if there's a place for [us] that love has kept protected - Fourth: "Never Broken" - Alice/Tarrant - R [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Fourth: "Never Broken" - Alice/Tarrant - R [Mar. 16th, 2010|08:20 pm]
(she lives between pages)
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Title: Never Broken
Fandom: Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
Pairing: Alice/Hatter
Rating: R
Notes: This piece is a follow-up to Six Impossible Things, Practice Makes Perfect, and Half a Dozen Teatimes. The exact chronology of these pieces is for the most part linear; however, Practice Makes Perfect and Half a Dozen Teatimes technically fall between sections 5 and 6 of Six Impossible Things—as does this one. Consider section 6 of Six Impossible Things as a glimpse of things to come for them post-weddings, although I'm not yet sure exactly which bits of it I'll flesh out. The atmosphere of mid to late 19th-century China is a gap in my reading experience.
Summary: Even indoors, Underland after dark is a strange, uncharted place.


"How are we getting on?" calls Tarrant, anxiously. By the sound of it, he's still pacing back and forth across the room. He pauses, his shadow briefly growing larger against the silk divider panels hiding her from sight. "Do you need assistance?"

"No!" Alice shouts, redoubling her efforts, both hands twisted up awkwardly in ribbons behind her back. She'd gone to the trouble of learning how to lace her own corsets years ago, mostly so she'd know how to get out of them again as soon as the maid or her mother had left the room. "No peeking! I won't allow it."

She pulls the last set of eyelets tight and ties the bow blind. There is no mirror behind the divider to tell her how it looks, but it feels different from the rigid, pragmatic whalebone ones into which she'd been shoved since the age of twelve. As for Tarrant's handiwork, there's no doubt that it's flawless: the corset is made from heavy, midnight-blue damask patterned with exotic flowers, some of which she's only ever seen in Underland. The trim is pale, forget-me-not blue, something like satin, but not quite the same. She runs her palms down the contours of the boning, puzzling over how unconfining it feels. She bends over experimentally, finding it flexible.

In the meantime, Tarrant has gone quite still. From the shape of his shadow, he's sitting at the foot of the bed, hands folded in his lap. "It ought not to have suffocated you," he ventures finally. "I gave it most explicit orders in the making: you are to breathe to your lungs' content. If it has disobeyed, my seam-ripper is at the ready!"

"That won't be necessary," Alice reassures him, crouching down on the floor before rising again. "There's no pain at all. How extraordinary!" She's amazed at the concept of a corset that does not hinder movement, let alone breathing, and flushes slightly thinking of the obvious advantages. Tarrant is mindful of both form and function.

"Then what are you waiting for?" he asks. "The room has suffered for your absence these twenty minutes past. The décor simply doesn't work without you."

Alice takes a deep breath, sweeping her hair back. "Promise me Chess isn't lurking about somewhere. I couldn't bear it if I looked dreadful. He'd have one more thing to tease me about, as if the one thing he's already got isn't bad enough!"

"Ah," Tarrant says. "I can't promise you a thing, for Chess is always lurking about somewhere. However, suffice it to say that he pursues most instances of peeping out-of-doors. As long as the curtains are drawn, we're sorted." His voice softens as his shadow rises to its feet, moving from window to window. "Please come out, love. Cottages by the sea are lonely places, not meant to be sat in alone."

Alice emerges hesitantly, both hands clasped behind her back. Even indoors, Underland after dark is a strange, uncharted place, and the waves outside sound wilder, fiercer than the ones she'd known in her childhood at Brighton and Calais. Tarrant turns from drawing the final set of curtains, seemingly stunned enough to drop his hat, which he'd been clutching one-handed to his chest. Alice can't help but lighten the moment with laughter; his coat and shoes are gone, leaving him standing there in mismatched striped stockings and kilt with his shirt half unbuttoned.

"I'm sorry," Alice manages, covering her mouth, "but you look...so..."

"Delicious," says Tarrant, his eyes and voice dark with the same hunger. "Delectable. Nay, positively devourable. Were you not mine, I'd recommend you to anyone with a side of jam and clotted cream. But, as it stands," he concludes decisively, the Outlandish burr sending a shiver down Alice's spine, "you are mine."

