Rating: M (for sexual content), unedited M+ version available on LJ (accessible from profile page)
Pairing: Alice/Tarrant
Written for the aiw_porn_battle on LJ
Prompt: "your hair wants cutting"

Part One:

Alice awoke in the dark of her bedchamber when the bed sagged, as if her mother had come to check on her in the middle of the night. It had been many years since her mother had wandered into her bedchamber at night, but perhaps the dreams that sometimes troubled her, causing her to toss and shout, had awakened the household. Ever since she had returned from Asia her sleep had been uneven, fevered, and elusive.

She turned her head towards the motion that had roused her, expecting to see the outline of her mother's figure gazing down at her. The blackness of an unmistakable top hat assured her that this was not her mother.

Blinking her eyes, she raised herself up on her elbows. "Am I dreaming?" she asked the figure.

"Well, in order to be dreaming, one must be asleep. Are you asleep?"

"I'm not sure," Alice said, glancing towards the window—shut tight. How had her visitor arrived? Had he waltzed through the front door?

"Best try to remember if you went to sleep. If you knew you set about going there, it would be a useful clue as to whether you ever got there."

That did make some sense, she had to admit. She pondered in silence for a moment.

"Did you say your prayers: God bless this house from thatch to floor?" the man pressed on.

She could remember kneeling on the floor, her knees cold through the flimsy white cotton of her dressing gown.

"Never mind. This is silliness: you're always dreaming, Alice. Dreaming me, dreaming Underland, dreaming everything."

"Hatter?" she asked, sitting upright in the bed.

"Alice?" he asked right back.

"Well, yes of course, I'm Alice. You have visited me."

"Why, yes, I have!" he exclaimed, sounding pleased with himself at the revelation. "And we've established who You are long ago."

Alice's eyes were beginning to adjust and she could now make out his features: he was smiling most cheerfully. "How?" she asked in bewilderment, as she pulled her dressing gown closed more tightly about her neck, a reflex to cover herself that was at war with the desire to throw her arms about his neck and tell him how desperately she had missed him.

"The usual ways." He dug in his left pocket. "It is enchanted," he said, pulling something from the depths of his pocket and offering it to her. "Here," he urged, when she seemed to pause.

It was a thimble. She released her dressing gown and took the thimble from him. Lifting it up to the slanting moonlight, she turned it between her fingers. "How does it work?"

"Put it on and wish yourself where you want to be," he said. "Couldn't be simpler."

She looked down on the deceptively simple, silver thimble standing upright in her palm. "And you came here."

"Where else?" He patted his other pocket. "I have one as well. You keep yours," he said seriously, moving to curl her fingers closed around the thimble.

"You came here," Alice echoed, still trying to fathom what was happening at this juncture in her bedchamber.

He ran his thumb over their linked hands before releasing her. "To be more exact, I came to you. As to Here, I don't know where Here is."

Alice reached for her bedside table, pulling open the drawer and depositing the thimble inside. "It will be safe here," she assured him, in case he thought she was disposing of it. Turning back to Hatter, she continued, "Here is London. Not just the drawer, here." She gestured about the room, trying to clarify, "Here and beyond."

"Ah," he said with a tilt of the head.

She was afraid she was not being terribly clear.

"May I stay?" he asked softly. "Here with you?"

Her mother and the servants were just beyond the door, asleep and unaware of her night visitor. She nodded her approval.

Hatter removed his hat and set it carefully atop her bedside table. It seemed a terribly intimate place for his hat to rest. He proceeded to unlace his shoes and toe them off. The sound of them softly thudding to the ground seemed intimate too. The only shoes she had ever heard hit the floor of her bedchamber were her own and a top hat had never graced any of its surfaces.

"I would show you around, but we would wake someone," she mumbled, trying to nervously fill the emptiness that rang with the sound of shoes and hats.

"I'm where I want to be."

Alice shivered, having come half free of the sheets. "Are you chilled?" she asked, looking at the fire that had burned out during the late evening hours.

"I have a good deal more clothes on that you do, Alice," he observed.

And suddenly she was not quite as cold: heat flooded her cheeks.

"Not that I mind," he hurriedly promised her.

An assurance that did not mollify her discomfiture in the least.

"Although, I must inform you," he said, leaning towards her until he was just at her ear, a whisper away, "your hair wants cutting."

Alice could feel his fingers twining in her hair, which no doubt looked a bit mussed and perhaps even in need of a trim. Nevertheless! "You should learn not to make personal remarks," she said, attempting to summon some Severity. "It's very rude."

"Well, then," he mused, his fingers finding her scalp. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

A sigh escaped at the feel of his deft fingers marking her with what felt like deliberate movements. "I…haven't the slightest idea."

