Even though I woke one morning to find myself queen in a parallel world, really I’m just an ordinary girl, with a boring office job, mildly unpleasant commute, depressingly small apartment, and plain Jane looks, with my average build and moderately curly brown hair.
I wasn’t very excited to discover that I was expected to choose a prince consort, especially when it became clear that I would not be meeting the young men who were being offered as candidates. The boys’ mothers were just using them as pawns in court intrigue. My vizier told me that I could have a harem full of boys if I wanted, since men and boys were not legally full human individuals in my queendom, but merely the property of their mothers and wives.
I didn’t care which one I chose, because there was no courtship involved. I would not even see his face until after the wedding, when I was alone with the lucky groom in the royal bedchamber.
The day of my wedding, Lord Warren’s mother said his vows in his place. He couldn’t possibly make himself heard if he tried, with all that filthy hair wound tightly over his face and body like a mummy. This was the standard approach in my queendom, apparently. Who knew if these men were wearing any clothes under all that hair. It was impossible to tell what my new husband’s natural hair color was, under all that grime. He would have suffocated to death a long time ago if it weren’t for the semi-ornamental metal straw sticking out through the hair, indicating where his mouth ought to have been.
After the wedding I had the servants prop him up against a table in the corner of my royal bedchamber, then leave us in peace. I didn’t really want to touch the Prince Consort’s filthy hair, but I would have to, if I were to unwrap him. I had already outlawed by royal decree the drugging of men with the Datura plant, but there was no way to tell if he was in sound mind or not. Chances were good he wouldn’t be able to hear me talking to him, with all that hair wound around his head.
“Hi, Lord Warren? This is the queen, your new wife. We’re alone now, and I have no idea what to do with you. I think it would make sense to unwrap you, but I suspect you’re scantily clad under all that hair, and I’m not comfortable exposing you without being able to determine consent. Do you mind?”
Of course he couldn’t actually speak. He did grunt, which let me know that he could hear me, although I couldn’t make out what he might be saying. He began to struggle against his hirsute prison. Convinced that he wanted out, I began to look for the ends of his hair so that I could unwind him like a spool of yarn.
No such luck. If I couldn’t find the ends, I would just have to cut through some of this hair, a prospect that terrified me because I was afraid of hurting Lord Warren.
“Looks like I’m going to have to cut you out of your wrappings.” The least I could do would be to give fair warning. I knew I had a large pair of scissors in my sewing kit. Even as queen I was not too busy for handicrafts.
Having found the scissors, I began to cut around where I thought the side of his jaw should be, taking care to only cut through a little bit of hair at a time, lest I should hurt him. Apparently his beard also made up part of his wrappings; I spent the first few minutes cutting the beard down to stubble.
Having freed his lower jaw at last, I asked him again if he wanted out.
“Yes, Your Majesty. I can’t breathe.” Good, I was able to determine consent. I went around behind him, following the line of the beard, until I was able to locate his left sideburn. He would certainly hear me better once I had freed his ears from their hairy prison.
I realized that I could avoid injuring him if I followed this line and snipped right at the root. His hair would be nice and short when I got through with him. Maybe I could taper the back and sides somewhat so that he had some sort of style. Either way, there was no question the end result would be pretty close-cropped.
I snipped at his sideburn with the tip of my scissors, making steady inroads up towards his temple. I kept going until I reached his forehead, then got up onto the bed so that I could keep cutting from above. After I had cut all the way around his face and came back to his left sideburn, I pulled at the hair covering his face. At least some of it came away, but I still couldn’t get a clear view of his face.
It occurred to me that it would seem quite bright to him once I got his face fully exposed. Perhaps it would be good to focus on his left side first. I cut up towards his crown, then doubled back down on his left side, a scissor’s-width-worth behind.
Part of me was afraid that exposing his face at an early stage would scare him into not letting me finish. On the other hand, if he had any objections to having his hair cut off he could voice them, since I had already freed his lower jaw. But then, I had merely asked if he wanted out, and not whether he was OK with ending up with what was functionally a buzz cut. It was likely that he didn’t have a clear idea of what I was doing, since it seemed probable that he had never experienced a haircut before.
I worked my way to the back of his head, plowing up and down methodically, and reached the right side. Once I had reached his right sideburn and reduced the entirety of his back and sides to a close crop, I tried pulling on the severed hairs. I didn’t want to hurt him by pulling hairs that were still attached to his head, so I waited until I had cut through most of his hair.
Eventually it was time to attack the crown of his head. I plowed methodically, left to right, as I inched towards the front. Even though I had pulled down much of his hair to expose the outline of his head and the entirety of his ears, I had not tried to unwind his torso. That could wait until I had cut everything off.
Finally I reached the very front, especially the strip I had already cut off, and pulled down the hair. “I hope you don’t mind. I took the liberty of cutting off most of your hair. I’d like to shape the cut, though, so it doesn’t look so much like I scalped you, or worse, like I captured you for your pelt. I want to wash what’s left of your hair, too, before I let you into my bed.”
“I don’t understand. What does it mean that you’re cutting my hair? I haven’t experienced any pain, just a strange massage. Oddly light-headed, too.”