"Yes, Tarrant," Alice agrees, setting two fingers against his lips. "Yours."

"Forgive me," he whispers, taking her hand in both of his, turning his head until his cheek is cradled in her palm. "I quite forgot myself. I'm fine. Alice, please know that I could never permit myself to harm you, not even when—"

"Shhh," Alice murmurs, using her free hand to continue where he'd left off with his buttons. "You called me something just now. What was it?"

Tarrant's brows knit in mild confusion. "Delicious? Delectable? Devourable? I've skipped backwards to D, you see. We missed it on the first go."

"No," says Alice, patiently, taking hold of his shirt with both hands now in order to tug it free of his kilt. "Before that. When you were closing the curtains."

"Well, it's entirely too true," he whispers, his eyes a brighter shade of green than she's ever seen them as he skims his fingertips along her collarbone, breathing in the sight of her. "I may be only half-mad, but I am completely besotted."

Alice tugs the shirt down off his shoulders. "Yes, but what did you—"

"That's enough chatter," Tarrant says, smiling fondly. "Come to bed, my love."

Between kisses and vanishing clothes—kilt and corset last of all—Alice counts the things of which she'll never grow tired, none of which are impossible. She'll never tire of Tarrant's hands, which have learned the lay of her body with tender, uncanny precision. Even less of the way he tastes, simultaneously like every tea he's ever drunk and unabashedly like himself. She breathes warmly in his right ear and feels a shudder pass through him, sparking in every inch of skin that touches between them from forehead to foot-arch. She'll never tire of bracing herself over him for hours, never tire of the languid eagerness with which he rises to meet her. The way he feels under her. Inside her. They both tremble with it, limbs tensing, then unwinding.

"You are the bravest creature," Tarrant murmurs, drifting between sleep and wakefulness, "that I have ever known." He yawns and tugs Alice in tighter, resting his nose at her exposed nape. Her hair is swept somewhere up above them, spilling untidily over the pillows. Alice glances over her shoulder at him, questioning.

"Why?"

"To have known so young, and without a doubt, what and who you wanted."

Alice attempts turning towards him, but the arm snug about her waist makes it difficult. She pokes and prods at it until she's able to roll over, her hair tangling with some of Tarrant's flyaway strands. He's smiling sadly, just as he had done on the first night she went to him under a thousand tea-tray bright constellations.

"Tell me about them," she says. "Your lovers. The ones who came before me."

"Alice," he murmurs, his eyes growing paler, "there was never anyone before you."

"I find that hard to believe," she replies, but knows he's telling the truth. "Anyone with half an ounce of sense would have had you. You must have got tired of waiting!"

"Not in the least. I'm a very busy person, and a very choosy one, too. Between hatting and rebellion and the taking of tea, there are only so many hours in the day."

They lie in silence for a few minutes, letting his words fade until all they can hear is the ocean. Alice kisses his forehead, his eyelids, his cheeks, his chin, his lips. "It was the grandest rebellion I've ever seen," she tells him.

"Yes," he sighs. "It wouldn't have been the same without you. That armor—"

"Was far worse than a corset in the end," Alice cuts in, wrinkling her nose.

"And your wedding-present?" asks Tarrant, expectantly, lifting his head to peer over her onto the floor. As usual, they'd taken very little heed of where anything landed.

"Extraordinary, as I said," she reassures him. "What did you use for boning?"

"Her Majesty was kind enough to save me a handful of poor Jabberwocky's ribs."

Alice gaped at him. "But it's so..."

"Supple," Tarrant finishes. "But those bones will never break, try as you might."

"Try as you might," Alice says, poking him in the ribs. "I'll be sure to pack it."

Tarrant gives her a quizzical look. "Pack?"

Alice nods. "Our ship sails the day after Mirana sends us back to London."

"Goodness!" Tarrant exclaims. "I do love surprises. Where to?"

"Hong Kong first," she says, "and after that, well—we'll make it up as we go along."

Tarrant grins even wider than Chessur at his finest.

