Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 12 of 22

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I Love My Love

Uliealchen Day

Someone was attempting to wake him, he grasped foggily. He tipped his hat back, so that he could see. The Queen stood before him flanked by two Knights. She bent forward, her palms suspended before her.

"Hatter, we need you to leave this room."

He blinked his eyes in the dark of the room with the curtains drawn tight. He shifted so that he could see around the group before him. Alice was still lying in bed with her hair tumbled about her in a halo of gold.

"Have you…" he cleared his throat, which was dry like cotton. "Have you given her a potion?"

"No, Hatter." The Queen placed a hand on her shoulder, "Step outside the room with me, please."

If Alice was not yet cured, why would he leave the room?

"Sirs," she said, standing upright.

The Knights, as if acting in unison, reached forward and grabbed him by the shoulders, hauling him upright.

"Ho! Whit's this?" he shouted, as they dragged him towards the door, kicking helplessly.

"Quiet, Hatter, you'll disturb Alice," Mirana advised him.

Torn between preventing them from taking him from the room and not wanting to wake Alice, Hatter settled for thrashing somewhat violently but silently. Once they had succeeded in getting him through the door, the Queen pressed him down onto a bench and the Knights stood before Alice's door, spears drawn ominously.

"There, now we can talk without waking her, hmm?" she said sweetly with a twirl of her fingers.

Tarrant pressed his hat down further on his head, clenching his teeth. "Whit's wrong wi' her? Did Nivens bring ye back a medical book?"

"Yes, he did," Mirana responded, sitting beside him on the bench. "I've determined a diagnosis."

"An'?" he urged her to continue, his fingers digging into his thighs.

The Queen stared forward, her head tilting slightly. "It's the grippe."[1]

"Th' grippe?" He did not like the sound of that: it did not sound good. Grippe, grim, grime, gloom, glum, grief…

"According to the book Nivens brought me, the grippe has certain characteristics: fever, pain, catarrh, and physical and mental depression. Grippe can attack with great suddenness, sometimes seizing one with a severe chill that is then followed by pain in the head, back, and limbs, or soreness of the muscles and fever. The eyes become reddened and sensitive to light…" she drifted off, not finishing, but turning to watch him fidget and twist. "You do not need all the particulars, perhaps."

"How come ye hivna gied her a potion yet?" he mumbled, digging his fingers deeper into his thighs so as to prevent them from flying up to tear at his hair.

"The treatments that are suggested," she said, steepling her fingertips together, "are a liquid diet: milk, soup, whiskey, rum."

"Tea?" he asked, swallowing.

"Yes, tea, I imagine. But, there is no potion, Hatter."

Tarrant hung his head, pressing his heels into his eyes until he saw stars. Outside yet again. In and out without having to ever move one's feet.

He groaned. No cure? Death. He was losing Alice.

"I've sunk beneath the summer's sun,

And trembled in the blast;

But my pilgrimage is nearly done,

The weary conflict's past;

And when the green sod wraps my grave,

Oh, his heart, his heart is broken

For the love of Alice Gray.

Oh my heart, my heat is breaking,

For the love of Alice Gray."[2]

He rocked back and forth, feeling Mirana's soft touch on his shoulder during his ever increasingly loud recitation.

"Hatter!" she said, calling him back, but the voices were deafening. "Don't speak of graves, Hatter, please."

He stood up, throwing off her light grip. "Hiv thaim open that door," he demanded, gesturing towards the Knights who were blocking the door. "Hiv thaim open 'at door or A'll git ma sword."

The Queen stood, pressing her lips together before forcing a smile: "I cannot let you in there."

"How come nae?" he asked, fretfully adjusting his hat.

The Queen raised one finger to her lips, contemplating the room before explaining, "The doctors Above do not know what causes the grippe, but it is contagious."

"Smittish?" he asked, wringing his hands. "Ah dinna care! A'm awantin' tae bade wi' Alice."[3]

"I cannot have an epidemic breaking out in Underland, Hatter," she said with a half-smile.

"Ah...A'v awready bin exposed. Sending me awa' noo wilna dae any guid." He might be mad, but surely she would see the reason in that. He was desperate for her to see how Necessary it was that he be with Alice.

