Synopsis: Hatter/Weaver one shot. Pre-Redd's reign and Alyss & Hatter's departure from Wonderland. What happens when a Milliner feels too much? Rather fluffy but PG-13 (or T) for some suggestiveness and makeout action—woo hoo! :D
A/N-I obviously do not own any of the characters, despite my greatest wishes.
"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs being purged a fire sparkling in lovers eyes being vexed a sea nourished with lovers tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet."
All was quiet at Talon's Point.
From beneath the massive expanse of night sky and stars, crystalline snow drifted lazily from the heavens to the peak of the mountain. The moon overhead cast a pale glow over the ice that had settled deeply into the top of the Point, tingeing the peak blue and white with frost. There was little else around Talon's Point, considered to be unreachable by so many, leaving nothing obstructing the 360 degree view from the summit of the immense landmark. In the land below, all was quiet, all was serene, cloaked in a veil of peace. The flowers and accompanying flora on the ground slumbered quietly against the dark backdrop of the night and stars. Yet despite the solace of the landscape, not all was that way.
All was quiet, all was serene at Talon's Point besides the mind of one Milliner.
Hatter Maddigan couldn't sleep. From his position at the mouth of the small isolated cave on Talon's Point he stood looking out at the stars and reveling in the irony brought forth by the intrinsic solace of the night.
Losing a battle to an enemy that I know nothing of.
If anyone from Wondertropolis had been able to see the famous Milliner now, they most likely wouldn't have recognized him even if they had wanted to. Without his usual attire, he looked normal, ordinary even, with his deep brown hair and eyes. Both his coat and backpack lay in the far corner of the cave—the same corner that Weaver's beige satchel occupied. His hat was quietly resting on top of his crackled leather coat, his heavy metallic bracelets lay on the ground next to the pile, and his Millinery uniform was strewn across the floor from the night's earlier activities--leaving Hatter wearing only standard issue navy blue Millinery pajama pants.
And that was pretty much it.
He stood against the entrance of the cave oblivious of the inclement weather outside and the fact that at this point of the night the temperature was slightly below freezing. However the Milliner wasn't cold, not due to his extensive training at sensory suppression, but due to the intense warmth that radiated from the cave fueled by the large crackling fire in the fire pit at the center of the small enclosure. Lit solely from fire crystals, the blaze brought the entire cave to a surprisingly comfortable temperature. He had used the leftover rocks and rubble decimated by his wrist blades to build the pit before their first visit to Talon's Point sometime ago--all of his work completely worth Weaver's reaction:
"What is that?" She had said upon their entry to the cave, pointing at the mound of rubble with a slight smile on her face. "A pile of rocks for throwing at stray Black Imaginationists?"
"It's a fire pit." He had said, slightly indignant. He had cocked his head to the side to look at Weaver, confused.
Was she mocking him?
Instead she had leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"I know. And it's perfect"
Besides the fire pit and the subsequent fire that was crackling away in it, there was little else in the cave. The pile of their belongings lay in the corner, and they had brought two portable sleeping pods that they had fit together in which to make their bed. Weaver's notebooks lay strewn all over the floor of the cave ('organized chaos', she called it), full of symbols and formulas that Hatter in his wildest dreams couldn't even begin to decipher. Earlier in the day, Weaver had poured over her notebooks as usual and on this trip her alchemy bestowed upon the couple a beautiful (or, at least beautiful to Hatter) and sharply defined V shaped blade.
"For your backpack" She had said.
Hatter had returned her gift with one of his own: a smile.
Directly next to the bed was the small cream colored fabric bag of candy that Weaver constantly carried with her. She was rarely seen without it and her trademark was to be able to work intensely on formulas with one hand and, without looking up, eat some sort of sweet with the other. Sugar helped her concentrate on her work, or so she always adamantly claimed. Hatter however was not the only one who knew of her insatiable sweet tooth—her love for jollyjellies was somewhat of a friendly joke among the Milliners.
And next to the bag of candy asleep on the bed was—
He turned away from the stars to steal a glance at the civilian member of the Millinery, a brief smile dancing across his lips. Weaver slept soundly, unaware of Hatter's inner turmoil.
She lay on her back, unclothed but covered up to her shoulders by the white sheets and blankets that they had brought along at the beginning of their days at Talon's Point. One arm lay on her stomach, one above the pillow and her head was turned slightly to the right. Weaver's long auburn hair, normally pulled back into a utilitarian ponytail, cascaded in soft waves down her back and along her shoulders. She was breathing softly, regulated by sleep, unaware of the Milliner's appreciative glance. Through the thin cotton sheet that covered her, Hatter admired the soft curve of her hip, the gentle rise and fall of her chest and the warmth of the fire as it cast a glow off of her bare skin.
