Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 20 of 22

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I Love My Love

"Well, I think all is prepared," Mirana announced, stepping back from Alice. "Are you pleased?" she asked, indicating Alice's reflection in the looking glass, a half looking glass, because she had been assured by all involved that a full length one was bad luck for the bride on the day of the wedding.[1]

Alice examined herself as she was not usually wont to do. She was in Alice Blue—it was what Tarrant wanted and she was more than happy to oblige him. Her hair long and loose and covered by veil so that the faeries might not be tempted to steal her away.[2] A lucky sixpence tucked in her shoe.[3] This was what she would look like on her wedding day, today, greeting Tarrant, when they would stand together and draw a circle around themselves, saying: By Underland Free, my protection be, encircle me. You are around my life, my love, my home. Encircle me. O Underland Free, the Mighty Boundary.[4]

A sort of pleasant satisfaction settled over her as she faced her reflection: Alice was not used to complimenting herself, but she thought she looked well enough.

"Thank you for your assistance, Your Majesty."

"It has been my pleasure," the Queen assured her, floating from Alice towards the bedchamber door. "But, I believe you have some friends who would very much like to see you this morning. Shall I let them in?"

It was unclear to Alice how Mirana knew anyone was waiting outside, since there had been no knock, but she had grown fairly accustomed to the Queen's foresight whatever its source.

"Yes, please," Alice said, frowning slightly at her reflection, worrying somewhat whether this is what Outlander brides were supposed to look like.

The Queen drew open the door and Mally and Thackery entered, nearly falling into the room, because they had been pressed eagerly to the door awaiting entrance.

"Good morning, the Alice," Mally said, scurrying across the floor and climbing atop Alice's bed. A tinkling sound accompanied the Dormouse's movements, and Alice turned to watch her in bemusement.

"We hiv brought ye gifts an' good tidings!" Thackery exclaimed as sanely as was within his abilities, hopping across the floor with a large box held between his paws.

Alice had not expected anyone to give her anything, but these gifts and good tidings would have to be added to the great number she had already received, including a lovely tea set and a multitude of finely embroidered pillows from the Queen.[5]

"Thank you," Alice said, reaching down to take the box from the Hare.

"Mine first," Mally insisted, holding out a paw that clutched something silver.

Alice obliged the Dormouse by setting Thackery's box down on the table, glad to see that Mally was not acting disgruntled this morning. Leaning down, she took the small tinkling object from Mally. It was a small bell.

"Oh!" Mirana exclaimed, "a make up bell. How charming."

"If there is a tiff, a row, a disagreement between you and the Hatter, ring the bell," Mally explained. "Then no one shall be to blame."[6]

Alice gave the bell a little shake, making it produce its tiny ring.

"Hatter can be stubborn," Mally added knowingly as she crossed her arms. "You'll have cause to use it on occasion."

Alice smiled brightly. "Thank you, dear Mally."

"CROCKERY!" Thackery shouted, giving one good tug to his left ear.

"Aw, now you went and ruined your surprise," Mally said with a shake of her head. "You might as well open Thackery's present, the Alice. He can't contain himself for long."

Alice moved back to the large box and untied the strange ribbon made up of several mismatched scraps of tartan. Pulling open the lid of the box she peered amongst the sawdust shavings to find several jugs.[7]

"Fur yer beddie!" Thackery shouted, hopping up and down excitedly.

"They're beautiful, Thackery," Alice said, pulling one from its bedding. The gift itself was very thoughtful, as Alice did not own any jugs, but their intended use seemed excessively mad.

"Crockery is a traditional Outlander wedding gift, and the gifts you receive are to be displayed on your bed for all to see," the Queen explained.[8]

Refusing to look any further into the book on Outlandish traditions had left her rather uninformed, it would seem.

"The Alice knows very little for someone about to marry an Outlander," Mally said with a hint of irritation.

"I imagine she'll have a lifetime to learn," the Queen reminded Mally kindly.

