Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 40 of 48

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The oak door swung open to reveal the Kingsleigh butler. He was just as Alice remembered him, tall, gaunt, and wearing overly large bifocals. His black suit was crisp and clean, the only thing slightly odd in his attire being the bright yellow handkerchief in his breast pocket. Alice smiled fondly at it, recognizing Charles Kingsleigh's legacy.

Her father, ever the dreamer and ever willing to thumb his nose at society (subtly of course!), had given a bright handkerchief to every one of the Kingsleigh staff members as part of the uniform. Even her and Margaret's governess had been given one. It made her happy to know her mother had not broken with that particular tradition.

She looked back up at the man's face to see his mouth a gape and couldn't help ginning unrepentantly at him.

"Hello Rollins! Would you be kind enough to alert my mother that her wayward daughter has come home?"

"Y—yes Miss A—Alice! One – one moment please." Rollins sputtered and took off up the front stairs, completely forgetting to motion them into the house. Alice continued to grin and directed Tarrant inside.

He was instantly fascinated by the large grandfather clock sitting in the front entry way. It was a handsome piece, the face decorated with an image of the raging sea against the white cliffs of Dover.

"A family heirloom." She said nodding to the clock. Tarrant nodded enthusiastically.

"A lovely bit of craftsmanship! I shall have to do a rendering for Time, he'll be most intrigued."

Alice cocked her head to the side and regarded him curiously.

"When I returned last time you and Time were on bad terms. What changed?"

"Why it was –"

"Oh Alice!"

They both turned quickly to see Helen Kingsleigh rush down the wide stair case. In a flurry of deep plum skirts and white petticoats, Alice found herself enfolded in her mother's keen embrace. The hug seemed to go on and on, but Alice reveled in every second of it.

She had not realized up until this point how much she had missed her mother. Helen Kingsleigh still smelled of lavender and strawberry jam and Alice could feel her mother's cameo pressing coolly against her cheek. She blinked her own tears upon hearing her mother's sniffling. She pulled back to see usually sharp blue eyes rimmed red.

"Oh Mother." Mrs. Kingsleigh huffed and loosened her hold.

"Don't you 'Oh Mother' me! Six months of no contact whatsoever, not a letter, not a telegraph, not even a note! How else do you expect me to react when my youngest daughter returns home from God knows where, doing God knows what?"

Alice had to give her that.

"Forgive me Mother. I'm here now though." Alice gave her a wobbly smile. Mrs. Kingsleigh sighed and touched her daughter's cheek gently.

"Yes and I am happier for it." Her eyes shifted to Tarrant standing quietly behind Alice. Helen Kingsleigh kept her expression as neutral as possible. With his bright orange hair sticking out of that … interestingly constructed hat, he seemed to be quite the character. She had the distinct feeling of who this man was to her daughter and she wasn't quite sure if she was ready for such a … colorful presence in her family.

Alice followed her mother's stare and took a deep breath. She took her mother's hand and lightly led her to where Tarrant stood. As they drew near, she let go of her mother and moved to rest her hand on his shoulder.

Another deep breath.

"Mother, this is my husband, Tarrant Hightopp. Tarrant, my mother, Helen Kingsleigh."

Tarrant stepped forward and bowed over her mother's hand. Upon standing he smiled brightly at her.

"Madam Kingsleigh! It is an honor to meet you at last! I see now where my Alice gets her bonnie looks from!" He lisped happily.

Helen Kingsleigh blinked once, then twice before her face split into a good natured grin.

"The pleasure is mine Tarrant, but please, do call me Helen." She squeezed Tarrant's hand affectionately.

"As you wish my lady."

Alice exhaled a sigh of relief. She should never have doubted (albeit silently) her husband's ability to charm someone.

"Come my dears, let us get you settled and then we can catch up." Helen led the way up the front stair case. They passed down the hall, Alice every now and then having to yank Tarrant away from particular painting.

"Here we are, Alice I hope you don't mind using your old room for your stay? I could air out one of the guest rooms if you like …" Helen's voice trailed off.

"This will be perfectly fine, thank you Mother." She smiled comfortingly at the older woman. Helen nodded and moved to the door.

"Come find me in the front parlor when you're finished getting unpacked."

And with that they were alone.

Alice went and wound her arms around her husband's neck. She rested her head on his chest and felt his cheek settle against her curls.

"We're going to be alright lass. Ye know that right?" He murmured. Alice pulled back and watched the varying shades of green swirl in his eyes.

"Yes, yes I believe you're right. How can we not be as long as we're together?" She smiled softly. He chucked her under the chin and then placed a lingering kiss upon her lips.

"That's my Alice." He whispered as he pulled away.

They moved about quietly putting their things away. Tarrant's shirts and trousers were folded into drawers along with Alice's under garments while their coats and her dresses were hung in the wardrobe. Alice sat down at her vanity and smiled fondly the items scattered atop it.

Various unused vials of perfume, a seam ripper (she wondered if Tarrant would like another one), a music box Margaret have given her on her twelfth birthday, and framed photo of her late grandmother and herself. She heard Tarrant chuckle behind her and turned to see him looking at the photograph.

"Your hair was certainly in want of cutting back then." His eye twinkled mischievously and she threw him a saucy look.

"You still need to learn to not make personal remarks." She tried to sound severe but couldn't keep the amusement from her voice. Tarrant's gaze sharpened and turned slightly predatory. He lazily strolled up to her and grazed his fingers over her cheek bones.

"Is that so lass?" His voice dropped to its low brogue. "Shall I not be telling ye how bonnie, how lovely, how completely Alice you are? Hmm?"

