Is Alice finally going to be reunited with Wonderland and a certain Hatter?
Read on to find out!
The wind stirred in the clearing, the moonlight highlighting the young woman sitting cross-legged in a patch of periwinkle flowers.
"All those times, you tried to contact me?" Alice spoke into the mirror.
The giddiness from seeing Chessur in the mirror had slowly dimmed, leaving an ache and a bad feeling in Alice's chest.
Chessur nodded. "You see, that blasted boy – Harry or whoever – filled in the only way so far that Nivens could get through to your part of your world."
Alice felt a swell of anger towards Hamish as she heard Chessur's sad words.
"But of course, you didn't help much." Chessur grinned. "Do you talk to trees often?"
Alice poked her tongue out at him. "Only if they talk back!"
Chessur laughed quietly, loving her muchness.
"So is there no way for me to return?" Alice asked, an overwhelming grief building up inside her.
Chessur licked a paw. "Do you have any Jabberwocky blood left?"
Alice shook her head.
"Well…that's a problem, I suppose…" Chessur had a strange gleam in his eyes that Alice preferred to ignore for now.
"How about the tree?" Alice asked, pointing to the tip of it.
Chessur laughed. "The tree? Do you really think that Pishsalver works in your world? Use your head Alice."
Embarrassed, Alice did not reply.
Chessur seemed to look around him anxiously, which made Alice curious.
"Where are you?" She asked him.
He looked very smug. "The Queen's Chambers. Mirana's that is."
Alice gasped. "How did you get in there?"
He raised an eyebrow. "I'm a cat with evaporating skills, Alice. How do you think I got in here? … I have a hint for you – I certainly did not use the door."
Alice would have taken offence to the tone he was using with her, but she knew that it was simply his nature, and instead, smiled sweetly at him.
"Tell me, Alice, when is the last time you went into your father's study?"
Alice blanched and nearly dropped the mirror.
"Hmm, that is what I thought." Chessur sighed. "You know, going back in there won't make him rise from the dead."
Alice's heart constricted painfully and she suddenly had to look up at the stars in the sky-
"Oh no!" Alice exclaimed, leaping up and beginning to run through the forest.
"Late, are we?" Chessur's voice came from the mirror. "I was wondering when you were going to notice."
"Oh, shush." She said and began to tuck the mirror away in her underdress pocket.
Chessur gave an indignant yowl and Alice laughed. She was sure he would have left the mirror on the sight of her lifting skirt.
Chessur did not like being shoved into a lady's underskirt. In fact, he detested it. And so he made it very difficult for Alice that lovely May night…
The first problem occurred in what seemed like a general matter.
A young suitor, who was handsome, but uptight, came to wish Alice a happy birthday and introduce himself. He then took it upon himself to ask her for a dance. She accepted.
It was a lively dance, with lots of twirling and synchronised lifts –
But poor Chessur was not enjoying it at all. He felt dizzy, sitting on the fireplace, staring into the mirror that seemed to jumble around. It gave him quite a headache.
"Alice!" He hissed, and clawed the mirror.
"Did you hear that?" Alice asked the young suitor, whose name had escaped her. She could have sworn she heard a ripping noise.
The suitor did not turn his head, but glanced at her, a smile still on his face.
"Hear what, miss?"
Alice shook her head, and focused on the dance. This was her most favourite dance, after all, because of all the lifts. She quite liked being held in the air – and not because of the man who was holding her – oh no, not at all. It just made her feel very free, like she were flying, as she was spun around in mid air, her hair flying out.
She let out a carefree laugh as he lifted her again, which made him blush bright red. A few couples nearby gave them a strange look.
"Oh, Alice, playing your games." Her suitor laughed shortly, "Hamish told me you were very playful."
He punctuated the last word with setting her on the ground heavily. She collected herself and glared at him, stopping dancing all together.
"How rude!" A lady nearby exclaimed as they interfered with her dance course.
"Pardon, pardon!" The young man apologised, and tugged Alice off the dance floor.
