A/N: This story was written for the House Cup tournament on the Jedi Council Boards. I was playing for Team Slytherin, which was a lot of excellent fun (we won, too). Enjoy! Alice is an awesome miniseries!
Everything was going wrong.
The flamingo had cashed in the middle of the throne room, its flaming remains filling the place with smoke. There was nothing left of it but a hunk of non-functional, smoking metal. The window they had broken through moments before was a gaping hole in the wall; pieces of shattered glass lay scattered across the floor. Jack had been taken away on his displeased mother's orders, Hatter had been carted off, Charlie was nowhere to be seen, and the Queen of Hearts remained on her throne, imperious as always, the Stone of Wonderland glowing on her finger. The King of Hearts gloomily surveyed the scene, unable to comment under the glare of his overbearing wife. Ginny was disarmed, backed up against the wall with no one to help her, slowly choking to death as Mad March threatened to crush her windpipe.
The plan – if there was one to start with – could not have been more obliterated. The circumstances – though never really hopeful – could not have been worse. Yes, Ginny thought as she struggled to breathe, everything was going dreadfully wrong.
"Well," the Queen of Hearts said happily, though there was no denying the smirk on her face, "isn't this a fun situation? Seems like we have finally caught these naughty little children who are so insistent on ruining my plans."
"Just… let… me… go!" Ginny choked.
"Not until you tell me what you've done to my looking-glass," the Queen replied.
"O… okay! But… first… you've…"
"But first I what?" the Queen asked, feigning deafness.
"The girl wants to be let go," March said. "Can I kill her?"
"No, Marchey," the Queen said lightly. "Not yet, anyway. We've got to milk her for all she's got. She is an… interesting tart, after all. All freckles and…" Her expression had become disgusted. "Orange hair. Orange. Uuugh." She self-consciously patted her own hair, which was a very bright shade of unrealistic red.
"You ordering me to let her go?"
"Well, just don't crush her throat," the Queen snapped. "That's all I'm asking."
The assassin released his grip on Ginny's throat. She gasped for breath, gulping it in. Momentarily free of March's grasp, Ginny ran sideways, trying to make an escape to freedom, but she was caught by the arms and pulled back. Forcing her on to her knees, March held on to her arm and withdrew a sharp knife, pressing it against her neck.
"Do you know what a pretty red colour blood is, missy?" he said.
Ginny stared straight ahead at the Queen. She hated looking at March; he unnerved her. "I have a pretty good imagination," she bit out.
"Behave yourself, or I'll show you," March said.
The Queen was smiling grotesquely. "Good," she simpered. "Good. Now we've got you where we want you."
"What do you want?"
"Your Majesty," the Queen corrected.
Ginny smirked. "There's no need to address me so formally," she said.
The Queen's eyes bulged. "March–!"
The knife dug into Ginny's skin. Her breath cut short.
"No!" the Queen shouted. "Not yet, I haven't given you the order, you daft hare head!"
The pressure on the side of Ginny's neck lightened, but she could still feel the icy presence of the blade. One wrong move and she would be bleeding all over the floor.
"Now, Ginny, darling –"
"'Darling' is a bit rich, coming from you, don't you think?" Ginny retorted.
The Queen's eyes narrowed. "Silence, you insolent little tart! I am the Queen of Hearts. This is my kingdom. I rule Wonderland. You are under my dominion. I will not be made fun of!"
"Sorry, your Majesty," Ginny shot back, "but I'm afraid you already have."
Ginny felt the blade break her skin. She gasped and tried to draw away as a trickle of blood rolled down her neck, but March held her in a stone grip.
Damn it, Ginny, no more talking back!
"Okay," she said. "I'm sorry, your Majesty. I beg your forgiveness. I am unused to such customs. You see, we do not have royalty in my world."
"Oh?" The Queen raised an eyebrow. "So, I am the first Queen you have ever met?"
"Yes, your Majesty. I am uncertain of how to respond to such… such… um…"
"Yes! Grandeur! And majesty," Ginny rattled on, uncertain of what she was saying, "and all those things that go along with being Queen of the best realm in all the worlds!"
The Queen smiled. It looked more like a leer than a smile.
"Well, aren't you a sweet little orange-haired thing."
"WHAT?!" The Queen rose in her seat, eyes blazing.
"My hair is red – agh!" Ginny gasped in pain as the blade cut into her throat again. She felt another trickle of blood slide down her neck, staining the neckline of her shirt. "Sorry, sorry, forgive me, your Majesty! It is my customs, again! In my world, what you call orange is red and what we call red is orange –"
"Well, if that's the case," the Queen said, sitting back down on her heart-shaped throne. "I suppose I can forgive you, child. Red is a sacred, royal colour here. I belongs to my family, and to my family alone. No one else may wear red or be red in any… any red way."
