LbN: Alice in Wonderland absolutely DOMINATED everything on the poll, so here you go! Happy reading. This chapter's kind of slow, but it's going to pick up quickly. :)

Alice leaned over the rail as the ship pulled into the dock. She bit her lip as she scanned the area for her family.

"What's on your mind, Miss Alice?" one of the deckhands asked.

"Nigel, I've told you, there's no need to call me 'miss'. And I'm thinking about things that begin with the letter 'A'. Age. Anxiety…"

Nigel though hard. He'd played this guessing game with her before. "Ah!" he said finally as people began to disembark. "It's your birthday!"

Alice smiled and nodded. "Mother!" she called, waving. "It was wonderful sailing with you, Nigel."

"Indeed, Miss Alice. I hope to see you again."


An hour later, a carriage was pulling up to a large cottage set against a small wood. Alice had exhausted herself with talking, and her mother and sister had exhausted themselves with asking questions.

"I expect you'll want a rest," Mrs. Kingsley said.

"Actually, I think I'll take a walk," Alice said. "I'd like some time to think. Besides, if I sleep now, I shan't be able to later."

"Very well dear. Stick to the path, and try to be back in time for tea."

Alice hopped out of the carriage and walked into the woods. "Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogroves, and the mome raths outgrabe," she sang. Even though she sang quietly, it seemed too loud ffor the peaceful trees. "Things that begin with A," she whispered to herself. "Age…anxiousness." She wasn't sure why she was anxious, but the word had been on her mind for a couple of days. She walked farther in, finally stopping. She was tired—she just hadn't noticed until now. She sat down next to a tree, but only for a moment. No sooner had she sat down than the ground gave way, and she was falling.

Falling past lamps and desks.

Falling past decks of cards and bottles of liqueur.

Falling past a grand piano.

Bouncing off a bed.

Falling.

She hit the bottom and broke through the ceiling; just as she had before. She lay there for a moment, trying to keep control of her heart rate. When she was sure standing wouldn't give her a heart attack, she sat up and spotted the key on the table. She grabbed it, and the bottle of Pishalver, and walked to the small door. "Here we go again," she said, smiling and taking a drink. The trousers wouldn't do at all, but after making a belt with a spare bit of string, her blouse made a functional dress. She unlocked the door and stepped into Underland. Her smile wouldn't stay away. She broke into a run, looking around, trying to figure out where she was. The running didn't last long. She was still tired. Even if she did figure out where she was, she probably wouldn't make it to Marmoreal before nightfall. Just as she was thinking this, she rounded a corner and bumped into something. Someone…

"Oi, it's you then, is it?"

"Contrarywise, it's not if she isn't."

"Tweedles!" Alice said, hugging them. "Which way is Marmoreal?"

"That way," they said in unison, pointing in opposite directions.

"How about you show me," Alice said, smiling.

"Right-o!"


Alice walked through the castle gates and her smile grew wider—something she didn't believe was possible. Before she could say anything, Tweedledee announced their presence.

"Majesty!"

Mirana of Marmoreal turned from where she'd been speaking to some of the trees. She swept through the garden toward them, looking elated. "Alice! You've returned!" she said, kneeling to talk to the shrunken woman.

"Tweedledum stumbled upon her, and I recognized her."

"Contrarywise, it was I what's done the stumbling and him what's done the recognizing."

Mirana took Alice in her hands. "I've been longing to see you! I can't believe you're here…" she trailed off and smiled. "Well we must celebrate the return of our Champion. Come," she said, allowing Alice to stand on her shoulder. "We shall find you some Upelkuchen and have Tarrant make you some suitable clothes."

"Who?"

"Hatter," Mirana said. "Shall we have an Unbirthday party tonight to celebrate?"

Alice giggled. "That sounds wonderful, but it won't work for me."

"Why not?"

"Because it is my birthday," Alice said.

Mirana looked absolutely gleeful at this bit of news. "Oh! Well then we'll have a birthday party for you! Tweedles, please find McTwist and send him to Hatter's workshop. Thank you, dears."

Alice smiled brightly as the queen took her through the castle. Mirana stopped suddenly, and she looked curiously into the room they'd paused in front of. It looked like a child's room.

"There's someone I'd like you to meet," Mirana said, setting Alice down. "Lily!"

A young girl emerged from the room. "Yes, Mummy?"

"Mummy?" Alice asked, startled.

"Soon after you—after the Frabjous day, I adopted Lily. She was two at the time."

"How old are you now?" Alice asked, hesitantly. She knew time in her world and time in Underland were different, but she didn't know how much.

"Seven."

"It's been five years here?" Alice asked Mirana.

"Indeed. Lily, this is Alice, our Champion. We are having a birthday party for her tonight. Isn't that splendid?"

Lily looked incredulous, but said, "Yes Mummy."

"You may go play now. I'll come collect you when it's time for the party."

"She's lovely," Alice said.

"She is. Tarrant!" Mirana called into another doorway.

Alice could see stairs, and she made as if to go down them, but the queen stopped her. "Is he not well?"

"He is, but the workshop is his private space. He'll be up in a moment." Mirana paused for a moment, before saying, "You seemed surprised at how long it's been. How long has it been in your world?"

"Only two years. I'm surprised you all even remember me," Alice said chuckling.

"I could never forget you, Alice." Mirana looked at her as if she were the most important treasure in the world. "I'm glad you've returned."

Just then, they heard footsteps on the stairs and Tarrant appeared, holding something like a captain's hat. He dropped it, however, when he saw who was standing before him. "It's…it's you! Alice! You're back! I always knew you'd return! And here you are! Perfect—a little small perhaps—but wonderful! Glorious! Marvelous—"

"Hatter!" Alice and Mirana said.

"I'm fine," he squeaked. "I suppose you'll be wanting clothes for your proper size?"

"Please and thank you," Alice said.

"I'll have them sent right up to…emmm…where is Alice staying?"

"The room next to mine," Mirana said without hesitation. "Let's find you some Upelkuchen, shall we? Tarrant, if McTwist arrives, tell him to prepare a birthday feast. Our Champion has returned."

LbN: Hope you liked it so far! Send reviews!