"Is that all right?" he inquired, as he pressed a kiss at her temple.

She could find no fault with the kiss, except that it was not exactly where she wanted it to be in terms of placement.

Hatter smoothed one hand over the diaphanous sleeve of her dressing gown. "I thought perhaps that you might think I should do something better with the Time."

At the moment, Alice could think of no other better way to spend it!

"Than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers."

Oh! The riddle. "I like our riddle, Hatter. I amuse myself sometimes, thinking of answers that might suit."

He leaned back slightly, his hand still tangled in her hair and his eyes wide and green even in this light. "Will you call me by my name?"

"Certainly," she said, pressing her hand to his cheek. "If you tell it to me."


Alice pulled her legs underneath her, kneeling in the sheets. "It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited, Tarrant," she scolded him playfully.

"I didn't know it was YOUR bed," he responded, his eyes narrowing. "It is large enough for a great many more than one."

Alice was feeling very much of a muchness. This was merely another impossible thing come true. She had only to seize the moment and make it what she would. "Just large enough for two," she said, tickling him first behind the ear to disarm him and then pulling him by his shoulders forward, so that they both toppled into the bed large enough for an Alice and Hatter.

A pair of 'oof's and a creaking bed frame made Alice briefly consider the wisdom of her actions.

"Are we going to wrestle?" he asked, quirking his brow as he raised himself up on his forearms, so she was not so far pressed into the mattress tick.

Although, she had not minded the pressure.

"I'm rather hoping we're going to kiss," she said matter-of-factly. She had thought about it—hundreds of times—since she left Underland, wondering what it would be like, imagining it as best she could. She would like to put an end to the daydreaming and take action.

"I'd hate to disappoint the Champion," he frowned, his ginger brows drawing together before bringing his lips down on hers with hurried fervor.

It was a great deal better than she had imagined. His lips firmly pressed to hers made her fonder of being in her body than she ever had felt before, knitted to his as it was and very much alive. She would not mind exploring his form a bit more too, so that she might see if he was just as alive. She suspected he was.

"You have too many clothes on," Alice sighed, trying unsuccessfully to slide his coat off one shoulder.

"Who's making personal remarks now?" he teased.

She laughed through her fingers, trying to keep her ebullience as quiet as possible, but Joy is noisy.

He shushed her as he sat back, peeling off his coat and pulling at his tie. His hands moved so quickly that she could barely make out their movements in the darkness. The speed could have been owing to his eagerness or it could have been due to that which made him not fully human, or rather more than human. Alice was not sure, and at the moment it did not matter much to her, for even as she considered it, his waistcoat and shirt joined the ever growing pile of tossed aside clothing.

This is something entirely new, she thought, as she took in the sight of his bare chest—pale, touched in sparse ginger hair, and lean. Being a curious creature, Alice was very fond of newness.

She reached out to him—the whole point of fewer clothes was exploration—and he joined her back on the bed. In the process, however, his knee nearly slipped off the edge of the bed. "Move one place," Tarrant pleaded, sounding just a little bit desperate to Alice.

Happy to oblige, she moved towards the middle of the bed with Tarrant following right behind. She took up tracing his torso as soon as he settled above her. He was warm and sinewy and firm. Another trail of hair led from his trousers, a fact she could feel as she ran her hand over the flatness of his abdomen.

Her touch made him groan and thrust against her. Alice's eyes fluttered shut at the feel of him moving against her. Entirely new and treacherously thrilling.

"Wake up, Alice," he whispered to her, his voice very nearly shaking.

"Tarrant, I'm not asleep." There was no doubt, because she had never felt this way, even in her dreams.

Emboldened by her evident surety, his hand made a similar perusal of the outline of her body, solidly testing the planes and gradual swells of her flesh. Having reached her hip, his hand reversed course only to settle against the side of her breast.

She could hear him swallow. "Is't a'richt?" he asked, his voice slipping into a burr that worried her.

She reached up to stroke his brow not wanting him to succumb into the crowded madness of his mind. "It's fine," she said soothingly, only to discover what it was he was seeking permission for: his hand settled over her breast.

"Oh, heavens!" she gasped much too loudly as his thumb found its mark.

"Alice," he warned her. "Ah apprise the virr, but ye'v assuired me that the hoosehaud is asleep."

"Yes," she murmured, an acknowledgement of his statement and an encouragement not to stop, as she buried her face in his shoulder to help silence herself.

This was a great deal more than she had ever imagined. She was beginning to feel very tightly strung, and she clung to him as if she might drown here in her own bed, the bed she had once dreamt him in; and yet, how could she invent a man such as this? Surely he was the work of someone much grander than herself.