"Of course, your Majesty," Ginny said immediately. "Forgive me. It was my lack of knowledge about Wonderland and my own disobedient tongue that led me to… to… erm… correct – no! Contradict! Contradict you… um…"
The Queen sighed. "Marchey, let her go, you're terrifying the poor thing."
"She has a nice colour of blood."
"Marchey, that is disgusting. Let the girl go, I said!"
"Your Majesty is an idiot. She'll turn around and be out of here before you can blink."
"I'll risk it," the Queen snapped. "Obviously your effect is… overwhelming her tiny little brain and I need her to be able to think. Without thought, there is no speech. Without speech, we'll never find out what she did to the looking-glass, so let – her – go! Before I decapitate you again," she added with a sneer.
While the Queen spoke, Ginny was trying to think up an escape plan. If she could get her wand back, she was ninety-five percent free (not quite one hundred percent, because you never knew what could happen). As this world was so technology-based, she could easily make it go berserk since magic and science should never be mixed. The flamingo was a good example of that. While she and Hatter had been flying it, it had almost been fun, rather like riding a Muggle-version of a broomstick. But then they were attacked and instead of firing one of those banging, exploding metal sticks they had (she thought they were called guns, but she wasn't sure), Ginny had reached for her wand and cast the first spell that had come into her head. That spell had not only knocked out all of the pursuing Suits and their flamingos, but set her and Hatter's escape vehicle on a crash-course for the Hearts' Casino.
She could still hear Hatter's reprimands ringing in her ears. When they had first met and discovered just how haywire technology went around magic, he had specifically told her not to do anymore unless she wanted to bring down the entire city. Ginny knew without a doubt that it was her magic that had also caused the Queen's so-called looking-glass to go berserk. Unfortunately, she had no idea what she had done, let alone how to put the looking-glass back to normal. Ginny also had no idea how she was going to explain that to the Queen in a way that would let her keep her head.
That was only half the trouble. The other half was that she had absolutely no idea where her wand was.
"Can I at least keep an eye on her?" March asked.
"Oh, very well, very well." The Queen waved a hand. "Yes, you may. God knows you'll do that anyhow."
Slowly, March let go of Ginny's arms, but he still kept the blade of his knife pressed to her throat. Ginny got to her feet, clenching her fists to distract herself from falling over. She was feeling light-headed and wobbly.
"What do you want to know, your Majesty?" Ginny said.
"I will ask you very plainly, my dear," the Queen said curtly. "What have you done to my looking-glass?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know or you don't want to tell me? I do believe it is in the latter."
"No," Ginny said, "what I mean is that I don't know what your looking-glass does. If you tell me what its purpose is, then I may be able to fix it."
"Don't play games with me, you insolent girl!" the Queen barked. "You came through the looking-glass, you must know what it does!"
"No, I don't," Ginny countered.
"MARCHEY!" the Queen roared.
"Woah, wait just a minute!" Ginny said, holding up her hands as the knife dug into her skin again. She could feel pain welling up along with the blood that continued to trickle down her neck. Her eyes flitted to the left; she could just see the side of March's strange, white stone rabbit head in her peripheral vision. Ginny shivered and forced herself to concentrate on the matter at hand.
"Your Majesty, please," she said pleadingly, "if you kill me now, then no one will be able to fix your looking-glass!"
The Queen glared at her and then waved a hand. "Oh, very well," she said. "But don't argue with me again, is that clear? Answer every and all of my questions, or else it will be off with your head, my clever little Oyster. Now, what did you do to my looking-glass?"
"The people from my world," Ginny said, "can disrupt technology. When I fell through it, I must have accidentally done something to close the looking-glass."
"But the looking-glass is powered by the Stone of Wonderland," the Queen said. "It is the most potent artefact in all of Wonderland, in the entirety of both worlds! How can a little powerless thing like you cause the looking-glass to close?"
"There is power in even the smallest of things, Majesty," Ginny said carefully. "Look at the Stone. It is small. Why, anyone in my world would think it was just a ring. Yet it is capable of creating a door between two completely separate worlds. Even my world, there is no magic that exists –"
"Magic?" the Queen interrupted.
Ginny winced. "A turn of phrase, if you like, Majesty," she said quickly.
