DISCLAIMER: We DO NOT own any of the chars from Disney's AIW. They belong to Disney. I only own Alicen Sierra Kimberly Miller and her little sister, Samantha, as well as any of their other relatives. If anyone would like to use Alice or her little sister, Samantha, please ask me first.
A/N: I hope everyone likes this next story. This one takes place before "Whenever she needs them." I wrote this with my friend, Kate and we had a fun time writing it!
"The Greatest Treasure"
Ten-year-old Alicen Sierra Kimberly Miller grinned as she followed her brothers into the forest. They were on a treasure hunt that had been set up by the Queen and so far it was a lot of fun.
The Hatter had hidden the treasure somewhere on the outskirts of Wonderland.
The Queen had given him the task of hiding the treasure in a far off spot.
This was risky considering the time the Queen's crown went missing. This resulted in them searching Wonderland high and low for it. Only to discover it under the Mad Hatter's hat!
But this time, the Queen had sent Rabbit to make sure the Hatter didn't' go overboard.
As Alice got a good look at where they were headed, her eyes widened in curiosity and wonder.
She had never been this far out in Wonderland before. SO this was a treat for her.
"Where are we?" She asked, stopping short of a grove of trees that separated them from the rest of the forest.
Dee consulted the map.
They had all been given one by the Queen once the hunt had begun.
She had made sure there weren't any extra marks on it like ones for where to find catnip for example.
The Cheshire Cat had tried to join in but the Queen quickly put a stop to his plans.
Although Alice protested in his favor, her mother would not be suede.
This meant that the Cheshire Cat had to find his own way of joining in without her Majesty being any the wiser.
Taking the first two maps he saw, he changed some of the markings so that whoever had them would have no choice but to call upon him for help. That's if they even recognized his purple paw writing.
Unfortunately, one of the maps he had purposely added to was the one Dee now held in his hand.
"I was wondering the same thing." Dum chimed in. "We should have been there by now."
Dee gave him a look.
Dum ignored him.
"Here," he said. "Let me read the map."
"I've got it." Dee told him. "I don't need any help."
"Are you still sore about the time back in fourth grade when we went on that camping trip with our class and you led a Wobear into camp and it ate all of our food."
"How was I supposed to know the bear would follow the scent of the peanut butter cracker crumbs I put down so we wouldn't get lost."
"You were the one with a nature badge." Dum chided him. "That means you're supposed to know these things."
"I was ten!" Dee retorted. He was concentrating so hard on proving his brother wrong, he didn't notice the map had fallen from his hands.
Scrambling to her knees, Alice picked it up.
Waiting for just the right moment, she put two fingers on either side of her mouth and whistled shrilly.
Her efforts paid off when her brothers stopped arguing and glanced at her.
"I had to do something to get you two to stop arguing." She said matter-of-factly.
The brothers shrugged as Dum peered over Alice's shoulder at the map.
"Hey!" He said as if just noticing it for the first time. "Where did that purple splotch come from? And there's another one over there." He pointed at where they were now.
"I'm not sure." Alice said. "It doesn't look like Mom's handwriting or Mr. Rabbit's. Come to think of it, if it were Mommy's it would be red."
"And if it were Penapid's," Dum said as an after thought, "it would be invisible ink."
Alice giggled at this.
"All right you two." Dee said. "We need to figure out where we are."
Alice glanced down at the map until she found a blue marker that looked like the Mad Hatter's style of writing.
"Here it is!" She said triumphantly. "We're here, so that means we need to go…here." With that, she pointed her index finger at a spot a few feet away from where they were now.
Dee shook his head in amazement.
"How did you do that? I couldn't make heads or tails out of that thing."
"It's easy when you keep your eyes on the prize."
"Maybe you could teach my younger brother something about that."
Alice rolled her eyes.
Just then, they were joined by the Walrus and Penapid.
"Thank goodness we found you." The Walrus said breathlessly. "There seems to be something wrong with our map."
"Your map looks strange too?" Alice asked.
"Quite." The Walrus replied. "Here just look at it." With that, he thrust it into her hands.