"That's why I need you to go to your chamber and stay there, Hatter, where you cannot expose anyone else. And in case you haven't caught it, I need you to not go back into Alice's chamber."

"Wha's gaun tae tak' care o' her?"[4] He wanted to be with her; care for her; wipe her brow; give her tea. How could the Queen ask him to go away? Did the Queen not see that what she was asking of him was impossible?

"I will," she answered cheerily.

"Ye? Ye'll endanger yersel' bit nae let me be wi' th' lassie?"

"Oh, don't trouble yourself about that, my dear Hatter," she said placing her hand on his back and attempting to usher him down the hallway. "Nothing can happen to me."

He attempted to dig his heels in, but the attempt might have been more successful on something other than the slick surface of polished white marble currently beneath his boot heels. He could have immobilized the Queen quite easily, but then, he also would have to Hurt her, and those pesky guards were standing by ready to Hurt him. I dinna want tae hurt the Queen, he sternly reminded himself.

"Howfur dae ye knaw ye'll nae catch it?" he asked, crossing his hands across his chest and tucking his head, stopping his struggle for a moment. If the Queen knew that she would be well, did she also know whether Alice would be well?

"I know, and I know that Alice would not want you to risk yourself."

He did not like anyone pretending to know what Alice would do or want, because Alice was so very complicated and uniquely Alice, but he decided not to voice his irritation with the Queen, since Alice's life was in her hands. He very much needed Alice alive.

He cleared his throat, taking a deep breath to clear out the voices and rage before he began, "I cannot do without her. Take care of her?"

The Queen pressed one hand over her heart, vowing, "I promise, I will, as you have taken care of me, dear Hatter."

Hatter lay in his bedchamber staring up at the ceiling and slowly turning his hat round as it was propped on his chest. Separated as he was from his hat making, he was left alone with the torment of the voices, which were very active. They had all manner of hateful Things to say to him regarding Alice. Things he could hardly bear to hear. Alice was sick, very sick. She was laying abed.

Eppie Marly's turned sae fine,

She'll no gang out to herd the swine,

But lies in her bed till eight or nine,

And winna come down the stairs to dine.[5]

Alice had come back to him, so he had imagined that he need not put into motion all of the mad plans he had for the Hat House or himself should Alice fail to return. Given her current state of health, however, those plans might still very much be of use, he found. For, he had no wish to be in a world without Alice. Not anymore. It did not matter if she loved him in return or not, he only wanted to be near her: to be a part of her universe, circling within her gravitational force.

No one had brought word of Alice, and he knew not how much Time had passed since he had been shuttled off. What he instinctively knew was the current color of his eyes: he did not need a looking glass for that bit of information. After pacing frantically and nearly tearing his hair out, he had collapsed on the floor to stew and fret in immobility.

"Hatter," a voice called to him, sounding rather smaller than his voices usually did. "Hatter," the voice called again.

Then he felt something tug on his sleeve and he chanced a look down. Mallymkun stared up at him with a sullen look.

"You're not supposed to be in here," he said, placing his hat over his face. "I'm contagious," he informed her, the sound of his voice echoing within the hat. "Or rather, I might be. I could be. Having been with Alice for some hours, given that she is ill and contagious, it is quite possible…"

"Hatter!" Mally shouted.

He lifted the brim of his hat up an inch so that he could see her once more. "I'm fine. Thank you." Far less than fine, truthfully, but if he gave voice to what he was actually feeling, it would overpower him altogether.

"Have you brought word of Alice?" he inquired evenly, before a giggle escaped due to the effort of maintaining his false composure.

"No, and I had to sneak past a guard just so that I could see you. A small size has its benefits, you know. The Alice could never sneak under a door to see you," she said, climbing up his arm and onto his chest. "Such great care is being taken to lock the both of you up. What is wrong with the Alice?"

Hatter let his arm fall to his side with a solid thump, taking the hat with it. "The grippe."

"The grippe?" Mally repeated back to him inquisitively.