The Queen raised a perfectly pencilled eyebrow. "No," she said. "No, I don't think so. I think there's more to your words than you are letting on. Aren't you a clever little orange girl, Ginny. What is this so-called magic?"
"It is what you would call our technology," Ginny said.
"No… no. There is something in your face. Are you lying to me?"
"Your Majesty, I'm trying to explain—agh!"
"I'm keeping her on her toes," March explained.
"Oh, very well—"
"Majesty… I… I can't… I—"
"Oh, for goodness sake! The girl can't breathe!" The Queen slammed her fist into her opposite palm. "This is turning into a nightmare. Marchey, let the girl go."
"Give her to the doctors, they'll know what to do," March said.
"No, not yet." The Queen's upper lip twitched. "They've gotten into the habit of letting accidents happen. I want her—" she pointed at Ginny, "—to be here."
"Oh, all right then."
March shoved her in the back and Ginny went spiralling to the floor. Spluttering and gasping for breath, she crawled forwards on her hands and knees and tried to wipe her streaming eyes. The Queen laughed from somewhere above her; Ginny knew how pathetic she must look, grovelling on the throne room of the Queen of Hearts. It didn't matter what she looked like; she needed to find her wand and get her and her friends out of here.
That was the priority: get her wand, get her friends, get out of here. If she brought down the Hearts while she was at it, that was good, too. She could worry about fixing the looking-glass and getting home later.
"Good God, dear, isn't this going a bit too far?" the King of Hearts said, speaking for the first time.
"It's an interrogation, Winston," the Queen replied tetchily. "I wouldn't expect you to have the brain power to understand what needs to be done."
"Right…" The King of Hearts sighed. "Right. Of course, dear."
If the Queen hadn't been so focused on her so-called 'interrogation', she would have heard him add, "Though you are the one who orders people's heads off as a routine part of daily temper tantrums when you don't get what you want." Ginny, however, did hear it and she felt a sudden flood of appreciation for the poor old King who did not have the power to sway his rather childlike Queen.
"Get up, girl," the Queen barked. "You look ridiculous."
Ginny slowly got to her feet. Her eyes locked on to the Queen. "Yes, your Majesty?"
"Magic," the Queen snapped. "Inform me. Now."
"Yes, your Majesty."
Ginny was desperately tempted to give a mocking curtsy, but she decided being overly impertinent at this point was not good for her health. The side of her neck felt sticky from the point where March's knife had nicked her skin.
"It's the way things work in my world," Ginny began. "You use science to get around, we use magic. Like… like we enchant dishes to clean themselves up so we don't have to wash them!"
The Queen's eyes narrowed. "Can you use this power, this… enchanting… on people?"
Ginny winced. She had a feeling that the Queen now wanted to exploit magic – if she could get her hands on it.
"Answer me now, girl," the Queen ordered. "I'm growing tired of all this dilly-dallying. Hurry up, or I will send you to the Truth Room."
"I don't know—"
"Magic only affects people in good ways, your Majesty," Ginny said carefully, trying her best to hide the lie. "Like… healing."
"Hmm…" The Queen paused, her lips pursed.
Ginny's eyes flicked around the room, trying to spot her wand, if it was here. She wasn't sure where else it could be; she had had it on her when the flamingo had gone down, and then it had disappeared. If she was lucky, it should be here in the throne room. If she wasn't lucky, then it was sinking to the bottom of the lake right now.
If that was true, she would be stuck here forever and the Queen of Hearts would have her head.
"Girl! How does one perform this magic?"
"Some off-hand words," Ginny said. The entrance to the throne room opened as she spoke; she watched as several Suits came in and hurried towards the Queen. They were carrying something, but she couldn't see what it was. "You have to have a magical background… lots of studying… and…" Her voice drifted off. "And a wand," she added. "Rather like that one there."
Ginny started forwards. The Suits were holding her wand and were trying to present it to the Queen, who was partly still interested in what Ginny was saying and partly interested in what the Suits were trying to give her.
"That's my wand!" Ginny shouted.
A sudden commotion broke out. Suits went flying everywhere as Ginny charged into them, reaching for her wand. She managed to knock it out of a Suit's hand; it went flying up in the air, shooting bright red sparks. Suddenly, someone was tackling her to the floor, drawing her away backwards across the throne room. The wand clattered to the floor and began rolling away.
March had captured her again. Ginny's arms were being held behind her back as she was dragged away. She struggled to free herself, but the assassin's grip on her was too strong. From across the throne room, the Queen gave her a little smirk, rose from her seat and descended the steps to the floor. Slowly, she bent over and picked up the wand to inspect it.
