project: masquerade
disclaimer: i do not own naruto, or the characters in it, or wonderland.
summary: she will follow the white rabbit. she will fall in love with the mad hatter. she will kill the queen of hearts. but fairytales don't always have a happily ever after and she doesn't believe in once upon a times.
pairings: sasusaku
notes: boy, do i adore the mad hatter. times one million trillion billion kisses and hot showers.
chapter: zéro: castle in the air


Once upon a time, there was a girl with fair hair and a bright blue dress—tired of listening to her older sister read, she decided to follow a curious rabbit down a deep dark rabbit hole into a world of Wonders.

She stepped into Wonderland.

She was the first person the play the Game.

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"Welcome to the Game, Alice."

She—Alice—tilted her head, confused, and smiled good-naturedly—"I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about. My name isn't Alice and I wasn't aware I was playing any sort of game."

He smiled slightly, tipping his hat over his eyes and reclining in his chair. "You won't win the Game with that sort of attitude, Alice—you need to be strong and sure of yourself—you need to win to save us all. Of course, there will be those who will try to stop you—selfish and cowardly as they are—but you'll have to win, for us. We will help you as best as we can. You'll have to trust us."

Alice shook her head, backing slowly away from the curious man sat at the end of the long table. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about; but this is just a dream and as soon as I pinch myself, I'll be right back by the riverside, with Dinah."

The man stood up, slamming both of his hands onto the table. "You can't run away now, Alice—not when we need you most," He quirked his head, his smile widening, sinisterly so. "Do you know why a raven is like a writing desk?"

She blinked.

"You're mad."

He sunk back into his chair, slowly, still smiling.

"Oh, we're all mad here, Alice."

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.

The first Alice played the Game and won. She defeated the Queen of Hearts and set free all of the inhabitants of Wonderland. She never returned to Wonderland afterwards—her memory of the dreaded place was wiped clean—and so she could never warn anyone not to follow the White Rabbit.

The next Alice didn't know any better. She followed willingly and she faced the same terrors as the Alice before her.

She simply wasn't as lucky.

.

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"What do we do?" The White Rabbit asked, distressed. "Alice was beaten—Alice was killed! Oh, she was fed to the Jabberwocky—the dreaded Jabberwocky—what do we do?"

The Mad Hatter smiled slightly, watching the current White Rabbit panic, and tilted his hat down over his eyes. He leant back in his chair, lacing his fingers together and resting them on his chest, blowing out slowly. "…We wait, my dear Rabbit. We wait for the next Alice and hope she sets us free; and, if not, we wait for the next Alice and then the one after and the one after that and then the one after that—"

"—how can you just sit here and wait?" The Rabbit cried. "I don't want to be stuck here forever! The Queen of Hearts is smart; she knows who Alice's allies are; she could defeat us at any given moment; she could kill us whenever she wants! How can you just sit here and WAIT?"

The Hatter sighed.

"Because I have to."

The White Rabbit's mouth dropped open, as if about to speak, but the Hatter cut him off.

"You have to as well," He continued, sitting up and reaching forwards for a trusty cup of tea and a slice of buttered bread. "We all have to sit here and wait—because, at night, we're trapped in Wonderland—and we will never be free until Alice saves us. So we have to wait and trust her."

The Rabbit sat down and crossed his arms. "…Well, I don't like it. I wish we could do more than this."

The Hatter took a sip of his tea—it was cold—and then smiled. "Maybe the Rules will be changed. Maybe we will be able to do more than this, in years to come—but, until now, we have to sit and wait for the next Alice." He eyed the Rabbit's sullen expression, before beaming at him.

"Until then… would you like a cup of tea?"

.

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An Alice is hard to spot. She is the one who believes the hardest. She is the one who smiles the brightest. She is the one who listens the longest. She is as curious as a cat. She is as sharp as a knife.

She has a strong heart.

An Alice is not allowed to give up, no matter how much she wants to. An Alice has to understand that everyone is depending on her—she has to realise that there is so much depending on her—she has to decide whether she is weak or strong. She has to decide whether she will kill or be killed. She has to decide whether she can win…

Or die trying.