Mally shrugged. "Some of us wouldn't have to be taught, but Hatter is stubborn and will have what he will."

Mirana cleared her throat most elegantly. "We should allow Alice a moment alone, I think. She may wish to prepare herself in her own manner." Mirana gestured towards the door, urging Alice's little friends to make their exit.

"Thank you again," Alice called after them.

"Now then," the Queen said, as the door softly closed behind them. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"You can assure me once more than everything has been done as Tarrant would see fit and that all our friends shall be there."

"Everything is just as he would want it," the Queen began assuredly, "but, not everyone will be present today, I'm afraid."

Alice's heart dropped slightly. Who had decided not to attend?

"I don't believe anyone has spoken to you about it, but Absolem will not be with us."

Absolem, of course! She had asked after him some time ago and Hatter had answered her very vaguely about his whereabouts.

"Is he still Above?"

The Queen shook her head. "No, he is no more."

"No more? As in…dead?"

"Yes, Alice."

Alice had not thought this possible. Somehow she had imagined, since every time she came to Underland it seemed as if Time had not passed for anyone she met, that people did not age or die. Yes, sometimes people were killed, but they did not just die as they did Above, but of course they must. The Queen once had not been the White Queen of Underland. There had been another queen before her and would be after. Her heart began to race unpleasantly: there had been some comfort in the thought that Underland and the people in it were Timeless.

"He shall be again, of course. He has laid his eggs and in due course we shall have the services of Absolem once again. Not the Absolem, but an Absolem much like the Other in all respects. You would hardly tell the difference," the Queen assured her.

"Oh, but I imagine I would," Alice insisted. "It will not properly be He. He is dead!"

Mirana reached out for her, "You are upset."

"Yes, yes, I am," Alice agreed. "Everything seems frozen in Time here," Alice said, dejectedly. "I suppose I thought that you all would always be as you are now."

"And so we mostly shall be. One grows as one will in Underland. The Tweedles prefer to be boys and so they are. The Hatter and I chose to Grow Up, but perhaps we will not choose to Grow Old. We live many years, because after some Time everyone in Underland becomes subject to its magic. That is what happened to the Hightopp clan, after all. Nevertheless, our day will come and we will fade away."

"Fade away," Alice repeated.

"Yes. The magic of Life simply becomes too weak to continue holding one together and you fade away," Mirana said, as if it was all so very simple.

Alice took a breath, trying to process all that was being told to her. "We shall all come apart at the seams and fade away?" It sounded dreadfully unpleasant.

"Yes. Fade away: a bit like Chessur, really. A turning to mist."

Alice did not want to cry on her wedding day, but the image of her friends turning to mist had unhappily become the focus of her thoughts. Her Tarrant was older than she was, conceivably considerably older. Alice would be left alone in Underland.

"A white lie may have been in order," Alice mumbled. Was today the proper day for such communications?

"I never did perfect the talent of knowing when to lie sweetly and when to be honest." Mirana pressed her hands together, "I consulted the Oraculum. It was given to me by Absolem, for his kind are always the Keeper of the Oraculum until they know that their Time is nigh. I have had it in my possession since that time, and I wanted very much for you and my Hatter to be happy. So, I looked to see if there was reason to hope, and I saw these tears on your wedding day. It was the cause of much sorrow for me, Alice, to see you crying on this happiest of days."

Alice reached up and her fingers smeared a tear, which indeed had sprouted from the corner of her eye.

"But, I know what may soothe your fears, for I have looked farther into the future. It is generally against my custom to reveal this information, but I so want you to be happy today, Alice."

Alice nodded a little stiffly, giving Mirana wordless permission to break with her vow to keep the contents of the Oraculum a secret.

"You worry about losing your Hatter, but you will spend many moons together. Many more than would ever be possible Above, as I understand it. Countless happy moons, Alice, and when he does fade away, you will have the comfort of the company of your charming children."

Alice's heart stopped and she gripped the bedpost, thankful that she was not wearing a corset, for if she had been, she felt certain she would have fainted.

