A.N.: My first attempt at a "song-fic"… Having the characters randomly burst into song isn't my usual approach, but I'm giving it a try. The songs used in this fic are all from the musical Curtains. The titles are the titles of the chapters. There will be only three chapters. I hope you enjoy…and that you review, of course. :)
The atmosphere at the March Hare's tea table was always a merry one, full of friendly madness, flying teacups, and smiles. But today, Mallymkun was having a difficult time joining in, or even smiling for that matter. She wasn't sure what was wrong. It wasn't the food, which was delicious as always. It wasn't the jokes and the chatter, which were happy and engaging even though the only guests were herself, Tarrant, and Thackery. No, whatever it was that was getting her down was currently eluding her grasp.
The dormouse glanced up from her tiny teacup, looking down the table at the Hatter. She wasn't listening to what he was saying to her and the Hare; she was just looking at him. He looked happy, happier than she had ever seen him during the Red Queen's reign. The thought that he was happy was a relatively constant reassurance in her mind. His depressed state before Gribling Day and Alice's return—she thought of that time as the Lonely Years, if she thought about it at all. It usually stayed in the back part of her head, the place where she put concepts that were too troubling to think about in a normal day.—that had been almost too much for the young dormouse to bear. But now the Jabberwocky was slain, and the Red Queen overthrown, and he was once again happy, and they now had merry tea parties at the March Hare's table.
Oh, dear, now she was thinking about the Lonely Years, and that wasn't helping her mood at all. She picked up a scone and took a bite out of it, trying to use the flavor to bring her thoughts back to the here and now, but all it did was make her think of the extreme means she'd had to take to keep the table stocked during the Lonely Years, when the Hatter had made nearly no effort to feed himself at all. Theft. The word was heavy in her head. No one had had anything to spare in those days, and so she had taken. She had left the relative safety of the tea table, where she could hide behind madness, and crossed the paths of Red Knight patrols in her searches.
And procuring food wasn't the only thing she'd done! She'd watched the cardsmen to make sure that they weren't coming near the table on their patrols. Some of her acts had been smaller, but just as vital: talking to Tarrant, being friendly and encouraging when there was barely a reason to be so. Making his fights her fights, protecting him, speaking out on his behalf to other members of the Underland Resistance… Telling him when the current situation was bad, so that he wouldn't get his hopes up—warning him that it may be the wrong Alice, for one thing. Staying by his side when they faced the Red Knights or the Red Queen herself, and her execution block… Doing any favor he asked of her, ever, even when she didn't want to, even when it meant leaving him alone with Alice the day after Gribling, the day he was captured…
And why, she suddenly thought furiously, why, after all I've done for him, is he still just sitting here?
That thought surprised her, and she set down the scone and made her way down to the ground without really knowing what she was doing. The Hare and Hatter didn't seem to notice, but she didn't expect them to. She wandered away from the tea table and into the trees of the Tulgey Woods, not heading anywhere in particular, with only herself for company as she tried to sort out the thoughts that were running through her head.
"He's still just sitting there," she said aloud. "He's still just saying his silly rhymes, still having his happy little tea parties.
"And there's never been a thank you," Mallymkun realized. "Never any acknowledgement that I've done anything, that the war and the…the Lonely Years happened at all. Nothing. Nothing at all…"
The dormouse paused in her walking and frowned.
"Not that I've wanted it," she said. "I'm glad to stand by him. I've always been so. It's good for me to do what's good for him. It's good to…it's good…isn't it?"
Mallymkun sighed and sat, leaning against a tree. She sat there for a while, and her thoughts slowly turned into song.
"Thinking of him..." she sang. "Thinking of him… Sometimes it seems I spend every moment of my waking day thinking of him… Making him laugh, sometimes. Making him strong, sometimes. Making him feel some place in the light is his…Telling him just how special he is…"
Suddenly, she realized that she wasn't alone. The Cheshire Cat had appeared on a tree branch above her mid-verse, and was now gazing down at her with those eerie, turquoise eyes. Mallymkun stopped singing and jumped to her feet, startled by his unexpected arrival and conflicted emotionally by what he'd just heard her begin to confess.
"Go on," the Cat softly said. "Let it all out."
Mallymkun hesitated, but the words were aching to be sung.
"Thinking of him…" she sang again. "Thinking of him… Telling the truth, when no one is willing to tell him the truth…
"Fighting for him!" she exclaimed, the words and feelings coming out more forcefully. "Living for him! Thinking it over, that's what I think I do! Well, isn't it time...?"
She paused, almost afraid of what she realized she was about to say next.
"…isn't it high time…I was thinking of…me…too?"
She glanced away from Chessur's gaze, but then turned back to him.
"Isn't it?" she asked in a hushed voice. "I mean…when was the last time anyone did anything for Mallymkun? When was the last time that I did something for me?
"Chessur," she said, almost pleading. "Is it wrong to want something for yourself? Is that selfish? I give everything for Tarrant. It feels right to give everything for him…I care about him so much…I think I love him, Chessur. I know I love him." He's heard everything else, so he might as well hear that, too.
"Tell me what to do, Chessur. Please."
The Cat didn't say anything for a while. When he finally answered, he sang.
"Maybe it's time," he sang. "Maybe it's high time…you were thinking of you…"
"Thinking of me…" Mallymkun whispered.
"…too…" they finished the line together.
Mallymkun shook her head and clutched her hatpin for reassurance. Yes. It would be good to live for herself for a change. At least herself had the courtesy to be grateful for herself giving a care for her well-being!
Oh, goodness, thinking like that could make her really go mad.
She shook that thought away. She didn't want to think about madness, or anything that lead back to the Hatter. I have to put him behind me. He doesn't care, not like he ought to. No, it's not that he ought to; it's that I want him to, but that's no reason for it to happen.
"You'd be able to find me easily enough," Mallymkun said to the Cat. "But, whatever you do, don't tell anyone where I've gone. Especially not…especially not him. Please, Chessur, promise me that you won't."
"I won't tell," said the Cat, which under normal circumstances wouldn't have been enough to make the Dormouse trust him. But today she didn't care as much.
With all of the determination she could muster, Mallymkun turned and marched off, deeper into the trees and far away from a man that she cared far too much about.