Finding Alice

“Every time I close my eyes
It’s like a dark paradise
No one compares to you
But there’s no you,
Except in my dreams tonight.”
-Lana Del Rey

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11. Chapter Eleven

Grace hummed to herself as she got ready for bed. Jefferson could hear her from down the hall. He left the door of his hat room cracked so he could tuck her in when she was ready. The sound of her song drifted through the hall to where he sat amidst the hats.

Alice would have been proud of her. Alice would have adored her. He usually tried not to think of what life would have been like if they hadn’t taken that final and fateful trip into Wonderland. But now it seemed as if Alice was pushing her way into every part of his life again. Just like she did all those years ago when a fellow portal jumper stole a teacup and his heart all at once.

They would have hurt for money, admittedly, but Alice never cared for it as much as he did. Jefferson was the one who wanted to spoil her with jewels and gold and beautiful things. Alice was happy without it. She would have helped them forage for mushrooms. She would have been an excellent mother to Grace and taught her how to be a proper lady for when the time called for it. And how to misbehave just for the joy of it. She would have told her stories and sang her to sleep. She wouldn’t have let him go back to Wonderland to help Regina. That was the way it was supposed to be. It was his mistake, not Alice’s choice, that led to her end.

If Alice lived perhaps the two of them would have been there alone, watching Grace from afar. If Regina hadn’t tricked him into losing his head in Wonderland, maybe the three of them would have ended up in Storybrooke together. They could have been happy. Even under a curse where they didn’t know who they were. As long as they were together.

He just knew he’d be listening to Alice hum along with Grace down the hall. He could imagine the exact song she’d choose too. And he pictured her lifting Grace’s hands to lead her into a dance in the middle of the bedroom. They would be laughing, but he couldn’t remember her laugh anymore. He’d tried so hard to forget.

All he heard now was Grace, and the house felt silent and empty. It was a big house for one man and his daughter. It was a house for a family. He and Alice and Grace and any other children they could have had if Wonderland hadn’t taken her away. It was precisely the kind of house he’d planned for them. Somewhere Alice and Grace could be free, but still with all the comforts and luxuries they deserved. With a family that loved them.

When Grace finally went to bed, after he tucked her in and told her a story about a little hare with a crooked ear who drank too much tea, he returned to his room with the hats. He located the drawer he’d hastily shoved the cloak into and pulled it back out. Even through the years, the faded bloodstains were garish and left a permanent mark on the once beautiful fabric. He wasn’t sure how it ended up in Gold’s shop as a cushion for the teacup that linked their fates. Perhaps Regina meant for him to find it. So it could serve as a reminder of everything he’d lost. It was the cloak he carried his daughter home in, covered in her mother’s blood.

Once, when he was younger, and Grace was still in her cradle, he wanted to make something out of it for her. It held many painful memories, but it was a fine fabric and Grace’s only link to her mother. He wanted her to feel safe and warm in it the way Alice had.

But the stains wouldn’t come out. He scrubbed for days as hard as he could until the embroidery frayed and the blue began to fade. His fingers were raw and red, but the dark color of her blood lingered in the fabric. He couldn’t make anything for Grace with it. Not a warm blanket, a doll, or a dress. It was forever marked by the death of her mother.

He thought back to that first thing he used the cloak to find Alice through his portal. How it opened a door that led him right to her. Mr. Gold said he had everything he needed to get what he wanted, except for the information to help him achieve it. Perhaps it was still useful in this land after all. Magical items had moved over with the curse a lot more than sentimental items. And there was magic in Storybrooke now. The cloak had taken him to Alice once before. Maybe it still could.

He carried the heavy fabric to the long table at the center of the room and reached for a pair of sharp silver scissors. Then he cut into the material the pattern he now knew by heart. He was going to make a hat. And maybe this one would finally take him where he wanted to go.

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