|More Alice in Wonderland Fic: "Practice Makes Perfect" - Alice/Hatter - NC17
||[Mar. 13th, 2010|06:53 pm]
Title: Practice Makes Perfect
Fandom: Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
Notes: This piece is a follow-up to Six Impossible Things—the first part of this piece picks up right where section 5 leaves off. Now that I've seen the film a second time, I'm feeling more confident with their voices, and I wanted to do a piece with more actual dialogue. And now that I know people aren't weirded out by the idea of explicit scenes, I wanted to push that a bit further, too, but still in a tasteful manner.
Summary: There are more important things than getting it right on the first try.
Alice wakes to the smell of Keemun laced with rose petals and orange peel.
She stretches languidly, savoring the feel of worn cotton sheets against her bare skin, and rolls over onto her stomach. Tarrant has thrown on one of her dressing gowns—curiously charming, if rather ill-fitting—and donned his hat, which had got tossed halfway across the room in their rush to undress each other a little over two hours before. He kneels before the bedside table, his attention fixed upon the tea tray that he's brought up from the kitchen, contemplating Alice's sugar bowl with spoon in hand.
"I have noted with some interest your wardrobe's general lack of corsetry," he murmurs, sneaking a bashful sidelong glance at her. "Naughty. Likewise, your collection of stockings is lacking. At least I shall always be able to see your legs."
Alice wriggles until the sheets are down far enough that she can kick them off.
"You can see my legs any time you like. Three lumps, please," she adds.
Tarrant's eyes glaze over for a few seconds, as if he's distracted by the swishing of her ankles, but he recovers himself quickly, scooping three lumps of sugar into her cup and four into his own. As he stirs each one briskly, Alice can't help but note, just as she had earlier, that his hands look peculiar without their usual accoutrements and bandages. Life under Mirana's rule has been good to him, leaving only faint scars. Alice restrains the urge to reach out and draw his index finger to her mouth.
"One for you," he says, offering her the cup into which he'd put four, "and one for me." He rises with his cup cradled carefully in both hands and walks around to the other side of the bed, where he props up one of the pillows and settles down beside Alice. She turns her head to look at him, taking a sip of her tea. Perfect.
"I brought it all the way from Hong Kong," she tells Tarrant, carefully shifting into a sitting position so that she can lean against him. "I still haven't got the knack for brewing a perfect cup, but you've done a whole pot on your first try. It's hardly fair."
Tarrant tsks at her, downing half his cup in one gulp. "I've met my fair share of teas, young lady, over time—and yes, I know I've made a rhyme. If you listen closely enough, the leaves tell you precisely how to brew them." He pauses for a moment, reaching out to wistfully stroke Alice's hair. "Tell me, how old are you?"
"I shall be twenty-one in two months' time," she answers, balancing her teacup on her knees. "And what about you? I don't think I've ever asked. Not that it matters."
Tarrant's fiery eyebrows knit in contemplation. "Well, you see—last I counted, I was perhaps thirty-six. But years keep sneaking away every once and a while, the devilish things! Once, not that long ago, I could have sworn I was only thirty-two. Or twenty-nine. But they always come back in the end. Yes. They always return to haunt you."
Alice sets her almost-empty teacup aside on the tray, twisting sideways against him so that she can drape one leg across his lap. "You needn't worry about it," she says softly in his ear. "I'm not counting. Besides, you've looked exactly the same for as long as I can remember." Which isn't exactly true, not anymore: there's the matter of his hands, which look healthier, and his hair, which has unquestionably got longer.
"In which case, I fear you shall tire of me rather quickly," he sighs, dropping his own empty cup on the floor. "Especially since I haven't the faintest idea why a raven is like a writing desk, or whether or not I'm the one who has dreamed up you."
Alice slips one hand beneath the dressing gown and pinches Tarrant's hip. Hard. He yelps and tries to roll off the bed, but Alice keeps him exactly where she is, adding both arms to the leg she's got wrapped around him. She makes a big show of pinching herself in the same spot, shivering slightly when Tarrant grabs her wrist.
"Stop that!" he scolds. "Those scars on your arm are quite enough, thank you."
