She couldn't be replaced when she was to die. That was something all of Wonderland knew. Even he understood this. And she wouldn't be; no one can replace Alice. But that didn't mean he couldn't give her a choice.
1. The Discovery
Wonderland never had a foreigner like Alice before. No other girl could dare to compete with the sixteen-year-old. No skin was ever so fair- smile ever so genuine. No other woman held the posture Alice worked, or the admiration for life as she. No hair was ever more fine or glossy, nor the shimmering teal orbs that could carry a thousand smiles and a thousand sorrows at once. Her smile- oh, that beautiful smile- was there ever such words to compare to those glimmering pearly whites she flashed about? When she gave you even the tiniest smirk, it was if a million stars had lit up in the sky.
Alice was the most wonderfully strange girl any man in Wonderland had ever had the pleasure of meeting. They didn't love her because she was a foreigner anymore. Alice was Alice, and they loved her just for being herself.
No one could believe the day that Miss Alice Liddell had been murdered.
"Julius! Julius~!" a female voice called loudly, echoing off of the pale green walls of the Clock Tower. The clockmaker smiled softly to himself from his desk, but quickly wiped the grin off as the woman glided across from him.
A small, petite frame appeared across from the navy-haired man. She wasn't a midget, but certainly not nearly as tall as the mortician. Her long, flowing brunette locks had been messily piled into a bun at the top of her head; several pearly pins messed around in her hair rather than keeping it in place. The long white gown that fit itself snugly against her pale form had a few rips along the glittered skirt, followed by several dust marks.
Julius rose an eyebrow at her tattered appearance, arising slowly from his chair to analyze her further. With one finger, he gestured closer, and Alice complied; pursing her lips sheepishly as he had her spin around to show what damage she'd done to her clothes.
The mortician sighed, one hand gripping his navy locks in exhaustion. "Tsk. You would think a queen would be more graceful."
Alice pouted, crossing her arms childishly in front of her chest. Julius inwardly chuckled at her expression, pulling out the rest of the crooked pins in her hair so the locks could flow- much to her relief- back in place.
"Julius, I wanted to ask you about something." the brunette spoke up, her teal eyes questionably staring up into the clockmaker's. The navy-haired man rose an eyebrow.
"What is it?" he asked, arms crossed in front of his chest. Alice slipped his hand in hers, tugging towards the staircase.
"It's something I found in the attic." she explained, unsuccessfully trying to pry him from his work.
"What were you doing in the attic?" Julius demanded curiously, complying with her weak pulls towards the stone steps. Alice smiled briefly in his agreeing actions before quickly composing her expression.
"I was bored." she replied simply, frowning a little. "I thought queens were supposed to have a bunch of duties like Vivaldi does, but no one ever wants me to do anything!"
Julius looked away almost guiltily, secretly pleased that Alice was facing away so she couldn't see his knowing expression. He surely knew why no one let the young lady perform any tasks and do as she pleased, but that didn't mean Alice had to know. It had been a secret for a year or so now; the young miss was the only one left out. Of course, not everyone needed to know the truth, right? Secrets were the way of Wonderland. Even Alice had secrets of her own… even if she didn't know them herself.
"So what did you find in the attic?" the mortician was quick to change the subject, feeling uneasy with her choice of topic. The queen paused at the end of the last hallway, jumping up to reach the small wire cord that hung from the ceiling. Julius leaned forward, gladly pulling down the stairs for her.
"Thank you." She said kindly with a smile.
"Sure." Julius mumbled, glancing away. Alice chuckled.
"These old boxes." the brunette continued, gently removing her white heels so her bare feet could step upon the creaky oak boards without falling over. Julius followed behind, now understanding why her gown was so torn as she tried to squeeze it through the hole to the attic. It wasn't exactly made for ball gowns.
"Old boxes?" the clockmaker questioned, his stomach doing a small twist as the foreigner crawled into the dusty area- allowing him to follow easily behind. He had a bad gut feeling about this; something just didn't seem right.
The attic was a dark, secluded place in the clock tower. Oak floorboards were covered in excessive amounts of dust bunnies, proving how it had been neglecting a clean-up. Stone walls provided cold air that sent chills down their spines and goose bumps on the back of their necks. The air was clouded with small particles of dust and mold formed itself in the corners of the rooms, sending a musty smell in the room. A few small, round windows tinted in blue rested on either side of the tower, proving little light. What Alice found so interesting up here was beyond him.
