|All The Same
Author: Random-Battlecry PM
You've no idea how it worried me, the idea that I was just an idea. Not just that it was you dreaming me up, no, I'm flattered, dear girl! But at times there's just no substitute for flesh and blood." Alice/Hatter, after she's remembered. One shot.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Drama - Alice K. & Mad Hatter/Tarrant Hightopp - Words: 1,673 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 95 - Follows: 10 - Published: 03-13-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5812230
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: All The Same (1/1)
Fandom: Burton's Alice In Wonderland
Spoilers: takes place mid-movie, so probably better if you've seen it, though I don't think there's anything too specific
Disclaimer: Not mine, obviously, or it would say "Random da Shea's Alice"
Summary: "You've no idea how it worried me, the idea that I was only an idea, or that you were dreaming me. Not only that you were dreaming me, far from it, I'm flattered, dear girl. But at times there's just no substitute for flesh and blood." Alice and the Hatter, in the White Queen's palace, after she's remembered.
All The Same
Memories, for Alice, are not bright flashes of insight or a sudden vivid sense of deja vu; on the contrary, they're like nothing so much as a sensation that she has stumbled upon a great truth, something that was there all along but to which her eyes have been closed. But it's coming back to her, now: hares and heirs and hair and haberdashers and heroines in hats.
So she finds the Hatter, in the whitestone maze that is the White Queen's castle. Finds him, espies him off in the distance, back to her, fiery red hair standing out like a beacon in the pristine solemnity of their surroundings.
He doesn't turn, even when he hears her footsteps coming softly up behind him; only looks at her when she has taken hold of his pale hand, slipping her fingers into his tentatively, though she knows she won't be denied.
Then, yes, he turns to look at her, and grants her that crooked, gap-toothed grin, as though he's been feeling a lack, a gap, a hole, and she is the exact right shape and size to fill it.
"I wanted to tell you," she says. "The strangest thing has happened, and it turns out you are real after all."
He reacts with a show of enthusiastic delight, releasing her hand to clap both of his together. What with the bandages and the thimble, the result is a curiously muffled sound, as though through cheesecloth, or a veil. He's nonetheless obviously mightily pleased.
"Oh!" he says, as though this is the best thing that has happened to him in eons. "I am so glad to hear that, Alice, I can't even tell you. You've no idea how it worried me, the idea that I was only an idea, or that you were dreaming me. Not only that you were dreaming me, far from it, I'm flattered, dear girl. But at times there's just no substitute for flesh and blood."
"I concur," says Alice, and, almost in the same breath, "but I must ask."
"Ask away." His hands stretch open in front of him for a brief second, one of them fluttering upwards to find the brim of his hat, reassuring himself that it's still in its proper place. "Questions are always welcome, though answers are not always given. But please, pose, and I'll do my level best." He ends with a sharp downward jerk of his chin, indicative of his willingness to take a stab at it. Alice feels her hands hanging empty at her sides, fingers curling into the material of her dress.
"How did you know it was me?" she starts, gently. "Everyone else thought I was the wrong Alice. Even I thought I was the wrong Alice. But you knew. How?"
The Hatter looks pensive, those impossible eyebrows drawing downwards, and he gives this a deep and time consuming episode of consideration.
Alice does not want to wait. Patience, some inner voice advised her, is a virtue; but she can not be virtuous.
"Even when I was always the wrong size," she presses. "Even when I said I didn't slay and you got so angry with me--"
"Sorry about that," says the Hatter contritely, drooping his head a little and bringing his hands to rest in front of him, fingertips pressed together. She reaches out, separates them, takes one for herself and holds on.
"How did you know?"
Head still down, chin resting on his chest, he mumbles, "You never did get your hair cut."
This sparks a memory as well, though it takes a moment to rise from the depths. She frowns downwards at their joined hands, shakes her head till her hair falls forward over her face. So deep is she in this reaching for memory that she barely realizes it when he lifts his other hand and gently sweeps her hair back, tucking it behind her ear. He follows this with a brief series of pinching and fluffing motions, however, as though arranging the presentation of her hair, and she looks up at him and smiles.