She kicked at her dressing gown and the sheets that divided her from Tarrant, and he sat upright between her legs to reach down and fling aside the sheets and assist her in hiking up her dressing gown above her knees in a flurry of movement. This was a great deal worse than showing ones ankles at an engagement party. This was also a great deal better, Alice observed as his warm hand settled on the inside of her thigh.

It felt as if he was drawing something there, perhaps letters. The sensation was producing a reaction in her below that turned Alice's ears rather red, but she spoke up nonetheless, endlessly curious: "What are you drawing?"

"All manner of things—everything that begins with an 'M'."

Wickedness made Alice wish his fingers would draw just a hairsbreadth higher.

"Alice, reach for my watch," he paused, breathing deeply and speaking with evident care.

She found it a strange request at this particular moment, but he was mad. Stretching out her hand in the rumpled sheets, she fingered at his discarded waistcoat until she found his pocket watch.

"What day of the month is it?" he asked, staring down at her as she opened it.

"Shouldn't it tell the o'clock?" she asked on a shuddering breath, since his fingers were still endlessly composing all manners of 'M' related things on the parchment that was her bare flesh.

"The hour is not what I'm particularly interested in at the moment," he chuckled. "Monthly matters are more pressing."

Alice felt as if she was being teased, but she could not niggle out his meaning. "Tarrant," she practically whined, nudging him with the back of one knee and tossing the watch onto the pile with his waistcoat.

"Never mind," he said, shifting to lie atop her once more, caging her with his arms. "It would be highly irregular, seeing as you are from London and I am from Underland. I've never heard of such a thing. But nothing is impossible," he frowned, unmoving against her.

"Tarrant," she said firmly once more, wishing he would stop wandering away from the subject, which she believed to be the two of them here in London, in her bedchamber, in her bed, with the sheets and her dressing gown bunched most invitingly.

"You're uncommonly impatient, Alice. Has anyone ever told you that?" His preternaturally luminous eyes twinkled with mirth. "What is the concern?" he asked, not giving her time to respond to his earlier question. "Shall I be quick about it or you'll be asleep again before it's done?"

Alice would have frowned, but his mouth closed upon her neck as his hand found her thigh once more and all thoughts of complaining trickled from her brain like sea sand from a bottle saved while on holiday.

"Quick about what?" she finally managed to question, as he laved the hollow of her throat.

"Docking," he purred, his mouth trailing hotly down her chest towards her breast, his hand finding the apex between her thighs through her dressing gown.[1]

It was slang she should not understand, but it was impossible not to, and she had no intention of being asleep for what he was suggesting. "I'm not sleepy," she protested, sliding her hands into his hair to lock him to her breast.

"Ye will be," he responded cheekily.

She gave no protest as he tugged on her gown, pulling it up to her hips, over her belly, and finally free of her arms. Instead of giving in to shyness, Alice resolved not to be the only one unrigged.[2] What was left of Tarrant's clothing included his trousers and stockings, both of which Alice wanted gone immediately. She worked at his buttons with only slightly trembling hands, but she was glad of it when he moved to assist her.

"We'll have to be quiet," Alice said unnecessarily, just so there was something being said that sounded Reasonable, for she knew she was acting most Irrationally.

His buttons undone, Tarrant slid his trousers down and off, his stockings following closely behind. Alice could not help but stare: a man's bare chest was new, but this! This was positively groundbreaking.

"Ah sall be as quate as a stork."[3]

The metaphor made Alice laugh nervously, and he responded by pressing an index finger over his lips in a sign of silence. It was very fortunate that Tarrant was a man who did not mind laughter—apparently even in the buff, because she could not hold it back. Perhaps storks were not supposed to be the bearers of babies in Underland, but the mention of one right before…[4]

His eyes plainly took her in, laid bare before him. It should have left her feeling ashamed, Alice mused, but it only made her heart beat faster.

"Sae bonnie," he said, lacing one of his hands in hers.

She was unsure of her beauty, but she was sure of him. More sure than she had ever been of anything.

"Will ye lie upo' me, Alice?" he asked, tugging slightly on their joined hands, so that her shoulder rose free of the bed.

With a shuddering breath, she shook her head against the pillow. "Can we be like this?" she asked, drawing him down atop her chest. Alice was immediately pleased with her notion to remove his clothes—skin upon skin was divine. It was a wonder people wore clothing at all! "I don't know what I'm doing," she confessed, as she dragged her foot over the back of his leg.

Tarrant looked momentarily unfocused at her avowal, and she squeezed his hand, trying to draw him back. "Tarrant?"

