December 28, 2014

Winter Wonderland: Return Of the Hatter, Part 2

    Jervis opened his eyes, seeing... snow. Strange, did he not slumber in his own bed? He sat up, brushing powder snow from his attire. Curiouser- the city's snow was slushy and miserable. Getting to his feet, he looked around. The landscape was a study of greys and whites, snow gently falling. To one side, a massive forest. To another, rolling white hills. A massive building could be seen in the distance, somewhere between the two. In yet another direction, a building. Vaguely shaped like a tower...

    Deciding it was closet and provided shelter, Jervis set off for the forest. Very quickly he found a path, marked by flat, even stead. He walked along, footfalls marked by silent crunches. When Jervis ascertained none were around but he, he kicked up the snow, dancing in it. It took him back to boyhood dreams, child-like naivete overtaking him in a moment of wintry wonder. He smiled, throwing himself back.. He moved some snow around, making a hatted snow angel. My, this place filled him with such joy! And a sense of deep familiarity...

    Into the woods Jervis went, his sense of familiar lands grew. He walked, as if knowing this path- walking it a thousand times a thousand times before. Every tree, every bit of grass- everything. Jervis knew it all... But it held something... dark. Hatter stirred, the darkness calling out to the Other side of his soul. Both of them knew this place, but for different reasons. 

    And then it all came, finally, crystal-clear.

    Jervis stopped short, and both of them stared. Before them was a long table, hidden underneath the trees. Above the table was a canopy, to protect from the elements. Many poles marked points of support, lanterns hung upon each one. On the table lay a wide array of tea implements- cups, spoons, plates. Platters of treats. Teapots adorned the table, fresh tea of all kinds steaming.

    It was undeniable now- they were back in Wonderland, at his table. The domain he called home.

    Except not as they knew it. Where before it was bright, carrying notes of traditional teatime, now it lay dark, Gothically twisted. The tablecloth was black, blood dripping from it- it matched the black chairs laid around in the table. The teapots were dark silver metal, gleaming with malice. The treats had a theme of blood, death and decay- shattered glass sugar, gel blood and more. The decorations were jagged metal sculptures, thorned white roses coated in blood... Overall, this Wonderland was different. But still home.

    "My goodness..." Hatter whispered, staring at it all. Seems he had shifted in, the darkness too strong of a lure. "I- how did we-"

     "You stepped through the Looking Glass, tinted black by my hand." Jervis whirled around to see Vendetta there. "I believe I'd told you this before."

    "Where are we?" Hatter eyed her, not one to take what he saw as fact.

    "You're in Wonderland. Where else would you be?"

   Hatter was aghast. Surely this Gothic place couldn't be- "But- But it's not-"

     "The Wonderland of Carroll's novels? It's not perfect- that Wonderland already has a Hatter. This is the best I could do. This is your Wonderland. Jervis' Wonderland. Enjoy it. In all its macabre beauty."

     Hatter eyed her, still slowly soaking it all in. It seemed there were many mysteries to the Lady yet. He eyed her, not sure what to make of all this.

     "Is this yet another of your illusions?"

    Vendetta shook her head. "No. This is an alternate reality. A Wonderland made just for you. Enjoy." Before Hatter could say anything, she went on. "Jervis, Hatsy- you always seemed so... lonely. Pining. Wondering what could have been... I felt it best to do all I could for your happiness. Well, me and someone else." She gently smiled at him.

    "And who might that be, if I may ask?"

     "Hello, Hatsy. It- It's been so long... I-I've missed you." Standing there was the one person Hatter and Jervis had been dying to see. A delicate blonde, in a familiar blue dress and white pinafore. Her white stockings were pristine, black shoes and headband shining. She held a basket, filled with all sorts of treats.

