully cut blunt bob that he was now wearing. Since Hyacinth's hair was so thick, the bob stuck out from his head far. He had loved his long, light blonde hair. It had never been shorter than shoulder length, and now this…
“Whoops! It's uneven again!” the barber chirped. He switched the clippers on again, to Hyacinth's trepidation. The barber began clipping the hair right over Hyacinth’s ear, and cut in a wobbly line all the way around his head, leaving a bowl cut of inconsistent lengths. Two inch long chunks of soft hair clung to Hyacinth's shoulders and the back of his neck. The barber drove the blades into Hyacinth’s hair an inch over where the bowl ended and brought that line all the way around. He then started “evening out” the bowl- in reality he was just making it shorter and messier. “Oh well, looks like we'll have to just shave the rest off.” The barber drove the clippers through Hyacinth’s remaining hair straight down the middle. Hyacinth couldn't bare to look at himself in the mirror anymore, so he bowed his head and averted his eyes. The barber gripped Hyacinth's chin with his left hand and forced him to look at his reflection. Hyacinth's thick blonde locks slid down his white scalp, and salty tears slid down his red face.
And then, there was nothing but stubble left on Hyacinth's head. His glory, his only vanity, his best feature, had been reduced to mere blonde fuzz on his head. Hyacinth tore off the cape and reached a hand up to feel his velvety, infuriatingly light head. Hyacinth was sobbing hysterically at the loss, stroking his head desperately. He dropped to his knees onto the soft carpet of fallen locks, gathered some of them up, and held them close to his chest. Hyacinth felt as if he was in physical pain; like he had lost a limb. He felt like he was going to throw up.
Without a word, Hyacinth stood and dashed out the barbershop door, beautiful, vanilla-pudding colored locks clinging to his blue button up shirt and cargo shorts. He had walked into that shop with over three feet of hair, and had left with â…› an inch. Hyacinth told himself he was never going to a barber again.
The barber watched him leave, the bells still bouncing slightly against the door. He noticed Hyacinth hadn't paid him.
“You're welcome!” he called after the blonde’s retreating back.
Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived a husband and wife. They resided in a humble cottage and worked a plot of land to earn enough money to get by. Even though they were poor, the couple strongly desired to have a child. After many years of trying in vain, the wife became pregnant.
There was a window in the wife’s bedroom that looked out into the neighbor’s immense garden. All kinds of magical and non-magical herbs, vegetables, and fruits filled the garden in abundance. The neighbor happened to be a fairy. The fairy was quite an intimidating man, and nobody dared to enter his property; not even the snails or worms or weeds.
When the wife was lying in bed, she could see into the fairy’s colorful garden; which was downhill from the cottage. She found herself staring at a bed of rampion within the garden. The woman yearned for the greens; she wanted them so badly that it felt like physical torture to not consume them. She craved them so awfully that she couldn't bear to even eat anything else, knowing that those fresh, delicious rampion leaves were so close and still out of reach. She began to waste away and starve. She looked absolutely miserable, and her stomach grumbled all the time. But she wasn't one to complain or seem like a nuisance, so she didn't say anything to her husband. Eventually he realized that she would die if this continued, and begged her to tell him what was ailing her.
“If I can't eat some of that rampion that's growing in the fairy’s garden, then I'll starve to death,” she confessed, crying in despair.
Now, the man loved his wife very much. He knew what he needed to do. He was going to get that rampion, no matter the cost. That very evening, he climbed over the large stone wall and into the fairy’s garden. Shivering, he tiptoed in between the rows of plants and grabbed a handful of rampion. He brought the stolen greens to his wife, and she ate them raw and ravenously. What they didn't know, however, was that the rampion was magical and made people strongly desire it if they stared at it too long. And once you ate it, you craved it three times as much. And so now the wife was even more miserable than before, and her appearance was absolutely wretched. And so the man snuck out into the fairy’s garden again, and stole some more rampion. As he stood up and turned to leave, rampion clutched in his hand, he came face to face with the fairy, who had heard the rustling in his garden. Petrified in fear, the man couldn't run away.
“What the hell are you doing?!” the fairy demanded, arms folded. The man was too afraid to speak. “You think you can just trespass and then steal MY rampion?” This scolding continued for a while, with the man frozen in trepidation about what was to come.
