Disclaimer: Alice in Wonderland © Lewis Carroll
A/N: Just a quick note. When I call Kaden romantic in the first paragraph, I'm not talking about the "love" romantic. I mean more of the 19th century artistic romantic (departed from classicism and emphasized sensibility, the free expression of feelings, nature, and interest in other cultures).
Kaden's father was a seaman indeed. He didn't smile very much and he didn't say a lot. Alice, however, found his precence to be very calming after being alone for a week. However, she noticed that he was the exact opposite of his optimistic romantic son. His light blonde hair was streaked with silver and his light blue eyes were framed with baggy wrinkles and stress lines. His face was leathery and weathered with time while his gait mirrored someone half his age. He carried himself with strength but walked somewhat slowly. He led her to a cliff where a tiny house stood on the very edge. In front of the house was a large vegetable garden ready for harvesting. As soon as they were a few feet from the gate, Alice heard screaming.
"Give it back, give it back! It's mine!" A little girl with light blonde hair raced out into the garden running after a boy that looked like a younger version of Kaden who was carrying a cloth doll. The boy ran behind Mr. Moreston and stuck his tongue out precociously at her.
"Finders keepers, losers weepers," he called out.
"Oh, Daddy, Daddy," the girl wept, "He took my dolly!"
"Acton, give your sister her doll back," Mr. Moreston said in his usual grow. The boy gave up the doll without another word, but stuck his tongue out again when he was sure his father wasn't looking. "Come with me, Miss Alice."
He led her inside the house into the kitchen. Alice looked around the house and realized what kind of world her friend had come from. Everything looked worn and second hand. What wasn't worn was broken and then hastily repaired or still broken. A woman was cutting vegetables at the counter with her back to the entrance. Alice wasn't sure that she even knew they were there until she turned around and Alice was able to see her face. Her facial features were almost identical to Kaden's. Her light colored hair was tucked up into a tight bun while her light green dress was obviously worn and frayed like everything else in the house. Her green eyes had a maternal light to them, one that comforted Alice. Mrs. Moreston wiped her hands on her apron and gave Alice a warm smile.
"You're late, dear," she gently scolded her husband, "I was worried about ya. Ah, ya must be Alice."
"Yes, ma'am," Alice said quietly.
"We've heard so many wonderful things about ya from Kaden," Mrs. Moreston replied. "It's wonderful to finally meet ya."
Alice wished that she could say the same thing to her, but Kaden never talked about his family. She had never realized until that moment how private Kaden really was about his personal life. He never talked about having any siblings and not once had even mentioned his mother and father. Alice heard the door slam and saw several people rush in and out of the kitchen. Alice wasn't sure that she could even count all of them. Then, Mrs. Moreston explained that there were six people, all of which were Kaden's brothers and sisters, but two of his sisters were married and living with their families. Alice couldn't believe it. Never before had she seen so many blood-relatives living under one room. The largest family she had ever seen had five children, not ten. His family was lower class too. It was no wonder he was fine with working as a servant. He was already used to having working hard and having no privacy.
"Kaden!" Alice exclaimed. "I'm so happy to see you."
Kaden took her outside and he told her about what happened since she disappeared. He had been fired from his job at the castle, arrested for "unlawful seduction", and then banished. When Alice tried to apologize, Kaden stopped her with a sad smile. He said he was lucky to be banished to the place he had been raised in rather than going to the Outlands. Alice hugged her legs to her body. She felt terribly guilty for what happened to him. Then, she suggested her idea to him.
"Alice, I don't think that's a good idea," Kaden said. "We'll be shipped off to the Outlands. At least here, I've got a job…"
"You don't sound happy to be living with your parents," Alice pointed out. "What do we have to lose?"
"Banishment," Kaden said, "for starters. Then, you'll meet up with the Red Queen, Stayne, and Minerva. All of which, I'll remind you, hate you and would love to kill you."
"Kaden," Alice begged, "if we could go back to Mirana and this works…I can go back to Tarrant."