Alice did so and what she saw made her gasp in surprise.
"The map looks like a rainbow exploded on it. A rainbow with different shades of purple on it! What in Wondaland is going on here?"
"We're not sure." The Walrus said. "But Penapid thinks that someone might be playing a trick on us."
"What do you mean?"
"Yeah." Dum agreed. "Who would want to do that? Everyone has a fair chance of finding the treasure."
"We know. But it still seems strange. Do you mind if we join you for awhile?"
"No not at all." Dum replied. "You can help my brother learn some survival skills."
Dee glared at him.
The four walked along in semi silence for the next ten minutes. They were concentrating on finding where they were and also trying to locate the treasure.
It wasn't long before the Walrus and Penapid decided to strike out on their own again.
They bid their friends good bye and set off.
"Well, according to the map, we should be reaching Wondaland falls by now." Alice read aloud. "I've never been there before. What's it like?"
"It's only the most awesome place in all of Wonderland." Dum told her.
Dee gave him a Look.
"Dum, I think Alie was referring to the actual Wonderland falls, not the amusement park." And to his little sister he continued. "And it's also a very cool place, but very dangerous too. Especially if you've never been there before."
"But luckily, you have us to protect you." Dum said. He threw his brother a sideways glance that Alice didn't catch.
"What's so dangerous about it?" She asked.
"Take your pick." Dum said. "First you have the falls themselves. They may look beautiful with their different colored ripples, but don't let that fool you. Going swimming in them is like asking for trouble."
"What do you mean?"
Dee took over the explanation just then.
"The Wonderland falls are so powerful, the current has been known to destroy its own vegetation."
"Is that why Mom won't let me go cliff jumping and diving with you guys?"
Dum shook his head.
"No. Your mother's just a worry wart sometimes. But we'll take you sometime soon. But the place where we cliff dive is safer than the cliffs here."
"There are cliffs here?" Alice inquired.
Dee nudged his brother in the side.
"I told you not to mention those." He hissed.
"Guys, it's okay really. I get it. No cliff jumping here. Duly noted. Now can we get back to the treasure hunt?"
The brothers agreed almost immediately.
If only Dee had let Dum finish his explanation, then what happened next could have been avoided.
As Alice glanced at the map, she could still hear her brothers talking amongst themselves. It sounded like they were arguing quietly.
"I was going to tell her about the low ones." He stated.
"I think you told her enough. Now we just have to hope that she doesn't go searching for them. If she does, the Queen will have plenty to say about it."
"Alice is smarter than that."
"It has nothing to do with intelligence." Dee informed him. "You know as well as I do. Alice is curious and welcomes adventure like the Cheshire Cat welcomes food. And if the adventure won't come to her, she'll go looking for it. And she usually finds more than she bargained for. Remember the time she and Sophie got lost in the Wonderland caves. Or the time she got stuck on one of Wonderland's mountains?"
"Who told her to go there?" Dum mused.
"I don't remember. The point is, our little sister is prone to finding adventure in places she shouldn't go."
The brothers were so busy discussing her adventurous nature, they didn't notice they had left her behind.
Alice, meanwhile, had just finished reading the map when she glanced up and noticed she was alone. Nobody was in the vicinity as far as she could tell.
Far from being scared, at least not right away, she sighed. She knew they hadn't done it on purpose, but she also knew she had no idea where she was.
For the first time in six years, she didn't recognize where she was.
"Great." She mumbled to nobody in particular. "Just great. Now what am I supposed to do?"
As she gazed around her, she decided to consult the map one more time.
After doing so, she came to the conclusion that she would just keep walking until she found her brothers or the treasure. Whichever came first.
As she continued on, she called out for them, hoping they would hear her.
"Dee! Dum! Where are you guys! Dee!"
Getting no response, she kept on walking.
She knew her brothers wouldn't ignore her on purpose, which meant only one thing. They were too faraway to hear her call.
But someone else did.
"You rang, Alice?" The Cheshire Cat asked appearing just above her.
Alice tried to push her frustration aside. This wasn't the kind of help she had expected. But at this point, she would take what she could get.