He settled fully against her with a soft moan, almost sounding resigned. "Ah can shaw ye."

"Like this?" she murmured, as she felt him against her middle.

"Aye, gin ye like."

Alice could not rightly say what she liked, but she knew what felt right at the moment. "I do." She knew what she wanted. "I'm ready."

His hand touched her, the sensation strong and immediate, causing her to bite down on her lip.

"Sae ye are."

A moment of fumbling and angling, a push, a burn that startled her enough to make her jerk, kisses—a seemingly endless trail of them—over her cheeks, against her temple, on the tip of her nose, atop each closed eyelid, and then her name, barely a whisper. "Alice?" His burr was gone.

He was anxious she realized, as she lay motionless beneath him, trying to adjust to the invasion.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be," she firmly said. With experience comes pain, and this was what she wanted, with the man she wanted. "Kiss me?"

And he did. His lips pulling at her, his tongue—heavens!—began to make her forget the pain between her legs. They were making her feel soft and pliable, as if she might melt under his touch. She sighed into his careful, slow movements. She hesitantly moved beneath him, running her hand down his back, feeling his ropy muscles flex with each movement of his hips. It was an easy rhythm, nothing hurried or frenzied. She could feel the great care he was taking. Not quite mad, she reevaluated; no, much more gentle.

Time seemed to slow, to stretch like caramel. All she could hear was the sound of the two of them together: their breathing, the scratch of the sheets, lips meeting, bodies meeting.

"S'alright?" he muttered against her lips, looking for encouragement and reassurance.

She hummed her approval, distracted by the odd sensation of tightness that was beginning to form inside of her until all at once her world fractured and if it was not for Tarrant's sudden move to place his hand over her mouth, she would have certainly woken the household. Panting against his hand with endless sensations sweeping over her in waves, he paused with eyes screwed shut tight, and then collapsed over her with a grunt.

Breathing slowing, he murmured against her ear, "I love you."

He would not have come to her if he did not, bridging their worlds with a thimble. She had known that from the start.

It occurred to her that there was now quite a telling mess that would prompt the need for some subterfuge come morning. But she did not want to think on that now. She did not want to think about morning at all, which meant it was the only thing she could think about.

Alice smoothed a wisp of sweat dampened hair from her forehead. "You won't be here when I wake, will you?"

A hand found her middle. "No, Alice," he admitted, sounding regretful.

"But it I'm not dreaming." She could not bear it if she was.

He sighed, "No."

Alice hoped very much it was not tears stinging her eyes. She hated crying. "The servants would find it newsworthy if you were here in the morning," she said, trying to sound lighthearted as she nonchalantly rubbed at her eyes. "Newsworthy even for me, and I've shocked a great many people before."

"But, I won't be here," he said, all seriousness. "The thimble won't allow me to stay long. I must away soon."

"Will my enchanted thimble limit my time in Underland as well?" she asked, rolling onto her side, so she could see his face.

"Aye," he paused, looking burdened by something, his eyes shifting from one color to the next. "Did I do wrong?"

She wanted to relieve him in whatever way she could, take the sting of regret and worry away if possible. "No. Did I?"

He shook his head emphatically in the negative.

Alice nudged his arm until she could fit herself closer to him, their bodies both cooling in the cold of the room, their skin slick with sweat. "Is there something you're not telling me?" she asked, tucking herself under his chin.

"Quite a number of things, actually."

"Could I stay with you if…would it make a difference if I loved you?" she asked.

His arms folded tightly around her. "Aye, a world of difference, my love."

She hoped very much that he was right. Trying to hold back these troublesome tears, she hiccupped against his shoulder. She did not think she could go on living without him. Or at very least she knew she did not care to learn how. "I don't think…" she began.

He shushed her softly, petting her back as soothingly as if she was a child, "Then you shouldn't talk. Sleep now, Alice. Think tomorrow. I'll sing you a lullaby to ease you to sleep."

And he did.

Note: This story is riddled with dialog snatched from Chapter VII: A Mad Tea Party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is certainly *ahem* a reimagining. I don't know that either Alice or Tarrant are aware that they are rehashing things they have said to each other before, but the idea behind it is that something has been drawing this rather unlikely pair together since the start. The words are the same, the meaning behind them very different.

[1] Docking – sexual intercourse (Victorian slang)

[2] Unrigged – undressed (Victorian slang)

[3] Mature white storks do not vocalize or have a call—a rarity in the bird world.

[4] The idea that storks bring babies is an ancient tradition in Northern Europe, but it was popularized by Hans Christian Andersen in The Storks (1838).