Yay back to fast updates ( well so far so good )
Once again I'm really sorry about that gap you guys had to wait for the last chapter. Le sigh for being a moody bish . Annnyyywayyyyyyy……
I am kinda happy with this chapter :P I know I upset some of you with Tarrants character last chapter but maybe this will make you understand a little better…
You know what makes me happeh…review my dear little chickens


Extra note : I've made some veryyyy minor edits to this chapter so that everything makes sense =]


Cheshire slinked after Alice and Tarrant until they reached the gates of the White castle . He was terribly disappointed that the trip wasn't more eventful. The only perk was seeing Tarrant walk so impossibly close to her. Understandable certainly , Alice was about to be set upon a journey that would be danger filled and possibly murderous . All depended on the ingredients of her crown .
Sure the ingredients could be simple but he knew that wouldn't be the case with their dear Alice . Alice held power and he was almost positive that the ingredients of her crown would reflect that .
It was time he left the pair to their own devices . He rolled comically through the air and floated upward and into a balcony . He would meet them momentarily in the main hall .

Hatter had stopped walking and paused just as they passed through the gates . She understood it must be hard for him to be here .

She saw the mournful look appear on his face and moved her arm from his , grasping his hand reassuringly instead .

" I'm here Hatter , I'm not her but I'm here nonetheless , I wont let your sadness eat up at you like some sort of disease "

Alice had a determined look on her features . Of course she cared about him .
After his thoughts the previous night it made him feel unworthy of such attention from her.
He whipped his hand away from her as if it burnt , " I'm okay", he said ,almost too harshly as he walked forward without her .

She scowled at his reaction but decided she would let his behaviour pass for now . He was in pain , she would make exceptions . Though she found it unsettling how quickly he changed from twitchingly happy to morbidly depressed .She followed him slowly and nervously wishing she did have his hand to hold on to . Less now for his comfort than her own piece of mind . She was back in the unfamiliar world of Underland where the most insane thing could be considered a normality , and right now she was feeling so very alone .

Tarrant walked ahead and into the castle .
His mind and heart pressing annoyingly against one another . Alice had troubled his dreams in her absence . He hated her for tormenting his slumber, he wanted her, he didn't want her , he wished she'd leave his nights sleepless , he wished she'd stay longer .
Alice had come back , he felt happiness, confusion , he wanted her , he hated himself , he didn't want to want her , but oh how he did .
It infuriated him at times how his mind worked . How his emotion could change from one to the other in mere seconds .
How anger could come quicker than the blink of an eye , how the only thing people expected of him now was insanity.
He could remember every thought that his brain conjured up the previous evening . He remembered how he stole a sweet kiss from her untouched lips and each time she looked at him he felt a wave of shame wash over him . At least he assumed they were untouched ...
Frankly he felt disgusted at himself for stealing something as innocent and as pure as a first kiss .
He walked forward with his head lowered feeling unworthy of holding even a finger of Alice's .He would have to talk to Alice about his state of mind regarding his feelings , else they would get in the way . They would cloud his mind when it needed to be sharp .
He would have to approach this conversation skilfully however , he didn't want to put them both in such a position that she hated him and no longer wished for his protection when it came to collecting the ingredients . She was a hard headed female but oh she would need protection .

As he had walked through the gates he had felt pain in his heart for the loss of Underland's Queen , he had not been at court for the longest time and here the pain was still fresh . It seemed though that grief had sobered him .
He came to a halt as he stood just beyond the main doors feeling it would b e cruel to let Alice enter the main hall by herself .

When Alice pushed the doors to the Castle open she was most relieved to find Hatter waiting for her solemnly against a wall . He looked rather out of sorts but she assumed it was just the environment they were in . She didn't try to take his arm or his hand again but kept her chin high as he nodded to her and gave her a weak smile . He led the way and she followed him as he walked towards two large and heavy golden doors and pushed .

They stepped into a large circular room . Alice's eyes were wide and somewhat frightened looking .
There were several men and woman , creatures and other things that were all in assembly in front of her . Row by row they either curtsied or bowed in show of respect . She unconsciously moved her hand to Hatter seeking some sort of familiarity . When he didn't respond to it she shifted her eyes in his direction only to find that his hat was removed and his head to was lowered in show of respect .
There was a lump in her throat as she looked at the masses gathered before her . She took a shuddering breath , inwardly knowing what she had to do .With a leap of bravery she uttered the words , " Rise."

