Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 19 of 48

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Alice hesitated before knocking on the door to Celeste's work room. She wasn't afraid per say. She was … apprehensive. For all that her mother and sister had taught her about being a lady, how to deal with a jealous rival for a man's attention hadn't been one of them.

Perhaps that had been lingering doubt on their part about her ever actually attempting to secure a gentleman to begin with …

Alice stared at the white door in contemplation. The better side of her said to be polite and gracious and hope that the seamstress did the same. The catty side of her said to be as rude as possible and perhaps channel a bit of Absolem.

The question was, what good would either action do for her?

Acting kind and well comported had the potential of making her look weak, but being rude and unfriendly could result in disastrous rumors spreading through the gossipy White Court.

Such rumors could make it back to Tarrant and cause a further rift between them.

What to do then? Weak yet kind? Or rude but strong?

Then again, she didn't really even know how Celeste would act in her presence …

Since that was the case, Alice made up her mind.

She would be cautiously pleasant, but at the first sign of trouble from Celeste, the claws (or in her case knife) would come out. Nodding assertively to herself, Alice knocked twice and waited.

Celeste opened the door a minute later and bowed her into the room.

"If you would please step on to the stool Miss Alice." Celeste's tone was polite and her smile small. Alice, unsure of how to respond, simply did as she asked. They were quiet as the Celeste began to work. They stayed that way for several minutes. The tension in the room, at least to Alice, seemed to build. Eventually she couldn't take it anymore and decided to break the silence.

"I confess myself surprised that you needed to take my measurements again. I thought from the previous work, you wouldn't have to do so." Her tone was neutral, though she truly was curious.

"The sleeves of the dress will be made purely of the lace, so I need to measure how it will hang from your shoulders and wrists." Celeste did not look up to respond.

"Oh." Alice couldn't think of what else to say, so they lapsed back into silence. Celeste finally stepped away and turned to a pile of fabrics on the table. She retrieved a length of lace from the top and went back to Alice.

"Arms out please Miss Alice." Alice did as she was told. She should have looked at the lace as it had been a thing of curiosity to her for the past two days, but something in Celeste's expression made her pause.

The seamstress almost seemed …

"That is highly uncharitable of you my dear." Chess's smooth voice echoed throughout the room, causing both of them to jump.

"What's the meaning of this Chess?" Alice frowned at the cat that had materialized behind Celeste. She in turn seemed frozen in place.

Chess ignored Alice to float up beside the seamstress and to look at her. He had his trademark grin was in place but his eyes were jewel hard.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Celeste's protest was weak, even to Alice's ears. She felt her own expression darkening. Dropping her arms to her side, she stepped down from the stool and came to stand toe to toe with the frozen woman before her.

"Explain." The comment was directed to Chess, but the underlying threat was there for Celeste.

"That's not the right lace. The lace intended for the ritual has a lavender and honey scent to it. This lace simply smells like … well … lace." Chess was no longer smiling and Celeste was visibly trembling. Alice didn't say a word but her hand unsheathed her knife. Making sure every motion was smooth and visibly exaggerated; she brought the knife of to eye level. She took the lace from Celeste's arms and carefully held it out.

With a flash of silver, Alice brought the knife down swiftly and rent the lace in two. She threw the pieces to the floor and brought the knife back up to Celeste's eyes. How easy would it be to mar that pristine white cheek?

"Careful now love. The law isn't on your side just yet to do that." Chess's careful warning brought Alice back to her senses, but she still didn't lower the knife.

"Is the actual lace in this room Chessur?" She ground out. The cat floated to a pile of fabric in the far corner of the room and withdrew a piece of blindingly white lace. He brought it forward for Alice to glance at. Satisfied, she nodded.

"Good. Would you be so kind as to keep watch over our little deceiver here and make sure she completes her duties properly?" Her voice was hard and she angled the knife a little. Celeste didn't move, still paralyzed by fear.

"Without a doubt love." That Chess wasn't demanding any compensation for his actions spoke of how disturbed by Celeste he was. Alice sent him a small smile of thanks before turning back to Celeste. She was still angry but she knew there were means than violence to accomplish her ends. Still, a small threat couldn't hurt matters.

