Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 3 of 22

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I Love My Love

Later Still on Gaelig Day

Alice changed out of her soiled clothes, and it felt so nice to be rid of them: free of corsets, free of layers of underskirts, and free of the buttons running up the back of her neck making it difficult to draw breath. Yet, while changing in the bedchamber with Hatter's personal affects dotting the room, she began to feel a bit shy about donning the dress that he had made for her in her absence. And when she had doffed the other items, she could not fathom where to stash them. She finally settled on folding them up into as inconspicuous a stack as possible and stowing them on a high shelf. Mallymkun may have been right: she had lost at least some of her muchness if such a trifle as a change of clothing could shake her resolve.

Holding onto the doorknob, she attempted to steel herself.

"Don't just stand there, gripping me like an idiot!" the knob griped testily.

"Oh, pardon me," Alice said, finally managing to turn the knob. She emerged from the bedchamber and scanned the room for the Hatter. "Are we ready then?" she asked, as her eyes lit upon his form, leaning against a worktable.

He folded his arms across his chest, declaring, "I would rather not."

"If I have learned one thing, dear Hatter, since returning to Otherland, it is that we must sometimes do things that we would rather not."

"Like fighting the Jabberwocky?" he asked with a rakish smile.

"I wanted to help…after I stopped feeling as if I was being told."

"Are we not being told just now?"

"It is the Grownup Thing to do," Alice asserted.

He paused, straightening his hat, thinking on something that made his brows draw together in concentration. "It may have been very Grownup, Alice, but I wish you had not left…Underland."

She smiled a little sadly. It seemed as if her leaving had caused him some amount of pain. Her decision to leave had been made very hastily without considering how it might make some people feel. Thoughtless, Alice, she chided herself. Once she had some privacy, she would give herself a real and proper scolding.

"Nothing to do about that now, I suppose."

"No, I suppose not," he agreed with a smile she did not quite believe. He offered her his arm. "It will be a long walk."

"I am not tired," she assured him, linking her arm through his.

"You won't be travelling by hat this time, but it will be a pleasant walk. Wait until you see the moon," he said softly, as he pulled the door of the house open to the night air.

The stars shone brighter than she was accustomed to seeing them shine: more than just suitably brilliant stars, and the moon still somehow managed to outshine them. Cheeky stars.

Alice's face broke into a broad smile, remembering yet something else from her last trip. "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat," she cooed.

"I need not wonder where you're at," he finished for her. "Everything is better now," the Hatter said with a satisfied sigh.

Alice could not be sure if he merely meant Underland under the reign of the White Queen or something else. Something Else seemed to be dancing on her shoulder, taunting her with pleasant possibilities.

"We shan't need a lantern to light the way," she observed.

"Girls and boys come out to play, the moon doth shine as bright as day," the Hatter whispered, leaning close to her ear, tickling her with his breath. [1]

Alice squeezed his arm in silent reply.

"You are no longer a girl," the Hatter amended, somewhat apologetically as they set out on the path before them.

"Did you like me better as a girl, Tarrant?" Alice teased.

He arched a brow at her.

"Do you wish me to betray myself, Alice?" he asked, his voice lowering an octave but failing to take on his Scottish brogue.

"No," she quickly replied, not wishing to take her teasing too far, although Chessur's words floated as incorporeally through her mind as the Cat himself did. It would not do to come to Underland and be thought of as a flirt, she thought.

"There were things I wanted to tell you," he began, before faltering.

"You can always tell me anything," she promised. "We are friends. We have been since I was a little girl. Have we not?"

"Yes, since you were a girl," he agreed, yet managed to sound conflicted.

Something had troubled her mind and now seemed an excellent Time to mention it. No Time like the Present. "Hatter, when I was small, you were big. And when I was big, you were just the same."

"I had not drunk any pishsalver. You were the only one that did that, and then the upelkuchen, making you too big—not Just Right Alice, as you are now. You did like the upelkuchen, gobbling up too much when you only needed just a bit, Greedy Little Alice," he said with a wink.

She needed to be more specific. Words have meaning, she reprimand herself. "I came here as a child," she corrected herself, "and it seems to me that you have not changed since. I remember you just as you are now. Except…except looking improved, since my last visit."

The Hatter stole a sideways glance at her, seemingly intrigued by her approving appraisal of him.

"Time is a funny fellow."

"But Time has passed for you, surely."

