Genius of Love

"There's no beginning and there is no end
Time isn't present in that dimension
He'll take my arm
When we're walkin', rolling and rocking
It's one time I'm glad I'm not a man
Feels like I'm dreaming, but I'm not sleeping."

For some odd reason, I have found myself fascinated with the relationship possibilities between Alice and Absolem. I gave father/daughter relationship a chance. Now, let's give romance a shot.

Alice had woken up with the feeling that it was going to be a very different and unusual day—even for Underland.

She wasn't quite sure what made her think the day was going to be unusual. It began as every other day normally began—she woke up in her bright, sunny room (it was her day off, so she slept in two extra hours), took a bath, brushed her hair, picked out an outfit for the day (Caribbean blue dress with a sky-blue scarf around the waist), and made her way down to the kitchen to make herself something to eat.

It was while she was walking down to the kitchen that her feelings of unusualness became observations of unusualness.

Everywhere she looked, people seemed to be…paired off, in a sense.

At first, she thought nothing of it—Bayard was with his wife, and they were cuddled up together under a tree in the courtyard; Lady Niccoletta and her husband Lord Murdock were walking hand-in-hand through the gardens. It wasn't until she saw one of the ladies-in-waiting, Tabitha, cozying up with Lord Westover that she began to notice the oddity. Lord Westover was courting Lady Avalonda with the intention of marrying her.

Scandalous, indeed, Alice thought to herself. She debated telling Avalonda…that is, until she found the Lady with the White Knave, holding hands and stealing kisses.

…Was she still asleep? Dear God, she hoped so. She walked into the kitchen and found that a few of her friends were already there—Mallymkun, McTwisp, and Thackery. She was about to greet them when she noticed something…odd. McTwisp was holding Mally in his paws and was snuffling her affectionately. The warrior dormouse was giggling like a schoolgirl at his actions. Thackery was enamored with a ladle. Well, okay, that last one wasn't too odd.

"…Good morning, everyone," she said cautiously, sitting down at the bar and picking up a scone.

"Good morning, Alice!" Mally greeted, sounding much more chipper and enthusiastic than usual when addressing Alice. Alice blinked and nibbled the scone.

"…Curious morning, is more like it," she murmured to herself. McTwisp seemed to notice.

"Whatever do you mean, Alice?" he asked, his whiskers twitching. Alice blinked, and shifted her eyes to Mally, then back to his own.

"Ah." Mally spoke up, leaning against McTwisp's arm. "Nivens, I don't think Alice knows what day it is."

"Oh dear," McTwisp muttered. "Oh dear, oh dear…" His nose twitched with worry. "Wherever is Tarrant?"

"He should be in by now," Mally replied, now sounding nervous herself. "Oh dear, Alice's first All-Love Day should be spent with Tarrant!"

"Oh, dinnae worry aboot Tarrant!" Thackery spoke up, his brogue thicker than usual. "Ah saw 'im just a few minutes agoo wit' 'Er Majesty 'erself! Not to worry!" He went back to making lovey-eyes at the ladle.

McTwisp looked about ready to faint from panic. Mally was nibbling on her pawtips. Alice blinked, standing up from her stool. "…Mally…McTwisp…" she said slowly. "…What's going on, exactly…?" The white rabbit heaved a sigh, his whiskers drooping slightly.

"I suppose someone should have brought it up earlier," he said softly. "Alice, today is All-Love Day. It's…a holiday that comes only once every ten or thirteen years, give or take a Leap Year or two." Mally cuddled up to him, and he seemed to calm down a little. "…On this day, everyone…pairs off, in a sense."

"It doesn't really matter who," Mally put in gently. "Usually, on All-Love Day, a couple is 'imprinted'…which means, the couples are paired by fate."

"Marriage or courtship isn't really an issue," McTwisp picked back up. "This is a day that everyone shares love."

"…Like Valentine's Day," Alice randomly put in.

"Who's Day?" Mally asked.

"…Never mind." Alice wrung her hands together. "…And…Thackery said…that Tarrant was already taken…?"

