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19 May 2011 @ 07:56 pm
The Slings and Arrows  
Author: silent_remains
Fandom:  Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Rating:  PG--for extreme angst and hurt/comfort
Warnings: MAlice 
Notes: None to think of--but malice, malice, malice.
Summary: Alice is surprised when her friends from Underland begin showing up at her home.

the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

The skies—dark, gloomy—seemed to roll like the passing of choppy waves.  Unusual weather for a less than usual spring, it was disquieting, bringing with it a perplexing melancholy.  Alice looked up from her work in her garden and watched the storm clouds pass, they disturbed her, brought the wisps of a memory, one that lie just below the surface.
“Well, if it isn’t Alice.”
Alice sat back on her heels, her mouth agape.  “McTwisp?”
She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had thought of the rabbit, let alone see him.  The trading trip to China had taken a year and a half, and she couldn’t remember how much time had passed since her return—months, possibly years.
“What are you doing here?  Is Underland all right?”  Underland?  She hesitated a bit, at a momentary lapse in memory. Where were the reminiscences, the sweet thoughts of a once magical land?  Wasn’t it once her Wonderland?
“Never mind about us, Alice.  I have come to simply see if you are all right.  Is there anything I can help you with?”
Nothing came to mind, or heart.  “I don’t know.  I can’t remember what I did yesterday. If I did anything at all.”  A small pang touched her heart.
The rabbit noticed.  “Yes?  What exactly do you remember, Alice?”
“Well…” A brief flare of an unnamable grief struck her, but she brushed it aside. Alice sat back and thought about it, and vaguely remembered something about tea. “Tea…yes…I seem to remember something about tea.  Would you join me for tea, Nivens?”
“Yes, a fine cup of tea would be wonderful at the moment.”
“Will you join me in the veranda?”
The rabbit hopped next to Alice.  “You have a lovely home, Alice.”
“It’s a nice cottage.  Maybe a little too big for one person.”
“Nasty weather, don’t you think?”
Alice looked up into the clouds again, and her heart once more troubled her.  “A bit queer if you ask me.”
McTwisp sipped from his cup.  “Do you remember coming back from China?”
The blonde put her cup down.  “I don’t remember telling you that I went to China.”
“Nonsense, dear girl.  Who else could have told me?”
Alice sipped her tea.  “Must be, then.”

A few days after the surprising visit, Alice sat in her parlor, reading a particularly uninteresting page from The London Journal, when a knock on her door startled her. “Will you get the door, Beatrice?”
The knock came again, and still nothing.  “Beatrice?”
Alice tossed the paper aside and got up, annoyed at the lack of good help, very much unlike when her parents were still alive.  She grabbed the handle.  “Yes?”
“A pleasant evening to you, dear Alice.”
A shocked Alice stood with mouth agape, once more.  “Hatter?”
“Oh, no, no, my girl.  Haven’t been a hatter for years.  You can call me by me given name, Tarrant.”  The hatter bowed before being swept into his best friend’s arms.
“How are you?  Oh, my, it’s been a long while, my friend.  Please, please come in.”  Alice stood aside and let Tarrant in.  She took his coat and hung it in the closet.  Alice turned, and for the first time, noticed the man in front of her.  “You’ve changed.”
If indeed miracles did happen, they had happened for Tarrant.  His eyes no longer shone with the madness she was used to seeing.  They were the deepest brown and bore a deep, dignified look.  His wild orange hair was gone and replaced with a cut that reminded her of what Hamish used to look like.
“Time does heal all wounds, don’t you think, Alice?”
Alice beamed.  “Of course, of course.  I’m so glad to see you!”  But just as easily as it came, her smile vanished.
Tarrant fumbled with his hat.  “Are you all right, Alice?”
Her mouth twitched, as a memory struggled to rise to the surface.  “I don’t know.  I seem to think that there is something that I’ve forgotten.”
The former hatter nodded.  “Something important, maybe?”
Alice shook her head.  “I still don’t know.  Mustn’t be important, maybe.  Now look at what a poor hostess I am.  Would you like a cup of tea, Hatter?”
Tarrant wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led Alice into her kitchen, seeming to know, by instinct, where the room was.  “Now, my love, tell me all about your exploits in China?”
Alice turned at looked at the man.  “I don’t remember telling you that?”
The hatter took down teacups from the cupboard.  “Tell me what?”
“That I went to China.  Never mind.  Shall we take our tea to the sitting room?”
“No, no.  It’s a wonderful night.  I think we ought to the veranda, don’t you think?”
“Oh, yes.”
Tarrant sipped his tea and sat back in the chair.  “The clouds have come back.”
Alice looked and noticed the ghostly clouds roll on over the horizon.  “That’s odd, wasn’t cloudy at all this morning.”  There was something in the passing clouds that begged Alice to be remembered, but remained elusive.
The former hatter waved his hand in front of him.   “I felt ye pass by, you no good…”
The Cheshire cat floated past Tarrant.  “I was wondering how long it would take.”
Alice nearly spilled her tea.  “Chessur?”
The cat floated up to her and swiped his tail over her head.  “It’s me, love.  How’s the arm?”
The blonde felt a twinge in her upper right arm and looked at it.  The scars seemed much more pronounced at this moment than they did yesterday.  Alice frowned.  “That’s odd.  This hasn’t bothered me in years.”
The cat quickly glanced at Tarrant.  “Pay it no heed, love.  Come now, I should very much like a cup of tea.”
Alice poured another for the wily cat and sat back in her own seat.  “This is so lovely, I had no hopes of ever seeing you again.”
Tarrant looked surprised.  “Why is that, Alice?”
The blonde shook her head slowly.  “Well, I don’t know.  I feel like I’ve been living in this cottage forever without any company.”
Chessur stirred his cup.  “Forever is such a long time, isn’t it, love?”
Alice smiled.  “Yes, it is.”

