Darlin' don't you go and cut your hair
Miranda knows that Orlando and Liv and the hobbits have it worse than she does, because whenever they go out the boys can’t stop picking at their ears or their ankles or wherever the glue has held latex to skin. It’s sort of gross, especially when Elijah peels the glue off and leaves it in little piles all over the table in the pub, between empty packets of cigarettes and empty glasses. But Miranda knows she can’t complain about the scratching in public, because hey – she didn’t spend her entire day wearing enormous latex feet.
There’s a lot that Miranda could complain about. You know, what it’s like to be one of, oh, three women on a set full of boys. Or how she knows that when these movies are released, everyone is going to want to snap photos of the hobbits (friendship that you can’t fake) and of Orlando (so pretty that it really does hurt to look at him even with his ridiculous haircut and near-constant vacant stare). No one is going to look twice at the Rohirrim, especially not the women – just like in the movie.
She tries to keep Eowyn separate from herself. It isn’t hard. Miranda doesn’t want to fight any kind of wars, and if a war happened onto New Zealand while she was here, she wouldn’t take her sword and go running – she’d stuff the hobbits and Viggo and Karl into closets and hide under her bed, so no one got any mistaken ideas about bravery. But even so, she can always feel the weight of the wig down her back long after the girls in Makeup have freed her from the guises of Eowyn.
In her dreams she even has hair like that, tumbling down to her waist, blowing in her face. She dreams of Eowyn, of Rohan, of lonely plains, and whenever she wakes up to her alarm clock bleating at her, she reaches to push that long hair from her face and all that tangles under her fingers is her own hair, knotted and nappy from her wig. You wouldn’t think that wearing a wig every day would be that hard on your hair – not like bleaching or extensions or anything – but no matter what she does, at the end of the day, she ends up sitting in bars with the boys, tugging at the knots in her hair, trying to undo the effects of Eowyn on her on body.
She’s not lonely. Well, she’s not alone. They ask her out for beers, and they laugh when she can drink Orlando under the table, and they even talk to her – about real things and not just filming or Tolkien or which of the Fellowship she most wants to shag, though they talk about those things, too. (None of them, she thinks, answering the last question, because they all want to shag each other. But if she had to pick? Sean Bean, because he looks just as out of place as she does. She likes that in a man.)
Mostly she’s just pleased by the company, and she can sit back and let the conversations drift over and around her, zoning out to the sounds of happy, lilting voices. But she always goes home alone, no matter how late it is or how drunk they are, and some days, she’d rather just cut to the chase.
So she’s standing outside her trailer with Dom, yanking at the knots in her hair with her fingers while he sits on the steps and peels at the glue on his ankles, talking about something pointless, when she feels someone looking at her. No one stares on these sets, because if you started, you wouldn’t know where to stop – there’s just too much to see, and too many people doing things they’re not supposed to be doing to care – but someone’s staring at her. Miranda looks up, fingers stilled mid-yank, and sees Liv across the way, mercifully free of Elf ears, leaning outside Hugo’s trailer and watching Miranda.
She blinks, looks down to see if Dom’s noticed Liv, finishes tugging at the knot, and when she looks back up – can’t have been more than 30 seconds – Liv’s gone, as though she’d never been there. Miranda blinks again and Dom says, “You want to go get beers with me and Karl?” He didn’t see Liv, then. A figment of Miranda’s lonely imagination, but if that’s true – Liv? She hardly knows Liv, they haven’t filmed together, and yeah, she’s another woman in a world of men, but that’s no reason to be hallucinating her on set after they’ve wrapped for the day.
She looks down at him and he’s smiling at her, but it’s late in filming and Billy’s been at Minas Tirith for three days and she can tell, for once, that he’s as lonely as she feels. His smile doesn’t quite make it all the way up to his eyes. She’d try and offer him some comfort, normally, but she’s unsettled, though, by Liv or by the specter thereof. She smiles back fondly, ruffles his hair and offers him a hand up. “I think I’ll just go home, Dommie.”
He pulls himself from the stoop with her help and looks at her seriously. Miranda likes all the boys, but if she’d let herself admit it, Dom’s her favorite. Not the one she’d shag, but the one she’d most like to have as a gay best friend, or a little brother. She particularly likes him on his own, so much more serious and reserved than when he’s with the rest of the hobbits. He’s giving her that serious gaze now, as though there’s something he should know and can’t quite figure out. Miranda squeezes her eyes shut and tugs at the knot her fingers have found at the nape of her neck.
“Your loss,” he says finally, breaking the silence, and she opens her eyes. “Me and Karl were going to drink pink girly drinks with umbrellas in them with you.”