“Hello---o? Do you even know how to talk?!” The fairy’s disgruntled question broke the man’s shocked state.
“I-I just need some of this rampion. Or my wife will die,” the man said, head lowered. The fairy thought this was hilarious.
“Oh man. She has a craving for my rampion? I guess she'll just have to starve to death as a punishment for coveting,” the fairy stated; amused and shrugging.
“No!! Please, have mercy! My wife is pregnant with our first born child!” the husband cried.
“Hmm… I guess we can strike a deal,” the fairy said, examining his nails.
“Yes, anything! Just don't let my wife die!”
“Alright, then. I'll give you AALL the rampion you want, as long as you give me that kid your wife is carrying,” the fairy proposed, with a smug smile and a tilted head. The man hesitated for a moment, thinking the deal over. It was better to have his wife and child live than to have both die, right?
“Deal.” They shook hands on it, right there in the dark of the night.
The wife was shocked at this deal at first, but relieved to have as much rampion as she wanted. To be honest, they forgot about the deal completely until the child had been delivered, and the fairy came knocking on their door. They begged with the fairy, asking him to reconsider, but he was firm. The fairy named the boy Rampion, as a kind of cruel irony. He took the child far away lived with him in a small cottage.
Rampion was the most beautiful person on earth, man or woman. The fairy felt a strong desire to keep him innocent, pure and apart from the influence of rest of the world. So when he turned twelve, the fairy locked him high up in a tower without a door or stairs, only one small window and a skylight at the top. Whenever the fairy needed to visit Rampion, he would stand at the base of the tower and yell,
“Rampion, Rampion, let down your hair!”
Now, Rampion had gorgeous hair, which was a brilliant ginger color. It was extremely thick, and fell in full waves all around his delicate form. His hair looked as if it was fire, and shimmered with every movement he made. Like Rampion himself, the hair was magical. It grew incredibly fast when he was younger (but stopped growing when it reached around 75 feet long), never needed trimming, and stayed perfectly clean. It was if the radiant locks repelled dirt and oil just by its sheer brightness. Before the time of day that the fairy showed up, Rampion braided his hair into a tight plait that had a diameter larger than six inches. When he heard the fairy’s call, he looped his braid around a hook outside his window and let it drop down the side of the tower. The fairy then climbed up the tower, using the braid as some kind of rope.
The fairy brought Rampion food and water every single day, and then left soon after. Rampion was incredibly lonely; however, since he had never known any other life, he couldn't identify the feeling. He had learned much, because of all the books the fairy had brought him. None of those books were about the ways of the world, only of science and animals and things like that. He had taken to singing to pass the time and alleviate his mood, as well as rereading those books, that he had pretty much memorized.
There was a prince from a nearby kingdom that enjoyed taking rides on horseback out into the forest. One day, he ventured farther than ever before and got severely lost. He happened upon Rampion’s tower. The prince intended to get directions, but because he didn't see any way up the tower, he couldn't. Perhaps it was abandoned? But it that wasn't so.. The prince heard faint, beautiful singing coming from the top of the tower. So he strung up a hammock near the clearing and began reading, when he heard,
“Rampion, Rampion, let down your hair!”
The prince jumped out of the hammock and dashed closer to the tower. He watched from the cover of the trees in amazement as a lovely copper braid tumbled out of the window at the top of the tower, and a handsome fairy began to climb it. The prince knew he was a fairy because of the man’s long, pointy ears, and youthful appearance. He didn't see any wings; presumably they had been cut off sometime in the past. The fairy clambered through the window at the top of the tower and then the red plait was pulled back up. The prince watched the flaming tail retract back through the window and sighed wistfully. He memorized the words that the fairy had said, and went back to his hammock to sleep.
The next morning, the prince confidently strode to the base of the tower and called,
“Rampion, Rampion, let down your hair!” He thought to himself over what a strange name that was. Who would name their kid after a vegetable?
At the top of the tower, Rampion was busy reading. Without registering that it was too early in the day for the fairy to visit, and that the voice calling him was different, he absentmindedly wrapped his braid around the hook and dropped it down.