Watching her sleep was at times his one and only solace.
If only we could stay here forever.
Hatter turned back to the stars, self controlled and stoic as always.
Stop it, you weak fool. Your duty is to the Queen, not to your own sentiments or desires.
Hatter let his mind go blank after that thought, a technique garnered from years of Millinery training and continued to stare out into the night sky. After an indeterminate amount of time, his internal silence was interrupted as he heard Weaver stir in the bed behind him--turning and reaching out in sleep to find that the space where he had formerly occupied was now empty. He turned to look at her again and watched as she shifted to lay on her side, one arm out to where he should have been sleeping as well. He hated to disappoint her, but his recent sleepless nights had already kept her up more than he would have ever willingly allowed. Hatter had seen it worry her severely throughout the previous days, but she, as always, was unrelenting and forcefully determined in her desire to follow him into the darkest of places—his own mind.
However, now she slept and he would do whatever it took to give her the peace her knew she so desperately needed. Hatter turned back to looking at the stars and so he was left alone standing at the mouth of the cave with his worst enemy and the sole cause of his recent sleepless nights--
How do you fight an enemy without blades or a hat? How do you fight an enemy with no corporeal body—no weakness whatsoever? How do you fight an enemy who you are now realizing is a part of you?
How do you fight an enemy who you've lost to long ago?
If Dalton had still been in Hatter's life he would have known what to do and how to handle a situation such as his younger brother's current quandary. Of course, even he would have been deeply offended at the idea of a Milliner falling in--Hatter couldn't say it yet--with a civilian in the first place. It was not the way of the race, not the way of their shared history. The Millinery was established after years of careful genes and select breeding—not by feeling or emoting. His brother would have known exactly where Hatter and Weaver's friendship would lead—what dangers would befall the Milliner who now thought too much and felt too much. Dalton's words echoed in Hatter's head:
"Milliner's are created, not born. We are machines, Hatter, destined for our duty as bodyguards and for that, we are strong. Be proud and never, ever, betray yourself or where you came from."
But Dalton wasn't there and Hatter didn't even know if his brother was alive or dead.
Oh Dalton, did you ever fight this battle? Because then you'd know if by losing, you win in the end.
Still at the entrance of the cave, Hatter looked down and caught a glance at his arms, covered in scars despite years of Millinery healing potions and procedures. The cauterizers, grafting, NGR nodes, and surgeon's skills, while highly effective, could only fix so much. There were still visible scars from years and years of training and battle. Weaver had said that those scars had made him who he was—but instead he just saw himself without his backpack, his hat, and his blades, as vulnerable. It was a new word to him, but one that hadn't been a stranger since he met Weaver. With her, he—
"Hatter…? What's wrong?"
Hatter turned back to see her sleepily rub her eyes as she sat up in bed, careful to keep the sheets tucked around her. Weaver looked at him quizzically, reaching down next to the bed before pulling on the sleeveless light blue nightgown that lay crumpled on the floor. She stuck her arms through the top and shimmied down the nightgown over her tall frame (still modestly under the bed sheets) before pulling her auburn hair to the side of her neck and twisting it into a loose ponytail. Hatter watched her movements, somewhat speechless.
Beautiful as always…
He shook his head slightly, dismissing any fear that she might have for him. Weaver remained silent, but the expression in her hazel eyes changed and told Hatter that she knew he was lying. She pulled her knees up to her chest under the sheets and a concerned look tinged with determination crossed her face. Hatter knew his façade was over.
Not going to give up, as always. Weaver, how I admire your determination, even when I'm unable to face you for fear of what I might reveal.
Hatter finally sighed in defeat and crossed the room, sitting next to Weaver on the bed, legs on the floor but body turned towards her. Reaching out, he gently placed one of his hands on her leg over the covers and began rubbing her thigh. They were silent for a few moments and Hatter looked down.
"Our last night" He finally said, not meeting her eyes.
"I know. I'm sorry" Weaver's expression and tone changed from concerned to downright sheepish. She shifted her weight on the bed and stretched her legs out in front of her before leaning back slightly on her hands.
"I fell asleep. I was a little, uh, tired out after…."
The corner of Hatter's mouth twitched with a slight grin "I was too."
Weaver face flushed instantly and she looked away but Hatter didn't miss the trademark smile that lit up her entire visage. After a brief second she looked back at him and her concern deepened significantly.
"You're not sleeping again." He flinched as Weaver reached one arm up and cupped his face—a deep seeded reaction to the Milliner's lack of human touch and affection. She gently ran her fingers over the day's stubble and tilted his head toward her to search into his deep brown eyes. "Something's really wrong."