“As fun as that sounds … I just need a night off. Don’t get Karl arrested, okay?”
“I’ll do my best,” he says, stretching. “But no promises, eh?” He kisses her on the cheek, uncharacteristically serious, and saunters off towards the trailer that holds Karl and his Rohirrim. When he turns the corner and disappears, she can hear him bellowing, “Oy, Eomer! Get your pansy horse-riding arse out here!” When she hears Karl’s answering murmur – probably something offensive, probably something she’s glad she didn’t hear – she turns, intending to find her bag and go home, but when she steps inside the trailer, it’s cool and it’s quiet. I’ll just have a cup of tea here, then, she decides, and we’ll see.
She’s puttering around the trailer, dim light thrown from a tiny lamp in the corner, still absently tugging at her hair, when scuffling noises outside the door startle her. At least she thinks she heard something. She’s sure it’s Dominic and Karl, playing a prank on her (or each other), and she yanks it open, prepared to scream bloody murder if they shove anything down her top, or even if they don’t – and it’s Liv.
“Oh,” Liv says. “I didn’t think you were … I mean, I thought you were with Karl and Dom … I just. I just wanted to say hi. If you were here. Since I was here today and there aren’t that many of us, really, and I know we’re not friends but you know, it’s nice to have another woman around sometimes.”
Miranda stares. She knew she’d seen Liv, and … this is just so weird. Not weird like suddenly discovering that orcs are real weird, but weird in that Miranda is not the sort of person other people seek out. And yet Liv is standing here like a six year old, asking Miranda if she wants to play. Miranda can’t make her mouth work yet, so she keeps staring. Rude, but unavoidable.
“I’m sorry,” Liv says, and she starts to turn away. “I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”
“NO!” Miranda practically shouts it, and she reaches out to grab Liv’s arm, sending them both unbalanced on the trailer steps. She doesn’t pull her hand back when they’ve steadied. “I’m the one who should be sorry. It’s just, I thought I saw you, and then you were gone, and when I opened my door it was déjà vu … or something. Come in.”
Miranda knows that, at heart, everyone in the world is really just an insecure kid. Except for maybe Viggo, but then again he’s Viggo and Viggo was 65 years old the day he was born. She makes Liv her own cup of tea and sinks into the chair next to her, and she can’t help but feel that she’s auditioning, that any minute now Liv will pick up her coat and swing her hair over her shoulder and say, “You’re no fun! I’m taking my toys and going home.”
But Liv chatters away at her, like they’re old friends, and after twenty minutes Miranda realizes that she’s relaxed into her chair and is happily trading stupid-things-Viggo’s-done-on-set stories with Liv. She’s still edgy, though, she knows, because she can’t stop yanking her fingers through the ends of her hair, wrestling out knots. Miranda thinks that she might miss Eowyn when this is all finished, because she’ll have nothing to do with her hands if not for the tangled knots of hair. Maybe she’ll take up smoking.
She startles, and Liv is staring at her again, an odd look on her face. “Sorry,” Miranda says. “I got a little caught up in my own universe there. Hazard of spending your waking hours in a fantasy world, I guess. What were you saying?” Yank. Twist. Rip.
“I could help you with that,” Liv says.
“What?” Miranda concentrates on Liv’s face, concentrates on stilling her hand in her hair. “You could help with what?”
“Those knots. From the wig, right? I could comb them out for you. It’s like peeling glue off your ears – you can try and try by yourself, but you’re always going to miss some.”
“Oh … yes. Would you? I just end up pulling at them and I don’t need help from anything but the wig if I wanted to rip my own hair out.” She scrambles to her feet and sifts through the junk on the table for a hairbrush. When she hands it to Liv, Liv motions that she should sit on the floor in front of her.
“Wait,” Liv says. “Have you washed it today? Not that I think you’re dirty or anything but if we put a whole bunch of conditioner on them, it would help. Not yank so much.” She stands up and crosses the trailer in three quick steps, and Miranda can’t do anything but follow.
So she finds herself kneeling on the floor in the tiny trailer bathroom, tipping her head back into the sink and closing her eyes. She feels Liv press past her to turn on the taps, listens to the water running into the basin as Liv fiddles with the hot and the cold, finding something in between scalding and freezing.