The prince tentatively reached out a hand and gripped the silky plait. He thought in that moment that the gleaming mass was the color of the finest orange topaz, a gem that adorned his mother’s crown. He began climbing up the tower, but when he found his boots too slippery he shed them. In his head, the prince imagined the beautiful maiden that must be the owner of such lovely flaming tresses. (Little did he know that there was no maiden attached to the hair.)
The prince reached the window and climbed in, before dusting himself off. Imagine Rampion’s surprise when he saw that a dark, handsome stranger, and not the fairy, was standing before him! And then imagine the prince’s surprise when he found himself looking at the owner of the hair, and it was a man. Rampion immediately stumbled back, his sky blue eyes wide with fear. The prince’s own eyes drank in Rampion’s pale skin, which looked as if it had never seen the sun before. A light dusting of freckles covered the bridge of his nose.
“Wh-who are you?” Rampion stuttered out, backed against a wall. He had been taught to be wary of strangers.
“I'm Prince Helondrius,” the prince informed Rampion in a regal manner, bowing to him. “And you are?”
“I-I'm Rampion..,” the redhead said quietly. Helondrius stepped closer to Rampion, who found there was nowhere to escape to.
“You have a lot of hair, Rampion,” the prince commented, picking up Rampion’s braid off of the floor. Rampion flinched at this action, and Helondrius walked even nearer to him.
“Yes, that i-is true. Wh-what about it?” Rampion asked in a scared, shaky voice.
“It's quite stunning.” At this response, Rampion’s white cheeks took on a pink color. “Relax,” the prince said. “I'm not going to hurt you.” Warily, Rampion untensed a bit. Helondrius took another step towards him. “Come to think of it, your whole personage is beautiful.” He ran a hand lightly down Rampion’s pronounced cheekbones. Rampion’s face was now scarlet. Helondrius felt a wave of love suddenly rush over his whole body. He had never experienced the feeling before. He wanted this mysterious ginger man to be with him forever. The same thing was happening to Rampion, but because he was unfamiliar with the concept of love, he didn't know what the tingly feeling was.
“Was that you singing earlier?” Prince Helondrius inquisited. Rampion nodded bashfully. “Could you sing for me?”
“Y-yes. Sit there.” Rampion pointed with a slender digit to a wooden stool at the side of the room; avoiding eye contact. Helondrius obliged. Rampion sat, cross-legged, on the floor and began unbraiding his hair, starting at the end. As he did this, he sung, shyly and self-aware at first, and then more confidently. He felt a bit more trusting of the prince now, since he hadn't hurt him in any way. The ginger man sung of spring and of new beginnings and clouds and all manner of things. The prince felt as if there had been a spell cast upon him. He watched; enchanted, as rippling phoenix-colored tresses were freed from their confines. They snaked around the entire room, collecting in massive, brilliant piles. Rampion absentmindedly glanced up at the clock while singing and gasped.
“Father Gothel will be here in half an hour! Y-you have to go!” he cried.
“Father Gothel?” the prince echoed.
“He's the fairy who raised me. My parents abandoned me as a baby, and Father Gothel took me in,” Rampion said, eyes shining with positivity. Somehow, the prince was a bit skeptical.
“And he never lets you leave? You're stuck up here?”
“Oh, yes, but it's because he loves me and wants me to stay safe,” Rampion asserted. The prince was not convinced.
“Ooo-kay, if you say so.”
“Oh, I know so!” Rampion declared, nodding. “Aa! You need to go!”
“Alright.” Helondrius walked closer to Rampion and kissed him on the lips. Rampion was left dumbstruck, as the prince wrapped his unbound hair around the hook and began to descend.
The fairy came soon after, and questioned why Rampion’s hair was unbraided. Rampion, still shocked from the kiss, was only able to say that he forgot. Father Gothel thought that this was strange, for Rampion had never forgotten before.
The prince began coming every evening, after Gothel had left. He rode to the tower from his castle every day after dinner to see Rampion. They grew very close as their love blossomed over the months. Eventually, Helondrius asked,
“My sweet Rampion, will you make love with me?” Rampion agreed, for in his naivety he didn't know what that was. But the prince was very gentle with him, and pleased Rampion so much that he wondered why Father Gothel hadn't told him of such a marvelous thing before. He had no idea that this was one of the very things Gothel had been shielding him from.
