I'm on holiday! But every holiday needs writing, at least, in my eyes, so I was able to write this chapter after having a swim in the pool. I hope you all like it!
Letters And Confessions
And she was right. Living in Underland wasn't so bad. In fact, it was even better than her life back in London. She would wake up every morning to help Thackery with breakfast, cooking pancakes which had become the most popular food in Marmoreal (the servants and courtiers were even asking for them, so Alice had to teach the cooks how to make them). She would then take a morning stroll with the Hatter, and when he had to go to work, Alice would seek company with either Chessur or Bayard and his family. Then, she would have lunch with Mirana, before sitting in the Hatter's workshop until Brillig, watching him make his wonderful creations.
Weeks past, during which Alice noticed that Time seemed to be going slower than usual. Well, not exactly; it had been going at the same pace ever since she first entered Underland, but she noticed that it was going slower than it usually did back in her world. Time would just fly past up there, whereas the Time down in Underland would take his sweet time.
"He's just being lazy," the Hatter assured her, when she asked him when watching in his workshop. "Time down here likes to go at a slower pace."
"But he seemed to speed up a bit during my last visit," Alice pointed out. "I can remember, because when I climbed up the rabbit hole again, no time had passed at all in my world."
"He was probably desperate to get rid of the Bloody Big Head," the Hatter explained. "Not even he liked her. Time may have stopped for me then, but he certainly speeded things up a bit for her."
"Don't blame him," Alice commented. "But I am concerned about how long I've been gone. I haven't even sent a letter up to my mother yet, because I thought it wouldn't matter. I wouldn't have been gone for very long. But now, I'm suspecting that more time has past up there than it has down here."
"It would be best to ask McTwisp about that," the Hatter suggested. "He's always going up top, and his relationship with Time is far better than anyone else's."
"I will do that, then," Alice announced, standing from her seat and walking over to the door. "I shan't be long."
"Don't worry, dear Alice, but make sure you don't miss tea," the Hatter warned her. "Thackery would go madder than he already is if you do. "You're late for tea, lassie!" he'll say. Then you best duck."
"I won't be naughty," Alice told him with a smile, before she disappeared from view.
Walking along the blank white halls, Alice kept a look-out for the White Rabbit she would recognize anywhere as Nivens McTwisp. His blue waistcoat fastened around his top half with a little golden pocket watch dangling from his coat pocket, which he would tap whenever anyone was late. Mainly herself. She didn't understand why he insisted upon everyone being on time; he was late sometimes, like the first time she had ever seen him some years before.
Eventually, Alice found him. He was hurrying into one of the many rooms along the hallway, and as Alice got closer, she swore that she heard the sound of many little ticks coming from behind the slightly closed door. It was only open a crack, she noticed. So, she gave it a small push, peeking her head inside to see. She gasped. Everywhere, clocks were stood, hanging and lying, all ticking in tune with one another and all telling the same time. It was amazing.
Alice's gaze travelled to the middle of the room, where she saw McTwisp standing, his eyes scanning all the clocks to make sure that they all told the correct time. His pocket watch was in his little paw, and every now and then, he would glance down at it, then compare the time with the other clocks. Alice had to smile at him. She didn't really expect anything less from Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit.
Stepping further into the room, Alice tried her best not to startle him as she reach her arm out and tapped him on the shoulder.
But apparently, anything could startle this rabbit. Immediately, he yelped in fright, jumping in panic and almost dropping his pocket watch. He was able to catch it, though, the device bouncing in his paws before he held it firmly and pulled it to his chest. He spun round, but he calmed down considerably when he saw that it was only Alice.
"Oh, Alice," he stumbled, trying to regain himself. "It's only you. I'm sorry, but you gave me a startle."
"I'm sorry, too," Alice apologized. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"That's quite all right," he said, using his waistcoat to give his pocket watch a quick polish.
"Why are there so many clocks in here?" Alice asked. "And why are you checking them all?"
"Well, Alice, I am the Time Keeper, as you are already aware," he explained. "I make sure that Time behaves himself. Seems to be in a lazy mood, as far as I can see, but at least he is not causing trouble. Anyway, all these clocks represent each person in Underland."
He pointed over to a completely white clock, made of marble and polished to the tip.
"That one belongs to the White Queen," he continued.