Alice swallowed audibly.

"No, to not do so would be awfully rude to your dear wife." She whispered. Tarrant's mouth curved into a sort of triumphant smirk.

"That's what I thought." He leaned close to her, their lips just centimeters apart … and then he drew away and practically skipped toward the door.

"Come my Alice, you mother awaits us!"

And with that he was out the door.

Alice stared at the empty space he left and felt the heat rise in her cheeks.

"Tarrant Hightopp, get back here and kiss me damn it!"

She faintly heard his chuckle down the hall and stood up quickly to follow, all the while muttering familiar words about teasing husbands and their being hell bent on torturing the women they claimed to love.


Helen Kingsleigh was fairly certain she had heard Alice's curse from her seat in the parlor but chose not to mention it as the couple finally wandered in from the upper floor. Alice was glaring mulishly at her husband who was grinning rather madly back at her.

Yes, a well suited couple indeed.

"Come now my dears, tell me everything." Helen motioned them to the loveseat across from her own wing backed chair by the fire place. They quickly sat and she launched into her questions.

"So tell me Tarrant, what is it that you do for a living?"

Tarrant cleared his throat and shot Alice a quick glance before answering.

"I'm a laird back in my homeland and am in service to the Queen. I have a small haberdashery business on the side as well."

An obviously rehearsed answer but one she was willing to overlook.

"Well that sounds perfectly lovely. What have you been up to in the strange land Alice?"

"I've become an advisor to the Queen mother." Helen raised an eyebrow at her daughter's clipped tone.

"Oh? Over trade I'm assuming?"

"Among other things." Alice nodded.

"Hmmm. Well, so long as you're happy I guess. Where are the two of you residing in this land?"

Alice opened her mouth to answer but Tarrant beat her to it.

"Her Majesty has been gracious enough to provide us apartments for our use within the castle, but I have hopes to return to my family seat next year."

He cast a wary glance at Alice to gauge her reaction. He had planned on bringing this up when they returned back to Underland, but if Fate was presenting the opportunity, well, he might as well take it.

Alice raised her eyebrows slightly but her answering smile was radiant.

"Yes, it's time the place was rebuilt. It suffered during the past war and it is high time that it see beauty once again."

Helen nodded thoughtfully, her face suddenly pensive.

"You sound quite busy." She murmured quietly.

"Yes, quite busy. But it feels good to be useful." Alice grinned happily.

"So I shan't be expecting grandchildren from the two of you anytime soon?"

Alice sputtered incoherently and would have fallen off the loveseat if Tarrant hadn't the sense to catch her.

"No mother. Not anytime soon, no." Alice looked frantically to Tarrant, who was nodding vigorously and looking just as panicked as she felt.

Helen simply smiled at them innocently.

"Speaking of grandchildren, how is Margaret?"

Apparently this was the wrong thing to ask, for her mother's face turned white. Alice moved as if to comfort her, expecting the worst, until she saw the angry tick in Helen Kingsleigh's otherwise smooth cheek.

"She had her baby last month out in the country, a lovely young lad by the name of Joseph Stephen." She smiled slightly at this news before her face hardened again. Alice had a vague sense of where this storm was brewing from, so she jumped straight to the point.

"And Lowell?"

"Lowell is dead."

Silence reigned over the company for several moments as Alice processed what her mother had said.

"How? Why?" She eventually mustered. Helen's mouth became a thin line.

"He was killed in a fight over some actress he's been keeping here in the city. Shot twice and then the doxy took all the money he had on his person and took off with the other man."

"Poor Margaret." Alice murmured.

"Don't worry yourself over your sister too much. She apparently knew for quite some time what was going on."

Alice raised an eyebrow at this which Helen returned with a shrug.

"When is she returning or should I go to see her?" Alice asked quietly. She felt Tarrant reach out and squeeze her hand in comfort.

"She's in mourning of course, but I think under the … circumstances Alice should see her sister right away." He lisped softly. Helen nodded in agreement.

"You can take the family carriage tomorrow if you'd like to go visit her."

Alice nodded gratefully and looked out the window. The room was quiet except for the sound of the carriage clock ticking on the mantle.

Eventually Alice returned from her own little world and focused back on her mother.

"So mother, what have you been doing in my absence?"

Helen Kingsleigh brightened immediately and launched into the ins and outs of London society that had occurred in Alice's absence. For another hour they sat there listening to her ramble on about the various charity functions, galas, and tea parties she had attended. She waxed and waned over who had been spotted together at said events and who was recently engaged and/or married. When the clock chimed noon, they all jumped.

"Oh my, is that the time? I'm sorry my dears, I really must be going. I'm meeting Mrs. Baylor and the London Ladies Charitable Sewing Circle in an hour. Alice, feel free to show Tarrant around the house and perhaps you should show him the neighborhood. You know seeing it on foot is far more enjoyable than seeing it from a carriage window. I'll be back around supper time!"

She swooped down upon them and dropped a kiss on Alice's cheek and then Tarrant's before she sailed through the door and out of the house, calling for the Kingsleigh carriage as she went.

Tarrant blinked in confusion at the sudden change and looked to see his wife staring broodily out the window again.

"Alice? What troubles you?" He wrapped an arm about her shoulder, drawing her into the solid warmth of his side.

"There was one name she didn't mention in that list of people that should have been at the top of recent happenings." She muttered.

"Who?" He asked worriedly. Alice turned to face him, her eyes clouded with uneasiness.

"Ascot. More importantly, Hamish Ascot."

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 40 of 48

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