"That's the first thing you said to me, isn't it? To get my hair cut."
"Indeed," says the Hatter, with a helpless little laugh. "I was rather rude in those days, wasn't I? But I did offer you tea afterwards."
"Yes." She clasps his hand more warmly; his other has come to rest lightly on her shoulder, and they stand together for a moment, joined by a shared reminiscence of things that once were, things that existed only in their minds; figments, of a sort, these memories, Alice, considers. But she won't tell him that.
"I'm glad you're real," she says eventually, and his smile is a just reward for voicing this sentiment. "But if you weren't, you know, I would have made you up all the same."
"Alice," he says warmly, that curious lisp drawing her forward, and he dips his head towards her, inches away, and looks at her from under those bristly white lashes with all the honesty madness can conjure. She waits, looking up. "You're still late, you know, dear girl. They'll be waiting."
"Who will be waiting?" She is confused.
He sweeps his hand away from her, spreads his arm and indicates something vaguely behind himself. That way, she discovers, lies the great front doors of Marmoreal. She squints past him.
"You remember now," he says. "You know we are real. You cannot dismiss us as you would a dream when you wake up to a sunshiny morning. Will you save us, then, Alice?"
"What are they doing?" She can make out forms moving backwards and forwards, but cannot tell for certain what the movements signify.
"Making ready for the war," says the Hatter, as though this was the only possible answer. Alice shakes her head, and steps backwards, away from him. Her grip holds true, though, and they remain joined, fingers twined between them.
"That's not what you're for," she says. "Not what you're about. Wonderland isn't meant to be this way; I remember how it was. Things were--- things were difficult and confused and a little frightening, but none of you were ever meant to go to war. Talking flowers and floating cats and, and the Caucus race. Bread and butter and tea and cake and you sang for me, back then. Why is this happening?"
He folds his other hand over hers, and she notices for the first time how warm he is. How could she ever have believed that he was a figment of her imagination? How could she ever have fancied that he is anything but real?
"This is the time, Alice," he says, softly, earnestly, eyes fixed on hers, leaning forward again. She is herself, her own size, and comes up just past his shoulder. The Hatter is not a tall man, though the hat stretches to the top of her vision. Her vision, rapidly narrowing, focusing, till all she can see is his eyes, pleading. "Just this once. You are right, my dear. None of us were meant for this. But even the maddest of the mad can set that aside for a moment, and do what must needs be done. You and I, dear girl, we are quite out of our heads. But just this once, just this once, just this once---"
His voice speeds, and he is headed full-tilt into babbling. Alice reaches forward, puts a hand over his mouth, and quiets him. He twitches a little, and she waits till his breathing has steadied before dropping her fingers away.
"I'm fine," he says. And Alice smiles.
"I'm going to need help with the armor," she says. "I can't possibly put it on by myself."
He positively beams.
"I know just the chap," says the Hatter.
She's kitted, out-fitted, and prepared; as ready as she will ever be. He stands for a moment with his hands on her armor-clad shoulders, looking down at her, eyes dancing, with an unutterable look of pride.
"Will I do?" asks Alice.
His lips, pressed briefly against her forehead, is the only answer she gets. "Come along," says the Hatter cheerfully, offering her his arm. But she shakes her head.
"You go on without me. I'll be out in a moment. Please."
Another look, and he nods and moves towards the door leading out of the throne room. Alice knows she will clank when she walks, wishes she had thought to find an oil can just on the off chance, feels heavy and bound and overloaded. But the Hatter walks a straight line, out of the room, and just before he gains the door, he spins and salutes and steps on the hem of his trousers and stumbles backwards over his leather shoes; reaches out, grasps the edge of the door, rights himself, and goes on his way, fiendishly giggling. And she feels light, of a sudden, vivid and alive and heart swelling beneath the armor, shoulders straightening.
The sword is there, for her hand, waiting; and that is not all.