An Alice is a hero.

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"Do you know why a raven is like a writing desk?"

Alice scratched her head—she was smart and good at riddles, her teacher had said so—but no matter how much she thought, she could not come up with an answer.

"There's no time for riddles. If you want your freedom, Mad Hatter, you're going to have to get ready to fight with me. We haven't got time for nonsense."

The Hatter smiled.

"There's always time for nonsense."

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The Queen of Hearts sighed, drumming her fingers on the arm of her throne, and glanced about her—her people—her slaves—hurried to and fro, arming themselves, ready to defend their Queen against the coming onslaught. As far as she knew, it was always the same—she was evil—she would have to choose either to die willingly to free her people or be killed to free her people; either way, Alice had to kill her.

It always had to be Alice. The Queen sighed again, her nails tap-tap-tapping away at the wood; she leant on her other hand, surveying the scene in a stony silence—always the same. Why did she have to be the Queen of Hearts anyway?

She wasn't evil.

"My Queen… Alice has arrived," A frog servant whispered, bowing so low that his nose touched the floor.

The Queen shrugged one shoulder, still tapping her fingers. "So let her in. Why should I fight her? When Alice kills me, I will be set free as well, you know."

The frog servant seemed bewildered. "B—but, your majesty… You'll die! It isn't the same for you as it is for us—you'll really die."

The Queen fixed him with a frosty glare. "Anyone who dies in Wonderland stays dead. You know this. I know this. What's the point in trying to fight it? I beat the last Alice and, like a hideous monster, another Alice has just sprouted up in her place. There'll always be another. Always one more for me to try and kill. Always just one more. What's the point in trying? Now hurry along and let her in, little frog."

The frog's eyes widened, but he turned and scurried away nonetheless, the tails of his coat flapping in the wind. The Queen watched him go, heaving yet another useless—helpless—sigh, and then turned to watch her other servants—not one of them had missed her exchange with the frog servant. They gazed at her, murmuring nervously amongst themselves, meeting each others eyes and then quickly looking away. She smiled bitterly. "Why are you all so surprised? I'm helping you out here. You'll all be free."

No one responded to her; instead they turned away, blushing with shame, confused and unsure of what to do. Alice was coming. They had been told they must fight Alice—they must kill Alice—but this Queen…

She… didn't want them to kill Alice?

The door swung open and Alice strode in, followed by the Mad Hatter (as usual) and the White Rabbit (as always); even the Cheshire Cat was there, watching on with its usual amused grin. Behind them were many other inhabitants of Wonderland, all armed with whatever weapons they could get their hands on—instinctively, the Queen's guards raised their swords and spears, defensive and protective.

"Stand down," The Queen said, clearly. "I don't want to fight."

She surveyed this new Alice—she was not as pretty as the last, nor as girlish, but she was stronger and braver, and her flaming red hair made her look fierce. The Queen sighed, gazing out of the window, staring out over Wonderland—over her land—and then let out another heavy, heart-breaking sigh.

"I cannot do it again."

Alice opened her mouth to speak, but the Mad Hatter rested his hand on her arm.

The Queen continued, oblivious.

"I cannot keep freedom from my people, especially since they so obviously long for it," She glanced bitterly at Alice. "They can go back, you see—I can't. I don't mind though. I suppose death is a freedom of sorts, as well."

Alice's mouth twitched into an equally bitter smile.

"You're giving up?"

The Queen laughed harshly—the sound was loud and fake and it echoed around the giant hall, until she couldn't bear to hear it any longer, and she placed her hands over her ears. For some time, she couldn't meet Alice's steady gaze and she felt as though she were about to sob. Finally, she let out another sigh, although this one was shaky and wobbled greatly.

"Dear Alice…" The Queen smiled, and her smile was so sad it broke Alice's heart. "You can't understand—I'm not an evil person. That's why I'm going to chose to do this, for my people—for Wonderland—I don't want to be a wicked queen from a fairytale. I've already done that. This time, I'd like to be the hero."

She met Alice's gaze.

"…Please?"

