A/N: Thank you greatly for the reviews! Here it is chapter 4:
First the grin was visible.
Then followed the rest of the body, which appeared resting on the branch in a lazy manner.
When it was fully visible, Alice and Tarrant identified it without a second guess that it was Cheshire the cat.
Alice was glad to see this particular grinning cat, so she asked,
"How have you been doing Chessur?"
"Fine Alice, I'm awfully delighted to see you come to Wonderland for another visit," Chessur replied in his usual wide grin.
Alice smiled, and would have continued with the conversation, but she knew this wasn't the right time for a pleasant talk, knowing that there was a serious question Tarrant had been wanting to ask him.
She expectantly looked upon Tarrant, who however was frowning at the cat,
"Back so soon, Chessur? ", he asked with a sarcasm, and a hint of irritation.
"I'm terribly sorry for the lateness. It was more tricky than easy getting through the Queens guards. I couldn't just simply appear into the palace; guards were occupied in every hallway. She isn't as thick headed as she used to be."
Chessur lazily flopped over with one paw on his hip and the other holding his quite great head.
He sighed,"Oh, and your friendsssss..", at that word, its wide grin extending even possibly wider, literally from ear to ear. Leaving a long pause of a hiss.
" Yes, go on with it," Hatter interrupted impatiently.
Chessur said in a matter of fact tone,
"They were scheduled for execution after a week."
Alice heard a small gasp that escaped Tarrant.
She too was also in great shock. For as far as she new, they might have been executed today if Chessur had received this information several days ago and told them just now.. or there was a possibility that the Queens temper couldn't hold up to three days, and couldn't keep from restraining, would have announced her execution phrase ,'Off with their heads', the day it was assigned.( Alice knew quite a lot of the Red Queens incredibly short temper, having dealt with her in the past.)
She truly couldn't imagine the Mad Hatter without his tea party members. Again she felt a strong desire to help him no-matter what the cost.
The tea cup that Tarrant held apparently began to shake slightly in his hand,
"Pray, Wh- when did you hear about this?"
"Two days from now. Don't get yourself too worked up Tarrant, they have five days left." Cheshire the cat replied in a rather bored tone.
Tarrant fumed, his Scottish accent breaking in,
"Five days? FIVE DAYS? In just that matter of time, along with my friends, the Red Queen will rid of ALL the creatures, banished to Execution!-"
Alice, who was as much of in a nervous state as the Mad Hatter, gently touched Tarrant's back shoulder, hoping it would calm him down.
Tarrant managed to calmed down slightly, Alice's distress on his anger effected him deeply to be ashamed of his sudden outburst.
"Sorry..", he whispered.
Chessur completely evaporated and reappeared right in front of them, levitating in the air.
"Yet, there is more of a possibility she'll let them go.", Chessur stated simply.
To this, Alice and Tarrant looked at the Cheshire cat with a confused expression.
"You should know the Red Queen by now. She hates playing games that gives her the certainty she'd win; being much tired of it in the game of croquet, I suppose."
"If I knew her taste, she'd rather have a fair and square, raging competition.." Chessur chuckled and did something like a back-flip in midair.
Hatter hesitantly thought on what Chessur had suggested.
' Aye, there would be a possibility she'd let them go in bad temper of wanting to win over Wonderland fair and square. But how possible were the chances of that? She'd also be pleased in having half the residents of Wonderland in her own cell dungeons, probably starving them to deaf. But Either way, I Have to get to the Red Queen before the days are up.. no matter what the costs...'
"Why don't we all recruit the creatures in Wonderland... to fight?", Alice asked suggestively, although she was secretly quite terrified of having another war.
"It's not as easy as you think it to be Alice, dear. Most of the creatures have become more afraid than courageous after having almost half the residents in Wonderland disappear mysteriously into the exiles, and have been constantly refusing to fight till this day. I can't blame them, those creatures the Red Queen keeps as her soldiers are horribly cruel, for only the most wicked evil-minds in all of Wonderland was sent to exile.
