Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 26 of 48

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Their company seemed to be frozen in time. Alice and Mirana continued to stare at the Oraculum, mouths agape. Absolem wasn't twitching and even Chess seemed immobile mid-air. Alice's voice finally broke the tension.

"Mirana? The girl … her face … it's yours … but … not." Alice's finger stroked the face of the young woman on the page. It was one of three staring up at them. Two were recognizable. The bulbous head of the one and the stretched limbs of the other were unmistakable.

The third face in the middle though was unknown. Tarrant crept closer to get a better look at it. The face was soft and round. The cheek bones and gracefully curved brows were familiar but the other features less so. There was something there though …

"Lily." Mirana's whisper startled Tarrant. Alice glanced sharply at him before looking to the Queen. Mirana didn't say anything else though. She was staring at the parchment with tears in her eyes.

"Impossible!" Chess finally exclaimed. He was floating directly over the image and frowning in disbelief.

"The Red Queen took her and we all knew what would happen when the Bloody Big Head acted so violently. Surely –"

"But we don't know." Alice whispered softly. Her eyes were on Mirana. They were filled with sympathy and sadness. She spoke again, seeming trying to reach Mirana.

"The body was never found. Iracebeth sent back His Majesty's head, but not Princess Lily's. There was never any proof that the child had been murdered."

Mirana looked up at her friend and Champion with undisguised hope. Alice didn't return the look though. She was staring at the Oraculum in contemplation again.

Tarrant cleared his throat before speaking, fearful of setting off Alice's temper. It had been very short lately, but not as short as the Tweedles at least …

"So what does all this mean?" He gestured to the picture of the three figures coming out of the woods.

"It means," Alice looked up to meet the anxious eyes of her audience. "That Iracebeth is breaking the terms of her banishment. It means that she and Stayne are coming for a fight and they are using Princess Lily in the process."

Mirana let out a strangled sob, finally letting the tears fall from her eyes. Alice's arms shot out to catch her. Before the Queen could dive into true hysterics, Alice cut her off.

"You have to be strong my Queen. There is more at stake than your daughter. Think of Underland, I beg you." Mirana took in several shuddering breaths before raising her eyes to meet Alice's.

"You're right of course. Forgive me Alice." Alice simply nodded and turned her attention to Chess.

"See the Queen to her chambers and wait for me there." Chess nodded and hurried the Queen from the room. Alice whirled around to Absolem.

"Please go to the leaders of Underland and inform them of what's coming. They should begin preparations for an attack."

Absolem rose up and flitted nervously in front of Alice's nose for a few minutes. Alice shook her head at whatever he was saying, though to Tarrant's ears he hadn't made a sound.

"No, I know that we don't know what they really have planned. But we have to do something."

More flittering from Absolem occurred, but Alice threw up her arms in exasperation.

I'm not a foolish girl anymore Absolem!" She shouted. Her shout seemed to have stunned the butterfly. She brought her hands down and pinched the bridge of her nose. Tarrant fancied that she was counting to ten in her head before speaking again.

She finally looked up at them. Tarrant felt himself become stunned. He had not seen fear in Alice's eyes since the day she had faced the Jabberwocky. But now it was there, stark and plain to see.

"We have a saying from Above. 'To be fore armed is to be fore warned.' Well by God Absolem, we have been for warned! I am taking no chances. WE WILL BE FORE ARMED!" Alice smacked her palm on the wooden surface beneath the Oraculum. Her eyes were now lit with determination.

"I will not lose Wonderland to that … creature … again! Now please, do as I ask!" She said with an edge of her previous agitation. Absolem twitched his antenna once and then flew out the tower window. Alice watched him go before striding from the room and down the stairs.

Tarrant took off after her, unsure of how to talk to this new and commanding Alice. When they finally reached the second floor, he dared to speak.

"Alice, what are you doing?" He huffed behind her. Alice seemed to have wings on her feet based on her current pace!

She looked back over her shoulder, but she seemed to be looking through him to whatever her goal was.

"I need to speak to Count Willard and get the White Guard ready for an attack. After that I'll go over plans with the Queen." She said with a surprising amount of calm. Tarrant followed after her toward the Count's quarters. Before she could round the corner, Tarrant felt words tumbling out of his mouth.