    "Alice! Oh, it's so good to see you, my darling!" Jervis ran over. The girl embraced him tightly, and they hurried away to sit at the table. Cheshire was already waiting for them. As was the March Hare and Dormouse, busy sleeping as always. Jervis was delighted! It was all he ever wanted- wonderful Alice, all his friends- everything! In the rush of excitement, he'd forgotten the shadowy Siren standing there. Vendetta smiled, a single blood tear rolling down her cheek. She turned, and walked away, gone. he never noticed. 

    Jervis, Alice and their friends all had such wonderful adventures- it was all he wanted, and more! Tea parties, snow fights, angels and snowmen. Wintertime in Wonderland was something to behold. The Yule Ball. The Queen outdid herself this time! Blood-dripped white roses, real jewels in all her decor. 

    Everyone was a study in wintry whites, greys, silver, blacks. Jervis and Alice donned their finest silver and blue. They feasted, shared presents, danced the  night away. The Queen's temper considerably sweet- nobody beheaded, even! My, this was certinly wonderland- no, better even! Truly he'd discovered his way back home at last!

    And yet, as Jervis' gaze landed upon the beautiful red-haired wonan, Wonderland remanined... incomplete. But why? The Queen made her way over, she and Jervis sharing a dance. At her insistence, of course- none refused the Queen and lived. She looked at him, brown eyes shining. The curled red locks, her perfect make-up, the beautiful way she carried herself, opulent gown... it was then Jervis realized whom had made this possible. Whom he left in the Hatterdasherie, whom loved him enough to let him go...

    "Hatter, someone other than Alice has your attention. They have during your entire stay. Shall I have them beheaded?" For all her faults, she was rather damnably accurate.

    "No, no. No beheading. I- I... There was a woman I met, while I was... away. She helped me find my way back... She reminds me of you. Beautiful. Deadly. Sweet when you desire to be." He smiled a little bit.

     "Then perhaps you should return to them." Before Jervis could say anything, she went on. "When someone loves you enough to see to your happiness, you treat them right. Such love is extremely rare- a black rose in a land of white ones. I may be cruel, but even I know love is precious. Something elusive. Something I desire..."

    Jervis looked at the Queen. In this one moment, he could see the shimmer of sadness in her eyes, longing for the love that Jervis- and Hatter- had with Alice... but moreso, with Vendetta. Wonderland was wonderful and all, but even Jervis- Hatter especially- held affections for the dark Lady left behind. She smiled, and left a brush of her lips on his. Cherries and cinnamon. Mingled with saltiness of a single tear. She understood- as did he.

    "Go find her. If she means so much. She'll ensure you can come back to us." As the music ended, the Queen walked away. Alice came up to him, tugging gently on his arm. She smiled at him, unaware of what just occured.

    "Did you and Your Majesty have a good dance, Mister Tetch?" Alice had been sitting at a small table they reserved, petting the Tigress. Cheshire had been keeping an eye on her, as she wrote in her diary. She'd even had a dance with one of the Cards. Now she yawned, ready to return to where they called home- Hatter mansion. She hugged his arm, looking at him. "May we please leave?"

    "Of course, my dear. Anything you like." Jervis led Alice and Cheshire away, beginning the walk in the snow. He sighed, making Alice look with concern.

    "Mister Tetch, is something wrong? Did- Did I do something?" Her bright blue eyes sparkled with worry.

     "What? Of course not, dear! You've done nothing wrong at all! It's just... Well, you see, Alice, I... While I was away, I- I met someone who became... close. In a different way, though. And-"

    "Are- Are you going to- to leave Wonderland again? Are you going to leave me?!" Alice teared up, she clinging tight to his arm. She just found him! Oh, she didn't want to lose him once more. What if he never came back?...

    "Yes and no, Alice dear. I will have to leave- but will always come back to see you. You hold too special of a place in my heart not to." He held her hand. "Alice, I love you. You are the sunshine, the brightness in my life. She is special in a different way. Like night and day. You know that, right?" 

     "Like... light and dark, you mean?"

    Jervis nodded. "Exactly like light and dark, my dear. You know how we have picnics, play in the snow, and have tea parties in the day? It's the same with her and I, but at night. Do you understand?"