"Do you know how to get out of this place?" She asked hopefully.
The Cheshire Cat looked at his long time friend in confusion.
"Color this kitty curious," he said. "But why would you want to leave? Aren't you enjoying the treasure hunt?"
"Not anymore." She replied truthfully.
The Cheshire Cat looked around as though someone was missing.
"Hey, where are your partners?"
"That's what I'd like to know." Alice retorted. "They must have gotten ahead of me and we lost track of each other."
"I see." The Cat said. "Well, I can't help you find them. But I can help you find the treasure."
"I don't know…." Alice said uncertainly. "WE were workkin' together as a team. I don't wanna do that to them. Besides, it's cheating."
"Not according to the Queen." The Cat said.
"What do you mean? What does Mom have to do with this?"
'Her exact words were, the first one to find the treasure wins. She didn't say the first team to find the treasure."
Alice thought about this for a few minutes. She didn't want to cheat and that's what it sounded like.
After a few minutes more of thinking, she shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cat, but I can't. It's wrong."
"Well, suit yourself. Oh and one more thing."
"Yes." Alice said guardedly.
"If you're looking for a way out of here, try over to your left. It leads to a shortcut back to the palace."
"Thanks!" With that, Alice took off.
The Cheshire Cat grinned as he disappeared.
"It looks like I'm a part of this after all." With that, he was gone.
Alice continued on her way, humming a song she had sung a few months ago at one of the Queen's festivals.
She was so engrossed in her song and following the Cat's directions that she didn't see the ledge of the small cliff until it was too late.
As she fell, she braced herself for the impact of the hard ground below.
Putting out her hands to ease her fall, she landed on her left side and immediately felt pain shoot up it.
Blinking back tears she glanced up to see she had fallen about eight feet.
"Thanks a lot!" She yelled at the silence around her.
The Cheshire Cat appeared once again.
"Wow. How did you get down here?"
Alice resisted the urge to strangle him.
"I followed your directions." She said through gritted teeth. "Can you get me out of here?"
"I would if I could." He said sincerely. "But I can't."
"Why not?" She asked.
"It's against the rules." He replied.
"What rules?" Alice demanded. She was really starting to hurt now and the Cat was doing nothing but giving her a headache.
"The Rules of Cat Club of course."
"You belong to a club?" Alice asked. She winced as pain shot up her wrist. "Ow! What club is that?"
"The Cheshire Cat Catnip Club."
"It figures. If you can't get me out of here, can you at least get me some help? Please?"
"Well, since you asked so nicely. I guess I could. Or maybe I should go tell the Queen what happened first."
"No! Don't. At least not yet."
"Something tells me the fur will really fly if she's the last one to find out."
"I know. But if she finds out why this happened, the Tweedles will get in trouble. I don't want them to take the blame for this."
"Aw, how sweet." He said. "Will keep our secret in the bag as well?"
"If you go get me help, I'll think about it."
"Adios!" With that, the cat was gone.
Alone once again, Alice sighed. She would be the first one to admit that the Cheshire Cat wasn't the best company to have, but she preferred him to being alone.
"Come on. Where are you guys?" She wondered aloud.
Meanwhile, Dee and Dum were a few miles away still on the treasure quest.
They had gotten into another argument, when Dum realized something.
"Hey, Dee, wait a minute." He said, glancing in back of him.
"What?" Dee asked. "I'm not letting you get out of this one. Who was the first girl you kissed? I told. Now it's your turn."
"Alice?" Dum said ignoring his brother.
"Alice?" Dee repeated. "What does she have to do with this?"
"Forget about the kissing girls." Dum said.
"You're the one who brought it up." Dee pointed out.
Dum ignored this too.
"We have a problem." He stated.
"What?" Dee asked.
"We're one person short."
Dee whirled around and noticed that his brother was right.
"OH no." He said. "We have to find her. Come on." With that, he doubled back and Dum followed.
They started calling her name, hoping she would answer. Dee occasionally switched to her nickname hoping that would bring a result as well.
But after twenty minutes of searching, the brothers came up empty handed.
"What do we do now?" Dum asked.
