Title: Painting Flowers [1/2]

Author: Hitmewiththestreetlights

Fandom: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Pairing(s): Alice/White Queen

Rating: T

Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers from Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, or the likeness of the characters or anything of the sort. Lewis Carroll, Linda Woolverton, and Tim Burton probably hit closer to home, although, when Disney do something, they go big, so they may own a chunk of it too.

Summary/AN: Alice returns to Underland and finds that she and the White Queen aren't that much different.

***

It's a fluke, really, the second (third) time Alice falls down the rabbit hole. She's older this time (two weeks shy of twenty-three), wiser (at least she thinks she's wiser), and still thoroughly unsure of whether she's just completely insane.

It's a hunting trip gone awry. She's not fond of hunting, never has been—she had moral quandaries about killing a dangerous (possibly imaginary—honestly, she's been more and more unsure of that lately) Jabberwocky let alone killing an innocent fox—but Lord Ascot insisted she meet this young up-and-coming businessman from across town and she'd hardly disappoint Lord Ascot.

Mr. Jacob, that's his name. Well, Mr. Jacob Coleridge, but he's adamant she call him Jacob and she's just as adamant she not call him Jacob; this is a business engagement after all… except that it's not, and she realises that the moment that he mentions his prior meeting with her sister. Then it all makes sense, because of course Margaret would have something to do with this.

Alice lets out a long restless sigh, letting her fingers drift across the long braided mane of the horse beneath her.

Margaret means well, Alice knows she does, but ever since her marriage with Lowell fell apart, she's been occupying most (if not all) of her time with trying to set Alice up with a "nice, young man," and it's annoying, this sudden re-emergent interest into her personal life. Sure, there are "nice, young men" out there, Alice knows this, and sure, both her mother and sister were married before they were twenty-three, Alice (not for lack of trying to forget that detail) knows this too, but she honestly cannot find it in herself to be anything but disinterested in it all. The scare tactics don't even work anymore. So what if she does end up like Aunt Imogene? She figures she's capable of delusions far more fanciful than of handsome rich princes anyway and living in those delusions hardly seems like a chore. In truth, she'd much rather be anywhere than here with Mr. Jacob and these looming expectations pressed upon her by society, and her "friends" and especially her sister.

"It's what your father would want, you know?"

Alice turns sharply to look at the man on the horse parallel to her. He's as well-bred of a gentleman as they come this Mr. Jacob; the youngest son of the Lord Chief Justice, as sharp as he is handsome and still as uninteresting as Hamish, and Mr. Rowatt (the last man Margaret insisted Alice see), and Mr. Foster before that.

"You didn't know my father," Alice answers wearily, because she is weary, she's absolutely positively tired of it all. She's tired of Margaret and all her crying (because apparently, she's somehow to blame for Lowell being a gigantic sleaze), she's tired of Fiona and Faith constantly barraging her with details about their upcoming double wedding to their Norwegian princes, she's tired of her mother dropping all these hints about marriage and its importance and she's extraordinarily tired of this stupid corset!

"You're right. I didn't." He agrees and Alice almost thankfully thinks that this conversation is over. "But isn't this what every man wants for his daughter? For her to marry into a prestigious family? To have children? To—"

"I'd think that every man would want his daughter to be happy,"

He looks at her seriously—it seems these "nice, young men" her sister keeps finding for her only have two expressions, serious and concentrated, both of which Alice is also weary of.

"What would make a daughter happier than making her father proud?"

Alice's response is interrupted by a rustle in the nearby bushes and like that, Mr. Jacob switches from serious to concentrated, his grip on the leashes of his two Hounds slackening, ready to release the two dogs after the poor unsuspecting creature.

There's another quick rustling, closer this time, and Alice feels her heart almost sink at the knowledge that it—whatever it is—is moving closer to its imminent death.

The Hounds are ready, pounced and drooling, waiting for the rustling bushes to make way, to reveal their prey. Part of Alice hopes that doesn't happen, hopes that the creature will inadvertently wonder off into another director, and the other part of her, well, the other part of her sort of hopes that the bushes will part and reveal a huge Bandersnatch. She's pretty sure Mr. Jacob would be a bit more than serious or concentrated then.

Neither of her hopes seem plausible though because the rustling is getting closer still, so much so that she can see the leaves trembling this time, minutely though, so minutely that she knows it could never be a Bandersnatch.

She can hear Mr. Jacob's breathing shallow, almost to a stop, as the creature's ascent reaches a crescendo. The bushes rustle one last time before the creature makes his timely appearance.

Alice almost releases a breath of relief when it finally does.

It's a rabbit, a white, calm, innocent, and completely-oblivious- to- their-presence rabbit.

It doesn't occur to Alice that Mr. Jacob may still actually hunt it until she hears the soft—almost silent—sound of snakeskin—the leashes, of course it's the leashes—pat against grass.

"Jacob! Don't."She pleads, but the dogs are off already at a speed comparable to lightening. The commotion seems to frighten her horse because he's rearing back before Alice even has a chance to hold on tightly and then she finds herself galloping through the woods, very barely holding onto the panicked creature by its soft braided mane.

It feels like hours before the horse comes to a stop and when it does, Alice is fairly certain she's lost. She dismounts the horse to examine her surroundings and it's then that she is positively certain that she is indeed lost. She walks around, in circles, in straight lines, in random formations trying to identity something—anything—that is familiar to her but there's nothing.

It's in her frantic haste that she clumsily trips. She doesn't even see the rabbit hole, doesn't even feel it, until she's falling.

It's probably the longest and slowest fall she's ever experienced—although she's certain she thought the exact same thing the last time and this time really feels no different, or at least she thinks it feels no different.

She still reaches out for her bearings, grabbing at the tremendous gusts of air that slip through her fingers. She's pretty sure that last time her reaction was because she was so panicked, this time it's because she's certain she's going to fall.

And she does.

This time when she hits the floor, it's with a loud crash, the sound of metal colliding with cement almost deafening. It takes her a second to realise that that metal thing is her, well not her but her armour which has seemed to materialize, along with the Vorpal Sword, sometime between her fall and her hard descent to the ground.

The room seems smaller this time, and the doors more in number, but she figures—because she's still the same, she even pat herself down to make sure she hadn't inexplicably grown bigger—that it's just the haze of her memory playing tricks on her.

The table still sits in the centre of the room, upon it the vile, the key and a saucer with a piece of cake. The vile with the purplish liquid is unmarked this time but there's a note on the cake, scribbled almost illegibly.

"Just in case" It reads. She does keep it—hides it in a compartment of her armour—just in case, but she doesn't need it at this moment. She's sure to grab the key before she drinks the potion and the door—the smallest door— unlocks effortlessly.

She's not sure what exactly she expects when she enters the small door but it's not this serenity; it's not this tranquil untouched calm. The trees, the grass, the sky, everything seems so peaceful since the last time she was here.

There's a gentle breeze across her cheek. It wisps across her forehead, and then her shoulder and when it doubles back around she sees the blue dust that follows it.

"Chessur,"

The mysterious blue cat appears instantly, grinning cheekily as his tail wisps across her shoulder.

"You rang?" He asks slyly.

"Where is everyone?"

TBC...

A/N: This will only be two parts, so Alice obviously encounters the White Queen in the next part lol but if anyone would like to beta the next part for me, I'd be eternally grateful. =D