Liv’s hands are cool and gentle on Miranda’s scalp and she doesn’t chatter like every hairdresser Miranda’s ever gone to. Liv works quietly, and Miranda thinks she’s humming something faintly familiar under her breath, but it’s so soft that she can’t really tell. The scent of Miranda’s cheap coconut conditioner is filling up the bathroom, mixing with the steam, and it’s so much stronger to Miranda’s senses than it is when she washes her hair herself. She can feel Liv’s fingers tugging at the knots close to her scalp, working the conditioner into the tangles.
“How do you do it?” She hadn’t meant to ask, but Liv obviously has someone who combs the knots out of her hair after a long day of filming.
“Do what,” Liv says, and Miranda can hear the cadences of weeks of studying the Elvish languages flavoring her voice. It’s intensely appealing, and Miranda suddenly wants Liv to keep talking. The sound of Tolkien in her speech is almost intoxicating, and Miranda would never have expected it. Or maybe she would have, in Viggo’s voice, but not in Liv’s. Liv is all Hollywood, that flat California speech that too much time in L.A. inflicts on people – there’s nothing spine-shuddering about it. Except – well, except. Except that it’s changed.
“Keep the knots out of your hair,” Miranda says. “You don’t keep houseboys in your trailer, do you? Because if Peter’s paying for them, I think I’m slightly upset that I don’t have some.”
“Oh,” Liv says. “I just bully whoever’s around into doing it for me. John’s lovely at it, and Orli’s rotten. If you were thinking of letting other elves brush your hair, that is. Don’t ask him.” The water stops with a gurgle and Liv drops a towel in her lap and says, “There. All done. You can stand up now.”
Miranda clambers up awkwardly; kneeling on the floor of the trailer bathroom is not the most graceful position in the world. By the time she’s on her feet, Liv’s banging around in the trailer – Miranda can hear the grind of the table being shoved out of the way. She mops at her hair with the towel Liv gave her, clutches at the one around her neck with her other hand. Her fingers itch to crawl up and tug at the knots, and she fights the urge. “Come on,” Liv calls. “Before your hair dries like that.”
When Miranda settles in front of Liv on the floor, she feels as though she’s 8 years old again, sitting in front of her mother while her mum tugged at knots like these. From being an 8 year old tomboy, she reminds herself, but you’re grown up now. Not your mum. Liv, your coworker. As Liv starts pulling gently at the knots with the comb, Miranda can feel her body going boneless. She doesn’t want to slump against Liv’s legs in an undignified heap – with the way the boys sleep around, Liv might take it the wrong way – but she finds that she can’t help herself. It’s just so nice to have someone tugging at her hair instead of trying to do it herself, and she closes her eyes and leans into Liv’s fingers and if Miranda could purr, she would be right now.
Liv is talking about something inconsequential; something PJ did on set the other day when they were filming one of the Arwen and Elrond scenes, and the sound of her voice washing over Miranda is almost somnambulant. Miranda feels drunk, light-headed and woozy, and she doesn’t know why Liv has got her stomach turned in anticipatory knots, has since Miranda glimpsed her outside Hugo’s trailer an hour ago. What does she think is going to happen, after all?
She’s sleepily twisting and turned her head at Liv’s commands and the thought floats across her mind unbidden. Two women alone in a trailer, brushing each other’s hair. It’s a perfect male fantasy, and Miranda has the sudden thought that this should turn into a lesbian porn romp at any minute.
"If we were in a movie," she giggles, and tilts her head back to look at Liv.
"We are in a movie," Liv says. Her hands have stopped moving, and her fingers are still cool on the nape of Miranda’s neck.
"No, I mean, if this were a movie, right now, it would turn into porn."
Liv laughs, and kisses her.
When you haven’t been kissed by anyone in months – surrounded by men who would rather kiss each other – the press of someone else’s mouth on yours is odd. Kissing is odd, fullstop, Miranda thinks, who thought that putting your mouth on someone else’s was a good idea to begin with? But she’s not one to turn down comfort, and Liv is warm and she smells nice, so Miranda pulls Liv down to the floor with her.
Kissing Liv is nothing like kissing men, because everything underneath her hands now is soft and curvy. Miranda kisses her girlfriends in secondary school – doesn’t everyone? – so kissing women is not unfamiliar, but she doesn’t remember it being this … nice. It had been awkward and interesting and something she thinks everyone should do, kiss their friends, but kissing Liv is something entirely different.
Something, Miranda suddenly thinks, that could go somewhere. Nobody said the boys got to have all the fun, right?
And then she isn’t thinking. She’s kissing Liv, and Liv has one hand at her neck, still untangling knots in her hair, and the other has snaked up Miranda’s shirt and is skimming across her stomach. Liv’s fingers are still smooth, still cool and Miranda wants nothing more at this moment than to arch up into Liv’s touch.
