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Title: Left and Leaving
Fandom: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Characters/Pairings: Alice/Tarrant, sort of
Rating/Warnings: PG, Victorian concepts of 'madness'
Written for: [livejournal.com profile] ficcinintherain, mix "When the Sun Shines."
Wordcount: 850
A/N: Title from an album by The Weakerthans; I don't actually have any idea what they sound like, but I know I got the title from somewhere and that's what comes up when I Google it. So.

“How did you get here?” she asks the pale red-browed figure who has just placed his hat on her tiny cabin desk. He smiles.

“There are a great many rabbit holes in the world, I think, and mad folk are rather good at finding them.”

“On a ship?”

“Rat-holes will do in a pinch, I find. And quite a pinch it is. Beret.” He twists his hands together, eyebrows twitching. “And are you still Alice? The Alice?”

She pauses. “The Alice that I am. And a proper Alice size.”

“That indeed you are, no bigger and no smaller.” He smiles. “And are you awake, Alice that you are?”

She knows she ought not to be. “Yes, I am.”

And so begins the process of discovering that you can’t be part of two worlds at once.

The trouble, Alice thinks, lying in her solid wooden bunk with old wood and older oceans breathing through the air around her, lying with her head on Tarrant’s chest and her face against the wool that doesn’t come from sheep and smells like talking flowers – the trouble is that she’s finding her world to be rather as wonderful as his.

The other trouble is that he is more wonderful than anyone she’s ever met.
----

He makes her very lovely hats. She wears them all, smiling at the sunlight and the waves and the wondrous people who seem quite as unpredictable as anyone she met at Tarrant’s side, although rather less inclined to recite rhymes.

“You said that you’d come back,” he whispers by the railing of her ship, in port when everyone else is asleep but oughtn’t be. She frowns at him.

“But you’re here.”

“I’m only here at half-past hours,” he says, and shakes his head. “See, time is funny here. All ordered and with dead arithmetic. It doesn’t change.”

“It passes more steadily,” she protests.

“Not to me.”

She looks away.

“I’ll go back soon,” she promises, looking at the stars shining on the waves. “Isn’t it all beautiful?”

He hesitates. “Well,” he says, “you’re beautiful, at least.”
----

There is an argument, late at night in her own house, about which of them is always leaving. He says that she’s getting further from Underland at every moment. She says that he could stay here as easily as he could there.

His eyes look like rainforests – rainforests that she’s seen and wants to see again. “Your world isn’t a place for mad people,” he says.

“I’m from here.”

“And you are getting saner and saner by the day.”

“Do you know how many people call me mad?”

“But you’re not,” he says simply. “Alice, why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

“They both have inky quills, haven’t they?”

He shakes his head. “Oh, Alice. You see? That makes perfect sense.”

She stops and thinks about asylums. Tarrant may not be mad - she isn't sure - but he's more than mad enough for them.

----

She goes back, a few days after that. It’s all so much smaller than she remembers.

“You aren’t in love here anymore,” Tarrant tells her.

“Don’t be absurd,” she says. “I love you. Entirely.”

“I know,” he says, and then he sighs and smiles. “Oh, Alice. You are very and entirely Alice.”

“And what do you think of Alice?”

“I think,” he says, “that you are a far better Alice than any other Alice has ever been able to be.”

She kisses him. He strokes her hair, adjusts the hat he made for her.

“And I think,” he says, “you’ve made a home for yourself, and it isn’t here.”

“It could be a home for you with me,” she says. She knows it isn’t true.

“Tell me, Alice,” he says quietly, “does it feel better, knowing that you chose?”

“I didn’t know I wasn’t choosing you,” she says.

“I believe you,” he murmurs. “I’m not so mad as all that, after all.”

“I shall miss you,” she says, “terribly.”

“And I shall miss you infinitely, Alice.”

She isn’t afraid of the world anymore. She isn’t afraid of losing people, either.

That doesn’t mean she likes it.

She kisses him goodbye and walks away.
----

She decides to wear the hats he made for her at special times, but not to wear any of them out. The last time she wears the one he called his masterpiece – no, the one that is his masterpiece, the one he called his hatterpiece, she mustn’t forget that – the last time she wears it, a butterfly settles on the brim.

Tarrant is a caterpillar man, she thinks. And Underland is, after all, a place for its denizens and for people who aren’t quite grown up, who find a terrifying mirror-world less frightening than not-quite-home.

She wonders if the caterpillar whom she met was almost Absolom.

She is never going to be anyone more or less than Alice, anymore.

And Alice is a very British woman, with a good head for figures and a quill on her hand and no master and no destiny at all.

She looks at the clear and beautiful sunlight on her waves and is very glad that she spent her time in Underland, and she is equally certain that she is never leaving home again now that she’s built it up around herself.

Date: 2011-07-01 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wake-the-dragon.livejournal.com
I like the bitter-sweetness of this fic.

On one hand, Alice has made a place for herself on Earth and is finally happy here but on the other hand she has to lose Tarrant and the part of herself that was in love with Underland. I think this captures perfectly the sense of loss of childhood that's part of growing up.

Great job.

Date: 2011-07-01 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sour-idealist.livejournal.com
Thank you! That's really what I was going for: growing up and choosing things.

Date: 2012-02-08 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rotercuh.livejournal.com
Опутеть как интересно, во задвигаете. Класс!Image (http://zimnyayaobuv.ru/)Image (http://zimnyaya-obuv.ru/)

Date: 2012-02-14 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] huxome.livejournal.com
Огромное человеческое спасибочки!Image (http://zimnyayaobuv.ru/)Image (http://zimnyaya-obuv.ru/)

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