"Some loathsome Otherlander illness, the Queen tells me. Contagious, unknown cause, dreadful symptoms, no potions to be had," he sighed.

He was trying very hard to concentrate on not thinking about It, but It kept creeping before his vision in all its horrifying Blackness. His mind was fairly full to brim with trying not to let It in. Alice, dearest Alice was ill and could…

"They try to beat me, they try in vain. And when I win, I end the pain," he moaned.[6]

"I won't solve that riddle, Hatter," Mally obstinately replied.

"Aye. Dinna," he agreed. He had no wish to actually hear It voiced. The madness had simply allowed It to slip out for just a moment.

Mally wiggled her nose, considering something silently. "I'm sorry to hear that the Alice is sick, Hatter," she finally concluded.

He had come to the conclusion that Mally did not much care for Alice or did not much care for his caring for Alice, so he was somewhat puzzled by her comment. But then, he was in a general state of Disarray, so nothing much made sense to him at the moment. His senses, such as they were, had left him entirely.

"I know you quite…dote on her," Mally said, looking down at her feet, "and we all…we all want you to be happy," she finished.

Hatter experienced a burning in his chest and he squeezed his eyes shut tightly. He felt Mally balance herself carefully as he drew a deep breath that threatened to dislodge her from her perch.

"I shan't be happy until Alice is well," he admitted, scrubbing his face with the hand not engaged in holding his hat.

Mally grabbed her tail, letting it slide through her little paws. "She is in the best of hands," she offered hopefully, "and she is the Champion."

"Yes, she is," the Hatter agreed. "She is not some weak, fainting, frivolous example of the sex."

"She killed the Jabberwocky," Mally said, patting her own sword with her paw, "and tamed the Bandersnatch…surely she can conquer the grippe."

Tarrant picked his hat up, placing it over his eyes yet again and speaking into the hat, "I'm sure," he agreed with more certainty than he felt.


Madersnare Day

"A'v hud enough o' this. Let me thro'!" the Hatter bellowed at the Knight posted at Alice's chamber door. "Is th' Queen wi' her?" he asked, fingering his sheathed claymore sword.

The Knight just barely shook his head in the negative.

"It haes bin four days at least, an' Ah wilna staund by ony langer. Let me in!" he demanded, pulling his sword halfway from its scabbard.

This was the third time in as many days as Hatter had made such a scene, usually to be dragged away by summoned Knights, but it was just he and the posted guard at this moment and he intended on making the most of his powers of persuasion.

Shaking his fist an inch from the Knight's face, Hatter grinned maniacally. "Ye would mak' an ill-faured mimsy hat, ye would. Bit that wouldna stop me."[7]

With a shake of the head, the Knight moved his spear aside and took one step to the left. Sometimes it paid to be a madman. Impediment removed, the Hatter strode past the Knight and drew open the door. The room was still darkened with the curtains drawn shut, but he could see Alice propped against a plethora of pillows, and at the sound of his entrance her eyes opened. Hatter kicked the door shut and nearly tripped over himself hurrying to her bedside.

He took her face in his hands. "You're awake," he softly lisped.

"Hello, Tarrant," she said, smiling weakly.

He did not want to let her go; he wanted to go on touching her smooth cheeks that no longer burned with fever forever. Her lips! He could not help but look at her lips, and he was seized by an almost insatiable desire to kiss her—to press his lips to hers as he had outside of the Hat House, when he had thought her to be His Alice. She was Alive. Alice was here and Real and Alive.

Alice might be Alive, but he must not think those Thoughts, he reminded himself: kissing and touching and…

"Alice," he said with wonder, running his thumbs over her cheeks. "Are ye feelin' better, luve?"

She nodded, replying softly, "Not quite myself, but much better."

"I suggested to the Queen that she might give you tea. Tea does wonderful things, you know, for the body, soul, and senses."

She smiled indulgently at him and then frowned, saying, "I do not think you are supposed to be in here, Hatter, dear. The Queen says that I am contagious."

Her voice sounded weak, and his hands slipped from her cheeks as his stomach twisted into nervous knots. "Please dinna ask me tae lea. A'v bin wantin' tae be wi' ye fur days."