And so Alice stepped forwards, raising her Vorpal sword in her hand, and the Queen of Hearts moved forwards to meet her. They greeted each other in the middle of the hall, before exchanging shaky smiles—then Alice raised the sword high above her head, so that it glinted in the sunlight, and, as it arched it's way towards the Queen's heart, the Queen also placed her hands on the handle and pushed.

Alice was splattered with sticky red blood—there was a significant moment, as the Queen and Alice looked straight into each other's eyes; one pair sad and tired, the other shining with triumph, as well as sadness; and then the Queen of Hearts smiled slightly and closed her eyes. Her body fell limp against Alice.

The hall fell completely silent.

When Alice stood up and turned around, she realised there was no one there. She had freed Wonderland. She had freed the Queen of Hearts.

Alice was free.

.

.

Not every Alice wins. Not every Alice survives. Not every Alice is set free. After all, this is Real Life. There's not always a happy ending.

.

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Alice never has a choice. The Gateway is never wrong. She is always Alice.

She must save Wonderland, no matter what the cost.

.

.

"Where is Alice?"

He asked the question quietly, his eyes hidden by the brim of his hat—he was leaning against the doorway, his hands tucked into the pockets of his muddy green tailcoat; an assortment of trinkets hung from the pockets, glittering in the light and, for a moment, the Gateway's eyes were captured by them.

"We… don't know," She stated, rubbing her face nervously. "We've tried looking for her, but we can't find her."

He shifted slightly, his agitation obvious, but still he didn't look at her—instead, he pulled something out of his pocket (a fork, she thought) and considered that. She waited for him to speak, all the while growing more and more nervous, and then finally he broke the silence. "That's your job, isn't it—to find Alice?"

"We've—we've been trying, but we can't find her. We've searched everywhere."

He looked up then, capturing her gaze, and the Gateway found she could not look away. They were so impossibly dark and deep—she felt as though she was the one who had fallen down the rabbit hole, not he—and they seemed even darker so when compared to his pale skin—snow white, even.

His lips quirked into a smirk and one hand reached up to play with his hat restlessly; it was a beautiful hat as well; it was extremely large and the same muddy green colour as his coat, and various different pins and feathers stuck out from the brim—tucked into the pale pink satin sash, which circled the crown of the hat, was a white card.

"You can't have searched everywhere—you've simply searched anywhere except where Alice is," He narrowed his eyes, never blinking or looking away. "Try searching there."

The Gateway lowered her head, gazing at him from beneath her long lashes. "…We will, we will," she murmured softly. "Alice will not escape us for long."

His smirk widened and he chuckled softly, before twirling around and moving towards the exit—the Gateway watched him leave, wrapping her arms around her chest and letting out a soft sigh of relief—and then he paused in the doorway, completely still.

"…Is there anything else you wanted, Mad Hatter?"

She fidgeted nervously.

"Be quick—I'm getting tired of the Game."

She nodded slowly, "We will find Alice and then the Game can commence. You can be sure of that."

"Oh good," He murmured, before waving over his shoulder to the Gateway. "Then I shall be seeing you soon, I think." And, with that, he walked briskly out the door and down the corridor, away from the Gateway and back into Wonderland.

.

.

The Gateway rubbed the bridge of her nose thoughtfully, gazing down into the Real World—it was her job to find Alice—it was her job to point the White Rabbit in the right direction and to open the rabbit hole from Wonderland to the Real World. It was her job to make sure all of the players were ready for the Game. It was her job to pick the right people—it was her job to make sure they knew why they were picked, as well.

…She was lying—she did have help, after all. The Gateway wasn't just one person. It consisted of three people, who had been sent to Wonderland for a reason—and they knew their reasons, as the Gateway before them had made sure to tell them.

She had a Real Name, just like the other inhabitants of Wonderland—except, unlike the others, she was there all the time. Wonderland wasn't just a dream for her. It was her reality. In her opinion, the Real World should have been named Wonderland.

She wanted to go back their, if only just once.

But it was her duty to just sit and watch—to survey—lonely for all eternity, until the time came for the Gateway to choose other people to take over their duty. It was a sad, pitiful existence. It was lonesome. It was heart-breaking.