"Something is always wrong in the world we live in, Weaver"
"Please tell me Hatter."
He was silent at her protestation. Hatter looked away at the entrance of the cave and up at the stars again, her hand still lingering on his cheek.
So constant. They are lucky not to be the slaves to emotion that humanity is.
While he was looking away, Weaver furrowed her brow and studied his countenance as if she was trying to figure out a complex puzzle. After a brief moment, she sighed, openly frustrated and removed her hand from his face. Even though Hatter wasn't looking at her, he could see her in his mind's eye—arms probably crossed, indignant expression, slight pout on her lips—
But then she surprised him in a way even he wasn't expecting.
"Is it me?" She asked quietly.
In a way. But-
"No." Hatter immediately whipped back in her direction and shook his head vehemently once he realized what exactly she had meant. His expression softened instantly upon gazing into her eyes. She was hurt—hurt by his lack of expression and reluctance towards her "Never."
He saw her face instantly relax at the intensity behind his words and Weaver gently took his hand in hers and interlaced their fingers. She was quiet for a moment and then looked down at their intertwined hands before absentmindedly beginning to rub his palm with her thumb. When she spoke again, she spoke quietly, her voice full of concern.
"Is it the Queen?"
The crackling of the fire echoed off the cave walls—the only sound in their world of ice and solace. After another moment, she looked back up, her hazel eyes staring into his brown ones with quiet intensity "Hatter, you are the one thing in this life that no matter how hard I try, I will never, ever, figure out completely."
She gestured with her free hand to her notebooks, full of their complicated symbols and formulas, strewn across the floor of the cave.
"These are nothing compared to you."
A wry look crossed his face "It's not in the Milliner race to ever fully understand even ourselves, Weaver. We are what we do--bodyguards, fighters, machines if you will."
"I know. But you're not just a machine--you're so much more, Hatter."
Always seeing the best in me when she should be seeing the worst. If only I was able to see that in myself.
"Please come back to bed." Weaver asked, drawing him out of his thoughts. She gave his hand a squeeze and pulled him gently in the direction of the pillows, but Hatter shook his head and looked back at the entrance of the cave.
Afraid of what you might feel Hatter? Afraid of what you might express? Afraid of your emotions?
Fear…weakness…you're a joke to the Millinery. You've lost this battle a long time ago and you're only just now realizing it.
"Hatter. Why not?"
"I don't want to keep you up."
"You're not." With that she dropped his hand from hers and furrowed her brow again in slight frustration.
Weaver was quiet for a beat and he heard her exhale. Hatter didn't look at her, but after a few seconds, he could feel her shift her weight on the bed.
"If you're going to keep me awake worrying about you, Hatter…."
Her voice trailed off and he felt her move closer to him.
"…we might as well make the most of it." she finished.
Hatter turned back to her knowing exactly what Weaver's tone meant and before he knew it, her lips gently met his and the Milliner felt himself breathe in raggedly as she nuzzled against him. Hatter took her face in his hands and eagerly returned the pressure with equal gentleness- creating a kiss of sincere devotion between the two.
Her kiss was the weakness to his thoughts—he simply let himself go and appreciated the intoxicating heat of her touch as Weaver wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself closer to him, deepening their contact. After a brief second, Hatter moved his lips away from hers and planted several precise kisses down her jawline. The Milliner heard her distinctive soft sigh as he did so and at that sound he met her lips once again.
It was most certainly not the first time he had heard Weaver sigh like that, but it still, as it did every single time, brought forth the same sense of victory that came about after winning a battle. The thought that he, inexperienced in the ways of romancing and supposedly unable to feel, yes he, Hatter Maddigan, had somehow garnered the ability to bring fourth desire in a woman—a woman who he cared for more than life itself—was extraordinary. And the sound of that was one thing he would never, ever, tire of.
"Still worried?" He murmured down to her softly as he rubbed her lips with his thumb.
"Not really." She whispered looking at his lips. He felt Weaver shake her head as she closed her eyes and brought her mouth to his, returning Hatter's latest kiss. All he could feel at the moment was heat--from the fire in the cave, from Weaver, and from inside himself. Hatter dropped his guard and let himself relax even more as she placed her hands on his broad shoulders--
--and then suddenly and quite forcibly pulled him back into bed next to her.
He wasn't quite prepared for that.
Hatter could hear her laugh as he collapsed next to her with a slight grunt. She had, as always, managed to surprise him yet again. Despite himself, despite years and years of Millinery training on suppression, he felt a genuine smile begin to creep on his face.
Always knowing exactly how to keep me on my toes...
"And now you're back in bed. Unexpected?" Weaver asked with a triumphant grin, cocking her head to look at him.
