The Feminine Mystique
Sometimes Hermione Granger felt as if her whole life was all about hair.
She had wild bushy hair all her life and would be teased about it. She could never run her fingers through it, control it in any way other than to plait it, or waste the amount of time and energy it took to tame it into any particular style.
Being as full of volume as it was, she really couldn't cut it too short because it would look as if it was growing horizontally and she'd have what her mean spirited classmates in infant school named 'Table head'. With less weight pulling the hair down the hair that her mother had cut to the shoulder frizzed and curled up and up and up, causing a perfectly flat line of hair across the top of her head. If was like an afro that had been sliced in two with hedge clippers.
Hermione was condemned to having long hair from that moment onwards. This, in turn, condemned her to the fortnightly ritual in the bathroom that made her gag and shudder.
She would wait until Ron had left for work. Her husband could never see the hideous truth. It was just the same as them not peeing in front of each other, it would be unromantic and ruin the whole enigmatic side of their relationship.
They didn't have sex when she was on her period, they didn't walk into the bathroom when the other was on the loo, and they didn't show each other unpleasant and off-putting physical ailments such as verucas, blisters or bunions. Anything puss-related was to be kept hidden. There was no puss in romance.
Runny noses were an exception. When Ron had the flu Hermione thought it was very romantic to play the nurse, for the first day while Ron was all pathetic and grateful – afterwards it just became annoying and more like elf labour, and if she had a cold it would make her feel lovely that Ron would still kiss her with a runny nose and make her chunky soup and force one of his jumpers over her head.
Snot, as disgusting as it was, could be romantic.
Hair was a no-no, however, it could never be romantic and it took a lot of work to keep it hidden but it had to be done. Hair had the capability to destroy everything.
Hermione pulled on a rubber glove and bravely made her way into the bathroom for her fortnightly ritual. She'd tried to do this magically but it always ended up pulling everything up from the drainage pipe, all the way down to the sewer.
It takes a lot to forget the sight of a rat being forced up through a plug-hole like beef through a mincing machine.
She shuddered as she twisted her finger around a clump of hair and pulled. One, two, two and a half feet of matted, grungy drain hair slowly ripped its way free of the plughole. Hermione scrunched up her face and turned her head away to retch.
"Yucky, yucky, yucky, yucky, yuck!" Hermione danced around on her tiptoes in revulsion as the dripping clump of hair 'Scromphed' free and dangled from her rubber-clad hand.
She hurried for the bin, holding the length of disgusting hair as far in front of her as she could, and gagged.
"Ugh-ghhhh-lllllaaaghhhh!" She dropped the hair into the bin and waved arms before herself to try and shake away the visceral memory.
It had to be done and it had to be her. Ron must never see. She wouldn't be a woman to him again if he tried to unclog the drain himself. She would be the creator of two and half feet of ratty, scum covered, weeks old bathwater saturated hair snakes and he would never be attracted to her again.
She went back to the bathroom and ran the cold tap for a moment to wash away the 'residue' the pulling of the hair monster had caused and then tore off the rubber glove and threw it away. She knew it wasn't environmentally friendly but there would be nothing she could do to make that glove feel clean to her ever again.
So that was one hair problem dealt with.
Hermione stood in front of the mirror and pointed the tip of her wand at the top of her nose.
She winced and tears stung her eyes as the new growth in her unibrow was plucked free.
"Ow that stings!" Hermione hissed, doing a little dance of discomfort before leaning into the mirror again and taking a deep breath as she moved the wand tip to the edge of her top lip, "Aufero! Oh fuckity fuck!"
Hermione had a full body reaction to the nasty burning sensation of downy dark hairs being ripped from her top lip and gritted her teeth to finish the job and clear the other side of her lip from the fine shadow of hair that ghosted there, taunting her.
"Ron doesn't want to kiss a moustached wife, he doesn't want to kiss a moustached wife, he doesn't want to kiss a moustached wife. Aufero! Bloody Nora!"
Hermione threw her wand down and rubbed at her pink, stinging top lip and squeezed her reddening eyes tightly shut.
What was going on with this hair in new places rubbish anyway? Surely, if the drain was anything to go by, she should have less hair not extra hair.
She rubbed at her sore, puffy top lip. Ron could never know his wife was turning into Hagrid.
Looking at the time she realised that she had best get on with the rest of her fortnightly routine. She undressed and turned on the shower, watching the water trickling with ease down the unclogged drain, and reaching for Ron's razor.