"We have to keep looking." Dee insisted. "Alice is more important than some treasure anyway."
"That's it!" Dum declared triumphantly.
"What's it?" Dee asked.
"We'll back track our steps to where we searched for the treasure. We're bound to find her that way."
"Dum, you're a genius!" Dee said.
"Thank you." Dum said with a grin. With that, they were off.
They hadn't been walking for more than ten minutes when the Cheshire Cat appeared.
"You're not gonna find her that way." He said in a sing-song voice.
"How do you know?" Dum challenged.
"Because I've seen her." He said.
"Do you know where she is?" Dee inquired.
"Yup. And she's landed herself in a bit of a catastrophe."
"Where is she?" Dee demanded. "What happened?"
"You have to tell us." Dum said.
"I can do better than that." The Cat stated. "I'll just take you to her." With that, he disappeared so only his smile was showing. "Follow me."
The brothers looked at one another, both thinking the same thing. It was a little hard considering he was invisible. But they knew they had to trust him if they were ever going to rescue their little sister from whatever mess she had landed herself in. But deep down, both brothers knew it hadn't been her fault. If anyone was to blame, it was the purple cat now leading them on a wild sister chase.
Meanwhile, the Queen sat at a table outside of the palace. She was waiting for the participants of the treasure hunt to return.
Rabbit was dutifully at her side with a clipboard in hand.
"It's been hours." The Queen stated impatiently. "Where could they be? What's taking so long?"
"Well, these things take time you know."
"They've enough of my time."
"Uh yes. Well, I'm sure they'll be back soon."
"I'm not worried about my chuckle headed subjects."
Rabbit nodded. He got the jist and tried hard not to smile.
"Alice will be fine with the Tweedles. They won't let anything happen to her."
"I suppose you're right. " The Queen said. "After all, I should be worried about Hatter and Hare. I know they're not in the hunt, but asking Hatter to hide the treasure was a mistake in itself."
"Well, we all make them" Rabbit began. Then he gasped, realizing what he said. "Uh, That is, we, not you, make them You're Majesty."
"I should say not." The Queen agreed. "Besides, if I've made a mistake, which I haven't. But if I had, I would certainly make sure someone else paid for it."
Just then, the Walrus and Penapid arrived.
"It's about time!" The Queen declared. "Did you find the treasure?"
"No." The Walrus replied. "I'm afraid we weren't successful. But I didn't come here just to turn over our map. We came to tell you something."
"Well, what is it?" The Queen asked.
The Walrus hesitated. He didn't know how to break it to her in a way that wouldn't cause her to have a royal conniption.
Finally, he just stuck with the truth.
"Alice is in trouble."
"What!" The Queen exclaimed.
"It wasn't our fault." The Walrus told her. "To be completely honest, we didn't even know what had happened until the cat stopped us. He had just finished showing the Tweedles where Alice was."
"What happened?" The Queen demanded. Then she turned on Rabbit. "I told you this treasure hunt was a bad idea."
"Actually, You're Majesty, it was your idea."
"Well it doesn't matter whose idea it was. What matters is it was a bad one." With that, she followed the Walrus back to where Alice was.
Meanwhile, Alice was still alone for the time being. The Cheshire Cat had taken the Tweedles as far as he would to where she was. Now they were on their own as well.
The Cat's excuse was that he had a bad mitten tournament to get to.
As she lay there, Alice hoped someone would find her soon. She was getting cold and not to mention tired. Her left wrist was throbbing and her whole body ached from where she had met the ground when she fell.
Just then, she heard two familiar voices coming closer.
"If only the cat had taken us a little farther." Dee complained. "We'll never find her at this rate."
"And it's getting dark." Dum observed gazing at the setting sun. "How many wobucks do you wanna bet that the Queen already knows what happened?"
"I'd bet my life on it." Dee said. It was then that he heard someone calling for help.
He shushed Dum who was about to retort with a wager of his own.
"I thought I heard someone." Dee told him.
"You're hearing things." Dum decided. "Either that or we've both been out here too long."
"Do you hear it too?" Dee asked.