"Please," Kaden groaned, "don't pull the guilt card on me! I am happy here! I'm living in a three bedroom house with my four brothers and I work at the docks where I get to meet some of the seafood that ends up on the dinner table…Okay, I'm miserable here! I hate living with my parents, I hate working at a place where I have to kill poor defenseless animals and I have officially decided that I am never eating seafood again."
"Think about Mirana!" Alice knew that she had Kaden, she just needed to reel him in. "She's angry because she thinks you love me. That means that she jealous, which means that she loves you!"
"Why are you women so complicated?" Kaden exclaimed. "Man, no wonder the Red King go killed."
"As a complicated woman," Alice growled, "I think I take offense to that."
"Well," Kaden blushed, "I didn't mean you in specific, but…aw forget it. I grew up with five sisters and I still don't understand women."
Alice couldn't help but laugh. It was great to have her best friend back again. She still missed Tarrant, but at least she wasn't as lonely anymore. They talked from brillig until sundown. Alice missed him, but wondered why he was being so pleasant if he never wanted to see her again. She asked him about it and he revealed that Mirana was much more lenient on him when she thought he hated Alice. Alice hated bringing up Mirana because Kaden's eyes grew sad every time she was mentioned. It was obvious that he and Mirana loved each other, but Minerva's revenge had ruined everything for them. Oddly enough, the whole ordeal seemed to have finally brought Alice and Tarrant together only to tear them apart. But at least Tarrant was faithfully waiting for Alice. Kaden was all alone since Mirana banished him. It was just as painful watching Kaden miss Mirana as it was thinking about Tarrant back in Tugley Wood. Alice suggested her plan again. Kaden said no and stood up. Alice knew that he was scared and that he needed time to think about things…she just hoped that Tarrant could wait just a little longer. Kaden's parents let her stay at their home in a room with his three remaining sisters. To repay them, Alice worked in the house alongside Mrs. Moreston while everyone else was working or at the local school. The work didn't bother her compared to what she had to do when she worked in the White Castle. Finally, after a week, Kaden finally came around to the idea of going back to Marmoreal. Maybe he was tired of living with his parents. Alice couldn't blame him what with the torture that came with having five brothers. Alice thanked his parents for letting her stay with them and they prepared to leave when Mrs. Moreston stopped her.
"Alice," she said, "good luck to ya. Be careful now."
"Yes, Mrs. Moreston," Alice nodded, "we'll be fine."
"What will ya do when everything is all said and done?" Mrs. Moreson asked.
"If things work out well," Alice sighed contently, "I hope to return to Tugley Wood where the man I love lives. Then, we can have a life together."
"Love?" Kaden's mother asked, "Ya and kaden most really love your beloveds."
"We do," Alice said, "more than anything."
"Alice, before you leave," the older woman began, "just remember that love is a powerful ally. It can move mountains and help ya fight against the most dangerous foes. As long as you've got love in your heart, ya can do anything. If I've learned anything in all my years of marriage, it's that. If ya truly love someone and they truly love ya in return, everything'll work out fine."
"Thank you, Mrs. Moreston," Alice said, touched by her words.
"One more thing, Alice."
"Kaden and his da don't get along these days," Mrs. Moreston confided, "When our children were younger, my husband taught them to stay away from romances in other social classes besides our own. It helps them stay away from too much heartbreak. Ya know how the upper class works."
"Kaden always thought differently. He knew that he was meant to do something better than a fisherman or a farmer. Alice, look after him. He trusts ya more than ya can imagine. Don't let him be sent to the Outlands. We really do want him to visit again from time to time."
"I promise, Mrs. Moreston." Alice bowed her head. "I'll protect him as if he was my own. Fairfarren."
"Fairfarren," Mrs. Moreston said.