"It's just for today, Alice!" Mally reassured. "I would have assumed you would have found a partner already…but it must be because you're an Otherlandian…and not from Underland…It must not affect you."

"You needn't be alone, though!" McTwisp put in, trying to sound helpful. "It lasts for 24-hours, until sunup tomorrow. You…could find someone to pair off with."

Alice gave McTwisp a watery smile; she knew that he was trying to help, and although this day was very normal for him and everyone else here, he didn't understand what she was feeling. She and Tarrant were courting now; this was breaking her heart, no matter how good a friendship she had with Mirana or how much she trusted Tarrant.

"…Thank you, McTwisp," she said softly, turning toward the door. "…I'll try to…enjoy myself today." Without waiting for a reply, she left the kitchen and walked out of the palace; once she was outside, she broke into a run through the cherry blossom path and kept running, her footsteps in time with the erratic beating of her heart.

"Your Majesty, we have a problem!"

Mirana and Tarrant looked up when McTwisp came bounding in, Mally sitting on his back and holding on tight. The white rabbit came to a stop in front of them, a paw over his heart.

"You might want to stop running so fast, Nivens," Tarrant commented. "You're going to give yourself a heart attack one of these days."

"Be that as it may, Tarrant," McTwisp replied, straightening up and holding Mally. "I just spoke to Alice about All-Love Day."

"Oh, has she found someone yet?" Mirana asked, smiling. "Do tell, who is it?"

"No one!" Mally cried. "Have you two forgotten that Alice is not from Underland?"

Both Mirana and Tarrant paled, if that was at all possible. And it apparently was.

"Oh my," Mirana said, looking at Tarrant. "…She didn't know." Tarrant's eyes went gold as he began sputtering obscenities in Outlandish, and didn't calm down until Mirana took his face in her hands and spoke softly to him. "…How did she take it?" she asked, once Tarrant's eyes went to a more somber bluish-green.

"It was hard to tell," McTwisp replied. "She left without really telling us how she felt, but she said that she would…try to enjoy the day. She may have a go at it. Someone might imprint on her."

"Oh I hope so," Mirana said, her eyes downcast. Tarrant reached over and squeezed her hands reassuringly. "None of us can help how we feel on this day; if Tarrant hadn't imprinted on her, then it wasn't meant to be today."

"I know," Mally replied. "I'm just happy it was Nivens this time." She gave McTwisp a smile. "I know I couldn't help myself last time, but I cannot believe fate had me imprint on Thackery!"

"…In his defense, you two began to really get along after that day," Tarrant replied, smiling slyly. Mally blushed through her white fur.

Alice didn't stop running until she was well outside the Palace grounds. She collapsed in a soft patch of grass under a blue-leafed tree and struggled to catch her breath as she wiped tears away from her eyes.

She knew that she shouldn't be so upset; but she also knew that this would be so much easier with little to no heartbreak if she were an Underlandian, too. She leaned up against the trunk of the tree and closed her eyes, trying to will her pain to go away… She sniffled and coughed a little as a less-than-pleasant aroma invaded her olfactory senses.

"Crying solves nothing," a careless voice said right above her. She opened her eyes and looked up to see a curl of smoke drifting from a branch in the tree.

"…Absolem?" Alice murmured, craning her neck to try to see him. She stood up and then saw the large blue butterfly sitting in a knothole on a large branch, smoking that hookah of his. The butterfly made a noncommittal sound and looked down at her.

"Alice," he replied. "Now that we've uncovered the painfully obvious, what is it that has you uselessly weeping?" Alice wiped at her eyes again and scowled.

"For one who speaks of the 'painfully obvious', you should know why I'm upset!" she shot back, her hands clenching in her dress. The blue butterfly exhaled smoke in her general direction.

"I know why you are upset," he replied, sounding a tad bit less of an ass, in Alice's opinion. "But you should know that despite why you are upset, it does not change the fact that when in one is in Rome, one does what the Romans do." He paused. "…Is that what Otherlandians say?"

"Yes," Alice replied, leaning against the trunk of the tree again. "…It still doesn't make it hurt less."