Alice received her guests for a few more hours before taking her leave from them.  But that was two weeks prior, and now Alice stood before her mirror, brushing her hair.  She put her brush down and gazed at her reflection.  For the life of her she could not remember her age.  But it must not be an elderly age because her cheeks remained pink and there were no gray streaks in her hair.  If she didn’t know better, she could have said she was in the prime of her life—hanging on to her youth.  
“Don’t worry, Alice, your just having a bad day.”  She berated herself for silly thoughts and went downstairs to tend to her garden.  
It was just past midday when Alice looked up and noticed the gray clouds, once again, shrieking across the sky.  They troubled her, much like a bad dream, or a nightmare, and she could not shake the thought that there was something terribly wrong.
The blonde whirled at the small voice.  “Who’s there?”
“Down here, love.”
Alice looked down and saw Mallymkun striding up to her, a huge grin on her small face.  She knelt down and placed her hand on the rich earth, inviting the little mouse to her.  
Mally ran up Alice’s arm to her shoulder.  “Oh, Alice, its so good to see you.”
Alice turned her head to the mouse and then sat back on her heels.  “You too, little one.  I’m sure a popular one, aren’t I?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, first Nivens then Chess and the Hatter.  Is everyone in Wonderland coming to see me?”  Alice looked down at her hands and frowned.  Wonderland… everyone… someone… her… Alice closed her eyes and tried to grasp at whatever was eluding her.  There was something, on the periphery of her thoughts—on the fringe of reality, really—that she could not quite hang on to.
But the moment was gone just as suddenly as it arose, and she felt herself again.  “Come, little one, and have a cup of tea.”
Alice visited with Mally for most of the day before bidding her good night.  The dormouse turned down Alice’s offer of a bed for the night and left rather abruptly, without a promise to visit again.

