A/N: Slight change of pace here. This chapter is in Mirana's POV. It is Tarrant getting Alice's engagement ring and speaking with the queen.
I heard him before I saw him. The heavy footfalls of his boots echoed through the halls.
"Your majesty!" he called. "Your majesty, wait!"
I spun around. "Tarrant? What is the matter?"
"Yehr majesty, Ah need teh ask yeh a favor."
His accent was getting stronger, so I knew his emotions were running wild. "Of course, my friend, anything."
"I need, well, it isn't me who needs is, but then again I don't suppose she needs it either, but I still want to give it nonetheless, and – "
"Tarrant," I interrupted softly. Yes, something was definitely bothering the Royal Hatter.
"Yes, right then. Your majesty, I need to purchase a ring."
"A ring!" I squealed. I could only hope he was considering proposing to Alice.
"Yes, yes. Now that Alice is staying in Underland with us, well, I feel as though I need to act."
"I've seen the way you look at our Champion, dear Hatta. I can't say I'm surprised by this request," I told him as I walked him to the royal jewels room.
"Well, my biggest concern is her answer. I feel as though I'm taking a big risk with this."
"Ah, but without great risk, there is no great reward. And what is a greater reward than love? Tell me, friend, how do you feel about her?"
"Like I can't imagine another day without her." Flecks of lavender appeared in his eyes. It was a color I had never seen there before and it made me so glad for him. He continued, "When she drank th' blood o'th' jabberwock, Ah felt as tho' mah heart had been torn in two."
Oh dear, there he went again. The purple remained in his eyes, but I feared other colors could be on their way. "And how did you feel when she stayed?"
"Like she 'ad personally mended mah heart back toge'her."
"True. Assuming she has love for me," he said, with much sadness to his returning lisp.
"Tarrant, I have also seen how she looks at you. It's true that there is much confusion in her eyes, what with everything she's been through, but I can tell that she is quite enamored with you as well. Especially now that she is convinced that you are real. Hmm?"
I opened the door and ushered him inside.
"That does appear to be a bonus."
"Indeed. Now, let's see what we shall use for your love. And please, Tarrant, I know you asked to purchase a ring, but I won't accept that. You have done much for this kingdom and for me. Please take whatever ring you need. We shall find the perfect one for Alice as she only deserves as such. Do you see –"
"This is it," he declared after looking at only one ring.
"You've found it already?"
"Aye. It's this one," he said as he held it out to me.
It was a beautiful diamond ring with an emerald and a sapphire on either side.
"Oh Tarrant, it is perfect. The exact shade of both of your eyes. You have excellent taste."
"Do you think she'll like it?" he asked nervously, his eyes threatening to turn a bit blue.
"Of course I do! She'll love it. Now, do you know what you'll say to her?"
"Um, no. Not at all. But I'm counting on whatever to come out of my mouth to be the right thing."
I inwardly cringed. Sometimes what came out of Tarrant's mouth wasn't always the right thing. But if he wanted to go that way, then I certainly wouldn't stop him. Alice seemed to have fallen for the imperfect Hatter, so this would be wonderful no matter what.
"Then it shall be right."
"Thank you, your majesty."
"It is I who should thank you! You and your family have done much for this kingdom and I am eternally grateful."
His face fell at the mention of his family and I instantly regretted my choice of words. His eyes were definitely blue now, though I detected a flash of gold in there as well. I knew I had to choose my next words carefully.
"Tarrant, please do not focus on that day. You must look to your future now," I said firmly, in the hopes of snapping him out of this. I began to with that Alice was with us. It seemed that no one could calm him as quickly as she did.
"They're gone because of me."
"Tarrant, let me put it to you this way. If you would have stayed with the Hightopps, you likely would have been killed as well. If not, you likely would have been captured and sent to the dungeons in Salazen Grum. And to be honest, you would have lost your head there. And I mean that quite literally. If you really think about it, I wouldn't be around either. If my sister had gained any more power, she surely would not have had mercy on me. So, if you or I or Mally weren't around, for one reason or another, then who would have been here to greet Alice when she fell back down the rabbit hole?"
"Well, I don't really know," he answered.
"Exactly. Without you or any of your tea party cohorts, Alice would have wandered aimlessly and likely been caught herself. If Iracebeth had captured Alice, what do you think would have happened?"
"I shudder to even think about it."
"So, you see, Tarrant. While it is a tragedy that your family perished that day, it all lead to Alice defeating the jabberwocky. And bringing her to you now."
He seemed to brighten at that. I couldn't imagine the emotions running through him as he tried to process the death of his family leading him to finding the love of his life. Poor Hatter was given many burdens to bear in life. I was very hopeful that Alice would say yes and would help him carry that load.
"So, you think she'll say yes?" he asked with a tone that sounded so hopeful and yet so unsure.
"Tarrant, I absolutely think she'll say yes. Alice did not return home after drinking the jabberwocky blood, and that says something to me. You must be confident in that as well."
"Aye, your majesty. I'll try."
"Good. Now, go get tidied up. You'll need to look your best when you ask for your love's hand in marriage!"
"I think you might be as excited as I am about this!"
"I might very well be. You deserve happiness, Alice deserves happiness and all of Underland does as well. This will be the beginning of healing for all of us, I believe."
"Thank you, your majesty. You've been a wonderful friend." He gave me a quick hug and then ran off.
I couldn't believe that life in Underland was finally turning around. Even someone whose life had become so dismal was going to get his chance at true love. And with someone who had spent so long essentially trapped in her world of conformity. Who better than these two for each other, these free spirits? I couldn't have been happier for each of them.
In the meantime, though, I needed to get cleaned up. I was certain that I would soon be getting the good news of the first engagement in Underland in a very, very long time.