"When you think of that expression, no, it doesn't." Absolem took an inhale of the hookah mouthpiece. "But when you apply it, it does."

Alice blinked and stared up at Absolem in time to get another puff of smoke get blown into her direction. "Will you stop that!" she cried, resisting the urge to stamp her foot childishly. Absolem gave her an amused look.

"If it bothers you, why don't you move?" he asked. Alice scowled.

"I don't want to give you the satisfaction," she replied, crossing her arms. Absolem shook his head.

"Suit yourself," he replied. They remained silent for awhile before Alice spoke up again.

"…Have you been…paired off?" she asked hesitantly. She heard Absolem make a sound of indifference.

"I have not," he replied. "I tend to distance myself from such…frivolous activities." He exhaled another stream of smoke.

"…Don't you want…someone special to spend the day with?" she asked.

"Don't you?" Absolem replied. Alice pursed her lips shut, her cheeks pink.

"…Yes," she replied. "…I did…I do." She heaved a sigh, then, after a few moments, turned to face the tree and heaved herself up on the lowest branch, catching the attention of Absolem.

"What in Marmoreal are you doing?" he asked. Alice managed to balance herself without showing off her bloomers.

"What—ow—does it look like I'm doing?" she retorted, pulling herself up to the next branch. "'Painfully obvious'…" she muttered in a surprisingly accurate depiction of Absolem's voice. She kept climbing until she was sitting below the branch Absolem was on, making the butterfly about shoulder-height, when she sat up straight.

Absolem scowled at her. "…I am not amused," he replied testily. Alice gave him a smirk, and he retorted with a stream of smoke in her face. Alice coughed a little and waved it away.

"Nor am I," she replied. She huffed and looked over at the horizon, which held the White Palace. "…Wow…" she murmured. "…It's beautiful…!" Absolem made another noncommittal sound.

"I see it every day," he replied. "I've seen it from every angle, from every which-way, above and below." He was silent for a moment. "…It's difficult to find something astounding about it, after all these centuries."

Alice sighed. "…I guess it'll take me a century or two to lose my fascination."

Silence. Blissful, serene, silence.



Alice barely had time to register the warning before something smacked right into her from behind and pitched her off of the branch and plummeting down to the ground. A mere sixteen feet in the air or not, that distance would cause her to break her neck! Alice let out a short scream and clamped her eyes shut to await for the impact.

…Which didn't come.

About a second before she should have hit the ground, she felt arms catch her and break her fall. She took a moment to register that she was not lying on the ground in a broken heap, and peeked open her eyes.

The first thing she saw was blue. A familiar shade of blue. Before she could contemplate it, the arms shifted her around so she could stand.

"Bloody birds!" Absolem? "Watch where you are flying! You could have killed her!"

"Our apologies, Absolem! Alice!" Alice looked up to see two vividly-colored birds hovering in the tree where she had been sitting. From seeing the height from which she would have fallen, her legs went weak. The strong arms held her up again.


The birds were gone.

Alice heaved a shuddery sigh and turned her head to look at her protector—and stared.

It was definitely a man—human-looking, tall, with tousled black hair that framed an older-looking face; he looked to be in his mid-to-late thirties. His face was certainly handsome enough, though he looked stern and no-nonsense. What really struck her were his eyes—a familiar blue color that seemed a little out of place with his overall visage. But the defining feature was the golden monocle over his right left eye.

He stared down at her, his eyes narrowed. "…Are you alright, or has the plummet down somehow fractured your head anyway?"

"…Absolem?" The man rolled his eyes.

"I am wondering how many 'painfully obvious' throwbacks we are going to have before this day is out," he muttered. "Are. You. Alright?"

Alice swallowed the lump that had caught in her throat, and nodded. Absolem kept his hold on her as he walked her to the tree and set her down on the patch of grass she had been sitting in before. "That's good," he continued. "I really didn't want to have to explain to Tarrant about how your neck would have broken—and on this day, nonetheless." He sat down next to her, and Alice saw that he was dressed in something akin to things she had seen in Asia during her trip; he was wearing dark blue trousers that looked like they were made of silk, shoes that looked like black slip-ons, and a long blue robe-like coat in the same color and pattern as his wings.

