Work Header


Work Text:

He has much that is stolen from him. As an embodiment of the very element he is guarded with maintaining, he is fully familiar with loss. He is used to people swindling moments from him, and some things cannot be returned. He is disappointed in himself for forgetting that, for losing sight of his duties. He is indifferent though, or at least he tells himself that to mask the bitterness, to his latest venture, the pulse of his own second hand threatening to increase at the notion of the former Red Queen's arrival- though now that he thinks back on it, it was anxiety more so than love. He sees now how easily the two can be misconstrued. He learns something new about humanity every day, just when he thinks he has the lot figured out. He vows that no mortal will deceive the nature of Time ever again, he is again alone and adamant about it staying that way.

He has had it with interlopers and royalty, clawing their way into his dominion, his personal chambers, barking demands and issuing decrees. He is there to do a job, he is no man, woman, or creature's plaything.

When the White Queen requests an audience after the whole thing is said and done, he denies her. After all, she had a role to play in the near destruction and unraveling of reality as they knew it. He could hold a grudge, infinitely, in fact.

But she is a persistent thing, she comes to his abode in person, which might've surprised him had she not already sent Alice along beforehand. Clearly she'd kept a portal to his domain available, clever girl. He thought it best to have them destroyed, and if she were looking for reasons to add to his list, surely this would be one.

"Since you refuse to let me schedule an appointment, I thought I'd wait until you could make enough time for me." Her fingers gracefully flow through the air, as if playing an instrument, and his lip twitches in faint annoyance.

"For you? I think not. I do not conjure time, Your Highness, I am charged with keeping it."

"Then suppose you might keep some of it for our conversation, like a sort of reserve."

"That is not how it works."

He is a tall, imposing figure to most, but she knows some part of him is yielding. He would have to be, to have done the things he did for Iracebeth.

"Tell me then, how it works. The simplified version."

There is a long sigh, and Time finally turns to her, icy stare cutting through the distance. She is ethereal looking in the dim dark, propped up on one of his desks as if she made home there. "I know you are not here for a lesson, Your Highness. Since you refuse to leave until you are satisfied, you have one minute of me to explain yourself concisely." His expression tells her he is seriously spent, taxed from the dimensional chase he'd been on not too long ago. He had little patience to begin with, but now, he is convinced that mortals are a consistent waste of his energy.

She smooths her skirts, weighing her words carefully before her soft gaze reaches him, "I know I have cost you greatly. I sent Alice here to take something that did not belong to her, for reasons that were inexcusably selfish. I have no means to justify myself...but I apologize for contributing to such...chaos."

He is largely unimpressed with her words, and it shows, his quirked eyebrow and bored expression peering out at her. "Is that all? I am wery busy, you know, and as you said, you have cost me greatly already, and yet you continue to baffle me with just how impudent you are, Your Highness. It is astounding."

"...I came also to return your Oraculum." To this, he gave pause, his irritated expression dissolving into one of faint confusion.

"You what?"

"It has been wrongfully in my hands for a great deal of time now, as you well know." She smiled faintly as she retrieved a scroll from her side, handing it over to him. "Consider this an offering of peace, as I do mean what I say this time."

He is stunned, mostly because she'd been so impish when she'd stolen it from him. Right from under his nose, claiming she needed to know what the future held, if her champion would ever return in time to fight the Jabberwocky. He tried to explain to her that mortals couldn't know those sorts of things, that the depiction of timelines would alter events, and no man ought to know what the future held. She was stubborn as per usual, and she'd taken it, flaunting it over him.

Seeing it now in her hands, presented back to him, he feels a sense of himself settled, home again, where it rightfully belonged, like the Chronosphere.

"...Well, since the damage has already been done, I am glad to see you have no further use for this. I will gladly take it off of your hands. Your Highness." It is the closest thing she'll get to gratitude, considering how she shouldn't have stolen it to begin with, and a smirk spreads across his thin lips as he takes the scroll carefully from her.

The White Queen breathes a sigh of relief, but part of her is still anxious. The Lord seems to sense this about her.

"That is not all, though?"

"...I know it is much to ask, to have things as they were before, long ago. When the royal family was...less scattered." A polite way of putting it.

"...You cannot change the past, Your Highness." He fixates her with a steadfast stare. "You can only hope to learn from it. I should hope at the wery least, you have learned that much."

"I realize that, I am asking if we could move forward, instead."

There is a chuckle then. "I see no other way that you could move. Forward is the most logical, for your dimension."

She sighs, clearly used to going through similar irritating conversations with him before. "I meant us, you and I, to be more specific."

"Ah. You wish for me to forget? That is hard, what you ask. I do not forget."

"Not to forget. Just to...reconsider our standing. I don't want things to continue as they are now. I would like for you to venture out again, feel welcome at our annual balls. They're quite a spectacle."

"I have seen many, a ball is a ball."

"I meant in person. Seeing them through a scope, a window, they're very different from actual participation. You could use more social interaction." Her lips quirk slightly.

"And look where that has gotten me! Near death! No, I am afraid my days of social calls are far and few between, Your Highness, that is to say, finite."

"My sister and I are very different, you must know that. Racie...-" The look on his face was an expression she'd yet to see- incredulous discomfort, the last thing in the world he ever wanted to have a discussion about.

He held up a hand. "Your time has exceeded far more than one minute, Your Highness, this is where we are through."

Her sister had left him more wounded than she thought, and Mirana's face fell. "She's unwell. You of all people know that. What she did, I don't want that to be what you think of when you look at me. I am not asking for you to go back, or to forget, or to even forgive me for my hand in all of this...all I want to say is that my doorway is always open to you, should you ever want anything."

Curious enough, no one had ever offered anything to him before. Always asking, always needing, always with hands out, and here one of the most infuriating people he'd known in this era had offered to take the moments of her own day and give them back to him. He doesn't know what to say to this, he is still in the process of making repairs, to both the time stream and himself. He regards her with a simple bow of his head and nothing more. To anyone else, they might have felt discouraged, but Mirana knows him enough by now. She leaves, her heart weighing a bit less in her chest.

People have stolen many things from Time in the past. His Oraculum. Moments. The Chronosphere. And the pieces left behind that could resemble what he thought a mortal human's heart might look like, the parts that beat in perfect rhythm with every clock across the land, those had always been stolen by the White Queen.