Dum hesitated and then nodded.
"Yeah." He admitted.
With that, the brothers were quiet in an effort to listen for any unusual sound.
Shortly after is when they heard a very familiar voice.
"Hello? Is anyone out there! I need help! Please!"
Both brothers stopped at the familiar sound.
"Alice?" They asked in unison.
"Alice, is that you?" Dee asked.
"Yes!" She then asked a question of her own. "Where have you guys been?"
Her tone was that of a very irritated younger sibling.
Both brothers glanced at one another before Dum answered her.
"We're sorry we left you behind." He said. "We didn't' mean to. It was just…"
"Never mind that. Can you guys get me out of here?"
"How did you get down there in the first place?" Dee wanted to know.
"Oh I don't know." Alice answered sarcastically. "Maybe it has something to do with the Cheshire cat giving me wrong directions."
"Something tells me she's mad at us." Dum stated.
"I wonder why." Dee said dryly.
"You guys!" Alice shouted. "I'm still stuck down here. Remember?"
"Look," Dee started. "We can't both leave her again. Why don't you go get help and I'll stay behind."
Dum was about to protest, but something told him not to. Instead, he left for the palace, not knowing the Queen already knew.
Once Dum was gone, Dee did the only thing left.
Taking a deep breath, the older of the Tweedles made his way down to where his little sister was located.
Once he reached her, Alice had only one question for him.
"How did you get down here?"
"There's a carving on the other side that you can slide down." He told her.
"That would have been nice to know two hours ago." She replied.
A few minutes of silence passed before Dee got a look at her.
At first glance, she looked all right. But upon further examination, Dee found out it wasn't so.
This just made him feel guiltier for not watching out for her earlier.
Just then, the Cheshire Cat appeared.
"I see you've found her." He said.
Dee nodded. He was still looking her over while the cat hung out in the air.
"Something tells me the Queen already knows about what happened." The Cat reported.
"How does she know?" Alice demanded suspiciously. "You didn't let the cat out of the bag, did you?"
"Me? I wouldn't do that." He assured her. "I'm not a tattle tail."
Alice winced in pain just then, making Dee glance down at her worriedly.
"I think you broke your wrist." He told her. "We'll get you out of here soon. But until help comes, I'm not going anywhere."
Alice nodded. She was reassured by this. As she felt Dee's hand slip into hers and she squeezed it for comfort, she could feel her anger towards both of her brothers disappear almost completely.
Now the cat on the other hand-or paw-as it were was going to get a mouthful from her once this was all over.
Not to mention the fit her mother threw when she found out what happened.
It wasn't long before help did arrive in the form of Dum, the Walrus and the Queen.
"Well, where is she?" The Queen demanded of the two.
"We're down here, You're Majesty!" Dee called up to her. "Alice is in pretty bad shape. She needs to be seen by a doctor."
"I should have been seen by one before I let her go off with you two chuckleheads."
"Please, don't blame them!" Alice called up. "It wasn't their fault!"
Relieved to hear her daughter's voice, the Queen momentarily forgot why she was upset.
Then it came back to her just as quickly.
"Well, if they're not to blame, then who is?"
"I believe we have the answer to that, You're Majesty." The Walrus said, speaking for the first time since they had arrived.
"Well I'd like to hear it before midnight." The Queen said.
"I believe, and Penapid agrees with me that it was the Cat who caused this incident in the first place."
The Queen nodded.
"I see." She said. She was about to yell for the cat to appear, when the Walrus turned her attention back to the matter at hand.
"Might we suggest you focus on getting Alice out of her current situation before you give the cat a piece of your mind."
The Queen nodded in agreement. SHE glanced at Dum and then at the Walrus as if to ask, "Well which of you is going down there first?"
Catching the Queen's meaning behind her look, Dum volunteered since he was partly responsible.
The next few hours were a blur for Alice. She didn't remember much except for being loaded onto a stretcher and taken to Wonderland Medical Center.
Once there, everything happened too fast for her to keep up with. She was given pain medication via IV and she was sedated for a short procedure.