He seemed to notice her staring at him, and rolled his eyes. "You don't honestly think I could have saved you as a butterfly, do you?" Alice shook her head, still having not said anything. Absolem rolled his eyes again and waved his hand to the free area next to him, and in a swirl of blue smoke, his hookah appeared—only full-sized.

The overhaul of 'impossible things' seemed to have slipped a gear in Alice's brain, so she contented herself with sitting next to Absolem, taking the time to calm down from her near-death experience and process what she had experienced and witnessed, and how to best ask her questions to avoid A) insulting Absolem or B) earning a smack in the back of the head for a stupid question.

"…How…?" she began, gesturing at his person. Absolem exhaled his smoke, though not in her direction, she was grateful for.

"I am not bound by a singular form," he explained. "At least, not when I am a butterfly." At her confused expression, he went on. "I have begun and ended my process of life many times, dear girl. At present, I am a butterfly; when the time comes, I will shed my wings and become a caterpillar again. And then when the time comes again, I will transform once more into a butterfly."

"…You reincarnate?" Alice asked, pulling her knees up to hug them, eyeing him with renewed interest. Absolem nodded.

"More time than I care to remember," he replied, taking another drag from the mouthpiece. "I daresay I am one of the oldest living beings left in Underland, next to Chessur and a very small handful of others."

Alice nodded, honestly fascinated with what she was learning about him, then paused as a few of the facts seemed to overlap into those words he tried to get everyone to listen to between his lines. "…Is that why you stay away from everyone during this holiday? Because you outlive them all?"

The motion of him pausing his mouthpiece over his lips let her know she had hit a sore spot. "…I'm sorry," she said quickly. "It's none of my business."

"Too right, it isn't," Absolem replied. Alice nibbled her lip and looked away, her cheeks now scarlet. "…And you're right," he said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence. "…It is why I stay away. It's better than getting attached and watching them fade as I continue to live, rebirth after rebirth."

Alice felt the light sting of tears in the corners of her eyes; not for her, but for him. It was indeed, a sad existence. "…It's a sad way to live," she whispered. "…Lonely, too."

"I believe we've covered those points," Absolem said, though sounding more tired than snappish. "I am an ancient, cryptic, lonely, sad excuse of an immortal butterfly. I've known this for several centuries now."

"I didn't mean it like…like that…!" Alice replied quickly. She lowered her eyes. "…I didn't mean to offend…"

"I know that, stupid girl," Absolem replied, taking another drag. He stared at her with his intense blue eyes, making Alice look away again. He noticed her fingers fumbling around themselves and into her dress, and he sighed. "Here."

Alice looked up to see him holding out another hose to his hookah, with a silver-colored mouthpiece attached to the end. "…Oh…I don't…really, I…"

"Take it." Well, when he put it that way—literally, the tone of voice promised unpleasant consequences, really—she took it and eyed it curiously. Absolem rolled his eyes. "You've seen me do it plenty of times to know exactly what to do," he said. "Figure it out."

Thanking every god she could think of that her mother would never hear of this, she brought the mouthpiece to her lips and inhaled softly, feeling the smoke drift down her throat. From what she had heard from some of the other girls back in Otherland who had been rebellious enough to try smoking, she had expected to hack up half a lung with her first drag. However, for her experience, it was more like inhaling warm, flavored air with a hint of texture, and then simply exhaling it.

When she did exhale, she felt a small wave of euphoria sift through her mind, and her body relaxed. The soft stream of smoke that escaped her lips was not the darker blue that Absolem exhaled, but rather a softer, sky blue.

An amused sound from Absolem made her glance over to see the elder butterfly looking at her with an amused expression. She blushed and handed the hose back to him, but he shook his head. "Just don't take too much," he warned. "I would rather you not get comfortable enough to strip down to your skin and run around Underland in a state of psychotic bliss."

Alice blushed scarlet at Absolem's description, and contented herself with simply holding the silver mouthpiece in her hands as she exercised her newfound calm state and simply enjoyed the quiet company of Absolem. After awhile, she looked over at him. "…What time is it?" she asked. Absolem looked into the distance for a moment.