Alice nodded vigorously, tripping over a few old pieces of white-clothed furniture before pulling out two weak, moist cardboard boxes from the ground; struggling to carry them over, for her gown was getting in the way. Julius climbed over the future to her side, helping her lift the items.
He quickly dropped them back down.
Alice jumped at the thud from the contact made when the box hit the floor, and quickly turned to Julius in worry. "Julius! Are you alright?"
"We're leaving." the mortician said sternly, his voice suddenly dark as he grabbed the girl's wrist and pulled her towards the ladder.
"W-Wait! Julius! Ow! Stop, that hurts!" Alice complained, trying to pull her arm free but the clockmaker refused to let go, continuing to pull her to the stairs. "Julius, please! What's going on? Julius!"
The clockmaker stopped abruptly in front of the steps, causing the queen to stumble lightly into his back. Alice glared up at him. "Julius, what's your problem?"
Julius spun around to face the girl, causing the queen to flinch at his harsh expression. His voice was low and stern; his navy eyes glaring. "I don't want you coming up here anymore, is that understood?"
"But-but that's not fair, Julius!" Alice complained, her eyebrows knitting into a v-shape unpleasantly. "I'm a queen, aren't I? So shouldn't I be able to go and do what I want?"
"If that's what you think a queen is, then you certainly need more growing up." the mortician argued coldly. Alice stamped her foot noisily on the ground, flinching a little as she felt a splinter dive itself into her skin. She'd have to pull it out later.
"I am not a child!" the queen retorted, yanking her wrist finally from his grip. Julius crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"You sure are acting like one." Julius replied curtly. Alice's eyes narrowed, angry tears brimming at her eyes.
"I wouldn't be acting like one if you'd just tell me why you're so persistent on us leaving! Damn it, Julius. I don't like you keeping secrets from me! I thought we were friends!" Alice cried in frustration, saltwater droplets caressing her flushed cheeks as they made a trail from her eyes.
Julius stumbled a step backwards- almost falling through the hole as he did so- at the sight of her saddened face, holding up an arm as if to shield himself from it. "W-We are! Alice… Please don't cry. I'm not very good with that type of stuff."
"Well I'm so sorry if I'm inconveniencing you!" the brunette snapped sarcastically, shoving the man away so she could run down the stairs, away from the man.
"Alice, wait! That's not what I meant!" Julius called after her, but the queen was already rushing back to her room; soft sobs echoing through the hall as she disappeared from his sight.
When the time changed to night, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that it was dark outside when she glanced at her window, and eventually turned her lamp on so she could see.
The brunette wept quietly in her room, stuffing a pillow against her face to muffle her sobs. Tears stained the cotton, but she didn't care. Something didn't feel right, and it scared her. Crying in front of Julius… she had never done it before, and yet she felt a sense of deja vu to the scene. Where had she felt that feeling before…?
"Alice?" Julius's voice sounded distant through the door, but Alice could make it out easily.
"Go away." the queen mumbled weakly, clutching the pillow tighter against her body. She went ignored, and the clicking of her door sounded as Julius stepped in. Part of her didn't mind it all that much.
She could feel a weight press itself behind her, followed by the sound of springs. Alice refused to turn over, even when he lightly brushed her hair away from her face.
"I'm sorry." he apologized quietly and unsurely. Julius was never good with women. No, that was a lie. He wasn't good with Alice- especially when she cried.
"About what? Yelling at me? Dragging me out of there?" Alice clutched her pillow tighter, a wave of anger flashing across her features. "Or for keeping secrets?"
Julius thought it over, and not wanting to upset her again, replied, "All three."
"…Why did those letters have my name on them?" the brunette asked after a moment, finally allowing her gaze to meet the mortician's. Julius frowned gravely at the girl, his fingers continuing to brush through her hair.
"How many did you read?" he asked slowly, a twisting motion pulling at his stomach. He knew the game was up, but he didn't want it to end. He'd wished it would never end. Not everything was fed in his favor, though, was it? He was lucky enough to have this girl again, lying underneath his touch; breathing. Living. He couldn't imagine anything better.
"I only read the front." Alice assured him, her tone still low and saddened, as if it held great grief. "They all had my name on them… Why?"