It felt as though everyone in the room was holding their breath.
Ginny squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating on her wand, praying for a bit of very unlikely wandless magic. Accio, accio wand, accio… come on, anything at all…
The Queen rolled the wand between her hands and held it up to her eye.
Oh, come on! Ginny thought furiously. Furnunculus! Impedimenta! Oh, I don't know! LUMOS!
The wand exploded with light blasting into the eyes of the Suits surrounding the Queen. They called out in pain and stumbled backwards, blinded. The Queen dropped the wand in surprise and glared at them.
"What are you doing, you useless Suits?!" she roared. "Off with their heads!" She stormed back to her throne and proceeded to watch the commotion as most of her bodyguards were pulled out by the non-blinded Suits, of which there was a minority.
Ginny thought she saw the King of Hearts distinctly perform a face-palm when no one was paying attention. He quietly summoned his aide and murmured a command to him, no doubt a counter-order to the Queen's careless demand.
"So, little Oyster," the Queen said. "That thing right there is responsible for disabling my looking-glass?"
"Um… yes, your Majesty. I think so."
"You think so?!" Her voice went up several octaves.
"Well, I don't really know for sure, but it's a 'yes' at my best guess!"
"Your best guess?!" The Queen sighed. "I am not amused. Indeed, I am very, very… annoyed. Marchey, if you want to kill her now, kill her now. This interrogation is closed."
Ginny's heart nearly jumped into her throat. "Now, wait just a second!" she said. "I'm the only one who can fix it!"
"I don't believe you, you little lying tart!"
There was a rumble that sounded something like thunder. The floor shook. Ginny took the opportunity and ripped herself free from March's grasp and started towards the throne.
"Just listen to me, would you?!" she shouted.
Ginny heard the knife blade swinging towards her before she saw it. She ducked and dove to the left, silently thanking her Quidditch-trained reflexes. She had thrown herself out of the way just in time as the knife passed by her ear. She crashed into the floor and rolled over, regaining her bearings.
Mad March, his white-stone hare head devoid of any human emotion, was free to hunt her down and kill her right there and then.
"Twinkle, twinkle, little girl," he said in a lunatic, sing-song voice. "I will make your blood curl. Nice knowing you, Ginny."
Ginny's eyes fell on the silver blade as it drew nearer and nearer. She saw her wand in her peripheral vision; she only had seconds to act. Throwing herself at her wand, she missed March's second blow by inches. The knife swung towards her again just as her fingers closed around her wand; rolling herself over she jabbed her wand into the air and shouted.
A jet of red light blasted from the tip of her wand and slammed into March's head. The white stone exploded from the inside, showering the entire throne room with chunks of stone, plaster and a fine layer of white dust. The knife dropped from his hand, clattering uselessly to the floor, as his headless body tumbled over backwards.
The Queen's shriek was ear-piercing.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!"
Ginny slowly got to her feet and brushed her white-streaked hair out of her face. "Magic," she said. "This is what we call magic in my world. I am a witch." She glared at the Queen of Hearts, refusing to lower her wand. "And I am a damn good witch," Ginny added. "I survived the Battle of Hogwarts. I fought Death Eaters and lived to tell the tale. You mess with me, Queen of Wonderland, you mess with my magic, and trust me, you don't want to mess with my magic. You've never been on the receiving end of one of my Bat-Bogey Hexes and according to my brothers, you don't want to be."
The Queen's face was rapidly turning purple with rage. "You will regret this—"
She was interrupted by another thunder-like sound. The entire building shook from side to side. Ginny's eyes flickered to the lights in the ceiling; they were going out.
"Yeah, I probably will regret this if I don't get out of here soon," Ginny said. "Because there's if there's one thing technology doesn't like, it's magic. I've casted two spells in here all ready, and I don't think your Casino is handling it very well."
"What?" the Queen roared.
"So, you can either get everyone out of here, or you can wait for several thousand tons of Hearts' Casino to fall on your head," Ginny said, backing up quickly towards the door. "I'm going to find my friends and do just that."
The Queen of Hearts rose from her throne. "What have you gone, girl?!" she shouted.
Ginny smirked. "I can illustrate that quite perfectly for you," she said. "You see, your Majesty, in my world there's a game called Exploding Snap. It's a magic game. You have to play the game fast enough before the cards set themselves on fire and explode in your face. You know what that explosion does?"
The Queen glared at her. "No."
"It brings down the whole house of cards."
The building rumbled again. Ginny shot an impish smile at the Queen.
"Oh look," she said. "Snap."