"…Half-past ten," he replied. "Give or take a minute or two."

Alice sighed and brought the mouthpiece to her lips again, noticing Absolem's arched brow. "If I'm going to spend perhaps the most romantic day of the Underland year without Tarrant, then by God, I'm going to do it quite out of my mind!" she said, taking a deep inhale. Absolem only blinked, then followed suit.

"Suit yourself," he said. Alice exhaled, the smoke swirling in front of her.

"Don't mind if I do."

It had to have been hardly an hour later that Alice had stripped down to her undershirt and petticoats, and was lying on her back in the grass, staring up at the shapes Absolem's smoke were taking. "…That one looks like…" She thought for a moment. "…Ah! Mallymkun!"

"Right you are," Absolem replied, becoming quite amused with their little guessing game. Alice took a drag of her own and exhaled, using her newly-developed power of drug-induced madness to create shapes with the smoke. Absolem stared at it for a moment. "…Bandersnatch," he said. Alice giggled.

"You're right!" she said gleefully. "You're good at this game…"

"I've been playing it since the hookah was invented," Absolem replied back. He put his mouthpiece down. "And I daresay that that is quite enough for today."

"Aww…" Alice moaned, holding the mouthpiece to her chest. "But we just started!" Absolem reached over and gently plucked the mouthpiece from her hand.

"Be that as it may," he replied, "you have had quite enough. We can play again some other day." Alice sat up, still grinning.

"That would be wonderful!" she slurred. Absolem noticed that her dark brown eyes had recently attained a smoky bluish-grey color. He cleared his throat and picked up her dress.

"You really should dress yourself properly," he said. Alice scowled childishly.

"And who is to say what is proper?" she replied haughtily. "If proper means wearing a codfish on your head, would you?"


"Well then." Alice took the dress and set it back on the ground. "There you are."

"And if someone were to walk by and see you?" Absolem pressed, averting his eyes from her person.

"Then they see me," Alice replied, as though it were the simplest answer in the world. "Is this another game? Because I'm quite good at answering questions, now."

"No, it is not a game," Absolem said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "…Definitely not…a game…What are you doing?"

Alice had crawled over to Absolem and was now sitting in his lap, cuddled up to him. "No-thing," she replied in a singsong voice. Her fingers traced the butterfly-esque pattern on his coat. "…You smell nice," she commented. Absolem made a soft sound in his throat and looked away from the girl in his lap.

"…That's nice to know," he replied. He froze when Alice cupped his cheek with her hand and turned his head back toward her, then nuzzled his face with her lips before kissing him.

And nearly four-hundred years of hard work put into distancing himself from anyone else to avoid imprinting on this accursed day was crushed in an instant.

Absolem kissed her back.

Propriety damned and forgotten, Alice held onto Absolem's neck as the elder butterfly kissed her roughly on her lips, her face, and her neck. The driving force behind this All-Love Day—the day that could bring together the most unlikely of pairs (such as a mad, battle-hardened dormouse and a chronophobic, panic-prone rabbit) together—finally pushed Absolem to the breaking point as he found his All-Love mate, and the ancient force, fate, and five-hundred-plus years of abstinence were damned if he didn't indulge.

Still, some form of prudishness dwelled within the two of them, proving that some things in this ever-changing universe remained constant, and they parted just long enough to catch their breath.

"Not out here," Absolem said pointedly.

"My room," Alice replied. Absolem scooped Alice up into his arms and in a blur of everything between them and their destination rushed past, and Alice found herself on her balcony just a moment later. Curious through her desire-driven haze, she opened her mouth to ask Absolem exactly how he managed to get them there in mere seconds, but her silenced her with a mere glare.

"Later," he said, then walked through the open balcony doors and kicked them shut behind them, somehow making the curtains shut as well. He deposited Alice on her bed and stood up straight just long enough for his clothes to dissolve into blue smoke and vanish. He knelt over Alice and kissed her again before her curiosity could spout more questions that he would have plenty of time to answer later.