Promptly the entire room was on their feet , still all eyes were rested on her , some smiled , some were crying , some looked on at her in distaste and others looked on with a curiosity that could reckon with her own . Everyone looked at her expectantly , was she expected to talk? what was she to say? Her heart pounded and she felt rather faint . Suddenly Hatter stepped forward and addressed those in attendance .
" Oh Creatures , Men ,Women , Children , Vegetation , Spirits , Inhabitants of Underland… Brought forth is the new Queen . We owe her respect as we respected her when she defeated the dreaded Jabberwocky , but now a degree higher!" , he thrust his hands in the air , a serious look painted on his face for a serious message , " Queen Alice has been chosen by the White Queen to succeed her in event of her illness or death , but her majesty is of a new bloodline and so her power and authority will be held to question until she has a crown on her head . We are gathered here today to witness the telling of ingredients our Queens crown will consist of , this is a historical moment and it will give you all an idea of the power that will protect this land when she finally takes the throne ."
He looked at Alice and held out his hand with his head lowered .
He felt her hand shake in his palm , she had never seen Hatter be so serious . He walked through the crowd of people and into the centre of the room stopping in the middle . His eyes levelled with hers and he whispered quietly words that only she could hear , " It'll be okay Cricket… close your eyes "
Alice let her lids close and felt Hatter put a finger on her forehead .

Tarrant watched her comply with him which only worsened the guilt he felt about his previous action towards her . She trusted him . He cleared his throat and began an incantation that would reveal to him the ingredients needed to construct her crown . He could see Alice frowning ,trying to listen to his mumblings because that is indeed what they were . Mumblings , but very effective mumblings at that .

The surrounding air was filled with power and felt static against the skin of onlookers . His eyes had turned the most intense shade of blue . His head filling with information . His face became darker the more he was connected with the power that swirled forbiddingly around him. Eventually he dragged his forefinger from Alice's forehead and fell back with a gasp that gave the impression he had been drowning . The crowd around the two watched the display intently , wide eyed and startled .

Tarrant clutched his heart as he doubled over trying to regain his breath and energy . He had never participated in an event such as this before but he thoroughly thought that the spell he just uttered should most definitely have come with a safety warning . Oh the things he saw . Poor Alice . Poor him to he figured . He raised his head and collected himself , standing straight , his facial expression speaking volumes. His lips pressed into a thin line and his jaw tight .

Alice watched him worriedly anticipating bad news . Perhaps she wasn't compatible with Underland . She wasn't from here after all. A tight feeling clenched her stomach . She wouldn't go back to London . If they didn't need her she'd stay anyway . Her eyes pleaded with Hatter and he decided that what he had seen had to be said . He took a step forward and burst straight into topic .

" A single Phoenix feather from the mountain tops of Adarzel, representing new life , regeneration and healing properties "
"Half a dozen sapphires from the Mines of Lucioran , for rarity , strength and beauty"
" And…A rose from the enchanted forest in the Fae Realm of Lehdorias , representing love , devious characteristics and a majik bound by duty "

His voice had faltered on the last ingredient and several gasps resounded around the room . Alice looked around .
She could tell by the pitying expressions that her task of gathering what she needed was going to be a very difficult one indeed . Even those that had looked down at her upon her entrance had faces painted a picture of pity and shock . Hatter himself seemed to have slipped into a small trance .
A voice sounded in question from the crowd, " And if she fails , what is Underland supposed to do without a ruler!?"
Trance ended .
Tarrant's eyes fixed on the questioner and his face twisted into a picture of rage , his eyes flashing the most malicious shade of yellow . A heavy accent penetrated the air , " Ai cud tear ye apart wee man piece by wee fleshy , bloody piece , if ye dare disrespect the new Queen of yer Lund again ! "

He began to advance towards the trembling man in the crowd before Alice realised the danger he was in , " Hatter!" , she shrieked , " Stop !"

Immediately Tarrant's shoulders slumped and he threw a sheepish and apologetic look at her , " Sorry" , he squeaked .

He walked back to Alice's side and addressed the crowd again who was now extremely wary of him.

" If Queen Alice succeeds she will be the most powerful being Underland has ever seen . Your Queen is strong , have you all forgotten so easily the beheading of the Jabberwocky!" , his eyes softened and he looked at her , " You may choose your escort ".