The spinning circles went on for the other dancers as he escorted Alice to her place, before bowing, and hurrying off, shaking his head.
Alice felt her mother's eyes on her and gave a snort. Her night was going well until he was rude. She sat down and yawned.
Suddenly, she realised that there was a very strange sound beneath all the lovely classical music playing for the party. It was very strange indeed. A low, murmuring sound…and it was close.
Alice glanced around, before clapping her hand over her mouth to quiet her laughter. Something was tickling her.
She wrapped her arms around her torso, choking back her giggles.
"S-stop!" She gasped, before covering her mouth again.
There was a familiar, ominous laugh. Alice's eyes began to water. Her leg jerked out from beneath her dress as the torture continued.
"Ch-Chessur! Stop! Pl-" Alice couldn't keep the laugh from escaping, and once she let that one out, the rest followed with rapid procession.
She squirmed and giggled, kicking her feet. She realised that she had gotten the attention of a few ladies nearby.
She tried to restrain herself, breathing deeply. She pretended to drop her fan and leaned down to get it.
"Ch-Chessur," she giggled, cross, "Stop it! Stop it now!"
The furry thing froze.
Alice breathed a sigh of relief- before a laugh burst from within her. Not fair! Alice thought, you took me unaware you silly cat!
A swish of cream fabric entered Alice's vision. She froze.
"Alice?" Helen Kingsley's voice sounded from above. "What are you doing?"
The tickling stopped, and Alice retrieved her fan, quickly sitting upright. She smiled brightly at her mother, uncurling the fan.
"Oh," She gasped, fanning herself rapidly, "I need to catch my breath after all that dancing." She fluttered her eyelashes convincingly.
Helen raised an eyebrow. "Lord Marvin alerted me to your ill health. He said you were feeling rather feverish. Are you quite alright?"
Alice's eyes narrowed. So that was his name…Lord Marvin. She blinked at her mother.
"Pardon? What was that?" She asked her, not catching the end of her sentence.
Helen's lips pursed. "You do seem rather feverish. Perhaps you should retire…?"
"But it would be rude, wouldn't it? It is my party after all…" Alice trailed off, not really wanting to leave the outside air to be confined within a house again.
Helen laughed. "But dear, you are not livening up the atmosphere. And many of the guests have already left."
Alice glanced over at the pile of cards on the table to her right. "Oh."
Helen gave a short nod. "Yes. All good cards, everyone was very satisfied."
Alice nodded. "Oh, that's…nice."
Helen sighed. "Hamish is going to escort you home – it wouldn't be wise for you to go home alone. Especially in your health."
Alice wished her mother goodnight and watched her walk away, before turning –
"Oh!" She gasped, clutching at her heart.
Hamish Ascot raised an eyebrow. "Really, you are easy to frighten, Alice."
Alice glared at him. "I'm only frightened by silly boys who think it wise to stand behind a woman-"
"I, Alice, am a man. A lord. I'm no little boy. Unlike you." Hamish retorted proudly.
Alice raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest. "Oh, I'm a boy? I don't think so. In case you didn't notice, I am wearing a dress, thus signifying I am a woman."
Hamish was very flustered. He took her elbow roughly and with long steps began to half guide, half pull, her towards the sombre black carriage. He opened the door, shoved her inside and got in after her.
"Excuse you!" Alice cried indignantly.
Hamish stuck his nose up at her. "Like you have manners at all."
Alice wished to poke her tongue out at him, but decided he would probably call her immature, and so instead decided to defiantly stare out the window of the carriage… until Hamish pulled the curtain down.
Alice glared at him. "And why did you do that?"
He just smugly smiled and ignored her.
Needless to say, the carriage trip was rather silent and very tedious.
Alice got out of the carriage, totally unassisted by Hamish. He simply wished her a 'Good evening', and then barked an order at the driver.
Alice was within the house before the dust kicked up by the horse and carriage could even settle. She gave a frustrated sigh, standing on one foot to take off her shoe. She took the other one off, her sore feet aching.