"We are not yet even married, Your Majesty," Alice said, scandalized at the Queen's boldness. To speak of him and her, that they would, that it would result…

Mirana smiled broadly, "But you shall be in no short Time, my dear." She leaned forward, hands floating at her collar bone to whisper conspiratorially into Alice's ear, "And the Hightopps have always been exceedingly prolific."

Every necessary precaution to create Good luck and prevent Bad had been seen to, Hatter's friends imagining that he had already had his share enough of Bad. Alice carried a sprig of white heather, they placed lambs, toads, spiders, and black cats alongside her path to the ceremony, the Queen had coaxed a rainbow to bless the sky, and all pigs—mome rath and otherwise—were kept far away from the bridal procession.[9]

After the ceremony was complete and they had pledged to Provide and Protect, a brief celebration followed. This was punctuated by the serving of a wedding cake that to Alice's amazement was shaped and decorated to look like a cathedral. She smiled to herself. The Queen had repeatedly urged her to give Thackery instructions for the incorporation of a church into their wedding celebration. Finally, lacking the ability to properly describe the function of a church in Above weddings, Alice had drawn a sketch, which she hoped would dispel the popular Notion that a church was a baked treat. Her sketch had not been successful, Alice realized as the cake was proudly brought out by its baker, but the cake was proof yet again of the generosity and kindness of her Underland friends.

Above Alice would have been left alone with her Groom following the reception, but she had learned that this would most decidedly not to be the case in this Outlander celebration. According to Outlander custom, everyone accompanied them back to the Hat House.[10] It was a boisterous group that wended their way through the forests of Underland towards the Hatter's home, some having clearly overindulged in the bubblefrothal and whiskey that had flowed freely. Alice felt pleasantly abuzz on affection and not too much bubblefrothal, as she walked arm in arm with Her Hatter, truly Hers for good now.

As the house came into view, she took note that it was newly brightly white, looking as if it had received a cheerful transformation from rather ramshackle to cozily comfortable. She wondered whether this was the task to which some of their friends had been bent earlier in the week and referenced after in a term she could not understand.[11]

"The house looks so smart, Tarrant," Alice said.

"Our house, love," he corrected her, as they approached the front door.

Our House, Alice thought. Yes, that is what it was now. She would share it with him. She was his wife. She glanced down at the tartan rosette pinned to her gown, which Tarrant had fastened on her with a pearl hatpin following their exchange of vows. This, he had explained to her, his eyes glowing a dark green, meant that she was now a member of the Hightopp clan.[12] A clan of two; double what it had been only yesterday.

Hatter turned to the assembled group, calling out, "Come ben the hoose!" and a happy yelp went up amongst the crowd.[13]

Alice was still admiring the fresh appearance of her new home, imagining herself playing house, when she was abruptly swept up in his arms. "Oh!" she cried out in surprise.

"You're all right," he stated indulgently, as he lifted her over the threshold.[14]

Alice expected to be put down once they had crossed over, but instead, he kissed her on the tip of the nose, instructing, "Hold tight," before bending down so that her head almost touched the ground, blood rushing to her head as he did so.

It appeared to Alice that an upside down Thackery was hopping close, holding a loaf of bannock in his hands. When he reached her, he tore the bannock happily, throwing it over her head like confetti.[15]

"TEA!" he shouted exuberantly, as the pieces of bread rained down on her, although it was most certainly not teatime—a detail that none involved seemed troubled by at the moment.

Thackery's behavior seemed like madness to Alice, but Hatter smiled down at her expectantly, as he righted her on the ground, so she laughed gaily at the Hare's actions, momentarily unconcerned that their dear friend was gallymoggers, since her husband seemed pleased with Thackery's actions. Still lightheaded from being upended, Alice watched as Thackery began to gather the torn bannock off the ground and urge their guests to take a piece. Most people good-naturedly did so, despite the bannock having been on the ground only a moment earlier.

