ENTITLED: Proprietor of Want
FANDOM: Alice In Wonderland (2010)
LENGTH: 1,000 words
SETTING: Wonderland, spanning the movie and then afterwards.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Alice in Wonderland, be it the Tim Burton or Lewis Carroll version.
NOTES: Lamebrain Annie turned 21. Now she can buy me alcohol! HAHA, JUST KIDDING MR. FEDERAL AGENT.
NOTES2: You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Those creeps ran a full search history on my family.
NOTES3: When I say "creeps", what I really mean is "wildly attractive young professionals".
NOTES4: I SWEAR!
SUMMARY: But the beauty lies in almost. — HatterAlice
She slid her thumb along the thorn.
"Do you like them? Roses always make me think of you."
"Yes..." Alice frowned. The petals browned at their ragged edges. She fingered one, felt the grainy fineness, and ripped it cleanly away from the stem. She let the petal drop, and rubbed her tainted fingers absently into her skirt.
Jeffery—or was it George? Castor? Richard?—the faceless man beside her skipped a breath. For a moment she thought he might demand an answer of her, but he seemed to change his mind. "Red roses are my favorite. They become you. Such vibrancy."
She let her eyes trail away from him, and worked her thumb against the thorn he'd missed, until the tip of it burrowed beneath the skin of her fingertip.
"They're only lovely when they're dead," she told him, and let the flowers fall artlessly to the ground.
Her mother bade her come sit nearer the fire. She watched the flames for a time, felt their flickering warmth, until it occurred to her that her mother had spoken.
Her mother sighed, "That was no way to go about it. You might have thanked the poor boy, or at least pretended to be ill. You are so often rude, Alice."
Alice looked at her blankly, scratching sleepily at the sore on her finger. "He wasn't a boy. He must have been near thirty."
Her mother sighed angrily. "You're to apologize."
"What for?" Alice asked, without any real resistance, "He doesn't want to marry me."
"You needn't be so gleeful," her mother said sourly. Alice shrugged, turning back to the fickle flames and breathed in slow and deep, to put a bit of fire in her lungs as a smoker might. She didn't feel gleeful.
Her mother's knitting needles stilled, orange in this light, too dull to break the skin. The corner of her scab lifted. There was impatience waiting in the creases of her mother's forehead, "I said, are you in love with somebody else?"
Alice blinked, "I don't understand."
"You've been distracted, lately. Like how you were when you were a child. I thought..." Her mother shrugged. Alice's smile came too late.
"I have dreamed of adventure," she told her mother, who was small now, smaller than she could have believed, nearly a full head shorter than Alice herself. Her mother reached up to grasp Alice at her chin.
"There's no need for that, now."
The sheets were cool when she rolled onto her other side, and he hadn't shut his eyes quick enough. She caught the flick of green before they went out in her midnight room. Alice stretched thoughtfully, cracking the knots of her spine. As a child, she'd pretended it was the sound of her wings retracting, hiding guiltily away. Just one of her secret things.
"There's no need for you," she said. Her thumb was wet. She'd sucked it in her sleep, like a child. Blood had left the taste of pennies upon her tongue.
His voice came at her from the side, left and then right, "No need, no need, of course, but the dear customer has bought herself a sample of want."
Alice smiled, "I thought you'd things to do."
"And by not doing them, they remain waiting to be done! No, no, I can't possibly do a thing that needs to be done. I'm a proprietor of want."
"You're a charlatan of nonsense," Alice murmured, and reached out a hand to touch the dark air of her room. She felt the wind at her finger-spaces.
"And you're a painter of roses," he admonished, pressure at her wound, lips against her blood. "A dealer in the many shades of red. White to red, always the way of it. A need. Not my doing."
Alice turned her hand so it rested against his cheek. "Why do you forever need to hide behind your riddles?"
His smile itched her palm.
"I've missed you, Hatter," she whispered.
Jeffery—George? Castor? Richard?—received her stiffly in his father's parlor. The furniture cut into her knees, her back, her neck.
"I hadn't thought I'd see you again," he began, almost cold. The bruised pride of a man. Alice let her eyes wander over the wall paper.
"My mother bade me offer my apologies for my discourteous behavior," she recited dutifully. It was not, she supposed, a very good apology. And his mother, who was listening from some side-set room, would be sure to repeat it back to her mother. Alice drew in a grudging breath, "Thank you for the flowers, truely. They were lovely. I am sorry I could not receive them appropriately. I fear I was perhaps feeling a bit poorly that afternoon."
His eyes nearly lit up. How marvelous, to have a wife too frail to keep him in line.
Alice watched the light's reflection against the tarnished legs of his coffee table.
"What do you want me to do?" he asked her at last. It occurred to her that he had taken quite a long time in answering. Perhaps it had been an uncomfortable silence. She'd forgotten him, truth be told.
Alice smiled. The motion made her jaw snap into place, the sound of her wings retracting, "I just need for us to get along."
Her wound was closed.