And so, on some evenings, Helondrius and Rampion embraced each other, with unbound, wavy hair tumbling all around them; covering the ground like shining, silken, glorious autumn leaves. The setting sun would deliver slanted light through the window, making Rampion and his mane seem to have a heavenly amber glow.
One day, while the prince and the redhead were laying next to each other on Rampion’s bed, Helondrius said,
“I know we've talked about his before, but.. I really want you to come live with me as my husband..” Rampion curled up into a ball and closed his eyes.
“Helondrius… Father Gothel would be so furious with me.. Even if I ran away, he would find me and punish me,” he murmured.
“But I can protect you! My guards won't let anybody hurt you!” The prince grabbed Rampion’s pale hand and looked into his distressed blue eyes.
“But he can use powerful magic! And I don't want anything to happen to you,” Rampion interjected, biting his lip. “Besides, how would I even get down from this tower?” Helondrius mulled this over.
“Well.. Cutting your hair so you can climb down is out of the question,” he said good-naturedly, and brought Rampion’s thick braid to his lips to kiss it, causing Rampion to giggle. “Maybe I could bring you a skein of silk everyday, and you could weave a ladder out them to get down? I'd just bring you a ladder, but I don't think there are any long enough.”
“Oh, that would work!” Rampion said, grinning, and touched noses with Helondrius. Rampion stood up and beckoned for the prince to do the same. “You've been here all night and half the day, I just realized.” he laughed, then suddenly became more serious. “But Gothel is coming soon! You need to go.”
Helondrius nodded and reluctantly stood up. He lingeringly kissed Rampion, who wrapped his braid around the hook outside the window. The prince climbed down slowly, keeping eye contact with his love until he hit the ground. Rampion waved to him until he was out of view. He then rested his hand on his chin and sighed wistfully.
Fifteen minutes later, Father Gothel showed up. He called out to Rampion, who looped his copper braid around the hook and dropped it down. Gothel climbed up and entered the tower, then said to Rampion,
“My dear, can I brush your hair? We haven't spend much time together lately. You seem SO distant, darling,” the fairy declared flamboyantly, and ran a hand through his own nut-brown locks. Rampion looked up and met Gothel’s green eyes nervously.
“Ah, yes, of course you can.” He pulled up a short stool with shaking hands, due to his anxiousness that the fairy would find out about his plan to escape with Helondrius.
Gothel found the end of Rampion’s extensive braid and undid the tie at the end. He conjured a bristle brush and sat down on the stool. He ran his long, thick fingers through the locks to separate the sections of the braid, which took around half an hour. Starting at the ends of Rampion’s 75 feet of hair, Gothel pulled the brush through; it parted the strands easily like water. There weren't any tangles in it to speak of in the first place, really. Neither of them said a word to each other as Gothel made his way up the wavy, long, gleaming river of hair. As Gothel got closer to Rampion, tension from the brush and Rampion’s scalp caused his hair to be straight under the brush. When it was released, the hair sprung back into curls. Gothel was anything but gentle in his task. One particular time, the brush was pulled through Rampion’s tresses so roughly that his head jerked backwards, and he yelped. Without a thought, he muttered,
“The prince brushes my hair much more tenderly.”
Suddenly, the brushing stopped. With a jolt, Rampion realized his awful mistake.
“What?” the fairy questioned dangerously.
“Nothing!” Rampion quickly offered, feigning cheerfulness. But Gothel had incredible hearing. He knew what Rampion had said.
“Someone has been here?! Why, you have betrayed me!” he spat angrily and incredulously. Desperately, Rampion cried,
“No! He would never hurt me! Don't worry, he loves me!” The fairy roared with anger.
“You disgusting, godless faggot!! This ‘prince’ is ‘in love’ with you?!! You haven't just been unfaithful to me, you've been unfaithful to the natural order of things!! To think- I raised you in seclusion your whole life, and then you go and consort with a man!!”
