Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 16 of 22

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I Love My Love

Orpel Day

The sound of a throat being cleared roused her from her sleep, but the room was still dark—the sun not having yet risen—and she could not make out who was doing the clearing. For one terrifying moment she feared for her safety.

"Pardon me for dropping in like this," a voice purred, as she sat up on her elbows ensconced in the white sheets, "but you might want to see to your Hatter."

Your Hatter, she thought, blinking in the darkness. Was that what he was? To her? To him? To everyone with eyes and ears? Finally a Cat with teal eyes materialized alongside her bed and Alice relaxed somewhat. It was not someone here to hurt her and it was not Tarrant—the other terrifying Notion that had occurred to her fleetingly.

"Excuse me?" she said, her voice sounding unused from sleep.

"Your Hatter is fleeing the castle and I thought perhaps you might want to stop him, for there is no telling where he is going, what he will do, when he will…"

"Fleeing the castle?" Alice demanded, as her heart sunk and she slipped from the covers onto the cold floor. "Why didn't you stop him?" she asked, hurrying for her dressing gown draped over the chaise.

"I tried, but he's a mad, love-sick, self-loathing lump of a human. I can do nothing with him. I suspect he will only listen to You."

Alice slipped her arms into her dressing gown and began to tie the pink satin ribbon at her chest to draw it closed. "Why has he done this?"

"Why?" the Cat asked, stretching out one paw and smiling with one half of his grin. "Can't you think of a more appropriate question at this time?"

Yes, actually, she could. "Where is he?"

"Reaching the gates of the castle about now, I wager. You'll have to hurry if you want to catch him."

How was she to ever catch up, Alice wondered? She glanced around hastily and caught sight of her button up patent boots. There was no way she would catch him in bare feet, so she ran to her shoes and quickly slipped them on.

"Hurry," Chessur urged her in a lazy drawl, although the command was not necessary, she was already hurrying out the door and along the hallway and down the stairs.

On her way out, she had to pass Hatter's bedchamber, which she had left some hours previous. A swift sidelong glance into the open door showed a scene of violence: overturned chairs, scattered clothes, rent curtains. How had no one heard the racket he must have been making? What had made him go so mad? Had she not assured him that she had not wanted the Knight to touch her? Was his jealousy not abated?

At the entrance to the castle she stopped momentarily to breathily ask the guards, 'Which way?' She had not said of whom she spoke, but they knew. If they had possessed faces, Alice believed that they would have shown their no doubt sizable intrigue at this little scene playing out before them. One fleeing Hatter, one pursuing Champion. But, she could care less what they Thought. She followed their extended arms in the appointed direction, but she could not yet see Hatter in the distance through the dark of the night. He had a head start on her and he had longer legs to speed him along his way.

Why would he leave Marmoreal? Why would he flee in the early morning hours? What was there in this world that she could not help him with? Why would he leave her? She had thought, perhaps incorrectly, that they were coming to an understanding—that he was a Man and she was a Woman and he loved and she loved and they loved and they could one day possibly become…

Run, she urged herself, run faster than you have ever run before, and she did. Still, while a distance was growing between herself and Marmoreal, there was no Tarrant in sight. He could have altered his course, turned somewhere. She stumbled to a stop, needing to catch her breath and feeling at loose ends.

"Hatter!" she yelled into the night, holding one hand over her heaving chest.

She could taste blood in the back of her throat from the exertion of running, but she would have to begin again if she wanted to stop him. Giving up simply was not an option. Having vowed not to leave him, it had not occurred to Alice that she might need to extract a similar vow from him. She wiped her brow with the back of her hand and began to scurry forward once more.

At long last something appeared in the distance: a tall form walking stiff legged under the canopy of trees. Was her mind playing tricks on her?

"Hatter!" she screamed, verging on hysteria.

The form did not stop, but its movements seemed less steady at the sound of her shout.

"Hatter, stop!" she yelled again, hurrying forward with her last burst of energy.

The form came to a faltering halt, but did not turn to face her. It was not necessary, however, for now close as she was, Alice could see that it was indeed her Hatter. Yes, she rather liked that nomenclature—Her Hatter.

She reached him and grabbed the sleeve of his coat, forcing him with gentle pressure to turn and face her.

"What are you doing?" she demanded.