"That, I think," he says, "is exactly what we do best."


- Continue: Ways and Means -
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From: askingxalice
2010-03-16 08:56 pm (UTC)
Have I told you that I love your writing? Saved to memories, as always.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:42 pm (UTC)
Well, your memories can have a bit of a rest, at least for the next few days while I manage to sort out a help_haiti fic that I owe somebody in another fandom that's badly overdue. After that, I really want to do some Alice one-offs from other viewpoints.

Thanks for reading these ♥
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[User Picture]From: ladynorbert
2010-03-16 09:13 pm (UTC)
Adorable final lines, and a wonderful way to end their little saga. I have really enjoyed this. :D
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:41 pm (UTC)
I have to write a story in another fandom that's badly overdue, but once I do, I'll be back to write some Alice one-offs. There are a lot of other viewpoints I'd like to toy with...

Thank you ♥
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[User Picture]From: speccygeekgrrl
2010-03-16 09:14 pm (UTC)
Every story is more delightful than the last, which means this one is extra-luscious! ♥
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:40 pm (UTC)
♥♥♥

I mean, Jabberwocky-bone-corset and all, I may be running a bit to excess, but dammit, Alice in a corset. I know she hates the things, but I wanted to picture that.
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[User Picture]From: aros_66
2010-03-16 09:55 pm (UTC)
oh, i am so sad to see the end of this series...i did love it so (still do, really). :c

you did a really excellent job with it! it was a thrill to read and you had each character captured so well. good fanfiction is a particular joy! <3

thank you so much for sharing, and i DO hope to see more from you in the future!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:39 pm (UTC)
Don't worry - I've got to write a help_haiti fic that's badly overdue, but once I do that, I'll be right back to do some more Alice fic. I haven't hit the end of the line here, not in the least ;)

Thanks for coming along for the ride!
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[User Picture]From: molespeople
2010-03-16 09:59 pm (UTC)
I've loved this so much. And then I also read basically all your Hot Fuzz stuff WHICH WAS SOOOOO AMAZING.

SO YES. You're my favorite person EVER right now.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, hey! That's an unexpected overlap in fandoms, but yes, aren't Nick and Danny marvelous? I love them to death. This might sound odd, but Hot Fuzz is my feel-good film, generally speaking. If things are shit, I just put it on and watch it, and I always feel better. Of course, Let the Right One In has also become a feel-good film for me, so...

Thank you ♥
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[User Picture]From: alaceron
2010-03-16 10:05 pm (UTC)


Just, just ♥.

Nothing for it but to go and read this again!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:36 pm (UTC)
I've got to go take care of an obligation in another fandom, but once I've done that, I hope to do some Alice one-offs now that this fever's finally run its course. Please read all you like; that's what this establishment's here for, 24/7, 365 days a year (except when I forget to renew my paid account, in which instances there are icon outages...)

Thank you ♥
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[User Picture]From: jedibuttercup
2010-03-16 10:09 pm (UTC)
♥ Fabulous. Favoite line:

"I gave it most explicit orders in the making: you are to breathe to your lungs' content."
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:34 pm (UTC)
Breathing to one's heart's content just didn't sound quite right :)

Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: randombattlecry
2010-03-16 10:21 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of a Wonderlandian seaside, and I want to have an imaginary cottage there. Actually, I want a real cottage there, but I do know the difference between reality and fantasy. Most of the time.

This, for instance, is clearly fantasy, because there's no way on earth your fics should continue to be this awesome. Therefore I must be imagining it.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:34 pm (UTC)
There seems to be a Wonderlandian seaside in Through the Looking-Glass, as the Mock-Turtle talks about growing up under the sea. I'd personally be grateful for a real seaside cottage anywhere. We stayed in one when I was about thirteen, and it was up on stilts, sort of, in order to let the sand and such flow under it. Oh, the wind at night - it shook the whole building! Such atmospheric things, seaside cottages...

I have to take a break from Alice in order to write a badly overdue help_haiti fic for someone in another fandom, but as soon as I've done that, I'm coming right back in order to do some one-offs. Or two-offs. Or three- or four-offs. Leaving well enough alone is not a skill I possess...
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[User Picture]From: zaftiq
2010-03-16 10:22 pm (UTC)
Ah! The line about the jam and clotted cream, totally my favourite.