    Alice nodded. She resisted the idea of him being elsewhere at first. But he wasn't replacing her- he just had someone else. Everyone had multiple friends, right? This was no different. Alice had her sister- and Dinah, her cat. They were other friends of hers. Why couldn't he have other friends too?

    Slowly, but surely, Alice came around to his way of thinking. They shared a special friendship- light, sweet, fun. Like a nice sunny day. But there had to be that night-time side too, whatever that may be. Alice did not wish to know. She nodded, trusting him. "Do whatever makes you happy, Mister Tetch."

     Jervis nodded, taking her home. Once Alice was in bed, he stared at the looking glass he used to get there. The glass was dark, just as before. He had no idea how he got there, let alone how to get back. "I have no idea how she did it... Shame, really. I love being here..."

    "But we miss you too, sweetly wicked Vendetta. You are the darkness I need, to Jervis And Alice's Light." Hatter sighed, looking to the mirror. "How do I get back to you?" He was surprised to find the glass illuminate, revealing the Hatterdasherie. He was surprised to find the mirror in the room- a full-length mirror- also illuminate. Silvery-white swirls appeared, and Hatter- holding the smaller mirror- tumbled through...

    He was back at the Hatterdasherie. Exactly the same as he left it. Looking around, back in his own room. Silently, he crept down the stiars. Lady Vendetta knelt by the fire, and silently crying, bloody streaks down her face. She missed him dearly- weeks had passed. Time moved in seven ways; so what seemed like nothing to him, or her, was plenty to those around. She feared he'd never return. While he was happy, her heart broke. She'd been abandoned. 

     "I miss his dark smile.. the mischevious grey eyes... I miss how sweet Jervis was. The fun Hatsy and I shared... I did what was right. Yet, the sadness... I should be happy I granted his every wish. Even if I have no place in his world." She rose, speaking only to herself, and began to put the fire out. "What do I do now, a lonely heart broken months ago... a place that is not even my own?"

     "Besides keep it in pristine condition?"

    Vendetta whirled around. Her face lit up, she flying into an embrace. "Hatsy! You came back!" She held tight, never having been so happy before.

    Hatter embraced her in kind, kissing her with some real passion. He looked at her, brushing awya her blood-laced tears. "I'm happy to find my way back. I was wondering where you were, when you left the tea party... I missed you."

     "I missed you too, love. I've kept things running in your stead, darling. Things are far more profitable now." She grinned. "I presume Jervis will be going to Wonderland, and you'll come back. I expect you to be in and out often, am I right?" Her eyes glittered in amusement. 

    "You know us well. I- I can't thank you enough... for everything. You've made my wildest dreams come true. How can I ever repay all your kindness?"

    "By being with me."

    "We are not eternal, my dear."

    "Not yet, at least. Give me time. I'll get you there." There was that signature smirk of hers again. Hatter just smirked in kind and kissed her once more. It seemed this winter, Jervis and Hatter had gotten the best gift of all- paradise for them both. Wonderland and Alice for Jervis, a city and Vendetta for Hatter. It couldn't have been more perfect if they tried.

December 20, 2014

Winter Wonderland: Return Of the Hatter, Part 1

    Jervis sighed, bitter snows passing by the windows of his Hatterdasherie cruelly and without end. Times like this made him pine for winters in Wonderland. Theirs were far more desired. Instead of endless crime, bitter snowstorms and foreboding night eternal, Wonderland was filled with powdery snow, outdoor tea parties and the Queen Of Hearts' Yule Gala. And of course, Alice by his side... What caught his mind were the Galas. Eight in all, placed in approximation and theme to what people here called Pagan Sacred Days. Perhaps it was a multi-cultral thing. Jervis loved the Galas; the Queen's temper sweetened considerably, all was peaceful and everyone could have a good time. 

    The bell of the front door tinkled, icy winds cutting through his mindless drifting. His rather depressive spell. "Oh, Ricky, I'm home" a woman's voice purred, soft and silken like warmed honey.