It was boring.

And then the Gateway spotted her—she was crossing the street, somewhere down in the Real World, looking back worriedly over her shoulder as though she could sense she was being watched.

The Gateway smiled in triumph.

"…Alice…"

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Down on the Real World, Haruno Sakura flicked through her AP Calculus homework, jotting down the answers as she went, sighing softly. She was older now, and wiser; she no longer craved adventure and recognition. She was happy just being herself, living her normal life, and doing normal things.

At least, that's what she told herself.

And, besides, she wasn't normal at all.

.

.

The Gateway smiled, pointing one finger down at a figure in the Real World. "Oi, you two, come and look at this," He smiled, beckoning over the other two thirds of the Gateway. "I think I've found her."

The three of them peered into the Real World, before smiling.

"…Alice…!"

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—Let the Game begin.

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M

A

S

Q

U

E

R

A

D

E

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because i'm holding myself together
with sticky tape

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Mother

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My mother was a good, kindly woman—she spoke highly of everyone she met and never failed to smile. Sometimes, when I look back, I believe I loved her smile more than I loved her; it was so bright and wide and filled with love and happiness.

She had a storyteller's voice.

When I was younger, she would sit beside me, as I lay tucked underneath my bedcovers, and would flash her beautiful smile at me and open a thick, black book—a book of fairytales. She would whisper them to me and I would trace the pictures with my fingers, and we would bond, I suppose.

I loved the fairytales more than I loved her.

.

.

When she read to me, I would listen. She could create entirely new worlds with her voice—she could paint pictures in my mind, so bright and beautiful that my world faded to black and white. Her voice was the most colourful thing—it was more wondrous than the rainbow—it was her voice that made my mother beautiful. And she became oh so much more elegant and wonderful when she spoke of those princes and princesses, of witches and curses, of adventure and tragedy, of romance, and of once upon a times and happily ever afters. She was most beautiful then.

It was the fairytales that made my mother beautiful.

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In the end, it was the fairytales that killed my mother.

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It had happened when I was only ten. At the time, in the news, there had been a serial killer in my city—he killed his victims creatively, I suppose, and beautifully—they died as princes and princesses.

They died like a fairytale.

Already, he had killed six others, but the police had sworn they were on his tail—according to the news that day, they already knew where he was based and who he was, and were simply waiting. I never knew what they were waiting for.

My mother was the last of the victims—she died more beautifully than she had lived. She had been found dressed in a light blue dress, complete with a white petticoat and a matching white pinafore and black and white striped stockings—a black Alice band, complete with an overly large bow, had been forced onto her neck. According to the police, she had been raped once with a croquet stick, before finally being choked to death with a strawberry tart.

It had been cruel, but beautiful—picturesque.

At the time, I hadn't thought of it like that. At the time, I never really realised she wasn't going to come back—at the time, I waited and waited and waited for her.

At the time, I thought there would be a happily ever after.

.

.

It was raining when they buried my mother. I didn't really listen to anything the priest said—I didn't really hear anything anyone said. I stood beside the tombstone, with a white lily balled up in my fist, and stared at it.

That was when it dawned on me that she was never going to come back. That was when I first realised that no one was going to read to me anymore. That was when I realised I was going to be alone with my father, I was going to be alone. That was when I first realised that some people don't always get a happy ending.

They buried my mother in her fairytale costume. The police didn't need the dress for evidence—the criminal had already been caught—and, besides, my father asked them to.

"Remember, girl," He said, as he stood beside me, gazing at the tombstone. "This is what fairytales do to you. The world isn't as nice as the stories say." Then he turned and left, and I stood beside the grave on my own.

I looked up at the grey skies and my tears mingled with the rainwater. I don't know how long I stood there for—long enough for my clothes to get soaked through and my hair to stick to my forehead. I stood there long enough for the lily in my fist to become soggy. After a little while, I dropped the lily at my mother's grave and left.

I never visited her grave again.

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Father

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My father was rotten.