Alice pressed the knife to Celeste's cheek and slowly brought it down. She didn't press hard enough to break the skin or leave a mark, but the seamstress's eyes widened in terror all the same. Pleased with the reaction, Alice finally stepped back and stomped toward the door.

"Where are you off to oh angry one?" Chess's voice teased. She turned to look at him and the still frozen seamstress.

"To see Tarrant." Alice smirked to herself at Celeste's obvious cringe and left the room.

When Alice burst into Tarrant's work room not five minutes later, he could feel the fury rolling off her in waves. It wasn't nearly as pleasant as the residual heat he was becoming used to.

She never said a word but set to pacing.

Pace 1, 2, 3, 4, turn, 5, 6, 7, 8. Repeat.

"Alice?" He tried to capture her attention. She merely glared at him before making another turn.

Pace 1, 2, 3, 4, turn, 5, 6, 7, 8. Repeat.

Tarrant let her pace for another five minutes before his own patience wore out.

"Alice lass, I won't be able to conduct a final fitting if you don't sit still!" Alice paused mid pace to glare at him even more. The anger on her face had never been directed at him before and the sight of it made his innards quake.

"Forgive me Hatter, but sitting still is the last thing I want to do in the wake of the sabotage your friend almost committed not ten minutes ago." The bitter sarcasm in her voice hit Tarrant like a slap.

"What are ye talking about?" He stuttered. Alice opened her mouth to rail at him but was cut off by Chess's voice.

"She means, the seamstress attempted to replace the ritual lace with ordinary lace except she was caught by yours truly. The proper lace is now upon the ritual gown and is secured within the Queen's apartments. She has already been notified of what occurred of course." Chess seamed too pleased to be telling Tarrant the dire news.

"But why? Why would she do this?" His voice was an anguished whisper. Chess shrugged and his grin slipped.

"You'll have to ask her yourself I think." With that, he disappeared from the room. Confused and a little dazed, Tarrant turned to look at Alice.

She had collapsed in his chair and held her head in her hands, as though is ached. Concerned, Tarrant knelt before her and reached out for her hands. Still Alice kept her head bowed.

"Alice lass, it'll be alright. There's nothing more to be upset about now." He tried to be cajoling but heard the edge of desperation in his own voice. Alice must have heard it too because she finally looked up at him.

Tarrant wanted to weep at the look of despair in her eyes. He also wanted to crush the person who had put it there. That person was someone he considered a dear friend though and he couldn't help but feel guilty for such a thought. Alice's wavering voice brought him back into focus.

"Nothing to be upset about? Hatter, my life, the future I want so badly in this world was almost ripped away from me by someone I should have been able to trust! I can't help but to think of what might have happened if I couldn't have stayed in Underland. What would have happened to the Queen or Marmoreal? What would have happened to you?" The last question was released with half a sob, yet no tears had escaped their casement in Alice's eyes.

Tarrant reach out and brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes.

"Ach lass. Don't ye worry about me. What matters most is yer happiness. What can I do now to make ye happy again?" The brogue was thick but it seemed to calm her a little. She rubbed the tears from her eyes and stared at him briefly. Then she clasped his hands in her own.

"Be my sponsor tomorrow Hatter. That will make me happy again." Tarrant stared at her in frank surprise. Fearing he would reject the idea, Alice squeezed his hands and pleaded.

"Please Hatter, I can't imagine anyone –" He cut her off by pulling her into a fierce hug. He buried his face in her the crook of her neck before whispering into her ear.

"Aye lass. I can do that." Alice sucked in a breath at the feel of his warm breath on the shell of her ear. As the words registered, she hugged him back even tighter.

Finally breaking apart, Tarrant beamed at her and told her to take a seat so they could finish fitting her veil. Alice complied still smiling. As Tarrant placed the veil on her head and made slight adjustments, Alice let her mind wonder. Did brides wear veils in Underland?

The thought made her blush uncontrollably and she was grateful Tarrant couldn't see her face from this angle.

Finally he pronounced the work complete and set the veil in her hands to examine.

The lace truly was exquisite and extremely light. The pattern was made up of birds, flowers, and stars. More surprisingly, even though it probably shouldn't have been Alice mused, was the images of spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds that were interwoven with the nature imagery.

"Alice?" Tarrant's voice was worried. Looking up, she saw his eyes were turning grey. Hoping to quell his fears she smiled at him.

