AN: I'm back again with another one-shot! Today's my 18th birthday, so I decided that I would add this story to my ever-expanding collection. Hope you enjoy it!
Note: This story is a companion piece to Blue Silk and White Lace, which took place during my other multi-chapter story Just a Dream and Nothing More. You should probably read those two first before this one, just in case you get confused. And if you've already read both stories, then continue as if I haven't said anything! :)
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Credit is due to Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll.
"Tarrant, may I ask a favor of you, as a friend?" Mirana, the White Queen of Underland, inquired.
The two friends were walking through the gardens of Marmoreal like they used to do before the tyrannical rule of Iracebeth. Even then it had never been as peaceful as this. The day was warm but not unbearable, there was nary a cloud in the sky, and Alice was safely recuperating in the castle. Yes, Tarrant couldn't quite recall a day as lovely as this.
He glanced sideways at his Queen. "Of course, Mirana. What do you need? A hat? I must apologize for my lack of work lately, but it would seem that other...things had been demanding my attention elsewhere." The Knave of Hearts was the prime example of that. He had kidnapped Alice, his Alice, and if it hadn't been for a well-timed rescue, she may have become just another memory.
And Time did fickle things to memories.
It would twist them, reshaping them until the original was barely discernible. Tarrant never did get along with Time. The two would bicker and squabble until no amount of yelling from Mallymkun could call the madman back. And thus was their relationship. The two hadn't spoken in quite some, well, Time. And Tarrant was quite alright with that.
Mirana smiled sadly at her companion. "No, my friend, I have something else to ask of your talents. I am in need of...a dress."
Tarrant stopped in his tracks for a second. The mere mention of a dress caused too many memories to surface, the majority of which weren't good. He was brought back to that time so many, many months ago when he had worked fervently on a dress. He still had nightmares about that time, and he would awake drenched in sweat and tears while his body shivered uncontrollably.
Mirana seemed to notice his change in demeanor and she paused to put a hand on his shoulder. She understood what the risk had been in asking him this particular favour. She had been there when Tarrant had been constructing the dress that had haunted his mind. She had seen what it had cost him to make. She had tried to help him surface from his personal demons, but she had been shunned like everyone else.
"I know how much it hurt you to make a dress last time, Tarrant," she murmured. "But I am hoping that your efforts will not have been in vain. I am organizing an upcoming ball in honor of Alice's safe return to Marmoreal, and I would like to have a new dress for her to wear to the event. I realize if you don't want to use that particular dress, Tarrant-"
Instead of giving her a pained look though, the expert hatter graced Mirana with a genuine smile. He glanced back at the marble castle and he sought out the room Alice was in. She was in small suite partway up the west wing of the building. He could see her balcony and watched for a moment as the curtains fluttered in the breeze.
He had made up his mind about the dress as soon as he had seen Alice again. As soon as he had caught a glimpse of her golden hair and that familiar blue dress, he knew that the mannequin in the corner of his room would no longer stand alone. The dress that hung on its frame would now serve a proper purpose.
"If you had asked me that question a month ago, I would probably have lost my mind," Tarrant murmured as he finally wrenched his gaze away from Alice's room. "But now I would be honored to accept your request, Mirana. I think it's time I finished that dress, once and for all."
Mirana smiled. She was incredibly relieved that Tarrant now could talk about the dress without withdrawing into his subconscious, where no one could reach him. It had pained her immensely to see her friend suffer so, but she didn't lay the blame on Alice, like Mallymkun had done at first.
The dormouse had seen what had become of Tarrant and had scowled outwardly at the young woman that was plaguing his life and slowly leaching away his ability to live. She blamed Alice for the making of that dress. After all, if she hadn't left Underland in the first place, there would have been no need to make the gown.
But Mirana had rebuked the thought of blaming the Champion. Alice had helped save Underland, and the White Queen had been restored to the throne thanks to her efforts. She couldn't find it in her heart to blame the Champion, not when she had done so many good things for their land. The dormouse, on the other hand, was not so easily convinced.
The two had visited Tarrant a few weeks into his seclusion in an attempt to talk to him. He acted as though the two of them weren't there, shunning them from the world he had created in order not to break down completely. For if he acknowledged their presence, then all of his work will have been for naught. After a fruitless hour they left and Mallymkun was visibly distraught.
Mally grunted in frustration. "It might as well have been as if we weren't there. He'll just keep goin' on like this, pretending like there's no one else in the world wiv him." The mouse looked up at Mirana out of the corner of her eye and scowled. "It's all her fault, you know."
Mirana shook her head, her white hair bouncing back and forth. "But Alice rose to the occasion and saved our dying world and all of its citizens. I doubt even she understood exactly what her presence was doing to Tarrant while she was there, or while she wasn't," Mirana murmured, smiling softly at the thought of the two standing beside each other. Did Alice know what she was doing to the madman when she stood so close to him? When she smiled at him? When she called his name?
The White Queen shook her head to usher out her errant thoughts. She smiled at Tarrant, examining him out of the corner of her eye. "I cannot wait to see the finished dress, my friend.
But until then I am afraid I must take my leave of you. I have a meeting with the court in a few minutes."
With a small curtsy to Tarrant, she disappeared in a flurry of white satin and lace. The hatter smiled after her as he watched her go. No doubt the court had come up with a new idea of some sort to keep peace ruling in Underland. But politics were never his foray. Millinery, now that was a job that he could excel at.
He didn't really know how he made it back to his workroom, but this time he found he wasn't that worried. He felt the familiar metal sphere under his closed hand and he twisted it almost subconsciously. The door opened with nary a sound and he walked into the familiar room. It greeted him as silently as ever, but now the lack of sound wasn't unnerving or eery. This time it felt comfortable and for the first time in nearly two years Tarrant could walk through the room without fear.
As he observed his sunlit shop, one particular corner of the room called out to him. It was a corner that he hadn't set foot in for such a long time. Instead of shrinking back in fear of the mannequin however, Tarrant obeyed its silent summons. And then he gazed upon the dress that he had spent so much of his time and sanity sewing together.
Tarrant felt happiness well up inside him, threatening to escape. He grinned in spite of himself.
As he rubbed the blue silk and white lace between his fingers, he could see Alice wearing the gown and looking more beautiful than she had ever been before.
A blue dress and a white smile.
AN: This one's a fair bit happier than my other one-shot, no? And I will write at least one more one-shot for Alice in Wonderland 2010, fear not.
Read and review!