He swallowed, causing his bowtie to bob. "Leaving."

"I can see that," Alice said, letting his coat slip and wrapping her arms about her waist.

"You're in your…nightclothes," he lisped.

She looked down at herself. "I did not have time to change given the speed at which you were tearing out of the castle," she explained.

Looking back up, she saw that his yellow eyes were rimmed in blue. That color…it had something to do with attraction, she had come to realize. Her standing before him half dressed…she bit her lip. Attraction to her. He was attracted to her and yet he had run from her like they were two magnets oriented to the same pole driven helplessly apart.

"Why would you leave me?" she asked. "In the middle of the night no less," she added, gesturing around at the darkness that surrounded them.

Surely her Hatter was much too kind to want to punish her for having left him by leaving her.

He frowned, eyes searching the ground for something to safely light upon. Clearing his throat, he whispered to her, still staring at the ground:

"Bell-horses, bell-horses,
What time of day?
One o'clock, two o'clock,
Off and away."[1]

He was avoiding her question, but she was not going to let him get away with it. "Why, Tarrant?" she repeated more softly.

He looked up at her and gave a start: "Alice, you're leaking," he said, reaching up a trembling hand to her cheek. He wiped the stray tears that had escaped from her eyes unbidden with his calloused thumbs. "Why, lass?"

"Because, you left."

"You mustn't cry, love."

Alice took a deep breath. "I was awoken to news that you were quite literally running away. Why would you do that?"

"I did not want to hurt you," he lisped, as his hands slipped from her face and tucked themselves in his waistcoat.

"You haven't," she insisted.

"A man can hurt a woman in more ways that you know," he mused sadly.

"Hatter," she said affectionately. "You won't. I trust you."

"I don't trust myself," he admitted, scuffing his feet.

"Let me trust for the both of us," she boldly suggested. "I can easily bear the weight of it."

"Alice…" he began with a sigh. "I don't want to leave you."

"Then don't, stubborn Hatter!" she said, trying to smile cheerfully so as to encourage him to do the same. It hurt her to see him looking so downcast.

"But, what I did this evening was very bad: naughty, naughty behavior of the most reprehensible kind. I cannot trust myself around you. For you are so Alice and I am so Hatter that I cannot help myself. What I did was bad but what I wanted to do was…worse," he finished, shuttering from his feet to the top of his hat.

"What you did…what we did was naughty perhaps, but not bad," Alice said, although she was not so sure about that. Tarrant might be better versed on the subject than she was, but now was not the time to query him about it, she imagined.

His brows drew together, as he regarded her very carefully. "Alice, are you well?"

"Perfectly," she assured him, as she adjusted her dressing gown more tightly about herself. There was no reason she should tempt him, she considered, as she watched the blue rim around his eyes grow more prominent. Not when he felt so very guilty already. It was just that she had never thought of herself as a Temptation, a Tempter, or a Temptress.

Tarrant removed his hat and turned it around in a circle in front of him. "You must not prop…properly recall, because I...said things and took liberties with you that I…"

Yes, he had been doing the taking, but where had she been? Had she not be taught not to allow such liberties? Had she not had several moments when she could have said—STOP!—when instead, she had said—yes.

"I did not stop you, as I should have. So, it is as much my fault as yours," she said matter-of-factly.

He tilted his head, contemplating her words. "Why did you not stop me?" he finally asked.

Alice wet her lips, trying to think of how she might best respond to his question. A part of her wanted to avoid providing him with an answer, to pull up her nightgown and run away, but she was too tired from the running she had already done. There was nothing to do but face the issue.

"I suppose I did not, because I did not mind…so very much."

Tarrant blinked quickly, seemingly confused by her confession. Finally, he shook his head in the negative, as if to indicate his assessment of her admission. "If you had not left when you did, Alice, you would not have liked…"

Alice felt her stomach begin to flip and she took a quick breath. "What would have happened?" she found herself asking before she could bite back her words.

He had been so passionate, so forceful, and as she had pondered it in her bedchamber after having been shepherded from his bedchamber, she found that she liked this Hatter. Just as she liked gentle, shy, and uncertain Hatter. Two sides of one curiously complicated coin, and she was terribly fond of curiosities.

Tarrant's mouth opened and closed several times, but no sound came out. He placed his hat back on his head, pressing it down a bit too far so as to hide under the brim.