I knew it. Lord Warren had no idea what I was doing to him, and had no inkling of what a haircut was. He would soon get used to being completely exposed, being able to see, and, if I had my way, regular trims, although it seemed highly likely that I would be keeping his hair closely-cropped. I was confident that he would appreciate the freedom of a buzzcut.
As I pulled down more of the cut hair, I remembered that he would probably find the room quite bright at first. “I’m going to expose your face to the air in this room. I hope it’s not too bright in here for you. You might want to keep your eyes closed at first.”
I peeled the hair off the way I would corn silk, revealing that he was indeed nearly naked. He was scrawny, which was not a surprise, given the impossibility of exercise while he was wrapped up so tightly, and the difficulty of eating. I don’t mind a skinny guy, but I felt sorry for Lord Warren. We would have to get his strength up to enable him to walk and run. I hoped it wasn’t too late. He was so young, though, that his muscles perhaps hadn’t completely atrophied yet.
Once I had gotten all of the hair removed, I could see that he was wearing only briefs under all that hair. He shivered. I would need to measure him for some actual clothes. He must be cold now.
I guided him to a chair in the corner of the room and helped him to settle into the seat. Now I would fine-tune his haircut. I went over his back and sides a few more times to get them down shorter than the top hair. As his hair grew back I could experiment with lengths and proportions. It was hard to imagine him missing the prison that was his long hair.
Once I was satisfied with my scissor cut, I darted into the bathroom of my royal suite to get a razor and shaving cream. The remains of the beard would have to go, along with his nape and sideburns. I knew this was a new experience for him, too. Even though now he could see the room, he remained still. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by this world of colors and shapes that were new to him, or perhaps he had bad eyesight, if years of having his eyes covered had done damage.
When I was satisfied with the smoothness of his face, his nape below the occipital bone, and much of his sideburns, I helped him to his feet and walked him to the bathroom. I was going to wash him and see what color his hair really was under all that grime.
The first time I wet what was left of his hair and soaped up his scalp, the water ran black when I rinsed it out. Even after five rounds of washing, the water continued to run black.
“How old are you, Lord Warren?” If his hair had never been washed in his life, he would have years, possibly decades worth of grime.
“I’m twenty-two.” I couldn’t help but stop mid-scrub. Twenty-two? He was still a boy. I knew he was younger than me, but I hadn’t expected him to be over a full decade my junior. It was a good thing I liked younger men.
“Then you must have about twenty years’ worth of grime. No wonder I can’t seem to get your hair clean.”
After an hour of scrubbing, the water finally began to run clear. The hair that had looked dark and murky but not glossy black was now unmistakably red. I smiled. I had won the lottery. Red hair on a man, especially close-cropped red hair, is a huge turn-on for me. What a delicious-looking boy he had turned out to be.
“What are we going to do after this?” I realized that Lord Warren, now my Prince Consort, had not yet seen himself in the mirror, and had not really seen much of me. It wouldn’t take long for his hair to dry.
“I’d like to show you how you look. I doubt you’ve ever looked in a mirror. I’d also like to get to know you better, so we’ll sit on the bed and talk.” I suspected that he didn’t know much of anything, and would be surprised if he even knew how to read. I would have to teach him, since I couldn’t live with a dummy long-term. He was young enough that he could still learn.
When I got him dry and standing up, I steered him over to the bathroom mirror so that he could see himself for the first time. He looked confused for a moment, then feebly raised his hand. He didn’t have the strength to bring it up to his head, so I guided his hand to the top of his head. I saw a smile spread on his lips as he enjoyed the feeling of rubbing his short hair that was probably less than a centimeter long.
“Your hair will grow if allowed to, but we can keep it cropped like this. Well, I’ll let you make your own decision about it, since it’s your hair. I know I’m the queen, but I’m not interested in being a despot. Can you read and write?”
“No, what’s that?”
It was as I had feared. I would have to teach him. On the other hand, here was a blank slate. If I taught him to read, to think, to run, to draw, and to enjoy life, maybe that would make up for the absolute power I had over him. I realized that he probably didn’t know about the birds and the bees, either. That could wait. I could impose my will on him, but I didn’t want to take by force what I really hoped he could one day give me of his own accord.
The next morning I taught him how to shave his own face. This part was non-negotiable for me. I will not tolerate facial hair on any man whom I might kiss. It’s dirty, smelly, and barbaric, as far as I’m concerned.
When I presented him at court, I had merely wrapped him in a blanket, since he didn’t have any clothes. Of course the court were scandalized that his face was in full view, and even more so when I asked his opinion on some of the matters presented to me. How risqué it was to think that a boy like him would have a thought in his pretty little head, now so clearly exposed. My vizier blanched.
His mother was furious, but there was nothing she could do as I granted men and boys equal rights to women by fiat. It was good to be a queen with absolute power if it meant I could fight injustice.
In less than a week I had had clothes made for him, and he had learned the alphabet. If I continued to work with him, he would be able to read. Already he had mastered writing the letters that made up his name.
A month after the wedding, Lord Warren was able to walk inside our royal suite. He stripped down to his briefs, sat down in the chair by the bed one night and smiled mischievously at me.
“I think I’m ready for my second haircut.”
I smiled to hear that, and kissed him on the lips. “Any time, honey.”