The Queast countryside was beautiful. It was filled with fields full of bright blossoming flowers both talking and silent and fields full of vegetables and fruit trees. Alice couldn't help but wonder why she had never gone to Queast sooner. Then she realized that she never really got to experience the full wonder of Underland. She always had to rush from one place to another. She never really had a chance to really relax and let things happen as they may. Afraid of getting arrested, they traveled at night and hid in the nearby forest or in empty barns. Each day, they drew closer and closer to Marmoreal. Each day, Alice grew a little more excited because her wait was almost over. She was almost back home to Tugley Wood.
"Where are we?" Alice asked Kaden one morning. "Pull out the map."
"Alright," Kaden reached into his knapsack and pulled out a map his father gave him. He laid it out in front of them and pointed to a tiny red dot on the map. By then, Alice wasn't surprised to see the map moving. Kaden had told her that in Underland, maps told you where you really were and they moved as borders changed and important cities were closed down or built and such like that. He pointed at the red dot right under the Q in Queast.
"Just there?" Alice asked disappointedly. "Surely we've gone farther!"
"The map never lies," Kaden said simply. Alice crossed her arms across her chest.
"We've got to go. I've still got some strength in me," she insisted.
"But I'm exhausted and we're wanted fugitives. By now, they know that I'm not at work and I'm not with my parents." Kaden lay back on the bright green grass. "Violating the Queen's orders is against Underlandian laws. It'd be best if we rested for the night—morning, rather—and just try to get some sleep."
Alice, feeling sleepy herself, laid back on the grass a few feet away from Kaden. Her eyes grew heavier and heavier and finally, she fell asleep. As she slept, she dreamed about Tugley Wood and all that lived there. She dreamt of Tarrant and returning to him. She dreamt of doing what she had been procrastinating to do for months: opening her own dress shop. Then, her dream became a nightmare. She dreamt that Mirana still refused to believe them and then banished them both to the Outlands where the Red Queen, Stayne, and Minerva were waiting for them… Alice shot straight up breathing heavily. She looked around and couldn't see anyone except Kaden sleeping soundly on the ground only a few feet away. She moaned, stretched, and then lay back on the ground. Light streamed through the leaves in the trees in small strong beams. The forest floor was cool and the grass was as soft as a pillow. A soft breeze flowed through the trees and brushed against her face. Birds chirped above her and she heard animals move in the distance. She closed her eyes again and then let herself go back to sleep.
"Don't even move," someone said. Alice opened her eyes and saw the sharp point of a sword in her face only a few inches from her nose. A guard was standing over her holding the sword. Alice looked over and saw two other guards load a captured Kaden into the back of a wagon.
"I'll come along quietly if you get that sword out of my face," Alice snarled.
"You'll come along quietly even if I have to use this to cut out your damn tongue," the head guard snapped. "Now raise your hands."
Alice obeyed and heavy iron handcuffs were slapped onto her wrists. She was then roughly jerked up from the ground and loaded into the wagon behind Kaden. Two guards climbed in with them while the head guard climbed up with the driver. They were almost halfway to Marmoreal. Maybe they were only a couple weeks away at best, but now all they worked for was for nothing. They were arrested and they had no chance of coming up with a plan now. Alice pulled her knees close to her body and buried her head in her arms. She then felt someone sympathetically pat her shoulder and heard chains clanking.
"Everything will work out, Alice," Kaden said hopefully. "I mean, who has really seen the Outlands? For all we know, it's a tropical paradise."
"Yeah, hula girls and cabana boys, right?" Alice asked bitterly. "I don't want a cabana boy. I want Tarrant!"
"Enough chit-chat back there," the head guard shouted. "You both are under arrest." All Alice could think about was that Tarrant was waiting for her. Tarrant was waiting and she had no way of telling him that she had been arrested. How long would it be until he realized that she was never coming home? Alice couldn't stand the thought of it. The wagon took them to Marmoreal and the guards took them straight to Mirana's chambers. The White Queen looked so angry, so dangerous, and yet even Alice had to notice that she looked beautiful at the same time. She looked into Kaden's eyes with pure contempt. He looked at the floor and didn't say a single word. Alice looked straight at Mirana and didn't back down. She did absolutely nothing wrong and didn't deserve to be banished.