He cringed at his pleading tone, but Alice did not seem to mind. She patted the bed, wordlessly asking him to sit. Hatter hesitated for one moment: he had brought Alice to Marmoreal clothed only in his nightshirt and now he had forced his way inside her chamber, where he expressly had been told not to go. Now was he to sit with her in her bed? He could not devote much energy to worrying about what others might think of him, but he had nagging doubts about the Wisdom of not being concerned on Alice's behalf. Three hundred and sixty notions on how he might respond to her silent request circled through his head and once complete had brought him back to the same place still unmoving and undecided.[8]

He attempted to fidget with his bowtie, but he discovered that it was untied. He was appearing before Alice not properly dressed. Undressed, beds, nightclothes…

"Hatter?" she said, biting her lower lip. "Is everything all right?"

He nodded, deciding it best not to disappoint her. He carefully balanced himself on the edge of the bed, as he spoke, "Yes. Everything is all right now that you are feeling better."

"I don't remember," she said, inclining back further into the pillows and briefly closing her eyes, "but the Queen tells me that you brought me here, carried me from your house," she finished, her eyes opening again and settling on his hand, which was inches away from hers.

Did Alice want him to take her hand, he wondered? Knowing what Alice Wanted was something he endeavored to achieve, but which was not always easy. He covered her hand with his, and she did not flinch. Perhaps he had guessed correctly.

"I want to thank you," she continued.

He had endlessly replayed those heated hours, when he had carried Alice, unconscious and occasionally mumbling incoherently with her brow inclined on his chest. It was best that she did not remember: he did not want her to ever remember pain or suffering. He squeezed her hand.

"Ye wur dreadfully unweel, lassie," he said softly, looking down at their clasped hands. Now, however, she was on the mend. His heart swelled with pride: Alice could defeat anything. Bandersnatches, Jabberwockies, and Otherlander Illnesses could not stop Alice.

"I owe you my life then, I think."

He inwardly shook himself. Get a hold of yourself, old man. Do not Gaze so on your hand and Alice's.

"You do not owe me anything. The Queen did it all."

"Come now, you won't take any credit?" she teased, shifting beneath the sheets.

"Credit? Well now," he pondered. "I'm afraid, Alice, I must admit that I merely…did what I could to keep you with me." He laughed silently, tramping down the eddy of emotions that rose up at the thought of Alice leaving. It made him want to hold her to his chest and not let her go for any reason. "Ah knaw 'tis slurvish o' me, bit ah canna hiv ye lea me. Nae for Otherland, nae for onything."

The accent again—the madness was so close to the surface and it did not take much to tip the balance. He held his breath, waiting for Alice to say that she would indeed be leaving by and by, despite his Wishes otherwise. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.[9] She had every right to go, after all. What did she care about the desires of an old Mad Hatter?

"It would be selfish, Hatter, if it was only what you wanted. But it's what I want as well. I want to be in Underland. I'm not leaving."

His head popped up with eyes gone wide. Was Alice delirious? "What was that?" he lisped.

"I said: I'm not leaving. I intend to stay."

Tarrant had all he could do not to scoop her up and dance her around the room. His mind was crowded with any number of pleasant Thoughts that wished to gain the upper hand.

He ran his thumb over her knuckles and raised her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss there. "Cannot be bought, cannot be sold, even if it's made of gold," he said, smiling against her smooth hand.

"Mmm…" Alice pondered.

He looked up over her hand to watch her face as she figured through the riddle, as he knew she would. So clever, Alice was.

"A heart," she responded.

"Yes: you have made mine very happy," he confessed gently.

Alice's muchness must have rubbed off a bit on him, because he did not know where those words had come from. After all, he was attempting not to confuse Alice with his Inappropriate Feelings for her. The lass knew that he loved her and that was enough.

"This is where I want to be. I…" she paused as her free hand fluttered up to her head, "I made all the necessary arrangements, said my goodbyes...Oh," she murmured.

"Whit's wrong?" he asked, releasing her hand and stretching up a trembling hand to caress her temple with his be-thimbled fingers.