"What should I do Champion Alice?" He asked quickly. Alice came to a halt so fast that Tarrant nearly ran into her. She spun around to face him. At first her expression was the cold one he had come to expect, but then it unexpectedly softened.

Alice had been contemplating everything she had to lose if Iracebeth came back to power. Her life would probably be forfeit when the Red Queen and the Knave arrived, but not before they made her watch the destruction of Underland, Mirana, her friends, and Tarrant. The last had caused a deep pain in her heart.

Losing Tarrant wasn't acceptable, no matter what he had done. Then his voice had called out to her. She wanted to still be angry with him and meant to show him that when she spun around. But at the look of utter love and confusion in his eyes, Chess's words came back to her.

There are worse ways Champion.

Like losing loved ones by driving them away yourself her mind reminded her. No, that was almost as unacceptable as Iracebeth coming back to power. She stared at Tarrant a moment longer.

Anger in love was nothing new in the world and to be honest, she wasn't ready to forgive him just yet.

But she would not lose him!

"You should keep yourself safe Hatter. I can't lose you."

And with that, she bounded out of sigh around the corner, leaving an even more confused Tarrant Hightopp behind her.


It had been several hours since they had seen the horror on the Oraculum. Tarrant had tried to work but the workshop seemed to grow smaller and less friendly by the minute. Giving up on the horribly blank fez in front of him, he had tried to sort his numerous fabrics, ribbons, and baubles. It had occupied him for a whole ten minutes before his thoughts began to stray.

They first landed on Princess Lily. He had never met the child since she had been tucked away in the nursery whenever he consulted with the Queen on her headwear in the past. The girl would be almost sixteen now. She had looked to be a perfect combination of the White Queen and King.

The King …

King Simeon had been a good man. He was gentle and caring for all of his subjects and had had a good sense of humor. He was also one of the few men Tarrant had known who hadn't been put off by his madness.

In fact, King Simeon had always said it was Tarrant's strength. He had said that because of the madness, Tarrant saw the most … unusual … situations far more clearly than others.

Yes, King Simeon had been a good king, especially with a Queen such as Mirana. Unlike Iracebeth and Stayne …

Tarrant felt the madness boiling up inside him at the thought of those two monsters. He pulled his hair at the images that began popping up in his head.

Mirana's crown on Iracebeth's head.

Mally, the Tweedles, and Bayard in chains.

The moat as Salazen Grum filled with the heads of his family and friends.

Alice, Alice kneeling before Stayne, ready to have her head cleaved from her shoulders.

The last image prompted him to punch the nearby wall. The shooting pain in his fingers brought his hectic emotions under control, but another one rose up powerfully in its place.

An unending desire to see Alice over took him and without thinking, he slipped out of his rooms and through the castle corridors to the Queen's rooms. He knew that she would be busy with the Queen, but he need to see her and hear her voice.

Fate knew she was still angry at him. Calling him 'Hatter' had proved that. But she had told him that she wanted him safe. That she couldn't lose him.

Well he wasn't going to lose her either! Not after instilling hope in him like that!

So Tarrant rounded the final corner to the Queen's study, fully anticipating Alice to be there talking quietly with the Queen. He also anticipated her to rage at him for not following her orders.

What he did not anticipate was to find Alice sitting against a wall outside the Queen's door, staring at seemingly nothing.

Tarrant approached her hesitantly. As he came to stand next to her, he cleared his throat. Alice said nothing though, so he took it as a chance to sit next to her. As he slid down the wall, he caught site of the dried tear stains on her face.

He didn't say anything. His mam's words rang in his head.

Sometimes words aren't needed laddie. Your breath and theirs combined can be comfort enough.

So Tarrant sat quietly with Alice. She seemed to have become a statue. Only the rise and fall of her shoulders with each breath indicated she was made of flesh and blood. As the corridor began to cool with the setting sun, she finally spoke.

"It's my fault." She whispered quietly. Tarrant glanced sharply at her. She was still staring straight ahead though. He decided to remain quiet and wait for her to explain. Alice didn't disappoint him.