Rampion was terrified. This “natural order of things” was something he'd never heard of. In fact, he'd never even seen a woman before, apart from his mother when he was just born. He had no idea that homosexuality was widely considered wrong in those times, or even what homosexuality was. Suddenly, the fairy quieted, and Rampion froze, petrified. There was no telling what his punishment would be. Thoughtfully, Gothel brushed Rampion’s hair out of his face, causing him to cringe. He ran his hand down the red mane, and then said,
“My dear, I think it's time I gave you a little trim,” Gothel murmured innocently.
“W-what's that?” Rampion whispered fearfully, his eyes wide. He had no idea what a “trim” was, considering he had never needed one.
“Oh, you'll see,” the fairy hissed menacingly. He harshly pushed Rampion onto the floor and grabbed his hair. “Hmm.. But what to use? Scissors won't be short enough to teach this kid a lesson,” the fairy whispered to himself, just loud enough that Rampion could hear. Rampion began the gather an inkling of what Gothel was planning to do. He waited; tense and with bated breath. Gothel did a flourish with his hand, and automatic clippers were conjured into them. “I bet you haven't seen these before, have you? Especially since they won't be around for hundreds of years.” he laughed.
“Want to find out what they do?” he teased Rampion. Rampion shook his head vigorously, eyes fixed on the mysterious device. “Aww, that's too bad. You don't have a choice, dear.”
Gothel flipped a switch on the clippers and they whirred to life, making Rampion’s body jump. He struggled to crawl away, but Gothel’s grip was tight on his fiery hair. Rampion squeezed his eyes shut and turned his cheek as the angry, unguarded clippers got closer to his head.
“Please, don't do this!” he pleaded distraughtly.
Gothel only laughed, and then Rampion felt the vibrating blades on the front of his hairline. He screamed, and Gothel yanked his hair. Gothel made a rough pass with the clippers down the middle of Rampion’s head, leaving short, tattered orange locks in its path. Rampion’s hair was so thick that Gothel had to make several swipes with the clippers to reduce the patch of hair to stubble. Rampion reached up a hand to feel the newly shorn section where his part line used to be. Tears burst from Rampion’s azure eyes as he touched the incredibly short, bristly hairs in the strip at the top of his head. In horror, Rampion grabbed some hair, pulled his hand away, and found it was no longer connected to his scalp. It had been mowed down by the clippers. Rampion clutched the locks to his chest and sobbed. Gothel shoved Rampion’s head into a bowed position, and placed the clippers at his nape, causing him to shiver.
“This will teach you, you ungrateful child!” He tore the clippers upwards over and over, until they met the bare strip through the middle of Rampion’s hair. Rampion was helplessly sobbing and screaming, “Stop!! Stop!!”. He had never had short hair before, and to him, this was a form of torture. The buzzing sound filled Rampion’s hearing as Gothel clipped the hair around Rampion’s ears. Next, the fairy finished shaving the right side of Rampion’s head.
Rampion had never cried this much before in his entire life. He never had a reason to before. Having his head buzzed was the equivalent to having his arm slowly sawn off. His face was red and dripping with tears. Rampion’s aching weeping was coming straight from his heart; racking his whole body. He kept screaming and begging hysterically, but he knew it was in vain. To have the person who had acted as his only parental figure his whole life treat him this way was unbearable.
The fairy finished liberating the left side with a flourish. He laughed as Rampion rubbed his uneven, newly shorn head. A short layer of orange hair covered his scalp like fine velvet. All around him lay beautiful fallen locks; some 75 feet long, some an inch long. It looked as if the floor was aflame, or perhaps that it covered in blood. Gothel threw the clippers into the air and they disappeared. He then conjured up a small mirror and forced Rampion to look at himself in it. Rampion felt like he was staring at someone else. He looked miserable with his red-rimmed eyes and redder face and his precious mane shorn off like a sheep. Gothel threw the mirror, which also disappeared into thin air, and bent down to kiss the top of Rampion’s head. He gently strokes the little that was left of Rampion’s gorgeous tresses.
“Oh, it's only hair, my sweet Rampion,” he said, laughing dryly. “Let's see if your DEAR prince will still think you're attractive now!”
Rampion didn't even try to respond, knowing that he wouldn't be able to get it out. An hour of Gothel taunting him later, Rampion heard a familiar voice.