Alice was in bliss; not even whatever was in that hookah could compare to what she was feeling right now. Years of abstinence seemed irrelevant right now as his hands touched in all the right places; places she didn't even know were that sensitive. Absolem the Absolute, indeed. His fingers unlaced her petticoats and pushed them aside, then they roughly removed her cumbersome undergarments.

Minutes of touching and fumbling passed, then Alice arched up and clutched at Absolem's back when he entered her. There was no pain, only ecstasy—astounding, the virgin factor considered on her end. Absolem hovered over her, his blue eyes a swirling storm of multi-blue colors that reminded Alice of his hookah smoke. He leaned down and kissed her again as he began to move.

Alice's senses were in maximum overdrive, she could hardly think of anything but how amazing she felt. Through her haze, she could make out a few key details; Absolem's skin felt as soft as butterfly wings, and she could feel his muscles shift with every move he made against her; the whole room smelled of that intoxicating hookah smoke that she couldn't believe once offended her sense of smell; she could hear the rustling of the sheets and their breath quickening; taste the bittersweetness of his hookah tobacco on his tongue.

It could have lasted for minutes or hours for all she knew; but after a complete sensation overkill, it was over, and Alice came down from her high and into the present. Absolem was very still over her for a few moments, then he pushed up on his arms and turned over off of her, lying down on the pillows next to her, the swirling storm of blue in his eyes slowly fading back to a solid color. The dim lighting of her room was just enough to catch the glint of sweat over his body and her own. She carefully turned over to her side and leaned her head on his shoulder, pulling up her sheets to guard against the temperature, which had suddenly plummeted in the aftermath of their lovemaking.

Absolem's arm curled around her shoulders, his fingers tracing tiny circle patterns in her arms and raising goosebumps.

Neither said a word; not one word, until all the light had faded from the room as the day faded into twilight. By then, Alice was tired, hungry, and strangely satisfied enough to ignore the former two.

"…Do you want to get up?" Absolem suddenly asked. Alice looked up at him, and shook her head.

"No," she replied. Absolem made a soft sound and smiled a little.

"Suit yourself."

"Dont mind if I do."

"Stupid girl."

"Cantankerous butterfly."

He kissed her again.

Alice wasn't aware when she had fallen asleep, but when she woke up, she was alone.

She sat up in her bed, taking a moment to notice that she was still naked, and pulled her sheet up to cover her modesty before looking around. Absolem was gone, but he had left his scent behind—a bittersweet smell that Alice knew she would enjoy for a long time. She swung her legs over the bed and stepped out, wincing only slightly at the dull pain between her legs, and made her way into her lavatory for a bath…only to find the water already drawn and hot.

Deciding it was too early to question anything, she stepped in, inhaling a stimulating, spicy scent that reminded her of a trip to a Moroccan bazaar. She closed her eyes and relaxed in the water for awhile until she felt her skin begin to prune, then stepped out and dried off, immediately noticing that any pain or discomfort from last night's activities had vanished.

"Curiouser and curiouser…" she murmured to herself. She walked into her room and selected a blue dress (most all of her clothes were blue) with a smoky swirl pattern she didn't think she had worn before, and sat down at her vanity to brush out her hair, and noticed yet another thing. Sitting on her vanity was a small blue single-user hookah with box of various flavors to smoke.

Her fingers traced the gifts that Absolem had left for her, and smiled. She would make use of those sometime soon, she was sure.

Alice stepped out into the sun-lit hallway, stretching her arms up over her head. She felt so well and refreshed…and hungry. She headed down to the kitchen and ducked just in time to avoid getting hit in the head with a quiche pan.

"YE'RE LATE FER BREAKFAST, LASSIE!" Thackery shouted. Alice smiled. Yes, he was back to normal.

"Terribly sorry," she apologized, sitting down and fixing herself a plate of whatever was on the bar. "Lovely day we have, isn't it?" Thackery either didn't hear her, or he was stuck in his own little world filled with spoons, tea, and flying tea sets. She chose the latter.