I almost groaned in sympathy for the corset when he said the seam ripper was at the ready; I have been ripping and re-ripping seams for weeks on some projects and I couldn't imagine having to rip apart a whole corset.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:29 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who, in the process of learning to make her own corsets, had to rip the damn things apart all the time in order to correct mistakes. It sounded absolutely horrifying! But apparently she's quite good at it now :)

It doesn't help that I'm a tea-and-scones addict writing about a tea-and-scones addict...

Thank you <3
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[User Picture]From: nomelon
2010-03-16 10:47 pm (UTC)
Glorious. The near innocence of this is beautiful, and the gorgeous little things the Hatter comes out with made me smile again and again. This whole series was truly lovely.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 10:50 pm (UTC)
What's appealing about them, I think, is how they're both simultaneously incredibly innocent, but also incredibly dark underneath that layer of innocence. Hatter's little slips into Outlandish/madness are a pretty good metaphor for the dynamic. Alice's dark moments, however, blend pretty seamlessly with her normal demeanor, and in some ways, I think that makes her more dangerous.

Thanks for reading these :)
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[User Picture]From: dmlpacker
2010-03-16 11:15 pm (UTC)
*Pouts* I want to know what he said :)

I do love these two!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 11:20 pm (UTC)
He said, "Come to bed, love" - she wanted to hear him call her "love" again, that's all, and he did ;)

Thank you! As do I.
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[User Picture]From: jillianfish
2010-03-16 11:34 pm (UTC)
This was lovely and perfect. Their love was palpable. You do an amazing thing with words and I'm looking forward to reading more when you get the chance.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 11:35 pm (UTC)
(Re: your icon - I love that movie SO MUCH. That particular scene makes me teary.)

I've got to clean up some story business in another fandom first, but once I've done so, I'll come right back to Alice. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: jinma_chan
2010-03-16 11:39 pm (UTC)
Once again, a great fic!

Look forward towhatever you come up with next :D
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 11:40 pm (UTC)
While I'm working on the help_haiti fic that I owe somebody before I do anything else, I'll be thinking about that. I'd like it to be something slightly different, though, perhaps another viewpoint :)

Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: dodificus
2010-03-16 11:42 pm (UTC)
This was delightful.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-16 11:46 pm (UTC)
As is your icon <3 Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: sheerpoetry
2010-03-17 12:22 am (UTC)
You are so versatile, dear! I swear, you've written at least one story for pretty much everyone I know...and gotten me addicted to things I never anticipated.

These last two have been so lovely and I'm sure I'll be back re-reading and commenting once I finally see the movie!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 09:47 am (UTC)
I have a history of fiddling with Tim Burton's re-workings of stories; I used to write fanfic for his Sleepy Hollow retelling, too. He's a lucky bugger who gets to have HIS fanfic visions filmed for the big screen, but fortunately, he by and large does things that I would absolutely decide to do myself if I were in his shoes :)

Once again, I hope you enjoy the film!
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[User Picture]From: caliena
2010-03-17 12:23 am (UTC)
I definitely adore your stories!
(Did I say that before? Can't remember.)
I want to write some Hatter/Alice Moments since I saw the movie last week but didn't have the time yet...
If I finally manage, would it be okay, to give you a link?
Or would that be considered bad manners?

I can't wait to read more from you.
Hope you'll find time and ideas soon!
*puts this story to memories, too*
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 09:48 am (UTC)
No, it wouldn't be rude - in fact, you could email them to me before you post them, if you like; I'd be glad to beta-read them for you :)

Your memories must be getting awfully full. Please don't let me flood them out!
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[User Picture]From: sanguineheroine
2010-03-17 12:39 am (UTC)
I've just read my way through all of these pieces and they were phenomenal. Your grip on the characters and the dialogue is perfect, and the love story had just the right amount of naughtiness and nonsense.