    Sweetly wicked Vendetta. The Vampyric Siren who walked into his life a year ago. She was an enigma, Lady Of the Night- a true princess with immortality's gift. He had no idea how he held her vested interest so long, but he had. He counted his blessings- she kept the 'Other' within excellent company, and they bonded as fast friends. However- much as she tried, with her sweet demeanor, fragile self and maiden-like charm, she was not the blonde, bright-eyed Alice. More of a... Gothic Alice, if you will. 

    She'd been away, performing holiday errands of some sort. In his madness, he forgot her words. Now she took apart her bags, acquired during her trip, humming some Christmas tune. Garland, candles, fake snow, ornaments mistletoe and more- everything needed to transform the Hatterdasherie into an elegant holiday paradise. Something rustic, festive- artistic, if you will. There were presents for the tree she'd brought in days earlier. Unusual, given she didn't celebrate Christmas. Curiouser and curiouser still...

    "It's not for me, darling. it's for you- and for your patrons, of course. This place, with a little artistic flair, could be one of those places you see on a card Better for business and all that." Decorating began, she doing such things alone. Jervis had fallen too deeply into his depressive spell. It didn't take her long, but she had been correct- the place looked festive, cheerful- yet elegant and artistic. He smiled at her, a smile that didn't quite reach his shimmer-less blue-washed eyes...

    "You're missing Wonderland again, aren't you darling?" Vendetta poured tea for them both- in Jervis' case, a refill. Sitting in a chair beside him, her blood-red eyes studied the eccentric man before her. For once, Jervis couldn't discern her emotional state. That was enough to disturb him.

     "Guilty as charged, I'm afraid. Wonderland is infinitely better than here. Light dustings of powdery snow, much more light... Outdoor tea parties...  Best of all- the Queen Of Hearts' Yule Gala. The only time her temper is sweet and there is all-around peace." Jervis sighed, slumping back into his chair, staring at the bitterness once more. 

    Vendetta said nothing; she started the kettle, to make yet more tea. As steam began to rise, her mind drifted to how pleasant Wonderland sounded. These lands could be truly dreary at times. Even one such as she found hatred and disdain for it's bleak, grey nature. A place as colorful as Wonderland sounded simply delightful! And yet, it was not for her...

    Her spell broke, the kettle whistling to indicate the water was ready. Idle, she poured a fresh pot. She stood in the kitchen, mind wandered to the dark, depressive corners- where loneliness and fear reigned, breaking her of all she was. Nothing she did would ever be enough, would it? There was only one course of action... It broke her heart, reducing it to dust, but his happiness was paramount to her... Their happiness was paramount, she be damned...

    Once more, her spell was broken as a pair of hands stroked her arms from behind. "My dearest Lady, whatever seems to be bothering you?"

    "How do you always know, Tetch?" The Lady became defensive, when she heard the voice purring in her ear. Normally she called him 'Hatsy'; calling him Tetch was nigh unheard of. Something must have been really bothering her.

    "It's written all over your body, my dark darling. Besides, you called me Tetch. You never do that."

    "My issues are private." Vendetta's voice was as sharp as the ice outside.

    "Then I shall respect and abide by your wishes. Though, to quote you: 'I don't have to like it, but I will respect it."

    The quotation elicited a grim smile from the Lady. She poured them both another cup, sweetening hers with honey and milk. Both of them sat by the roaring fire, Hatter surprised to taste the light, feminine notes of rose and jasmine. Floral teas were not something he often chose. Nor did he oft choose white tea, preferring black by far. Still, as teas went, she'd made a wonderful choice. Both had sat in silence, drinking tea by the fire.

    Vendetta finally shattered the silence. "It's early for me, but I'm going to retire. Good night, you two." With a curtsy, she vanished upstairs- past the barrier that said 'Private'- to the room claimed as her own. Both of them decided to retire as well, wishing to take the bitterness of the night and removing themselves from it. Only Cheshire remained, slumbering by the fire- just as she always was want to do. 