She was thrown rather off balance that he was asking her to choose , after all she thought that he was already chosen by default.
Judging by everyone else's reactions she was going to face unspeakable danger ,perhaps he was insisting she choose someone else .
Though , there was no one else she wanted .
She raised her eyes to his as if asking silent permission to choose him . He gave the smallest nod that wouldn't be noticed by any of the on lookers .
" I choose , The Mad Hatter as my escort " , she spoke but felt her voice coming out rather weakly . She watched him bow in front of her ,taking her hand and leaning his head on it .
" I will fight , live and die in order to protect you your majesty."
Now most certainly wasn't the time to blush but she wasn't used to the attention and despite her curiosity she was a rather shy female when it came to men and random people bowing down to her .

She heard a few sighs of relief as she uttered "Hatter" .
She moved her eyes in the direction that most of the sighs came from and noticed several men in chain mail exchanging a few little smiles amongst each other . She could only imagine they were knights . One of them caught her looking and lowered his head in respect . She threw a small scowl at him and turned back to Hatter who was still on his knees . She had no time for cowards . Pffft some knights they are .
She moved her hand from Hatters head and touched his cheek softly motioning for him to get up .
Slowly people began to depart having seen the main event . No one was interested in what she did now until she had a crown on her head . In fact many had already written her off as deceased . How could such a dainty female survive the trials before her that made the Jabberwocky look friendlier and less harmful than a Brutterfly? Surely she had shown strength and courage to behead the Jabberwocky ,but she was going to need more than strength and courage to come out of her ordeal breathing .
She was going to need cunning and know how . They only hoped Hatter didn't meet his end on their travels .Back in the day he was quite an amusing fellow , and he did make quite wonderful hats.

After the hall had cleared there was only a few individuals left . A large grin spread across her face as she identified each one.
She kissed Tweedledee and Tweedledum on the forehead causing them to look down at the ground shyly .
She almost stood on Mallymkun as she ran to White Rabbit who was fidgeting with his little gold watch . She hugged the rabbit and apologised to Mallymkun throwing the little dormouse a fond look . The small blood hound Bayard yipped excitedly round her feet , his tongue out comically .
The Dodo bird simply watched the gathering beside Hatter who had a very light smile touching his lips .

As soon as Alice saw a little blue flicker that appeared to be Absolom she lunged at it . " You! You dropped me!"

Absolom evaded her grabbing hands , " You hurt your self by neglect , stupid girl" , he flitted as far away from her as possible feeling no compulsion to stay .
They would meet again though . Alice glared after him knowing that his evaluation was true . It was more than likely she wouldn't have been hurt if she had been taking proper care of herself prior to falling to Underland . She noticed the absence of Hatters friend the crazy March Hare .
" Wheres Thackery? " , she questioned . Hatters lips didn't have a chance to open before Cheshire floated on his belly in front of her .
" I do believe ,that mental case ,was hopping around the woods this morning , something about collecting a new flavour for tea?"
Tarrant let out an " Ah" sound and inwardly shuddered . Anything Thackery Earwicket collected for …well anything…always seemed to turn out rather grotesque .
Alice smiled at Cheshire promptly proceeded to scratch behind his ears . A loud purr echoed around the room . Tarrant allowed the word " suckup" escape from his mouth as he shot a brief glare at the cat . Damned cat .
" Right!" , Hatter yelled startling mostly everyone around him , " Off we go!"
Alice's eyes went wide . They were leaving now?
" Wait , Hatter , Where!?"
He smiled seeing her panic .
" A goodbye cup of tea with friends , come now Cricket , there's more frightening things in the world than sitting next to Cheshire ." His eyes shot over to the cat and added in a lower voice , " maybe more frightening but far more welcome"

Alice heard and stifled a giggle .
" To the table then? " , she asked.
" But of course , where else would the most wonderful tea exist?"

Alice shook her head smiling . How modest of him . She felt very content , happier than she'd felt in a long time . She was surrounded by friends and light heartedness . It was a feeling she was clinging to and thankfully Hatter was in a pleasant mood again . She realised that if she was going to be spending so much time with him that she would have to get used to the mood swings .
She wouldn't have it any other way . Not really .

For reference Lehdorias , Lucioran and Adarzel are all figments of my imagination ...i hope they dont sound too retarded ...heh xD

Thanks for reading!