Julius looked away, frowning. Alice sat up, her eyebrows pushing into a v-shape as she scrubbed her tears away; her voice evening. "Julius, what are you hiding from me?" Her hand shaking gripped the sleeve to his jacket, a frightening feeling crawling over her. "Julius, please tell me. You're scaring me."
Julius's eyes met hers again, and he carefully pulled her against his chest; one hand running through her hair. Alice blinked in confusion, but nestled in his arms until she was comfortable. "I don't intend to scare you."
"Then just tell me the truth." Alice whispered against his jacket, pressing her face against his chest. Julius sighed, arising from the bed. Alice watched him questionably, prepared to follow, but he pointed back to the bed, and so she stayed.
His footsteps faded, and the brunette listened warily- creaking heard from somewhere above, followed by more footsteps in the distance. After what felt like hours, though it was probably only about twenty minutes or so, the footsteps returned to her hallway and the mortician appeared with two worn boxes in his arms.
Alice said nothing as he set them on the ground in front of her- so as not to get her bed dirty- and opened them up; taking a deep breath as he spotted the stacks of worn and wrinkled letters stored before him.
Alice cautiously sat down next to him, watching as he poured the first box's contents on the floor; littering the plush carpet with withered envelopes. Julius held up one with its date up in the corner- the earliest of the bunch- and frowned grimly at it. Alice noticed his expression and frowned herself.
"I was hoping you wouldn't find out." the mortician confessed, brushing his thumb across the golden mark stamped into the back.
"What are they?" the queen asked slowly, staring at the pile of papers with her name scrawled in pure black ink on each one. There were several- she wasn't even sure if she could count them all.
"Letters… to you." Julius explained quietly, his nail playing with the wax on the back of the envelope in his hand until it neatly peeled off, containing a wrinkled, yellow-tinted paper inside.
"To me?" Alice questioned in surprised, gesturing a hand towards herself. Julius nodded.
"Before you were a queen." he replied, his eyes hiding behind his long navy bangs. Alice stared at him blankly. What did he mean 'before she was a queen'…? The way he said it… It made her sound like another creature before now. As if she hadn't been a nobody in this world- a past where she could have her memories. She had forgotten everything up until she was granted the pleasure of becoming her majesty. Did he know something of her past and was keeping it from her?
"Julius, what do you mean?" the brunette asked, her voice stern and determined; she wanted to know what he was talking about. What could he mean?
The mortician sighed, pulling out the paper from the envelope. He glared at it, as if it were demonic in his hands. Alice had never noticed such anger in her friend.
Julius huffed, taking a deep breath and running a hand through his hair before turning to Alice with a weak smile. "If there's anything you need, I'd get it now. This is going to take a while."
"I'm fine." Alice assured him, waving towards the letter. "Begin, please. I really want to know."
"Do you think you can handle it?" the mortician asked in a low voice; serious and stern. "Do you really think that whatever you hear, you'll be able to bare it? Even if it means discussing your past? You won't have any doubts at all?"
Alice thought for a moment, unnerved by the tone Julius was using. He seemed so… ominous. It frightened her. And yet, she yearned to know more.
Taking a deep breath, the woman nodded once; chin held high as she'd learned from Vivaldi to do when a queen is forced to make an important decision. For some reason it made her feel superior. "I want to know."
Julius analyzed her carefully and thoroughly, detecting no falsehoods in her eyes. Sighing, the mortician leaned back on the base of the queen's bed; holding up the first letter.
"This, Alice, is what happened… after you died."
Confusing? Maybe. I have the plot and everything worked out, but this might not get updated a lot. I want to try to finish Heartache and RMR, but RMR might not end for a while, and I still have at LEAST another 5-8 chapters in Heartache.
I don't know what made me write this, but I was listening to "Empty" by The Click Five and this came to mind. I originally wasn't going to write it because, well, I have so many other stories going on right now and I feel horrible for neglecting a few of them, but this kept eating at my brain and wouldn't let go until I got it down on paper. TToTT Might turn into an M- I'm really not sure; I doubt there'll be many if any sexual scenes in this, seeing as Alice is dead for most of it, but there could be some cussing words or just plain gore if I'm in the mood for adding something bloody, but it's most likely to stay a T. Hope you're liking it so far, and see you next chapter/story/whatever!