In all honesty, they all just want revenge, and there is little light to how much power the Red Queen holds.", Tarrant ended in a soft voice.
Alice solemnly grew very concerned. Then, a sudden thought occurred to Alice.
Surely the White Queen herself wasn't standing in the midst of all this, just watching all this happen?
"What about the White Queen? Can't she do anything?"
The Cheshire cat sighed and replied to this,
" This is very unfortunate, Alice, but she was put into a mysterious coma before the Red Queens wrath even started. Believe me, they've tried everything to wake her up, Hatter even concocted a tea so effective, it could have sharply woken a sleeping giant right back to their senses the moment it was put under their noses, but it was unsuccessful like the rest of the tries."
Alice did not certainly expect the White Queen to be in a coma, when Wonderland was being menaced by the horrible Red Queen, situations were twice worse than the last. This time the Red Queen had turned frightfully more savage and malicious, and she didn't want to imagine what would become of Wonderland if it continued this way.
The Mad Hatter interrupted her thoughts, as his usually unnatural high pitched voice was replaced with a low firm voice,
"There's no other choice I have then. I must go into the exiles, and do whatever could be done to release all the creatures."
"Being very courageous for the sake of your friends, Tarrant? Very touching."
He vanished, and reappeared sipping a cup of tea on the Mad Hatters table set.
"I agree with the Hatter, therefore I'm going with him."
Alice stated confidently. Right at the same moment, she had been thinking a similar plan.
Hatter replied to Alice, smiling,
"Alice, I hate it when you're in any kind of danger. But I know there's no stopping you when you decide on something. And, I do think I'll need your company on the journey."
"However, I'll be reminding you how dangerous the exiles may be.", Chessur sipped more tea.
"I'm not just going to barge in there with no defense of any kind." Tarrant said, smiling mischievously.
"Of course the Mad Hatter always has a trick up his sleeve.", Chessur continued to smile, this time revealing all his razor sharp teeth. Then he suddenly exclaimed,
"Well look at the time! I think I've spent much time here, I'll be off. Good luck."
And with that he his form rose from the table and slowly vanished, until his head remained.
Hatter, just remembering something important, interrupted his departure in a panicky voice,
"Chessur, I do have one last thing to ask you!"
The Cheshire cat rather nervously reappeared, peeking out from the farthest tree.
"I want my hat back. It was a deal."
Chessur sighed in loss. An object levitated behind him, which was unmistakably Tarrant's beloved hat, and with a gesture of it's paw, the hat levitated onto Tarrant's hand.
"Farewell... Hat." he said sadly, and he faded away entirely, and his ever so wide grin was the last to disappear.
Tarrant rather desperately placed his old hat on top of his head, and sighed in content for a few moments.
"Hatter, will we be starting the journey now?" Alice didn't want to spend another day, knowing that there were poor creatures in the hands of that Queen, just waiting for their execution.
Hatter had a odd look of fear, mixed with bravery.
"I'm afraid we must get there as soon as possible."
There was a moment of silence as they both took in the idea that they were going to face that horror of a Queen in a few hours.
"Now Alice, I do think we need a quick transport. We most certainly won't walk by foot there."
Hatter put his fingers to his lips and blew a incredibly loud whistle, that Alice was sure the whole forest must have heard it. Tarrant simply looked in a direction expectantly.
Alice felt a force coming towards their way. There was a trampling of heavy footsteps, vicious barking, and heavy panting. She saw it approach closer, as she saw couple of the trees in the creatures direction, were hurriedly making way, possibly escaping from being trampled. Whatever it was, it seemed to come towards this direction for a feast.
Alice couldn't help but squeeze on to Tarrant's arm in fright, her lips slightly apart. Tarrant looked her calmly,
"There's nothing to be afraid of dear."
Just then, the creature stomped out of the tree's into the clearing in a monstrous jump, and landed in a distances ahead of them, skidding to a stop, forming a trail of dust behind it. The creature hideous face was so close to the Mad Hatters, they were merely a few inches apart. Oddly, Alice felt a familiar sense of this creature, but she looked in terror as the creature looked ready to bite their heads clean off.