There wasn't a shaving spell, only a spell to extract hair by pulling and even wizards didn't stand for that for their hair removal needs. Hermione worked up a lather with the bar of soap and rubbed it under her armpits. She lifted the razor and began removing the dark brown, wiry hairs from her pits.
Why did women need to grow hair there anyway? What function did it serve? If women didn't grow beards then why did they grow body hair at all?
Why was it okay for Ron to stretch his arms over his head in the morning and reveal a mass of copper hair and yet it was grotesque for her to lift her arm and reveal a small brown yeti dwelling there?
She finished shaving her armpits and rinsed the soap away. Next she lathered up her left leg and sat on the side of the bath, lifting her leg and then gliding the blade over the white foam from ankle to knee, then again from her knee all the way up until the hair grew too fine to see.
Then she repeated the movement over and over again until all that remained was the kin around the knee to shave and she focused on not nicking herself as she moved the razor over the hard, bumpy contours.
Changing legs she repeated the process and frowned as she noticed that she had dark hairs growing on her toes too. After finishing up around the right knee she carefully shaved her toes and wondered how much of a troll she would look if she didn't shave for a year.
She looked at her open thighs and gave a tut before shaving the ever expanding dark curly hairs that were trying to move out and onto the clear area of her inner thighs. She remembered a time when her largest knickers could cover all pubic hair but now it was hard to conceal them with short shorts. She shaved the dark hairs that were trying to escape from her pubic region and then rinsed out the razor and replaced it where she had found it.
She walked back to where she had flung her wand and trimmed her bush a little before banishing the hair and dressing.
If Ron knew how much it took for her to look as normal as she did...
Ron must never know.
Ron woke up and flung his arm out to pull Hermione into his body for pre-work spooning but, as ever, she was up and eating breakfast already.
"So perfectly organised," he sighed before rubbing his hands over his face and feeling the prickly stubble.
"I've made a pot of tea and there's toast in the rack," Hermione called as she pulled her cloak around her shoulders and hurried into the bedroom to grip Ron by the chin and kiss him on the lips, "love you, see you tonight, sweetheart."
Before Ron could say anything else she was scurrying towards the fireplace to Floo off to work. Ron yawned and ran his hand over his bed hair. He threw back the covers and padded to the bathroom with his large bare feet and scratched his balls through his pyjama bottoms.
He stood before the bathroom mirror and ran his hand along his jaw. Just as he leaned to reach over for his razor his saw some hairs catching the light on his chest and pulled his wand from the elastic of his waistband and began tapping at the two round patches of new growth at his pectoral muscles and down to the top of his stomach.
"Aufero!" Ron howled and kicked out at the toilet brush before growling through his teeth, "Shit, shit, shittity shit!"
He took a few breaths and tapped some more.
"Aufero! Aufero! Aufero! Oh fuck that hurts!"
He rubbed at the sore red patches and pouted like a baby. He glared at the shape the marks left and felt glad that it was over until next time.
It was easier to tell Hermione that he had to keep bare-chested for work, not wanting to magically change the colour of his chest hair as well as the hair on his head for undercover missions, than it was to tell her the truth. How humiliating would it be to tell her that his chest hair had grown in the shape of a cock and balls?
It was a matter of masculinity that she just wouldn't understand. All she had to do was have her lovely boobs and mass of soft, fluffy hair and she was a living goddess to him. What was he? A big poof who had to Aufero his chest hair because it grew in a rude shape. He was a joke.
But Hermione must never know.
He looked at his alarmingly long nose hair and then glared at his nose, accusingly. He never used to have tufts poking out his nostrils before, what was going on? It wasn't as if he had a short, stubby nose that couldn't accommodate nose hair. He wafted the tip of his wand beneath his nose to trim the overhanging bits and then sneezed.
"Bless you!" The mirror said, politely.
"Ta," Ron said as he rubbed his tickly nose.
He turned his head to make sure he wasn't getting that hair in the ear thing that his Dad had and sighed wearily about how much men had to go through as time went on.
"Women are always women, men are boys and then...then they have ears full of hair, a moustache growing from inside their nose, and an upside down cock and balls on their chest!"
He lathered up his face and picked up his razor, pulled the skin tight at his cheek and began to slide the blade across his stubble.
He threw the razor into the sink and clamped his hand to his burning cheek. It felt as if he'd rubbed a red hot cheese grater against his face.
"What the fuck happened to my razor!"
"The feminine mystique." The mirror said, with a chuckle.