    Days passed, Jervis/Hatter and Vendetta seeing none of one another. Jervis assumed the Lady was busy with her own work; Hatter figured she was avoiding him. Either way, he had been swamped with orders every day, the holiday rush unpleasant as always. It was insane, really- when he was rushed, his work was never the best. Hell, this year he had to hire a temporary assistant, even. A pretty young lady, sweetly shy and golden-haired. For some reason, Jervis didn't want to keep this one, despite being the best Alice yet.

    Yule at long last. Not Jervis' or Hatter's thing- neither of them were pagan. More than ever, this day made his mood dark. Bitter. Not even the wonderful woman who walked into his life a year ago could lift his spirits. The duo had awoken to the Lady's wondrous cooking, as usual. She took such good care of them- a shame he subjected her to this.

    Still, he would push the worst of it aside. The Lady Vendetta adored this day, so he would smile for her. He'd sat by the fire, beside the little tree she set up. Reaching behind, he pulled out a silver gift bag.

    "I can assure you, it's not much. It's rather difficult to ascertain what an immortal princess would enjoy. I can only hope you'll find it favorable."

    "Aww, Jervis, you're a sweetheart." The Lady blushed, she accepting the bag. It smelled simply delightful... Inside, she giggled, peals of girlish delight. It was a custom-made tote, filled with her favourite sweets. Alongside that, a massive scattering of bath products she'd admired- when she thought he wasn't looking. Still farther, a box within. She'd open it, to find a tiny top hat, similarly styled to the ones he affected- a blood-dripping rose in place of a card. Paired with it, a satin choker, a heart pendant custom-made. 

    Tears sprang to her eyes. "Jervis, I- I absolutely adore this... How did you-"

    "I realized you were always trying on my hats. This will be the first of many, my dearest. The choker is one that befits a Queen like you, Your Highness." He smiled softly at her, taking her hand gently.

    Vendetta gasped softly. The Lady couldn't look at him. Emotions ran rampant through her. Eventually, her eyes did lift, meeting his. "Jervis, I- thank you."

    Vendetta handed him a box. Two boxes, actually. "Here, I'm sure you'll find much use and appreciation of these."

    Jervis would admire the paper, a blue metallic with holographic overlay. Delicately, he pulled it off. Opening the box, he saw laying inside a new outfit. The entire works, no less: Undershirt, dress shirt, vest, overcoat, trench coat, slacks, gloves- and even undergarments. All done in a deep, rich black, accented in sapphirc blue. Closer inspection revealed them to be hand-made, customized- Italian in design. The Lady really went out of her way for this.

    The second box was considerably larger. it took more time for Jervis to open, but inside he could see... pieces of paper. And boxes- tea boxes, to be exact. The pieces of paper was a list, of all the teas; neatly organized, even. Again, she'd really gone out of her way. In a daze, he looked up- she was petting Chesh. Chesh had been gifted steaks from her. The tigress purred, in approval.

    Once more Jervis took her in arm, his lips locked in place to hers. "My dearest Vendetta, you've done so much for me. I cannot thank you enough."

     "I'm sure you can't. But you can worry about that later, can't you?" Once more, Vendetta's lips brushed Jervis throat. Jervis shivered- gods, she knew how to drive him to distraction. She wasn't deemed his Siren for nothing. In seconds, a rather-irritated Hatter sat before her. In a recent battle, his beloved Queens had been shattered. He was none too thrilled with that damnable Clown. Still, his mood would soften at the sight of the Gothic woman before him.

    "Ah, darling Vendetta- I had been wondering what needed my attention."

    "Blessed Yule, my darling. I have presents for you." Here she drew two fresh boxes from the tree, these ones wrapped in metallic red paper. Even the tags said 'To Hatsy- Love, your Lady'. She went to give him them, to find he had a purple gift bag for her. "I insist, my darkest darling. Ladies first."