Just after she began eating, the doors opened and the White Queen came strolling in, momentarily losing her ethereally graceful movements and rushing forward to see Alice. "Alice!" she cried, rushing up next to Alice and examining her as though she had been in some sort of horrific accident. "Oh, Alice! Can you ever forgive me?"

"…For what…Mirana…?" Alice asked, honestly confused for a moment. Mirana blinked.

"…For All-Love Day," she replied softly and slowly. "Please tell me you're not just devastated and heartbroken!"

"…I'm…not devastated and heartbroken," Alice replied. "…Honestly, Mirana, I'm fine—"


Alice then found herself with an armful of Mad Hatter, who examined her just as Mirana had done moments earlier. "Oh, Alice, sweeling, darling, loveling, are ye alright! Ah haven't seen ye since yesterday mairnin'! Were ye so overcome wit' heartbreak ye couldn't bear tae be in th' Palace because no one has seen you since—"


"…yes…terday….I'm fine…" Tarrant shook himself back into semi-sanity and hugged Alice again. "Darling, dearest Alice, I love you so much!"

"Tarrant, I'm fine!" Alice assured, hugging him back. "It was All-Love Day. You and Mirana have nothing to apologize for! Really!" Tarrant pulled back, wiping his saddened blue eyes dry of tears.

"…Really?" he asked, blinking. Alice sighed and leaned up to kiss him.

"Really," she replied. "I understand Tarrant." She blushed a soft pink, remembering yesterday. "I really…really…understand."

"You do?" His eyes faded into peach-pink in confusion. Alice smiled and stroked his face.

"I do." She gave him another kiss, then turned back to her meal, which she devoured as lady-like as she could; she hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours, and damn it all, she was hungry. She finished just a few minutes later, and downed a cup of breakfast tea before grabbing Tarrant's hand. "Let's go for a walk," she said, pulling him along.

"…Alright," Tarrant replied. He walked alongside her, still internally suffering at the thought that he had caused her any emotional pain from yesterday. Alice seemed to notice him still tearing himself apart on the inside, (as though his orange-colored eyes were any indication) and paused in the cherry-blossom trees to hold his hands in her own.

"Tarrant!" she said forcefully so he would hear and understand her. "I'm fine! Really! Anything you and Mirana did yesterday…I hold nothing against either of you for it! Please stop doing this to yourself!"

"Ah…Ah'm sorry, Alice," Tarrant replied, his thick brogue coming out with emotion. "…Ah just cant…handle th' idea of anythin' Ah did hurtin' ye…!"

"Tarrant, you didn't hurt me!" Alice cried. "Do I have to smack you senseless to get you to see that?"

"If ye must…"

Alice heaved a heavy sigh. "…Tarrant," she began again, using a different approach. "…I know that you didn't mean to hurt me or anything like that because I was imprinted yesterday, too!"

Tarrant's eyes went from orange-gold to a clarified green, to amber with possessiveness. Alice rolled her eyes (she had been spending FAR too much time with Absolem) and put both arms around Tarrant's neck and kissed him hard.

Just as she expected, Tarrant's tense defensiveness relaxed into the submission Alice always managed to control, and his eyes finally faded back into their normal vivid green. "Do you see now?" she asked, stroking his face with her fingertips. Tarrant nodded. "I understand all about yesterday now. And now, I'm just more prepared for the next time it comes around." She shrugged. "But I'm still hoping I'll imprint you first."

"Aye, tha' ye will," Tarrant purred, pulling her closer to him. He stroked her hair lovingly, his eyes shifting between vivid green to a darker grass green. "…If…ye don' mind me askin'…"

"What?" Alice asked, fiddling with his ascot.

"…Who did ye pair up wit?"

Before Alice could reply, a blue butterfly fluttered down from nowhere and landed on Alice's shoulder. Alice turned her head and smiled.

"Hello, Absolem."

Ugh… I got that feeling where I'm too into the story to stop for the night, and it is now three and a half-o-clock.

Okay, a few tidbits of info: I was watching Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, so I based a small bit of Absolem's human look on that version of Alan Rickman—aka, voice of Absolem and sexiest man alive with sexiest voice in the world. Yeah.