"May I take your coat?" A maid offered and Alice thanked her.
Exhausted, she began to make her way to her room, before his voice interrupted.
"I do believe you're going the wrong way…"
Alice took out the mirror. "No, Chessur. I do believe I'm going the correct way."
The cat grinned. "Whatever whichever you please."
Alice's feet rang out as she took two steps, before she took the bait. "Fine. Which way should I be going?"
Chessur's furry striped tail slowly pointed out of the mirror-
Alice gasped. "Hey! You tickled me at the party! …But how?" She touched the blue and black stripes of fur on his tail.
Offended, the cat withdrew his tail back through the mirror. "How what?"
Alice pointed. "You can go through the-"
"Looking glass?" Chessur watched the girl's eyes flash with recognition. "Yes, I can…slightly."
"Slightly?" Alice asked, curious as ever.
The cat didn't reply, instead watched with bored eyes as she grew ever more excited.
"Oh! That means – surely – that I could go through and end up in Wonderland-"
"Afraid not, luv." Chessur purred.
"Why ever not?" Alice exclaimed. It seemed that every time she discovered a gateway back to Underland, it was ripped away from her.
"Why ever not?" Chessur repeated slowly. "Well, perhaps the fact that size is an issue." He trailed off, hinting.
"Oh." Alice frowned. "Pishsalver doesn't work here."
Chessur licked a paw daintily. "I can hardly see you fitting through. Quite unfortunate about the Pishsalver though…I would ever so much like to shrink your tongue. I noticed you like wagging it around a lot…" He chuckled at her scarlet face. "Rather childish, poking out your tongue, isn't it?"
Alice poked her tongue out at him, before quickly correcting her mistake. However, she was not fast enough as Chessur's loud laugh filled the hall.
"Miss, are you alright?" A servant called from downstairs.
"Uh," Alice coughed over Chessur's giddiness. "Yes, I'm fine. Just a cough. Nothing a bit of rest can't cure -"
She hurried through the twisting halls towards her room. Chessur watched the process from the mirror, taking an interest in Alice's bright red face and hazardous hair.
So, it was natural that he would notice when her eyes suddenly became dull and nervous. He raised an eyebrow as he noticed her skirting across to the other side of the hall, quickening her pace. She avoided the door as though it had some sort of catchy disease.
"May I ask –" Chessur began
"No." Alice interrupted softly. She was not rude, just definite.
Chessur glanced from the golden doorknob to her watery blue eyes. He softened inside, but remained his usual self on the outside.
"-Isn't that the door to your father's study?" He finished as Alice sped down the hall and around the corner.
"I'm not going in there." Alice snapped. She knew exactly what the troublesome cat was thinking.
"Oh, but you'd go mad if you did." Chessur purred, glancing into the girl's eyes.
She remained silent.
Chessur sighed. This was going to be more difficult that he first thought.
Alice put the mirror under a blanket as soon as she reached her room. She got out of the many layers of clothing a woman had to wear in society (a rule and custom that she utterly detested with such a passion) and changed into a clean nightgown. She tugged and pulled her hair loose from the many holds of hairpins, before dumping said pins on her dresser. Her hair fell to her shoulders; blonde locks cascading down to frame her face.
Smiling, she uncovered the mirror and set it up on her bedside table so she could see into it when she lay down.
"Chessur." She called tiredly.
"Will I have that strange dream of us having a conversation about tea etiquette again?"
Chessur chuckled. "No luv. Most likely not."
There was a moment of silence where Chessur curled up in a circle, closing his eyes.
"Chessur?" Alice murmured.
Chessur opened one eye. "Yes?"
"I miss Wonderland." Alice yawned. "I mean, Underland."
Chessur opened his eyes and lifted his head to look at the sleeping girl.
"It's not the same without you, Alice."
Alice, on the strange brink of sleep, felt something light, like a butterfly's wing, but furry, briefly touch her cheek, before she fell into a peaceful slumber.
"Happy birthday Alice."