"It has and it hasn't," he hedged.

"How old are you?" Alice asked, recognizing that she had been taught that this was a very rude question.

"I have had countless unbirthdays. Most of them were charmingly mad parties with tea and cake and singing. And plenty of riddles to solve—I do love a riddle."

"We don't count unbirthdays in Otherland, Hatter."

"Neither do we, Alice dear. I said, countless."

Alice frowned, "You're not that mad: I know you're being intentionally obtuse."

"Obtuse?" he chuckled. "I am not yet ninety and I am certainly less than one hundred and eighty!" [2]

Alice frown turned into a petite scowl, which she hoped was stern enough to convey that frightening quality her mother had once upon a time employed with her and Margaret, when attempting to cow them.

"Your face might freeze like that, you know," the Hatter said, imitating her downturned mouth and creased brow, "which would be a Sin and a Shame." The Hatter sighed dramatically, when Alice remained silent. "Very well, how old are you?" he asked, before adding the warning, "klotchyn," as he helped her over an overgrown tree root that crept obstinately across the path. [3]

Not quite properly cowed, she considered before giving her response, "Twenty-two."

"Twenty-two," he repeated, as if letting the number slide down into his shoes. "Then, I am old," he said wistfully.

"You don't seem old to me."

"That is merely because I am gallymoggers," he said, choking back a giggle that threatened to form on the tip of his tongue. [4]

She turned towards him, stopping in her tracks. "You should not say such things about yourself, Tarrant. I won't have such things said about my particular friend."

The Hatter swallowed and with the bright moon filtering light down through the tree tops, Alice could see his eyes deepen in color. She wished she had a color coded guide to his feelings, so that she might understand them more completely.

"Yes, Alice," he finally said.

Satisfied with his concurrence, Alice attempted to begin their trek once more, but the Hatter stood his ground, and with her arm interlaced with his, she could not successfully make forward progress. She glanced down at his feet to make certain the fixedness was truly his fault and not the fault of a very minute patch of quicksand. But, his feet were clearly fixed to this spot of their own accord, she realized, staring down at them. She looked up once more as he began to speak.

"I did not say it earlier, because I did not trust myself, but…bit ye look bonny, lassie." [5]

Alice's stomach hitched, the way it had done earlier in the day. Maybe she was hungry: they had missed Brillig and there was nothing to be done for dinner because of it. [6]

"I wager it's the beautiful dress."

"Na, th' dress has hung in th' house fur years 'n' ah ne'er wanted tae look at it th' way a'm wantin' tae look at ye."

If she was looking for meaning in the brogue, it now seemed to her that it did not solely indicate anger. It quite possibly indicated something much more...

Alice felt the Hatter's arm tremble—from exposure to mercury or something else. Everything seemingly had new layers of possibilities.

"Oh, Hatter," she said with affection.

"You do not have to say anything, Alice," he said in a tone she could not read, but once again with the brogue stripped from his speech.

"Oh, but I do have something to say, Tarrant," she replied.

"Do you?" he asked, looking a bit confused.

"Yes," she said, reaching up to grip the brim of his hat with her slender fingertips. "I'd like to wear your hat."

She pulled the hat from his head, and his eyes swirled with color, as if he did not know what to make of the playful request that would normally be taken as a serious threat to the Security and Sanctity of his hat.

"I…I could make you a hat of your own," he stuttered slightly, as he watched her inspect the hat carefully.

"I don't want another hat," she insisted, as she ran her finger along the length of one of his hat pins.

"N…no?" he stumbled.

"No, I want this one." She lowered it onto her own still coifed head, tilting it at a dangerous angle. "Does it complete the effect, Hatter?" she asked sweetly.

The Hatter's eyes turned blue once more, as he managed to speak, "Aye."

[1] The rhyme may date back to the time when children were expected to work during the day, and playtime was in the evening. It appeared in the earliest extant collection of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, published in London around 1744 with the following lines:

"Girls and boys, are come out to play,

The moon doth shine as bright as day;

Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,

And come with your playfellows into the street.

Come with a whoop, come with a call,

Come with a good will or not at all."

[2] An obtuse angle is more than ninety degrees and less than one hundred and eighty degrees.

[3] klotchyn – heads up, pay attention

[4] gallymoggers – crazy

[5] bonnie - pretty

[6] Brillig – 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the time you begin broiling things for dinner

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 3 of 22

<< Previous     Home     Next >>