"Tulgey Wood fell silent several weeks ago. I was disturbed by it but forgot to say anything to Mirana. I was so worried about … things … that I didn't do my duty. They were moving through that Wood. I see that now. Their presence made Tulgey Wood fall silent in fear. I should have known … I should have …"

Tarrant stopped her speech as he covered her lips with his bandaged fingers. The tears were silently sliding down her cheeks again, but now he had tears falling as well.

"It's not yer fault lass. You can't take the evil of our world on your shoulders. Even if you didn't know what was going on inside Tulgey Wood, others would have noticed and they didn't say anything either. The only ones at fault here are the Bloody Big Head, the Knave, and myself."

Alice pushed away his hand in an attempt to contradict him, but he shook his head at her.

"No lass listen to me." He scooted so he was kneeling in front of her and could grasp her shoulders.

"You forgot about Tulgey Wood because of worrying and fixing me. But I let myself fall into the madness. That and this are not your fault. You are a hero for trying to fix both. Since then I've been trying to be a better man for you. EVERY action and word since then has been my attempt at being worthy of you."

Tarrant sent a silent hope up to Fate that Alice would grasp his meanings. Both of them.

They stared at each other, tears drying up. After the longest moment of his life, Alice shivered and stood up. Tarrant remained kneeling.

Alice looked down at him, this man who had always been there even when she herself didn't believe he existed. Yes, she knew he loved her and she loved him. How could she not? He was a good man.

But that was just it. Tarrant was too good of a man and that goodness made him believe the best in everyone. It was his greatest weakness and she feared that it would be exploited in the coming fight.

So Alice made a decision then and there. She would be Tarrant's voice of reason. She would not let anyone, ever again, take advantage of his goodness. She couldn't fix the damage that Celeste had done, but she sure as hell wasn't going to let the woman act upon it further.

Alice gently reached out a hand and brushed her finger tips across the brim of Tarrant's hat. The motion caused a shudder to go through his body and she realized how hard it must have been on him not to touch her for the past two weeks. She released a pent up sigh and held her hands out to him.

Tarrant looked at them in surprise but readily accepted. Alice hauled him to his feet and looked at him sternly. She didn't release his hands though.

"I'm still angry with you," Tarrant's eyes darkened to grey at this. "But I forgive you."

Tarrant's eyes flooded with emerald brightness and his gape tooth smile was dazzling. Almost immediately he tried to draw her into a hug but Alice stood rooted to her spot. She had to make herself clear to him.

"I don't trust Celeste, no matter how contrite she may have been with you. You've trusted my instincts up until now Tarrant and I'm asking you to continue doing so. Limit your time with her. I'm not saying be rude or ignore her, but don't give her easy access to your heat and emotions again."

Both of their faces were deadly serious. Tarrant replayed Alice's words over in his head. He didn't know what to think, but he did know that making Alice happy was his number one priority and if this did that, then he would do it. He needed to clarify one thing though …

"Is that an order from a Champion or a plea from my lady love?" Although his kept his tone light, he let the gravity of the situation resonate in the undertone. Alice stared at him and smiled slightly.

"It is the request of the woman who loves you more than her own life but has the means to make your life even more of a hell than these past two weeks have been."

Tarrant grinned at her and nodded. When he pulled her into his arms this time she came willingly and released a small sigh of contentment. Perhaps being separated had been just as hard on her as it had been on him …

They drew apart and Alice turned to face the door to the study. As she was about to pull it open, Tarrant stopped her one more time.

"Alice I have a question of curiosity …" Tarrant began. Alice smiled at him.

"My favorite type. Well what is it?" She waited patiently for him to phrase his words properly.

"What is 'God'?" He finally blurted out. Alice was stunned by the question and couldn't answer right away. She hadn't even realized that she had said that back in the Oraculum tower. Tarrant shuffled his feet, trying to be patient. Alice's face seemed to reflect his own confusion, but after a little while it cleared. She looked him square in the eye and smiled softly.

"More of a 'who' Tarrant. And He is the one that helped me decide to return to Underland. He is the one that led me back to you."

Tarrant didn't know how to respond Alice's gentle tone and the almost radiant light shining from her eyes. So he simply smiled back and nodded. They then walked through the door together, ready to face whatever Fate or God had ready for them.

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 26 of 48

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