"Here," Tarrant said, picking a few pieces of bannock from her blonde tresses.

"Am I a mess?" Alice inquired, wondering how she could not be after all of the celebrations, turning upside down, and the rain of starches.

He squinted at her briefly. "Perfection," he decided, having finished removing the last few crumbs and dusting off his hands. "Welcome home, lass," he added, drawing her away from the doorway and into the room.

The guests crowded in around them in what appeared to be the newly straightened and newly painted workroom, and as everyone filed in an impromptu aisle developed. Alice watched as the Queen emerged in this aisle and walked through the workroom, disappearing into the Hatter's bedchamber with a glass shaker full of what seemed to be water.[16]Their bedchamber, she silently corrected herself. She had slept there before, blushing at the thought that this is where Hatter slept and trying not to take note of his scent on the sheets, but now they would sleep there together. What a Thought.

She had no Notion what was taking place, as everyone awaited the Queen to reappear, but the guests were making merry and Tarrant stood beside her so proudly that her Ignorance about the proceedings did not bother her much.

"My Mither and Faither would have been so proud to have a guid-dochter such as you, Alice, Otherlander though you are," he whispered to her with a smile, bumping shoulders with her.[17]

Alice felt the bread-and-butterflies dance about her stomach. Tarrant was proud of her, proud to have her as his wife. He imagined his parents being pleased with her. Heimagined his parents without fear of the madness. He seemed so improved, so whole.

The Queen emerged holding a now empty shaker and laughter erupted in the room for some reason unknown to Alice. This seemed to signal an end to the festivities, because people began to jostle towards the door. Abruptly Alice felt Tarrant's arm abandon the small of her back, where it had been firmly fixed imparting warmth and comfort.

"Before ye gae, friends," he cried out, slipping slightly into his brogue. He moved towards a cabinet and dug for something, finally to pull out a bottle of whiskey that was nearly full. "A dram for iveryone!"[18]

This announcement promptly resulted in more boisterous shouts and applause of enthusiastic approval. Thackery scrambled to find enough glasses, but it seemed as if most people were not terribly put off by the prospect of sharing with their neighbor. This was apparently to be her lot as well. Hatter approached her, holding a now mostly empty bottle and a small glass. He tipped the bottle, filling the glass to the brim. He took a swig from the glass, draining two thirds with a flick of the wrist. Then he held the glass out to her, his eyes momentarily flashing a little blue as he stared at her lips. She knew from their shared drink from the Quaich at the reception that whiskey made the throat burn.[19]Armed with this knowledge, she hesitated to take it from his gloved fingers. Another glass of bubblefrothal might have been preferable.

"Might I suggest that you take it for the wedding night jitters, my dear?" someone purred over her shoulder.

Alice glanced over to see Chessur floating at eye level and grinning devilishly.

"Wickit cattie," Thackery scolded, wiping away some stray drops of whiskey hanging to his whiskers with the back of his paw. "Lea Alice alone."

Alice was touched by the Hare's championing of her.

"I only meant that she won't be alone tonight and might be in want of some liquid courage," Chessur replied innocently.

"Champion!" Thackery shouted warningly at the floating feline.

"Thank you," Alice said, as she took the glass from Tarrant's still extended hand, her bare fingers brushing his gloved ones.

Chessur was being a cheeky Cat, but he was regrettably right. The whiskey certainly could not hurt. The Queen's words drifted back to her: The Hightopps have always been exceedingly prolific. Yes, whiskey might be just the thing.

Before she tipped back the stinging amber liquid, she looked into her husband's eyes, which were blissfully green—not the color she had been expecting to see spreading in his irises. Apparently, he was oblivious to Chessur's teasing words, occupied as he was with the well wishes of the guests who were draining their drams and saying their goodbyes. That was well enough. If Chessur did make Tarrant unhappy with his teasing, she might have to dunk the Cat in a bucket of water. She had no wish for their happy day to be marred by madness of any kind.