What did Tarrant want to do? What had he been about to do to her? Why was it necessary that he usher her out of his bedchamber? Why would this drive him to flee the castle? Her mind filled to the brim with curiosity about his possible answers to these questions.

"Ah desired tae…" he began, but could get no further.

Desire: she was growing increasingly familiar with this word.

She took a step closer and reached up a hand to rest against his downturned cheek. She could tease him no longer. She would need to draw on her store of muchness. "Did you…want to be with me?" Alice asked softly, unable to find the exact words to express the sentiment.

She felt Tarrant jerk beneath her touch at her question. If he was surprised by it, she was just as surprised she would ever have cause to ask such a thing.

"Is that why you left?" she prodded.

"Aye," he said, beginning to shy away from her touch. "I could not live with myself if…"

"You stopped, Tarrant."

"Ah should nae even hiv thocht it. An' it wisna the first time: A'v thocht it afore. A'm a slurvish man nae worthy o' ye," he said, his eyes half blue and half yellow.

Alice brought her hand around to the back of Hatter's neck. "That's utter rubbish. I will decide who is worthy and who is not," she said sternly, despite the softness of her touch.

Tarrant blinked rapidly, straightening up and growing an inch in the process. "Well, yes, of course you will. It is only right that the Champion make her own decisions on such things. And while I could not hope to begin to dream that you might even deign to think on me what with my madness and my penchant for…"

"Tarrant," she said firmly.

His eyes closed and opened again. "I'm fine. Thank you."

She laced her fingers in his hair and raised her brows to let him know she was Serious: "Now, come back to the castle with me. You're not going anywhere."

"I'm not?" he asked, his voice coming out a little high and thin.

"Certainly not. Running away is simply no longer acceptable," she said with authority. "I came back to Underland for you, Tarrant."

"For me?" he lisped.

"Why did you think, silly Hatter?" she asked, scratching lightly at his scalp.

He sighed, his eyes closing in satisfaction. After a moment, he opened one eye a crack to survey her. "You haven't changed your mind? Even after what I've told you about…wanting?"

"After what you've told me, I don't want you anywhere else," she said with a sly smile. Her heart raced at her boldness, but she must not tease Tarrant. "I am untested, but I have no wish to tease you for my own amusement."

He leaned in close to her. "Ah dae nae mynd th' teasing, luve, if ye knaw howfur A'm feelin'."

"I do, and you understand how I feel?" Alice asked.

"I would not mind being reminded. How do you feel?" he lisped, inches from her lips.

"I feel like I would like you to kiss me again, please."

"Please?" he chuffed.

"Please," she repeated, as he closed the distance between them.

Hatter's top hat bumped her brow and he frowned. "Daft hat," he cursed, removing it from his head and wrapping his arms around her waist, hat clutched behind her back.

She could feel the heat of his body through her flimsy cotton nightgown, and it made her hands yearn to explore him without so many layers. Wanton, wicked Alice, she inwardly scolded herself. But, she did not have long to lecture herself, because he kissed her. This kiss was more like the first—firm, but gentle. She could get used to kissing Tarrant. She wanted to have him kiss her like this every day. He pulled back too soon and she sighed.

"You won't leave again?" she asked a little tremulously. How was it that he left her feeling so needy?

"Aye. Ah wilna lea ye."

His eyes were a beautiful blue, but he did not seem carried away with madness like the night before. She was both relieved and a little disappointed by that. This Hatter would not take what was not expressly given.

"Again," she spoke, brushing his lips with her own.

He obliged her, pulling her closer to him as he did so. Her mother would be thoroughly scandalized, but Alice could not be bothered to stop. She had no intention of ever stopping: he was Her Hatter.

"My Hatter," she murmured against his lips, trying the title out for size.

Tarrant hesitated for a moment, before returning the sentiment: "My Alice."

She smoothed back his troublesome ginger hair.

"This is impossible," Hatter said, awestruck.

"Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast," Alice whispered.

He quirked a brow at her. "An excellent practice, but just at the moment, you should focus on the kissing."

[1] "Bell-Horses" is a traditional English nursery rhyme. It can be found in The Nursery Rhymes of England (1843) by James Orchard Halliwell. It was often chanted by children prior to a race.

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 16 of 22

<< Previous     Home     Next >>