"Very." He said into the pillows. He turned to her and the sight of his broad smile lit up Weaver's face as well. The Milliner pulled the civilian from her side of the bed into his arms "And I thought I knew your tricks by now."
"You'll never learn them all." She replied, still grinning.
Weaver wrapped her arms around his neck, nestling herself closer to him, and the Milliner could feel the comforting warmth of her body radiating from beneath her nightgown. Hatter relaxed in her touch, burying his face in her hair and taking in the scent of one part lavender, one part sheer determination, and one part Weaver. She lay curled against his bare chest; one of Hatter's hands rested on her hip, the other in her hair and he began slowly stroking her auburn tresses.
He heard Weaver's distinct sigh again and felt her warm breath against his chest.
Why did these days have to end?
Why did they ever, ever, have to end?
They lay there, simply locked in each other's embrace for quite sometime before Hatter heard Weaver's breathing slow down and begin to become regulated. Her arms around his neck softened slightly and he could feel her heart beat against his as he gently reached down to pull the sheets over both of them. Once next to her again, he put his arms around her to hold her close, placing one hand back on Weaver's hip and absentmindedly played with the material of her nightgown between his fingers. After Hatter had settled, Weaver brought her arms up to embrace him again, holding on to the Milliner as she did before.
"Sleep." He said quietly.
"You too." She said before shifting slightly and nuzzling into his neck.
But Hatter knew that before he would find any peace during their last night together, there was something that had to be done.
I can do this.
But what if she doesn't feel the same way?
If you tell her, at least you will have faced your enemy during your last stand and defied it instead of continuing to be the coward you are being right now.
Yes. Now is the time.
Hatter mulled his senses over before he took a deep breath as he usually did when preparing himself for battle.
"Mmmm?" She murmured sleepily, making the Milliner smile. She shifted slightly and moved her head to rest on his shoulder to look up at him "What is it?"
How could he tell her?
How could he ever tell her she was his one given solace in the world and that whatever happened in their lives he would never, ever, ever stop loving her?
I am not a coward and yet I've lost to an enemy I know nothing of. But despite it all, I do know one thing for certain-
"I love you" His voice was low and affectionate.
Weaver's breathing hitched and her following silence told Hatter everything he needed to hear.
She doesn't feel the same way.
The Milliner shut his eyes in self-loathing.
I am weak. My emotions have made me weak and pitiful.
How did I lose my heart to a woman who could never possibly love me back when I am so beyond all hope—beyond all redemption? I am a machine. A machine created by generations of Millinery bloodlines. A machine to protect, a machine to fight, and machine to kill. Inhuman, cold and unfeeling. Except now. Feeling too much—risking too much.
And loving her too much.
How could she ever love someone like me?
But once again she proved him wrong. Hatter opened his eyes just as her lips came to rest against his, closed but soft. He saw that in the silence tears had been rolling quietly down her face—she had been too overcome with emotion to speak and had fought with herself to regain some control over her feelings—the same control that she knew he respected so much as a Milliner. But she had lost her battle too.
"I love you too." She whispered to him with her voice full of emotion as she snaked her arms around his bare torso.
He was her anchor.
"You are my life, Hatter."
Stoic as always, Hatter closed his arms around her tighter in response, but felt his eyes grow moist and vision begin to blur as his heart swelled.
Am I crying? Must not cry.
Blinking back the action that threatened to overwhelm him, Hatter kissed her forehead and allowed himself to fully succumb to his emotions. He breathed in deeply as he felt himself relax for not only the first time in days--but for the first time since Weaver had entered his former solitary existence. Now she was his life. Words transcended his feelings—they were indescribable, they were powerful and they were wondrous for the Milliner to let go and fully allow himself feel for the first time ever.
Love. I love her.
The thought repeated itself over and over again in his head as he held his beloved quietly in his arms.
And for once it feels good to have lost a battle because in the end, I have won something far more precious.
Weaver was his given solace. Through her he was given solace. Solace that Hatter reveled in and indulged in a way that the Milliner never thought was possible.
The fire in the cave had died down slightly now, casting only a faint glow where it had once blazed brightly. It was the last coherent thought that Hatter was able to remember--the fire faintly beginning to turn to embers, the darkness of the cave slowly encroaching upon the couple, and the stars, how bright they seemed in contrast to before. As sleep slowly began to overtake him for the first time in several nights, one thought burned brightly through his consciousness continued to light up his entire ethos--his entire life.
I love her and she loves me.
"Sleep Hatter. Sleep well." He heard her murmur to him as he began to drift off into peaceful nothingness.
And for the first time in two entire days the Milliner slept, content that in his arms the love of his life slumbered as well, loving him back with her everything she had.
Le Fin :)
I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it--thanks so much for reading!