I was very scared to get into this fandom, I thought that it might somehow take away from the innocence of it all, but this was just amazingly well done. Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 09:50 am (UTC)
Intimacy doesn't always chase off a sense of innocence, I find - Alice and Tarrant both have an air of innocence about them that hides something darker underneath. I love the fact they're such complicated characters; I think you could throw them into a whole barrel of edgy situations and have them stand up to it without going OOC.

I'm sorry to hear you were scared, but pleased to hear the experience hasn't been traumatic. Thanks once again!
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[User Picture]From: jessicadwyer
2010-03-17 12:41 am (UTC)
These are amazing. I'm jealous of your talent. But I love you and your hatter too much...so (bows) You rock.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 09:54 am (UTC)
I seem to be building a resume for myself based on my handling of mad and/or insane characters. Granted, I don't find Tarrant quite as mad as all that, really - aside from his dark subconscious breaking through once in a while, I'd call him mostly just incredibly whimsical. Maybe "half-mad" is best after all :)

Thanks again <3
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[User Picture]From: thistle_verse
2010-03-17 12:53 am (UTC)
I can't even accurately tell you how much I've enjoyed this series. Just, thank you. I hope to read more Alice from you!!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 09:55 am (UTC)
I have to write something in Chanson de Roland that I owe my highest bidder from help_haiti, but once I've done that, it's back to Underland for me :)

Thanks, dear.
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[User Picture]From: two_point
2010-03-17 01:56 am (UTC)
I'm smitten. Everything you touch is marvelous.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 10:00 am (UTC)
Ah, there's a curse wrapped up in it, though: for all I can write poetry to my heart's content when I turn away from basing my prose on other people's material, it's very rarely I find myself able to write an original short story - maybe one or two a year. Then again, maybe it's because I love fanfiction too much and spend all of my prose-writing time here. Who knows. But it does have its drawbacks, I suppose...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this little series. Thank you <3
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[User Picture]From: chocolate_inyx
2010-03-17 02:28 am (UTC)
XD I love your fics. So much! This one was exceptionally lovely.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 10:00 am (UTC)
Thank you very much :)
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[User Picture]From: akainagi
2010-03-17 02:38 am (UTC)
Absolute love. I especially like Tarrant using outlandish when he's horny. Very hot!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 10:02 am (UTC)
I only toyed with desire as a trigger very briefly in Practice Makes Perfect, so I thought maybe I'd let it run for a bit longer here and see what would come out of his mouth ;) Actually, I think Alice was the one letting it run on a bit longer here, as she seemed curious to find out what would happen...

Thank you <3
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[User Picture]From: oceans_heart
2010-03-17 04:36 am (UTC)
*sad sigh* Oh must it be over? You've found such a wonderful window into the minds of these characters, I don't want it to end! Just as brilliantly done as the rest of the pieces in this series, looking forward to seeing more from you when the muse next strikes.
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 10:03 am (UTC)
Over for now, I say, because I have to get myself into another mindset in order to write a story I owe somebody else in another fandom that's very overdue. So, if I trick myself into a sense of closure on this series for now, I'll be able to write the overdue story, and then once I come back maybe I'll have a fresh perspective or idea for an Alice stand-alone or two. At least I hope that's how it'll work...

Thank you<3
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[User Picture]From: wolf_of_shadow
2010-03-17 08:07 am (UTC)
you, my dear, are one of the finest fanfiction writers i have ever encountered and definitely the best Alice/Tarrant writer I have seen. I loved every word of these 4 fics. keep up the good work!
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 10:13 am (UTC)
In which case, I'm honored :) As for the good work, I will try to. I'm trying to rein in on my occasional tendency to letting some things out too quickly; I think last summer's ST:TOS sequence may have suffered from that in some parts. But I measured this one out deliberately, and I'm happy with it. Thank you for reading! There will be more to come in this fandom, as soon as I've written a story I owe somebody else in another.
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From: maddylonglegs
2010-03-17 04:40 pm (UTC)
Ok, you are so my favourite. I love these fics.

Also. Alice. Corset. Made by Tarrant. *brain dribbles out of ears*
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[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-03-17 04:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah. That's rather the intended effect *wry grin*

Thank you, my dear.
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