The Death of a Duchess
Summary: She’s loved him since she was thirteen years old but it’s just not enough anymore.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters belong to Lewis Carroll, Nick Willing, and SyFy Channel.
Author’s Note: I just had to explore the character of Duchess. She’s not in the movie much, but that just makes it so much easier to work with her.
I’ve lived to bury my desires,
and see my dreams corrode to rust.
Now all that’s left are fruitless fires,
that burn my empty heart to dust.
~ Alexander Puskin
She wonders, as she takes one last look around the room that has been her home for years, if he ever really knew her at all. The way he looks at her since his return, she doesn't think he did. It’s almost as if he’s forgotten that once upon a time she was just a girl who ran and played and dreamed. And loved. She’s loved him since she was just thirteen years old and he rescued her from a Suit who was getting a little too friendly. The Suit lost his head and she lost her heart. She was just sixteen when his mother announced their engagement and she can still remember how giddy she’d been, how happy and excited. He was gone just two weeks later and she was left behind, her dreams crumbled around her like so much dust.
She’s never spoken of the nightmare the next three years were for her. The Queen blamed her, punished her, and molded her until all that remained was her creation. At least, that’s how she’s trained herself to appear. It’s so much easier to hide it all away behind the emotionless façade. No one knows of the refugees of Wonderland that she helped the Resistance smuggle into the library or that she made sure food got to them each week, much like Hatter did. Jack sees only what he wants to and though she loves him still, it’s just not enough anymore. Especially since he asked Alice to marry him again.
Alice may have turned him down, her heart given to another, but she’s well aware that he still cares for the other girl and she’s not willing to be his consolation prize. Looking in the full-length mirror in the corner, she barely recognizes herself. Gone is the gilded swan and in her place is a fresh-faced young woman, blond hair pulled into a high ponytail, wearing just a hint of make-up and dressed in a simple yellow baby-doll dress that swishes slightly, falling to the top of her knees. A pair white sandals adorn her feet with ribbons wrapping around her legs and tied in cute bows just below her calves. If Jack saw her now he’d most likely die of shock.
She’s only nineteen years old but feels as though she’s lived a lifetime. She doesn’t want to be the Queen’s creation anymore, doesn’t want to live behind the mask she’s been forced to wear for three long years. Her dreams are dead, surrendered to a cause she never asked to be a part of and broken by the only man she’s ever loved. She doesn’t know herself anymore and the only way to find out the kind of person she can be is to leave. In Wonderland Jack and the people of the kingdom will never let her be anything more than the Duchess and she can’t live like that.
With a deep breath she picks up the suitcase by the door and walks out, ignoring the look on Ten’s face as she passes him in the hall. She heads for the Looking Glass, the papers in her bag from Dodo telling her how to get by in the other world. She sees Ten running toward the throne room just as she turns the corner but knows that he’ll be too late. And really, Jack won’t care that she’s gone.
The lone technician stands by the mirror staring at her as if she’s got two heads. She simply nods at him and takes a deep breath, ignoring the shout from just outside the room, before stepping into the mirror. Relief fills her as she plunges down, suitcase gripped tight in her hand. The Duchess is dead and Jessica Elizabeth Spade is about to be born again. It’s a chance at a whole new life.
She never sees Jack race into the room and skid to a stop, eyes wide, as she disappears before his very eyes.