"My head is a muddle. It feels like someone is playing lawn tennis inside or croquet with large mallets in there."

"Sounds dreadful," he said with a frown. "I am well acquainted with such ailments, as you might imagine," he said, before bending forward to press a kiss to her forehead. He spoke against her smooth brow, "I should let you rest."

But, she surprised him by grasping the lapels of his coat and softly holding him in place. Such an awful amount of muchness, Alice possessed. He pressed his forehead against hers, sharing the same air as her. Alice Air—the most precious air in all of Underland. The bread-and-butterflies became very active, fluttering quickly within his stomach: it was a most exhilarating feeling.

"Thank you," she whispered so close to him that he could almost feel her lips move. "I'll see that you get your reward…when I am better."

Tarrant thought he detected a teasing note in her tone. His eyes darted back and forth, trying to measure her meaning. Alice could not know what she was about: pressed so close to him and speaking in this throaty manner.

"Since, I believe you're too afraid to take it now," she added.

"Afraid?" he nearly squeaked, still mere millimeters from her.

"Of contagion?" she asked.

"Oh!" he exclaimed softly. "Oh!" he repeated, as it dawned on him what Alice meant.

He stood upright, disentangling himself from Alice. His heart raced, running away with itself for unknown destinations. He would have to chastise it at a later date for its impudence, insolence, and impertinence.

Alice wanted a kiss. Or rather, she wanted to give him a kiss. Perhaps one of the lovely kisses she had pressed to his cheek. Oh! How he would love that, for he was collecting Memories of all those kisses in a special box.

"As for that," he said, sticking his hands in his waistcoat, "I am not afraid of you. But, I would rather take my reward when I can be assured that you are quite well. Fully Alice, Picture of Health and Consciousness."

"You think I am not in my right mind?" she asked, raising her brows in mock seriousness.

"I am no judge of mindset, but I would rather that you…not be in bed," he struggled to finish.

Not in bed. Not with the madness always lurking around the corner and waiting to make him do Bad Things.

"Your eyes," Alice murmured, turning her cheek into the cool of the pillow. "I like when they're blue."

"Hmm…" Hatter pondered, looking up at the ceiling and wondering where his nightshirt had gone, since Alice was now dressed in a feminine nightshirt with lacy cuffs. "I find it rather embarrassing," he admitted.

Alice extended her hand to him, and linking two fingers in his she stroked his palm.

"Please, don't," she said.

[1] The grippe is influenza.

[2] This tune is from The Songs of England (ca. 1879). The music is by Mrs. P. Millard and the words are by William Mee. The first two verses are:

"She's all my fancy painted her,

She's lovely, she's divine,

But her heart it is another's,

She never can be mine;

Yet lov'd I as man never lov'd,

A love without decay,

Oh! my heart, my heart is breaking

For the love of Alice Gray!


Her dark brown hair is braided

O'er a brow of spotless white;

Her soft blue eye now languishes,

Now flashes with delight;

Her hair is braided not for me,

The eye is turned away;

Yet my heart, my heart is breaking

For the love of Alice Gray."

[3] smittish — contagious (Sc); bade — stay, remain (Sc)

[4] wha – who (Sc); wha's – who is (Sc)

[5] "Eppie Marley" is an anti-Jacobite nursery rhyme from the eighteenth century recited by Scottish Highlanders. The rhyme was later changed to "Elsie Marley".

"Saw ye Eppie Marly, honey,

The woman that sells the barley, honey?

She's lost her pocket and a' her money,

Wi' following Jacobite Charlie, honey.

Eppie Marly's turned sae fine,

She'll no gang out to herd the swine,

But lies in her bed till eight or nine,

And winna come down the stairs to dine."

[6] The answer is: death.

[7] ill-faured – ill favored, ugly (Sc); mimsy – combination of 'flimsy' and and 'miserable'

[8] 360˚ in a circle.

[9] The first version of this rhyme with close to the modern wording was in James Kelly's Scottish Proverbs, Collected and Arranged in 1721:

"If wishes were horses

Beggars would ride:

If turnips were watches

I would wear one by my side."

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 12 of 22

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