    A quick peck to his cheek, a small smirk, then she would open it. Moving the blue tissue paper aside, she'd pull out a box of sixteen calligraphy inks, a black leather-bound book, and a pen with custom nibs. She gasped softly, hand clapped over her mouth. 

      "I've seen you writing before. Your old pen looked broken, your inks empty. I figured replacements were in order." 

     "To that end, you are absolutely right. I-I haven't found these inks in so long, though... How did you-"

    "Now, my darling- even I must have my secrets." Taking advantage of the stunned silence, Hatter decided to open one of the boxes. Inside the box resided a different outfit, similar in composition, but with some differences. The contours fit differently, to start. Sapphiric blue was replaced by vivid crimson. Instead of shadow-black, Hatter had fancied darker smoke greys, which she had this primarily composed of. Having an eye for tailoring, this was as pristine and opulent as one could get. He smiled at her, finding it sweet she went out of her way for this. Then he turned to the other box.

    Inside lay a beautiful pair of insanely sharp daggers, brand-new. One, composed of deadly-sharp pure white ivory. The other, a beautiful red coral. It even held a small gradient of colour... The handles were reminiscent of thorns and stems, roses in the middle. On the red dagger, a rose of ruby. On the white, a rose of white onyx. Both glittered in the light, beautiful yet deadly..

     Rare was the instance Hatter had no words. This was one of them. She'd replaced his Queens for him... but better. 

     When his eyes lifted to meet hers, they landed instead to the choker around her throat. Good- I was worried you were going back out Hatter thought in contemplation. The Lady truly looked a Queen- he could think of none who deserved it more. Curiously, enough, her eyes shined with anxiety. 

     "My darling, I.... I have no words. Truly, I am at a loss..."

     "Hatsy, I- had been worried... you might not like it..."

    "Nothing could make me happier, Your Highness. Except for your own." As he spoke, the theatrical streak within him decided to surge forth. With a flourish, he drew her to her feet. Simultaneously, he dropped into a bow, gently falling to one knee before her. "Perhaps one day I will find the words within me. for now, I know it is far from adequate... but I hope it will do."

    The Lady had no real words either. She simply held out a hand, drawing him to his feet. Lips locked in a deep, fiery kiss of passion. From there, they went to share breakfast together.

     Their day wound up being highly enjoyable. They took Chesh to Wonderland, to play in the snow. In time, a tea party was had- what else was new? Vendetta had taken him, after, for a tour of the city- she liked looking at the light displays. Externally, the Lady would never reveal this fact. But they knew anyways- and the pair strolled the streets, hand in hand, hot chocolate in tow. Truly a wonderful day- rounded out by dinner made by her, and a relaxing time by the fire.

     It was almost enough to make them forget Wonderland.

    In the wake of the rising sun- when the pair retired to bed- Jervis' dark thoughts had come once more. He still missed Wonderland very much. Not even Vendetta was enough to make him stop. Bless her soul, she tried. As he wandered to his room, he saw a mirror lying on the bed, and a little note. Curiouser and curiouser still. Gingerly, he picked the note up.

       'To my darlings, Jervis and Hatsy- 

    Lying before you is a special mirror. One of my own culmination.
    To use it, all you need is think of the place you wish to go
    most, then close your eyes, and touch the glass. I can swear to
    you- your dearest dreams and wishes will come true.  

        ~* Your most Gothic 'Alice', Vendetta'

    Jervis eyed the mirror, picking it up to study it more intently. Sterling silver, an heirloom of some kind. The glass held a black tint to it, slightly mucking its surface. It shimmered, swirling about, no real reflection coming off of it. Shame, really... Jervis could picture his dearest wish: winter-time Wonderland. The Queen's Yule Gala. Powdery snow. Outdoor tea parties, by candle and starlight. Most of all, Alice, waiting...

     Yet, nothing seemed to happen. He shook his head. Lying on the bed, he closed his eyes... Hand resting on the glass... The scent of snow stirred him. Had the Lady opened a window? It was cold... but not cold as he knew it...