“Rampion, Rampion, let down your hair!” Rampion gasped. Gothel grabbed Rampion’s severed hair and messily tied it around the hook outside of the window. He then took Rampion and ducked into the shadows, with the boy struggling pointlessly, for Gothel towered over him. Gothel clamped a hand over Rampion’s mouth so that he couldn't warn the prince of the danger until he was already trapped in the tower.
Within minutes, Helondrius was climbing through the window. He leapt onto the floor and looked at the ginger hair tied to the hook in confusion and then horror.
“Oh my God. Rampion?! Where are you?!” he cried, looking around. Then, Gothel shoved Rampion out in front of the prince and dashed over the shut the window. Light still streamed in from the skylight above. Rampion stumbled over and hugged Helondrius tightly, still sobbing. And first, Helondrius thought that the person embracing him was a stranger, but then Rampion looked up at him with those beautiful blue eyes, and he knew that it was his love. He hugged him back, looking around the room warily. Gothel was hiding in the shadows again.
“What happened, Rampion?” Helondrius asked.
“G-Gothel found out about us. He p-punished me. You must leave here,” Rampion mumbled into the prince’s chest.
“He did this to you?!” the prince demanded. “How could he?!”
“And he's still here! Please, leave!”
“No way in hell am I leaving you here alone with that dude!”
At this, Gothel stepped from the shadows.
“So you're the one that has corrupted this pure child,” he drawled. “It's a shame I have to punish you, really. You're so lovely looking.” Helondrius transferred Rampion to one arm and drew his sword. “I'm not afraid of you, little prince.”
Gothel flew forwards and caught the prince by surprise. He grabbed the sword right out of Helondrius’ hand.
“Get behind me, Rampion,” the prince whispered. Rampion obliged. Gothel raised the weapon and held it in front of the steadfast Helondrius’ face.
In a swift movement, he slashed his eyes. The prince yelled, clutching his face. He delivered a hard kick to Gothel’s side, knocking him over. “Quick, Rampion! Climb down your hair!”
“No, I won't leave you!”
“Just do it! Trust me, I'll be right behind you!” Rampion nervously ran over to the window and tried to open it.
“It's locked!” Thinking quickly, Rampion ran over to the fallen sword and picked it up. He kicked Gothel again to keep him down, then went to the window and unleashed the sword onto the shutters, breaking them. He slashed at it again and again, and broke all of the wood. The sword was thrown over to near where the prince was, skittering on the floor. He looked back at Helondrius, gulped, and then began his descent.
Helondrius had been lying to Rampion. He was blinded, and had no idea what to do, and thought death was near. He fumbled for the sword, grabbed it, and cautiously stepped forwards, not knowing Gothel’s location. Blood from his eyes kept dripping into his mouth, which he spat out. Suddenly, Gothel tackled him and pinned his arms down with his knees. Helondrius struggled against the fairy’s grip, but it was useless. Gothel took the sword and positioned it over the prince’s neck. He only knew it was there when he felt cold metal against his throat.
“I'm going to offer you a deal, little prince. You admit that your ‘love’ for Rampion was only a delusion, and I will let you keep your life.”
“Never!” Helondrius hissed, and spat into Gothel’s face. Gothel recoiled, and while he was off balance, the prince threw him off. The prince couldn't see a thing, but managed to grab the sword. He kicked in Gothel’s direction and felt his foot connect, although he didn't know where. He kicked again, and then swiped the sword and it landed with a thud into Gothel’s side. Gothel screamed, and tried to grab the sword, but he grabbed the blade and sliced his fingers. Helondrius dislodged the sword and blindly stabbed Gothel. It went right through Gothel’s neck. Helondrius heard Gothel’s screams of agony quiet and felt his body go still. He was a little glad he didn't have to see Gothel’s corpse. He staggered over the the window and groped for the hair. He found it, hopped out the window, and slid down the silky locks. When he hit the ground, Rampion hugged him tightly.
“Oh, I was so scared! But your eyes…,” he trailed off sadly. Now that the adrenaline was fading, the agony in Helondrius’ eyes returned.
“It's alright,” he said quietly. He heard a ripping sound as Rampion tore off his sleeve and tied it around the prince’s head.
“Perhaps that will ease the bleeding a bit. Oh, my love, I am so sorry that this has befallen you..”