The only two things Alice remembered vividly were her brothers refusing to leave her side unless they absolutely had to, and her mother yelling a lot.
The Queen's rage was directed at the cat when she wasn't yelling at Rabbit.
Alice didn't know why, but she found herself getting some perverse pleasure at seeing the Queen telling him off.
Even though Alice knew he hadn't meant to hurt her, she was still a little mad at him.
"I'm sorry that Alice got hurt." Hatter said as he sat in the waiting room an hour later. "But I'm also sorry nobody found the treasure. I can't believe they didn't think to look in the most obvious place."
Sammie gave him a knowing look.
"Where did you hide it this time?"
She had come up for the weekend and had found out about Alice's accident via the Walrus. He had told Hatter about it and insisted he come and bring Sammie as well. Alice was going to be fine, but the Walrus knew that having her family there would help her recover faster.
Hatter gazed down at the little girl fondly before raising his eyebrow.
"Well isn't it obvious?" He asked.
Sammie shook her head.
"If it was obvious, I wouldn't have asked you."
"How true that is." Hatter said, making Sammie giggle. She liked it whenever he said that.
"Well to answer your question, sweetcakes, I hid the treasure in a very obvious spot. I hid the treasure in that box we used for the attic sale."
Sammie was about to say something, when the Walrus came towards them.
"Alice is awake." He said. "You can go and visit her now if you like. Penapid and I are going home. We'll be back tomorrow. They should let her go home in a few days."
Picking Sammie up, he followed Hare into the hallway.
"Here we are." Hare announced. With that, he opened the door and was greeted by the sight of an elderly woman watching TV. She had a cast on her leg, but otherwise looked healthy.
Gazing up from her game show, "The Wonderland Pyramid" she smiled at Hare.
"Wow. You visitors get more handsome every day. Come on over here and chew some fat with old Gabriell."
Hatter saved Hare anymore embarrassment by politely apologizing and leading them away.
As he did so, he heard the woman mutter something about asking the staff to make sure those guys came back next time there was a party.
"Uncle Hare!" Sammie hissed once they were a few feet away. "You got the wrong room!"
"I thought something looked different." Hare replied.
Sammie sighed in exasperation even though she didn't' know what it was yet.
Finally arriving at the right room, Hatter set Sammie down with instructions to go slow and gentle when she approached her sister.
After seeing that Sammie was okay, he turned his attention to the Queen.
"And what took you two so long?"
"We had a brief pit stop." Hare told her.
"Uncle Hare took us to the wrong room." Sammie supplied.
"That doesn't surprise me." The Queen replied.
"That woman seemed nice." Hare said. "I might go back and visit her again."
"Please, do it without me." Hatter said. 'I got the feeling she was looking at me too."
"I don't even wanna know." Alice said from her bed. "But something tells me I'm gonna find out anyway."
"It seems like Hare has an admirer of the elderly variety."
"Mr. Hare, you didn't." Alice said. "You didn't send those greeting cards to the wrong place again."
Hare shook his head.
Hatter cut in just then. He wanted to change the subject for Sammie's sake. He knew Alice was old enough to hear what had really happened, but Sammie was too young. Also, the idea was starting to unnerve him a little.
"Who wants cake?" He asked.
"Alice hasn't even eaten dinner yet." The Queen told him. "And you're talking about cake?"
"I've fixed that." Dum said. He had slipped out during Alice's brief sedation period in which her wrist had been set and caste. He had returned with a bag full of food from her favorite Mexican restaurant.
"Thanks." Alice said when she saw the food. "The food here is terrible."
"No problem." Dum said. "It's the least we could do."
"It's okay." Alice said, stressing the last word. "We're fine."
"Are you sure?" Dum asked.
"Yes. Now come on. The food's getting cold."
"You said it!" Dee agreed.
Soon everyone had a plate and were eating and talking amongst themselves.
The Tweedles and Alice ate together while Sammie sat next to Hatter, listening to him tell her about something he had done a few months ago that hadn't gone as planned.
Sammie loved his stories and ate them up like fairy tales.
After dinner was over, it was time for most everyone to leave. Sammie was staying over at the palace, so she knew she would be back.