"You have some nerve coming back here, Alice," Mirana said icily.
"Mirana," Alice said, her voice quivering only a little, "we lied to you. We deceived you. But we did not plot against you. Kaden and I are like brother and sister. He loves you. That's why he came up with the 'Lord Kendric' idea."
"Oh really?" Mirana said unconvinced.
"I-It's true," Kaden whispered. Mirana's brown eyes widened, but she resumed her composure. "I lied to you because I was ashamed of who I was. If I had come to you as a servant, you wouldn't have given me the light of day. I'm lower class, you're the very highest class. Classes aren't meant to mix."
"You lied to me because you thought that I wouldn't accept you?" Mirana repeated in surprise. "Did you really think that it would have mattered to me?"
"I'm…I was a servant." Kaden insisted. "Servants marry servants, nobles marry nobles."
"Kaden," Mirana stood and approached him, "that's not always true. Look at Alice and Tarrant. He was raised lower class while Alice was raised upper class back in the Other World."
"That's right." Alice nodded.
Then, Mirana kissed Kaden. His eyes widen in shock, but he didn't move. Alice felt a wide grin come to her face. She knew that Mirana wouldn't have cared about Kaden's social status. The only problem that stopped them had been Kaden all along. When they parted, Mirana rushed to Alice and took Alice's hands in her own.
"Alice, I'm so sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have gotten so angry. I should have known that you, my Champion, would have never betrayed me. Guards, release them." The guards took off the handcuffs.
"Mirana," Alice said rubbing her now free wrists, "we're not going to be banished?"
"Of course not, my Champion," Mirana smiled. She took Kaden's hands in her own. "Kaden, can you ever forgive me?"
"Of course," Kaden replied. Alice smiled as she remembered what Kaden had said about complicated women.
Alice wished the couple best wishes and arranged for a carriage to take her back to Crims. The ride was slow, but at least it was faster than walking or even running. As soon as she saw Tugley Wood, she got out of the carriage and took off running, even though it was unladylike. Almost there, she told herself, I'm almost there! Tarrant, I'm coming. Alice pushed through the trees and vines until she saw a house in the distance. Then, she heard singing. "Twinkle twinkle little bat..." Alice laughed in ecstasy and took off running towards the voices. She was almost there. Just a little farther and she could be with Tarrant once more. "…how I wonder where you're at…" She broke through the trees and saw her favorite trio at the long rectangle table. "up above the world so high, like a tea tray in the sky…"
"Alice!" Mallymkun gasped.
"Alice!" Thackery began choking on his tea.
"Alice…" Tarrant breathed. Like when she had come to the tea party her second time in Underland, Tarrant got on top of the table and marched across. Alice ran towards him and threw her arms around him when they finally reached each other.
"I told you I would be back soon." Alice said triumphantly. "Kaden and I explained everything to Mirana. She dropped all the charges immediately. I came here as soon as I could."
"My Alice," Tarrant held her close. Alice sighed and knew that everything would work out great, just like Kaden's mother told her. Then, she felt him stiffen. Alice looked up at him and he frowned at her.
"You're very late you know," he said bringing her onto the table, like the last time, "naughty."
Alice laughed and took her seat at the table, right next to her Hatter. She took a teacup from Thackery, thankfully unbroken, and caught two cubes of sugar from Mallymkun before accepting tea from Tarrant. She thought about Mrs. Moreston's words. Just remember that love is a powerful ally. It can move mountains and help ya fight against the most dangerous foes. As long as you've got love in your heart, ya can do anything. If I've learned anything in all my years of marriage, it's that. If ya truly love someone and they truly love ya in return, everything'll work out fine.Yes, things were going to work out fine for Alice and Tarrant in the end. Alice was sure of it.
A/N: And so ends another trial for Alice. Don't worry, fangirls, she's not going to be leaving her hatter for a long time. For now, I'm happy just writing fluff and romance between our favorite Champion and Hatter until…nah, I'll just keep this a secret for now. ;)