“I'm just glad you're safe, Rampion.” There were several moments of silence as they held each other.
“Do you still love me without my hair?” Rampion mumbled.
“Of course I do. You're still the same person either way. Although I will miss it..” Helondrius gently caressed Rampion’s sandpapery head. Rampion leaned up and kissed his prince.
It took them a couple of days to find their way back to the prince’s castle, but when they did there was much celebration in the land. Although some were skeptical at the prince having a man as his spouse, it was alright in the end. When Helondrius became king, he was a fair and beloved ruler, with Rampion at his side; although he was blind, he was quite good at leading his country. The pair raised several children together; little princes and princesses.
Rampion was able to reunite with his parents, and meet his little sister.
And Rampion’s hair grew back, although it was at a much slower pace than before.
He was late that afternoon. He was never, ever late. I lied in bed wondering where Illian was.. Perhaps he had left me? I racked my brain, trying to think if I had done something wrong; but nothing was coming to mind. Maybe Illian found somebody better than me, someone more handsome, and had abandoned me. A man that was smarter, braver, and less anxious. A man more deserving of such a wonderful person as Illian.
I sighed, and looked up at the wooden ceiling. I tried to go back to sleep, but my thoughts kept returning to Illian.
Why hadn't he told me that he wouldn't be here? He must have done it purposely, because he never forgot anything. Was this his way of breaking things off with me? No, I don't think he'd do that without talking to me about it first. Illian hadn't acted any different in the weeks leading up to this point, had he? No, he had been the same as usual. Logical and sarcastic and loving.
He always came over every other afternoon to spend time with me. Some days we cooked meals, some days we went for a walk, and some days we practiced magic together.
But every single night, after we finished whatever activity we were doing, I fetched Illian’s brush from a shelf in my bedroom and called him to my bed. He sat or lied there, folded his wings in, and then I brushed his hair for hours. Sometimes we talked during this time, and sometimes Illian quickly dozed off. After he fell asleep, I’d put the brush aside and gently run my fingers through his hair until I joined him in slumber.
I remember the first time Illian asked me to brush his hair for him. I was reading a book on my bed, and he was standing up on the other side of the room. He'd been struggling with his wavy black hair for a while, and finally said in a frustrated voice,
“Could you help me with this, please?” I nodded, and gestured for Illian to come over to my bed. He sat down with a plop, his wings spread out to help him maintain balance. They were the wings of a blue morpho butterfly; for Illian was a fae. The outside of the wings were brown with eye spots, and the inside was bright blue. He tucked the iridescent cerulean appendages closer to his frame and tossed his locks over his shoulder. “I forgot to comb it out before I braided it this morning, and now it's an awful mess!” he said, annoyed; his antenna twitching.
Looking at his thick, classic-length hair, I couldn't discern any tangles. All I saw was a midnight-colored curtain of delicate waves, with ringlets at the tips. I began brushing out Illian’s hair, starting at the bottom. Soft locks gently skimmed over my fingers as I worked. About half way up, I encountered some knots. I worked through them as carefully as possible, not wanting to hurt Illian. I finished untangling the hair, but then began just brushing it for fun. I reveled in doing this, and so did Illian. Illian was almost purring in happiness (although he would never admit that). I avoided his antenna so that I didn't injure them. After I was done, I separated the tresses into three sections and messily braided it.
And so, it became a part of our routine. Every other night I brushed Illian’s hair for him and braided it. I had the late shift on the nights in between, so we couldn't spend time together then; although I wish we could. We’re engaged, us two. But when my dad died, he left a debt behind that I have to pay. And, according to our country’s laws, that debt has to be paid off before I can marry. At the moment, I just had enough money for necessities and to pay the bills; with a little extra for a treat now and then (although lately that had been going to slowly paying off the debt). Considering this, it could be years before Illian and I would be able to wed.
But I'm okay with waiting for Illian. I love him so much...
That was my last coherent thought before I slipped into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, I awoke to find a stranger sleeping next to me. Quickly, I grabbed my glasses off of the stand next to my bed and slipped them on (they were taped in the middle), blinking blearily. Yes, I had seen correctly! There was a man lying next to me on his stomach, his tan cheek flat against the pillow. He was snoring lightly, his short black hair falling in his face. But wait… that's how Illian sleeps, isn't it?