So she does. Liv hums into her mouth, and Miranda skates her tongue across Liv’s bottom lip, running her hands across the small of Liv’s back. Liv’s shirt slides silkily underneath her hands and she slips one up underneath to caress the cool skin. Liv’s back is as smooth and as soft and as cool as her fingers and while Miranda is distracted with Liv’s mouth and her skin, her other idly drifts down to Liv’s ass, skimming over her jeans. Liv makes a pleased sound and pulls away from Miranda’s kiss, trailing her lips across Miranda’s neck. Nipping and licking and sucking, she finds the point at Miranda’s collarbone that makes her throw her head back so forcefully that it thumps against the floor.
Miranda doesn’t care; Liv is pleasantly heavy on top of her, and her hands are working around to Miranda’s back, unhooking the clasp on her bra with a practiced motion that no man had ever fully perfected. As Miranda works a hand between them, aiming for the button on Liv’s jeans, Liv suddenly pulls away.
Miranda freezes, button halfway undone, and stares up at Liv. She’s suddenly struck by the fact that she’s been rolling around on the floor with the daughter of a rock star who’s not just famous in America, like Liv is – but famous everywhere. Miranda is suddenly hugely self-conscious and timid, and she blushes down to the roots of her hair, and starts to pull a hand free to yank on her hair but Liv catches it halfway.
“I didn’t say stop,” Liv says. “I just … wanted to make sure this was okay.”
Miranda can’t think of anything to say back, so she doesn’t try. She pulls her hand gently from Liv’s grasp, snakes it into Liv’s hair, and tugs her down to her mouth.
It’s a blur of hands and mouths and breathless gasping from there on out. Liv’s hands have snuck back under Miranda’s shirt, twisting her nipples gently, and her mouth is sucking on Miranda’s bottom lip. Miranda is trying to find her breath, gasping against Liv’s mouth, as her hands curl into Liv’s jeans. Liv is warm and wet under Miranda’s grasping fingers; she squeaks happily as Miranda ghosts a tentative finger across her clit. Miranda’s hand is twisted in a way that should be uncomfortable, but she’s distracted by Liv’s hands and Liv’s mouth and the way Liv squirms on top of her.
It’s a matter of time, of thrusting fingers and groping hands and warm, wet mouths – Liv shudders under Miranda’s fingers and bites hard on Miranda’s pulse point, gasping into her hair. Miranda squeezes her eyes shut at the harsh feel of Liv’s teeth and writhes against Liv’s thigh, pressed tight between her legs, and comes with hardly a touch.
Time passes. Liv idly combs through Miranda’s hair with her fingers, her cheek resting against Miranda’s shoulder. Miranda hums contentedly, sated and warm, with Liv draped across her chest, one leg still nestled between hers.
“You still have knots,” Liv says. Miranda blinks sleepily at her, Liv’s face almost out of focus so close. “Well, you do,” Liv insists, struggling up from the floor. “Sit up and let me comb them out before we fall asleep on your floor?”
Miranda stays sprawled where she’s fallen. “You didn’t just come out here to see Hugo and comb my hair. Did you?”
Liv blushes to the roots of her hair. It shows on her, like on Miranda, and the sight makes Miranda’s mouth curve unconsciously into a smile. “I did come to see Hugo,” Liv says. “That was true.”
“I told you,” Miranda says. “It’s like porn. Flimsy excuses and hair washing that leads to improprietous sex on the floor of a rented film trailer.”
“I told you so isn’t becoming to your afterglow, Mir,” Liv says. She’s still red. It’s the first time she’s used Miranda’s name since she walked in. Miranda considers her from the floor.
“Is it afterglow?” she asks.
“Is that why you were here?”
“Um,” says Liv. “I thought … I was lonely. The boys are nice, but I don’t have … it’s just me and Hugo, or me and Viggo, all the time, and …”
“Oh,” says Miranda. “Alright.” She holds out an arm to Liv. “Come on. My hair’s waited three months. It can wait another couple of hours.”
Miranda’s not stupid enough to think this will solve anything. It’s the nature of her life to be solitary; it’s always been that way. But Liv is warm, and she’s cleverer than her reputation would have you think. Miranda can live with at least a little comfort in her life – she’d like to come in a pair for once.
Liv settles her head on Miranda’s shoulder. She presses a kiss to the hollow of Miranda’s throat, and curls a hand into her hair.
Miranda falls asleep on the floor of her trailer, Liv’s head pillowed against her shoulder, and she dreams of the plains of Rohan and her hair, whipping endlessly behind her.