It was still going to be strange for her to sleep in Alice's room without her sister there.
"Don't worry." Alice assured her. "I'll be home soon. And until I do come home, keep Dinah company for me."
After the sisters embraced once again, Sammie allowed Hatter to pick her up. They had to leave quickly because Hare was heading in the wrong direction once again.
Hatter had a feeling he knew it was on purpose.
Shaking her head at her friend's actions, Alice smiled. She loved all of them, despite the trouble they got her into sometimes. The trouble didn't matter as much as the bond they all shared.
This was especially true for Dee and Dum.
As the Queen got up to leave, Rabbit could tell she didn't' want to, even though she was putting up a front for them.
Dee sensed her Majesty's hesitation and spoke first.
"Would you like to stay the night, You're Majesty?"
"I would, but I have some things to…." Her voice trailed off as she glanced at Alice who was talking to Dum about something.
Dee winked at her.
"I won't tell if you won't." He said.
The Queen nodded.
As the brothers prepared to leave for the night, they promised Alice they would be back in the morning with breakfast.
"After all, we want you to get better, not worse." Dum said. "And that's what'll happen if you eat this food."
"Everyone knows hospital food is made in labs anyway." Dee chimed in.
"It is?" Alice asked.
The brothers shook their head.
After they left, silence fell over the room for a few minutes.
Alice broke it with a question.
"Mom, are you mad at them?" She asked.
"Mad at who?" The Queen inquired.
"The Tweedles." She answered. "It wasn't their fault. It was more the cat's fault."
The Queen nodded.
"I guess I'm more mat at myself." She admitted.
This took the young girl by surprise.
The Queen sighed. She was quiet for a minute, a battle raging within her.
Finally, she spoke.
"I'm mad at myself because I let you get hurt."
"What are you talking about? Did they give you pain killers instead of me?"
The Queen ignored her daughter's remark. She was about to reveal something to Alice that she hadn't told anyone before.
"I'm mad at myself because ever since you came to live here, I made a promise to myself."
"What promise was that, You're Majesty?" Alice asked.
She held her breath, praying her mother would continue. She knew it was rare for her to open up like this to anyone. And when she did, one wrong move could shut her down again.
"I made a promise to myself to always protect you. I know I didn't act like it when you first showed up, but I think you finding your way into the palace was a big change in my life." She gave Alice a small smile. "A change for the better."
"So you don't regret it?" She asked.
"Not at all." She said sincerely. Then in an effort to gain some normalcy back into the room, the Queen added, "And anyone who can put Duchy in her place is welcome in my palace any time."
Alice giggled despite the pain it caused her. Her mother was a trip sometimes.
Despite how the Queen often wanted things her way, Alice loved her mother all the more. She wouldn't have her any other way. She knew the Queen felt the same way about her, even though she rarely told her she loved her. She didn't have to say it aloud. Alice knew she loved her by her actions as well as the simple ways she showed her love for her. An example being now. She hadn't left her and she had opened up to her about something that was hard to talk about. If that wasn't love, Alice didn't know what was.
Long after Alice had fallen asleep, the Queen sat there, watching her daughter. She was glad she had opened up to her. It wasn't easy for her to do, but talking to Alice was different than talking to Rabbit or any of her subjects. But it was a good kind of different.
Just then, the Queen's thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door.
The door opened to reveal the Walrus and Penapid standing on the other side.
"What are you two doing here? " The Queen asked. "Alice is asleep."
The Walrus nodded. He made sure to keep his voice low so he wouldn't wake her.
"We thought as much. But Penapid asked me if it was all right if he stayed with her. I know it's passed visiting hours, but I didn't think it would be a problem."
The Queen sighed.
"Fine." She said. "He may stay."
"Thank You You're Majesty." The Walrus said. "You don't know how much this means to him. He was quite worried about our young friend as were the rest of us."
After a few more minutes of chatting, the Walrus left for home for the rest of the night.
"Well," the Queen said referring to Penapid as she sat down in a chair beside Alice's bed, "I guess it's just you and me then. How are you at crazy 8's?"