He was a pathetic little man—a disgusting slug—worthless and useless. I was afraid of him then, though; I was afraid of how he twisted the words of anyone he met—afraid of how he could turn anything black—afraid of how he made his heart rot. His words were poison to me. He was slime to me.

I loathed him with all my being.

But I was still scared of him. He could be commanding; he told me he loved me, but his love was twisted and rotten. He would whisper soothing words to me, as he smacked my face—he would smile and tell me over and over "everything is going to be alright" and that was when I realised he was lying.

I was afraid I would become like him.

.

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The day mother died, he stopped speaking to me. I didn't understand, at first—one night I picked up my book of fairy stories and crept downstairs—he sat where he always sat, slouched in front of the TV, a bottle by his side.

"Read me a story," I asked him.

At first, he didn't respond; instead, he looked through me, clutching the bottle almost desperately. Then he reached out with his empty hand for the book and I handed it to him, settling in front of him by his feet, my arms wrapped around my knees.

He looked blankly at me, before slowly ripping the first page out. I think I just stared at him, obviously shocked. He continued through the book, ripping out page after page and letting them float to the floor in front of me.

I began to cry.

"You're too old for these, girl—it's time for you to grow up," He told me, tearing out the final page. He caught sight of the words happily ever after and screamed in rage; it was such an animalistic and inhumane sound, filled with bitterness and defeat—then he lurched out of his chair, staggering past me towards the table, and picked up his lighter.

"Daddy, NO!"

I shrieked.

The flame danced in front of my eyes, beneath my beloved book, taunting me—I looked into my father's eyes and he looked into mine.

We waited.

"…Nothing good comes of fairytales…"

The book went up in flames.

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Later on that night, I crept downstairs and salvaged what was left of my book of fairytales. I took it upstairs and hid it in the drawer beneath my bed. I left it there, beneath a pile of panties and socks, and hoped my father had forgotten all about it.

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After that day, everything went downhill. My father stopped going to work—he stopped answering calls on the phone and stopped watching TV. He stopped speaking to anyone—occasionally, my grandmother would stop by, worried sick, but he wouldn't say a word—he stopped speaking to me, but I wasn't sad; in fact, it was a relief. He stopped eating. He stopped washing. He stopped sleeping.

But he never stopped drinking.

The day my mother died, my father decided to give up.

He decided to drink himself to death. One day, at the age of thirteen, I came home from school to find him swinging from the ceiling, an empty bottle rolling beneath him. He'd hung himself with an old red tie, after drinking one final last drink; the TV was still blaring away in the background, and I switched it off before ringing the police.

His death didn't affect me like my mother's did.

I was glad he was dead.

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I suppose, in the end it was the fairytales that killed my father as well.

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I refused to go to my father's funeral. Instead, I sat at home, in his armchair, and nursed the scorched remains of my old book of fairytales. I tried to read it—I tried to picture my mother speaking the words I had once before memorized in my head—but I couldn't. For some reason, the stories seemed treacherous to me. They whispered lies to me—they teased me and taunted me with happy endings—they showed me a world that I could have had. I could have lived happily ever after. I could have had my dream ending. I could have found my prince charming. But reality had ripped it cruelly from me.

I wasn't living in a fairytale. I was living in Real Life.

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After my parents died, I grew up. I got rid of my fairies and horses and jewellery—I got rid of my plastic beads and pink bracelets, and my summer dresses and dainty shoes. I ripped down my flower wallpaper and my poems and posters.

I burnt my fairytales.

I gave up on once upon a times and happily ever afters.

An old family friend, named Shizune, moved in to look after me, with her pet pig. I don't think she knew what to do with me. I rarely spoke to her, instead locking myself in my room; I scarcely spoke at school either, simply sitting at the back of the class and gazing out of the window. My teachers labeled me a 'problem child'—eventually, Shizune stopped coming up with excuses and simply let the teachers do whatever they wanted with me.

I became more and more focused in my studies. I became smarter and smarter, and I refused to listen to nonsense stories and fairytales. At the age of fourteen, I was reclusive and lonely. I had no friends. I had no time for friends.

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someday you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again

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5 years later.