Alice eyes what's left of the wounds once inflicted by the Bandersnatch and shrugs. "I'm quite pleased that they scarred, actually. I've come to regard them as a badge of honor. Even a token of friendship, though that probably sounds quite mad."
Tarrant strokes the marks with his rough fingertips, as if he'd gladly erase them.
"You ought to have let Chess tend them," he says, bending to kiss each scar in turn. "The point is that the Bandersnatch hurt you, which thought I can bear no more than the knowledge that I hurt you, too. Quite badly, I think."
Alice gives him a questioning look, using her elbow to tilt his head up. "When?"
Tarrant lowers his eyes, his pale cheeks turning faintly pink.
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Alice mutters. "It was hardly as bad as all that. And your coat was very warm. My bed at the Embassy felt like ice by comparison. It was wretched."
"Your bed here is nothing like ice," says Tarrant, lowering his head to kiss between her breasts. "It is entirely like freshly baked scones. Or tea-cakes with sultanas."
Alice blushes, sweeping off his hat. "Whatever gave you such a wicked idea?"
Tarrant tweaks her right nipple, his face buried lower now, at her navel. He licks a warm streak down her belly, leaving a soft kiss between her legs.
Alice squirms and tugs impatiently at the dressing gown. "You'll stretch it if you wear it any longer! Then, I shan't be able to wear it at all. I'll have to wander about naked."
Reluctantly, Tarrant raises his head and blinks at her, as if he's lost focus again.
"One by one, I'll stretch them all," he vows, his voice dark with a familiar burr.
Alice cradles his face between her palms. "Tarrant," she whispers.
He blinks again, as if seeing where he is for the first time, and then looks up at her, vaguely afraid. "Writing desk," he says under his breath. "Raven. I mean—scones. No. I'm fine." He frowns. "Alice, if I'm dreaming, then that means none of this is—"
"Shhh," she soothes him. "It's all real. But at least now you know how I felt."
"It's a terrible feeling," he admits, turning his face in order to kiss her palm. "The part where one thinks one is dreaming, I mean. The rest of it is exquisite. Impossible."
"Only if you believe it is," Alice says, and hauls Tarrant up for a kiss.
She's content to lie back this time and let him do what he will, the urgency of her fever largely spent. Much though she loves looking down on him as her hair falls around them like a curtain, a canopy to shield them from prying eyes, she finds new wonder in being able to see his features clearly, undimmed by the shadow she casts. He breathes her name in moans and half-whispers, and when he seems to drift—for they're moving slowly, so very slowly this time, no sign of their usual hurry—she finds that closing him in a firm, insistent grip is enough to remind him of the task at hand.
"You should take me now," Alice gasps in Tarrant's ear, surprised at her own boldness.
"That's an excellent idea," he agrees, far too capable of speech for Alice's liking.
There is still some pain, just as there was earlier, but Alice isn't about to let him know it. He kisses her deeply, as if he hopes it might serve as a distraction, but, ever impatient, Alice locks her ankles at the small of his back, forcing his careful thrust forward into something fiercer, more urgent. His cry is wordless. Perfect.
It lasts longer this time, too, which Alice had not thought possible. She falls first, trembling, wracked with pleasure, unable even to push his name past her lips. Not fair, she thinks, but he's falling after her now, their bodies slicked with sweat, limbs entangled, and the dressing gown decidedly ripped along one shoulder seem where Alice bunched her fist in it too tightly. They finally collapse, still and panting.
"I'll mend it for you," Tarrant says hoarsely, kissing the top of her head. "No. I shall make you a new one. And perhaps a corset or two, not to be worn under clothing."
Alice yawns, losing her fingers in his tangled hair. "Will you still call me naughty?"
"Always," replies Tarrant, fondly. "As will your mother, I shouldn't wonder."
"She'll expect us to get married, you know," Alice muses. "So will Margaret."
"Weddings are delightful," says Tarrant, propping his chin up on her breastbone. "So many new heads to hat! I should like that very much."
"And we'll have to have a second one," Alice continues. "In Underland, you see."
"Practice makes perfect," replies Tarrant, with a daft smile. "With weddings and tea."
Alice grins back at him, combing out his hair. "Indeed."
- Continue: Half a Dozen Teatimes -