Continuing Tales

One Promise Kept: Book 1

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by Manniness

Part 13 of 13

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“Have we forgotten anything?” Fenruffle demands of the harried frogs and fish.

“I certainly hope so,” Alice grumbles, eyeing the pile of luggage and pitying the low-ranking pawns-turned-pack mules.

At her side, Mirana just smiles serenely. “There’s no use in protesting. Just let Fenruffle prepare whatever he thinks will be necessary. Otherwise he’ll give himself a stress-injury.”

Alice sighs. She knows it’s the gryphon’s job to ensure that the queen’s household – no matter where that might be – runs smoothly, guaranteeing her comfort. Mirana’s safety, however, is a responsibility that falls to the Queen’s Champion and, as such, where the White Queen goes, so does Alice.

She resists scanning the drive for her Hatter. They’ve already said their good-byes (and rather spectacularly, too!) and she won’t be gone long. Only sixteen days.


Alice winces at the internal scream of desperation. Since her return to Underland, she’s hasn’t once been away from him for so long.

This is going to be very... trying.

Despite the month of bliss that had followed the finalization of the Thrice a-Vow, Alice can’t help but wish for more time. Just one more lazy, warm afternoon... Just one more moonlit night... Just one more rosy-hued morning...

Alice has to admit: it’s just as well she and Tarrant aren’t of the same species or she might have to have a bit of... small talk with him. Or possibly nominate someone else to protect the queen in her stead for the next year or so... But they’d stayed away from bringing any other rites into the bedroom, so...

Nothing to worry about, Alice tells herself.

Nothing... except sixteen days without his touch, his infectious giggle, his ever-changing eyes: teasing emerald, affectionate blue, impassioned violet.

She shivers despite the warm morning.

Right – stop this, Alice! You are working!

After another furious roll call of the prepared and packed supplies, the pawns move forward, gathering the trunks and cases. In that moment of activity – as the queen moves toward her mount – Alice glimpses a flash of dark color. She doesn’t tense when a hand grasps her arm and pulls her behind the cherry tree she’d been standing beneath.

She doesn’t reach for her knife as she stumbles against a warm body. Tarrant leans back against the tree, pulls her against him, and kisses her. Alice lets herself forget about the preparations on the castle drive, the time, the travel itinerary...

His arms are almost bruisingly tight around her. Her hands clutch his vibrant hair with abandon. Their mouths seek, devour...

Let this moment never end... Let Time and the queen and Underland leave us here...

Bit by bit, the kiss gentles to soft touches and sighs. Tarrant’s arms loosen as do her fingers. When his hands are resting on her hips and hers on his shoulders, Tarrant leans his forehead against hers and smiles.

“Ye f’rgot yer Pain Paste,” he whispers.

“And what did you forget?” she asks knowingly.

He giggles. And then: “Alice,” he sighs contentedly, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

Alice closes her eyes and inhales the scents clinging to his jacket. She whispers, “I don’t know, Hatter. Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

His voice is husky and low, his breath a caress against her ear. “I haven’t the slightest idea...”

Alice’s entire being suffuses with warmth. Tarrant’s warmth, his concern, his love. As declarations of love go, perhaps it’s unconventional, but then, so are they. Unconventional, but in complete accord.

Leaning away, she grasps his left hand with hers and raises them up so she can see his dark red heart line twisting, twining over his pale skin, so he can see her equally dark blue one.

“Be back before you know it,” she tells him.

His eyes, awash with so many colors she can barely discern them all, focus on hers and he waits.

Relenting, Alice gives him what he seeks, what he needs: “I promise.”

A long breath escapes him. His eyes nearly close and his lips find hers again. This kiss is their farewell, sweet and sad and so sensual she would give anything for one more afternoon, evening, morning spent in bed together...

And then he gently straightens both of them away from the tree and, retrieving something from his jacket pocket, offers it to her on the palm of his hand. Alice chuckles and reaches for the container of healing ointment.

“When ye ge’back, I’ll be checkin’ teh be sure ‘twasn’ needful,” he warns her.

“Then I’d better not get in any fights.”

Tarrant smiles and gently combs his bruised, bandaged, be-thimbled fingers through her once-again-shorter hair.

Letting go of his hand – separating their heart lines – and walking away from him seems like the hardest thing she’s ever done. She can remember doing nothing so utterly contrary to her nature. But she does it: she lets him go; she returns to the procession waiting in drive; she mounts the Bandersnatch.

“Shall we be off?” Mirana asks cheerfully.

“Yes, let’s,” Alice replies, tucking the jar into her bag.

It’s only sixteen days, she thinks.

“Be back before you know it!”

And because she has to believe in that promise, Alice doesn’t look back... even though she knows he’s standing beneath the boughs of the cherry tree, watching, once again waiting for the moment when his Alice will arrive.

One Promise Kept: Book 1

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by Manniness

Part 13 of 13

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