Oh my lord.
I gently pulled back the blanket and saw familiar tawny, tan, cobalt and black butterfly wings folded and resting against the man’s back.
It WAS Illian. I shook him awake carefully.
“Illian?” I asked softly. He awoke, confused.
“What is it?” he mumbled, and then gradually sat up. He looked a little dazed. Illian reached behind to grab his braid and undo it, but… there was no silky plait there. He looked surprised for a second, and then like he remembered something. “Oh…,” he said, smiling sadly. Illian gingerly stroked the back of his head, then dropped it. He didn't look like he got much sleep, judging from the dark shadows around his blue eyes.
“What happened?” I asked, but it had a hard time coming out. I swallowed nervously.
“Umm…” Illian bit his lip and avoided eye contact. I took his hand; the one he had felt his head with.
“Please tell me. Are you okay?” I urged, concerned.
“Uh.. I'm okay, don't worry… And,well, I c-cut my hair,” he said softly and anxiously.
“I can see that,” I responded; somewhat bitterly. He knew how much I loved his hair.
Heavy silence fell over us.
I got a better look at Illian’s cropped locks. His head had been buzzed high up in the nape; perhaps an inch below his crown. The rest was roughly chopped a tad above his ears around his head; besides the back, which was shorter. He had cruelly and shortly cut bangs. His hair was so thick and wavy that the bowl-bob cut hybrid stuck out far from his scalp. I let go of Illian's hand and tenderly ran my hands through his hair. What was left of it, anyway. The ends were blunt and stiff against my fingers, and the shaved part was bristly feeling. The longer parts were still silken and smooth under my fingers.
“Why?” I asked melancholily. Illian gulped, and I could tell he was trying not to cry. He took a deep breath.
“I.. I sold it,” Illian admitted, sighing. I stopped petting his head, and my heart skipped a beat.
“But why?” I repeated, softly and confusedly. Illian looked at me hopelessly. There was sadness glimmering in his eyes.
“Because I couldn't wait, Morrel,” Illian murmured. “I sold it to get money so we can pay your debt and get married.”
“Oh.” I sat there in shock; eyes wide and cheeks burning. He sacrificed his hair for me? Illian slid his arms around my neck and embraced me. And suddenly I was crying.
“Th-thank you,” I stammered as tears rolled down my face against my will.
“Don't cry, my sweet.” Illian laughed, leaned up and kissed my cheek. “I would have cut off my wings as well if I had to,” he divulged, grinning.
I nearly had a heart attack.
“Illian, d-don’t say things like that!” I cried, and squeezed him tightly.
“I'm serious, though.” He rested his chin on my shoulder. “If I could be with you forever, I would.”
“I l-love you so much,” I sobbed. “Ugh.” I wiped my eyes. “Sorry I get like this.”
“It's fine! And I love you too,” he asserted. I relaxed my grip on Illian and then looked into his earnest (and slightly mischievous) sapphire eyes. Suddenly, Illian leapt off of the bed. He pulled his satchel over to him and began rummaging around inside of it. Out came a burlap sack. Illian tossed it into the bed, where it landed with a chink, and then beamed.
“Open it!” he ordered. I untied the string around the sack and gasped.
“This is more than what we need!” I exclaimed. The sack was stuffed FULL of coins. Tears were still dripping down my face.
“I know!” Illian said, smiling wide. “And I was afraid it wouldn't be enough!” he added. “Because the hair seller ripped me off..” he sighed. “He didn't pay me half as much as what we agreed on..” he looked a little crestfallen. “Hey, but that's alright. I got enough, which is what counts.” Illian climbed back into the bed.
In the morning light filtering in through the window, Illian looked absolutely beautiful. His silken, loose white tank top hung from his form and had a slight translucence to it; almost ghostly looking as it shrouded him. Choppy, poorly-cut black hair surrounded his head and caught the sun, almost like a halo. His tan face was slightly flushed; his cerulean eyes were happy with a tinge of loss in them.
And I realized something. I had loved Illian’s long, coal-colored hair a lot. But I love Illian infinitely more. It didn't matter what he looked like. He was still my Illian.