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Sakura sighed, shutting her book on advanced placement calculus, and pushed her chair backwards, standing up and stretching. She'd been doing homework for a good half an hour now and she was beginning to get fed up of it—after all, there was only so much maths a person could take before they began to feel like their brain might explode.

She glanced across the room, meeting her reflection's eyes—she didn't think she was beautiful, not like how everyone had said her mother was—her mother had been tall and graceful; she'd been able to captivate an entire room with just her smile. Sakura was short and clumsy—after spending so much time on her own, without friends, she'd taken to wearing baggy grey jumpers even in the summer. Her cherry pink hair had been cut jaggedly short, and her forehead was mostly hidden by a fringe.

It was her eyes, though, which made people stop and stare.

They were so wide and huge that they seemed to take up the entirety of her face—they were a grassy green as well, so bright that they looked like marbles. They were flecked with darker shades of green and framed by impossibly long eyelashes.

They made her look like a doll.

She nibbled on her lip thoughtfully, before tidying her homework away and exiting her room; she walked slowly down the stairs, peeking into the living room. Shizune was sat there, curled up on the sofa and watching the TV.

"I'm going outside for a little while," Sakura murmured, as Shizune turned to face her expectantly—the other nodded, smiling enthusiastically—after all, it wasn't often that Sakura offered to willingly go outside. She supposed it was something to do with the traumatizing tragedy of having your mother killed and seeing your father's dead body, as he hung from the ceiling.

That's what all the top therapists said.

"Are you going to take a book with you? It's a nice day, but I don't think it's quite warm enough for you to go paddling in the river yet."

Sakura shook her head.

"I don't plan on being out there for long," She smiled sheepishly. "I've been stuck in my room doing homework all day—I guess I just need to clear my head."

Shizune paused, before nodding slowly. "Well, I suppose… Just make sure you're not outside for too long." She frowned, before adding, "And I would feel much better if you took something to eat and drink. I know you, Sakura-chan—you get lost in your own little world so easily…"

She shrugged.

"…Sometimes I worry about you."

Sakura gulped—she didn't really want Shizune to play the guilt trip, not right now, so she smiled sadly and said, "I'm sorry." She turned to leave and then added, "I'll take some strawberries with me, okay?"

She smiled.

Sakura barely caught the last words Shizune whispered, as she left the room.

"Good girl."

Sakura was not really one for sitting alone and feeling sorry for herself, so she did decide to take a book, to keep her mind off (the past) other things—she plucked the first one off the shelf, picked up a bowl full of strawberries, and then unlocked the backdoor and stepped outside.

It was a sunny day—it was a nice day—the kind of day where you really did want to take a book and a bowl of strawberries and sit alone on the riverbank. She smiled to herself, as she wandered slowly towards her favourite spot—it was underneath a tree, next to the riverbank; bushes surrounded her as well, so it would be difficult for Shizune to watch her from the house, if she decided to.

Sakura even whistled as she walked.

She settled herself down in the shade, flicking the book open to a random page and then discarding it—she popped a strawberry into her mouth and then simply watched the water flow down the river. When she was younger, she used to dip her feet in the water and paddle around, laughing and splashing (with her mother). She smiled fondly.

Ah, memories.

She sat upon the bank, eating strawberries and reminiscing, until all the strawberries had disappeared—and she didn't realise she was drifting off until it was too late, and she was already fast asleep.

.

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"Now, idiot—stop messing around with your watch and get out of here—Alice is waiting!" The Gateway rolled her eyes, pushing the White Rabbit forwards. "She's asleep, so now is your best chance."

"I know, I know—jeez, I know this is my first time doing this, but I'm not going to screw up or anything—"

WHACK!

"GET GOING, MORON!"

A childish pout.

"I'm going, I'm going!"

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Sakura was woken up by a rustling in the bushes to her left—she mumbled something sleepily and rubbed her eyes, gazing blearily at where the noises were coming from. There was a snap of a twig and a loud curse, and suddenly Sakura was sat bolt upright, fully awake.

"…Hello?"

Someone stumbled.

Sakura tried again, this time standing up. "Hello?"