But that was a month ago.  Alice put down her cup quite suddenly and trembled.  Without looking, she knew that the gray clouds had come back, and she was loath to go outside and tend to her garden.  In fact, the idea of tending to her garden caused her to feel wary, like one does just before an illness strikes.  She was startled when a rather delicate knock at the door forced her out of her thoughts.
Alice opened the door and froze, her heart clenched, and a hand on her lips.  “Oh, my Lord.”
The White Queen smiled, and then curtsied.  “Hello, my sweet Alice.”
Time stopped, and the reality of Mirana on her doorstep slammed into her like a mighty clap of thunder.  Without realizing it, she fell to her knees.  “Mirana?”
The Queen dropped to her knees in front of Alice and took her hands into her own.  “Yes, it is I, dear Alice.  I have come to see you at last.”
And whatever sanity Alice had hung onto fragmented, and she fell onto the older woman, wrapping her arms around her, and sobbed.  “I’ve missed you so much, my…oh, Mirana!”
The White Queen held onto the girl, and rode out her grief as if it was her own.  “It’s okay, now, my love.  I have come, at last.  You don’t need to grieve anymore, its over now.”
Alice clung onto the White Queen until her sobs quieted, and she could finally look up to her beloved.  “Where have you been?”
Mirana pulled out a handkerchief from her dress pocket and dried Alice’s tears.  “It doesn’t matter, now, Alice, its over.”
Alice hiccupped.  “What’s over?”
The monarch easily brought both of them to their feet, and continued to run her hand down Alice’s back.  “Would you like to go for a walk with me, Alice?”
Alice hesitated.  “But… everyone will see you.  And the clouds…”
Mirana caressed the blonde’s cheek.  “Is there something wrong with the clouds?”
“They scare me.”
“I promise never to let go of your hand.  Will that make a difference?”
Alice smiled and took hold of her beloved’s hand.  “Yes, it will.  Thank you.”
Mirana opened the door and led Alice out of her house, taking her hand as they strolled down the street.
Alice, feeling a bit self-aware, noticed that no one paid any attention to them as they strolled, hand in hand, down one of London’s streets.  “I don’t understand.  No one is paying any attention to you, my Queen.”
The monarch smiled.  “And why should they, Alice?”
“Well, you are dressed a bit different than everyone else.”
“So are you.”
Alice looked down and noticed for the first time that she no longer wore the clothes of an old maid, but the armor of Underland, instead.  She stopped, and looked incredulously at the older woman.  “What is happening, Mirana?  What’s going on?”
“Just a little bit further, Alice, and everything will make sense.”
The blonde refused to move, and a touch of fear stole over her.  “I think I’d rather like to go home, now.”
Mirana took her hand once again.  “Please, Alice.  I’m asking you to trust me, just one more time.”
Alice now frowned openly.  “What do you mean by that?”
The White Queen drew Alice to her and softly kissed her on her lips.  The kiss lingered, and both women moaned somewhat at the contact.  Mirana finally tore her lips from her Champion’s, and rested her forehead on the girl’s.  “Everything is going to be all right, I promise you.”
Alice nodded, and once more, too, grasped Mirana’s hand in her own.  But this time, her eyes stayed on the White Queen as they made their way down the street.  And she did not look away from her Queen as Mirana rounded a corner and led them into that cold place, with its many pieces of stone sticking out of the ground.
The White Queen turned and faced Alice.  “Will you look down at the same time I do, my love?”
Alice could only nod, and followed as Mirana’s eyes fell onto a certain piece of cold stone.  For some reason, her name was on the stone, along with dates that made no sense to her.  She looked up to her beloved.  “When?”  It was a whisper.
The White Queen placed an arm around Alice’s waist.  “In China, my love.  You never came back.”
Alice froze.  “No…”
Mirana held her tighter.  “I waited for you for an eternity, until the walls of Marmoreal fell into ruin, and the memories faded, and the mountains withered into the earth.”
Alice fell onto her knees, bringing Mirana with her.   “This is not right… how…”
“I do not know the details, Alice.  Only that your sister had your body sent here for burial.”
“How can I touch you if I’m dead!”
Mirana gently ran her hand down her Champion’s cheek.  “Oh, Alice…”
The truth slowly percolated into Alice’s being, and she sobbed.  “No, no…”
“Yes, Alice, we are dead, all of us—Tarrant, Mally, the Tweedles—everyone has gone to the hereafter.  Except you.”
“If there are self-made purgatories—and there must be—you’ve been hiding away from death, Alice, and I can no longer bear to be without you.  That’s why I sent them, to find out why you continued to linger when you should have been with me.”
Alice struggled to understand.  “My house?”
“Not real, Alice, you sent yourself to a place you knew you would eventually hate.”
Alice nodded, and after an eternity, or so it seemed, felt a veil of certitude wash over her.  She was lifted from herself into another reality, one that was not bound by life’s vicissitudes and worries, into a place where there was no pain, no doubt and devoid of fear.

And a Champion rode on, carried by a trusty steed into the hills of Underland where a White Queen was waiting…

And Alice dismounted, resplendent in her armor—shield at her back, sword at her side—and strode with confidence to the woman in white.  Alice stopped just short of Mirana and bowed with a flourish.  

She grinned.  “My Queen.”

Mirana wrapped her arms around the younger woman’s neck, and then kissed her.  “My Champion.”
Current Mood: awake