"It's perfect Hatter. I think it will go well with everything tomorrow." She handed the veil back to him as his eyes returned to emerald.

"Shall I escort you back to the Queen?" His eyes were so hopeful for more time together that Alice didn't have the heart to deny him. Slipping her arm through his, they set off back to the Queen's apartments.

They found Mirana bent frowning over a ledger, but she smiled upon seeing them. The slight gleam in her eyes made Alice blush again and step toward her usual chair. Tarrant, although confused by her sudden distance, remained smiling. He handed Mirana the veil.

"This should be put with the rest of her wardrobe please Majesty." Mirana nodded and left the room briefly. Upon her return, she discovered Tarrant reading over Alice's shoulder and the young woman in question leafing through the pages of her book. Hating to disrupt the tranquility of the scene but needing to, she finally spoke.

"Alice, have you decided who your sponsor will be?"

Alice bent her head back to look at Tarrant who smiled and nodded at her. She then looked back to Mirana and smiled.

"Hatter." One simple, pure statement that made everyone in the room entirely content.

"Good. Well, as cozy as this is, you and I need to go over the details for tomorrow, and Tarrant, I believe there are a few of my court still expecting head wear for the ceremony." She said briskly.

Grinning sheepishly, Tarrant bowed himself out of the room and closed the door upon the young women who had started to talk quietly.

Instead of returning to his work room though, he set his feet in the opposite direction. As he took each step his heart sank a little more. Finally he came to his destination. He didn't bother to knock before swinging the door open.

Celeste sat at her work table, drumming her fingers on the wood surface and scowling into the distance. When she caught sight of him, her face began to brighten but fell again at the look of hurt on his face. He didn't even let her begin to defend herself.


Celeste pursed her lips before answering.

"I thought it was for the best." She finally replied.

"Why?" Celeste frowned at the repeating question.

"Because she doesn't belong here Tarrant. She's from Above." Thinking that was explanation enough, she took her seat again and delicately crossed her ankles. Tarrant gaped at her openly.

"Doesn't belong here? By Fate woman! Her curiosity, strength, and muchness are the bread and butter of Underland!" Normally Tarrant never shouted at Celeste, but his voice was steadily increasing in volume. Celeste's expression became more frustrated.

"And what of her life above Tarrant? What happens when she decides that she is needed more up there and not here? Hmm? What then?" Her bitterness made her tone and expression ugly. Tarrant hated hearing the same dark thoughts he had kept to himself voiced out loud. He sunk into the chair across from her and looked at her balefully.

"She said she had answered all her questions." His voice was sad. Celeste shook her head at him slowly, as though she understood Alice better than he did.

"And what of her family? Her friends? Do you think it was easy for her to give those people up? Do you think she will forget them eventually? Likely not Tarrant. One day, the hurt of missing them will become too much and she will leave again." Tarrant shook his head wildly.

"Nay! That would hurt me and me Alice has promised to never do so again." Celeste sighed as his impassioned brogue. She had always hoped that one day it would be directed at her. Not like this though. She decided to play her last card.

"But what if she left someone even greater behind Tarrant? What if she left a lover behind?" Tarrant openly flinched at the words so she continued on. "She's a beautiful young woman as you well know. I have no doubt she left a long line of suitors behind her and more than likely one of them meant a great deal to her."

The look of hurt on Tarrant's face killed Celeste but she felt she had no choice to implant these thoughts in his head. His eyes were slate grey and he looked close to tears. He took a few deep shuddering breaths before answering her.

"I – she – we will cross that bridge when the time comes." His voice was quiet and devoid of emotion. The look on his face was changing rapidly from pain to righteous anger though. Yellow eyes glared at her underneath the brim of his hat.

"Until then Celeste, you will leave Alice alone. I won't let her choices be taken from her ever again. Not by me, not by the Queen, and most especially not by you. Try and hurt her as such again, and I will never forgive nor seek you out again." He rose rapidly from his chair and stormed from the room.

Celeste was left stunned. She had known Tarrant Hightopp a long time and had been in love with him for nearly as long. Yet never in all her years, had he reacted so strongly because of one person. Obviously attacking Alice physically was out of the question.

It seemed she would have to take a different approach to get what she wanted.

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 19 of 48

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