Instead it licked Tarrant in a more puppy like manner, and barked. It's bark, (which was more like a roar of a lion) was deafening enough to shake the whole forest. Tarrant simply patted it on the head, like how a owner would pet his dog.
"This bandersnatch and I remained quite close during the years."
Alice finally recalled this creature by it's scarred right eye.
She was received a gratitude from it when she returned it's missing eyeball. Just when the she remembered the Bandersnatch, it seemed to understand, and looked at her expectantly.
She petted the white fur, and it licked her in return.
"I see you had a history with this Bandersnatch?" Hatter asked in curiousity.
"I was in it's den once. This Bandersnatch could have devoured me if it liked. Without it's kindness, I would have never retrieved the Vorpal sword."
"How curious we ended up befriended the same Bandersnatch."
chucked the Mad Hatter.
The Hatter climbed on top of the Bandersnatch in ease, and lowered a hand for Alice. Alice had more difficulty getting on the creature, but finally managed to sit on it's shoulders, while Hatter had sat right behind her, his body hugging Alice protectively.
Alice felt a bit nervous, since she had never ridden a Bandersnatch before. Tarrant seemed to sense Alice's uneasiness,
"Don't worry Alice, I got you. Just hold on very tight."
His words relieved a bit of her fears. Tarrant patted the creature on it's sides, and it began it's run by jumping about nine feet in the air. Alice gasped in surprise, as Tarrant held her very tight, resisting her from falling.
They rode on in the dense forest, the Bandersnatch keeping a mighty fast pace. The many stars lit up the night, and the skies were a navy blue. The only thing Alice could see was a blurred vision of the many trees parting away. As dense as the forest was, gladly all the trees magically made way in their path.
Alice felt Tarrant hold her in a protective grip, more specifically he held her by the hips. Alice didn't know why, but she blushed at the feel of his fingers, caressing her. Alice felt the tiniest movements of his fingers. She felt odd with comfort from the warmth of his body being tightly pressed to hers, despite the uncomfortable position. Alice gasped, and inhaled sharply when she felt his hands traveled higher up her hip.
Tarrant held on to Alice with much gentleness as he can. In all truth, he had trouble concentrating on the road or anything else in that matter. Alice was so closely in touch with him. Her lovely blonde hair was blowing gently in the wind tickling his face, and enveloping him in her sweet essence. He hungrily devoured her aroma with fluttering eyes. Tarrant felt his hands on her hip tightening, when the Bandersnatch without warning pounced into the air nearly twice as high than before, bringing them tighter together. When it resumed back to it's usual pace, involuntarily, Tarrant felt his fingers wander around around her higher up, until he froze suddenly.
' Just What was I thinking!?'
Hatter was deeply disgusted with the fact that he had touched Alice in such a way. She was a young girl for God's sake, and he was obviously to old for her. Of course he loved Alice very much. But just not like that!
Tarrant felt as if his heart would break from the terrible thoughts he just had.
'Was I just imagining that?'
Perhaps she was merely imagining it. In one moment, she could have sworn one his thumbs were grazing on her breast. Maybe the bandersnatch had caused his hands to accidentally shift up? But that seemed very unlikely.
The way his fingers carefully worked it's way up, with such purpose, trying to feel every inch of her skin.
Alice shook the inappropriate thoughts away in disgust. Or maybe she had fantasized it, having a secret desire for Tarrant to hold her in a more passionate way.
She turned around slightly, and saw Tarrant staring absent minded into the path up ahead. She felt a sudden rush of affection towards him, and turned back around quickly. 'Tarrant wouldn't think such a thing. He has been so nice to me all this time, and this is how I thank him?' Alice scolded her self, ashamed.
The rest of the journey was silent, the two lost in their own deep thoughts. By this time, the night had become old, and the skies turned pitch black. There was a noticeable amount of less trees. The full moon, along with the stars were the only aid of light. The white fur of the bandersnatch reflected the light of the moon, gleaming brightly in the pitch black forest.