"Cheers," she said, bending slightly to click glasses with the Hare, who stood, looking cross-eyed up at her.

Straightening back up, she lifted the glass to her lips. It smelled as strong as she imagined it would taste. She drank it back with less proficiency than she had observed in her husband, but she managed nonetheless.

"You're not as stupid as you look," Chessur drawled approvingly, as she finished off the glass, swiping her tongue across her lips to chase the last drops of liquid.

[1] When the bride was ready to leave the house for her wedding ceremony, a last look in the mirror would bring her good luck. If she viewed her whole body, however, she would have bad luck.

[2] Wearing your hair down, as opposed to wearing white, was a symbol of purity in a bride. Brides originally wore veils to confuse faeries who might otherwise steal them away due to their wedding finery.

[3] Brides carried a lucky sixpence in their shoe so they would be well off financially in their marriage.

[4] To begin a Celtic wedding ceremony, the bride and groom perform a ritual called the Caim, where they would draw a circle around themselves, symbolizing their unity with God. As they drew the circle, they repeated these words: The Mighty Three, my protection be, encircle me. You are around my life, my love, my home. Encircle me. O sacred three, the Mighty Thee.

[5] The Maid of Honor organized and oversaw the sewing of pillows and bolsters and the making of household items for the bridal couple's home. As a wedding tradition, she often gave a tea set as her gift to the bride.

[6] A traditional wedding gift was a decorative bell, which was placed in a central spot in the home. Whenever an argie-bargie (argument) was unresolved, if the hain or wifie(husband or wife) rang the bell, it signaled an end to the quarrel, with neither being held to blame.

[7] An older wedding tradition was for the neighbors to give gifts of crockery to the bride. The number of jugs she received determined her status. So they were put on display before the wedding, for all to see and count.

[8] As a wedding tradition, good friends and family expected to be invited in for a showing. Any gifts received by the bride were laid out on her bed.

[9] Good luck omens, when seen on the way to the ceremony, included lambs, toads, spiders, black cats, sunshine and rainbows. Scottish brides carried a sprig of white heather, for good luck. As part of the wedding day customs, if a pig or a funeral were encountered, this was bad luck. The procession turned around, returned home, and started over again.

Pigs appear twice in Carroll's Wonderland. In Alice in Wonderland the Duchess' baby transforms into a pig when Alice spirits it away from its volatile mother. In the "Jabberwocky" poem from Through the Looking Glass 'mome raths' are introduced. Raths are green pigs and 'mome' is short for 'from home', meaning the raths are lost.

[10] The entire entourage escorted the young couple to their new home. Not only did they walk the wedding couple home, they expected to be invited in.

[11] The Best Man had to organize the cleaning and whitewashing of the groom's house, called Sgeadasachadh.

[12] If the bride were marrying into the groom's clan, a member of the groom's family would present the bride with a rosette or a sash fashioned from their clan's tartan. It would be fastened with the clan badge to the bride's dress symbolically accepting her into the groom's clan. Many times the groom himself would pin the rosette or sash on.

[13] Upon arriving at the home, the festivities continued. Everyone was invited in with the greeting, 'come ben the hoose.'

[14] After the walk home, the bride had to enter the new home, or haudin, through the main entrance. It was considered bad luck for the bride to trip, or fall, while entering her new home. It was also unlucky for the bride to step into her new home with her left foot first. So to avoid bad luck, the groom simply picked her up and carried her over the threshold.

[15] Barley and oat flour biscuits were broken over the bride's head, while she was in the doorway of her new home. A piece of the bannock was passed for each guest to eat.

[16] Another custom is from the island of Barra, in the Outer Hebrides. One of their wedding traditions is to sprinkle water on the marriage bed, with an accompanying blessing.

[17] guid-dochter – daughter-in-law (Sc)

[18] dram — a small unit of volume, referring to a drink of Scotch whiskey

[19] The Quaich is a two-handled loving cup for the wedding feast. The couple used the Quaich at the reception for their first toast together.

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 20 of 22

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