The person she'd heard so clearly before stayed silently, and she decided that now was the time to investigate. She stepped forwards, pushing through the bushes and staggering into the clearing on the other side. There was a movement to the left of her and she turned, following it.

And then suddenly she was chasing something she couldn't see through bushes after bushes—whatever the creature was, it definitely wasn't small, and it was most certainly human, since every time it tripped or stumbled, it cursed loudly.

Its voice was definitely male too.

So the question was, how did a man manage to get into her backyard? Sure, it was a big backyard, but she was certain she would have noticed if people had suddenly managed to break in.

"Ah, shit…"

The person she was following stopped.

"…I think I'm lost."

She took that as her opportunity to step forwards and introduce herself. "Ahem, excuse me…?"

The person whirled around—he was definitely a man and a good looking one to boot, not that she really had an opinion—he was tall and thin, dressed entirely in white, with messy blonde hair and wide blue eyes—he has a smile like my mothers, she realised; because it was true. When he grinned sheepishly at her, his smile seemed to light up everything, to the point where she was smiling back.

It was contagious.

And then her eyes widened—this man—this thing—had the longest, whitest, bunny ears you ever did see.

His sheepish grin grew larger, and he scratched the back of his neck nervously, and then asked, "You wouldn't happen to know where a large, seemingly bottomless rabbit hole is, would you?"

Sakura shook her head, speechless.

"Ah well," The Rabbit—Man said. "It was worth a try." He then fished inside his jacket pocket, pulling out a gold pocket watch—his eyes widened comically as he checked the time. "…Shit! I'm late!"

He span around on the spot and began running again—and this time, Sakura was simply curious. A bunny boy had just stepped out of no where and began running through her garden, searching for a large rabbit hole.

You'd be curious as well.

After around five more minutes of running, there was a shout of triumph from somewhere in front of her—he's found his rabbit hole then, she mused—and she slowed to a halt. Pushing away the final bushes, she was surprised to find him stood waiting for her, his arm outstretched, one hand reaching for hers.

The Rabbit—Man beamed at Sakura.

"Alice-chan—you're late, for a very important date."

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just like a fairytale.

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She blinked, raising an eyebrow. "I think you're mistaken. My name's not Alice—I'm Sakur—"

"DON'T!"

The man yelped, waving his hands frantically, his eyes wide again.

She frowned slightly, waiting for him to go on, and the blonde man leaned forwards, lowering his voice to a whisper. "The Rules have changed, Alice—they can get you here, as well. You're not safe anywhere. The Queen of Hearts—she's everywhere."

The Rabbit—Man paused, cocking his head.

"Or he. Gender doesn't really matter in Wonderland. It's a pretty fucked up place." He paused, before winking at Sakura.

"Meet you there."

And then he jumped into the rabbit hole.

"No, wait—!"

She was reaching out for him, as though she'd hoped to catch his arm—she blinked; this had to be a dream, albeit a very strange and realistic one—since when did I dream about boys anyway?—and she definitely wasn't waking up. She peered down into the rabbit hole. The man had been right.

It did seem bottomless.

She shrugged slightly—what did she have to lose, anyway?—and took a few steps back. Then, Sakura ran forwards and leapt straight into the rabbit hole.

Straight into Wonderland.

.

.

Elsewhere, the Queen of Hearts opened her eyes and smirked.

Alice was coming.

.

.

The Mad Hatter lifted his teacup to his lips and paused, quirking an eyebrow—a shiver ran through his body, as sharp and violent as an electric shock, and he smirked.

She was coming.

"Oh Alice, mon amour," he murmured softly to the wind, placing the teacup back onto the table and leaning forwards, tilting his head. "J'attends votre étreinte désireuse. Répondez-moi."

A smile played on his lips.

"Pourquoi vous ne parlez pas?"

His smile widened into a smirk and he lifted his teacup back up and downed it swiftly, although the contents inside was stone cold. He threw the empty cup casually over his shoulder, listening to it shatter, and then slumped into his chair.

The Game was on.

.

.

Oh Alice, mon amour…

.

.

"…I'm ready for you, Alice."