He then pointed to a few others, telling Alice who they all belonged to. Thackery's was a coo-coo clock, quite old and scruffy; Mallymkun's was small, with hat pin swords for the hands; Chessur's was blue and grey striped, with eyes which would open and close with every tick; the Tweedles' each had matching clocks, both quite round with stripes; Bayard's was an old grandfather clock, and next to it, sat more clocks similar to it which all belonged to his family; and finally, there was the Hatter's, very brightly coloured, only most of it was either green or orange.
"That one caused a problem during the Red Queen's reign," McTwisp explained.
"It stopped, didn't it?" she guessed.
"It did, indeed," the rabbit replied. "I have to check all these clocks at least once every day, just to make sure that they are all going at the same pace. If they aren't, then I would have to speak with Time and ask why. I didn't do it very often during the Red Queen's reign, though, since Time went a little...er...mad, I'd say."
"He didn't just stop for Hatter?" Alice questioned.
"He only stopped for Hatter, but he slowed down a little bit for Mallymkun and Thackery," McTwisp explained. "He sped up a bit for everyone else, so that we didn't have to suffer as long, and went at rather a fast pace for the Red Queen and the Knave."
He pointed over at two clocks in a dark corner of the room; one was a blood red, while the other was completely black. Neither were moving very fast.
"Why aren't they moving very much?" Alice asked.
"Time hates them," McTwisp replied. "He wants to make them suffer in the Outlands."
Alice nodded, agreeing; those two definitely deserved to suffer. Then a thought occurred to her.
"McTwisp, what about your clock?" she asked. "And Absolem's?"
"Mine is the pocket watch right here," McTwisp answered her, holding up the precious possession in his paws. "Since Time does nothing to me individually, it's my watch I use to check the others. And Absolem is ageless. He has never had a clock, and never will."
"How about mine? Surely I must have one now, that I'm here?"
McTwisp pointed over at another clock, and her eyes falling upon it, Alice gasped at it's beauty. It was rather large, and was painted a pale blue; a similar colour to the dress she wore on her second visit. And crafted into the wood around it, was images in the same style as the Oraculum, telling of her adventures in Underland, only they weren't moving. There were both of past, present, and even future events as she looked further down. She even saw an interesting one involving her and the Hatter...
Alice blinked back to reality and turned her eyes away from the image. Turning back to McTwisp, she noticed that the rabbit looked rather worried, his eyes darting about the room in panic.
"What is it?" she asked him.
"It's nearly 4 o'clock!" he informed her. "All the clocks are about to sound! Hurry! It will be very loud when they do!"
The blonde got the message. She hurriedly left the room, helping McTwisp slam the door shut behind them, just as the clocks began to sound all at the same time. And boy, was it loud. She had to cover her ears, even with the door shut tight. Looking down at McTwisp, she noticed him holding down his long ears, but also signalling for her to follow. She did so willingly, and they ran together along the white halls until the sound of the clocks had faded away. They both leant up against the wall and let out a sigh.
"Well, that was eventful," McTwisp commented. "I've never had to hurry away at that pace before. I left it too late. Shame on me."
"Never mind, it was rather fun," Alice told him with a giggle, before she remembered the real reason why she came to him. "Oh, that's why I was looking for you. McTwisp, do you know how much time has past since returning from the Otherworld?"
"Why asked that?"
"It's just that these past weeks have just dragged on by, and since my mother has no idea where I am, I fear that she would be worried sick about me," Alice explained. "I was hoping that maybe, you would go up there with a letter for her, but I haven't written one yet since I thought it would be the same as last time; time wouldn't have past at all up there. Now, I'm not so sure. It could have been months, or even years."
"Oh, it hasn't been years, so don't worry about that," McTwisp assured her. "I will take the letter up once you've written it, though. So what time did you arrive here?"
"It was weeks ago," Alice remembered. "I cannot remember the exact time, though."
"Doesn't matter," McTwisp told her. "I should be able to measure it from that. Now, weeks here, so that means...I'd say about two months, at the most."
Alice's eyes went wide. Two months? Her mother would be worried sick! Of course, after what happened, she would probably think her dead, but Alice still wanted to send her a letter to say that she was all right and happy.
"Oh...I need to write a letter quickly!" she realized. "In fact, I'll write one now! McTwisp, if you come with me, then I can give it straight to you-"
"Alice, are you forgetting?" McTwisp interrupted, tapping his pocket watch. "It's Brillig, and we're both late!"
Alice gasped, before she began to sprint along the hallways towards the tea tables outside, McTwisp hopping along behind her. Once they came within view, a cup immediately came hurtling towards Alice, but she ducked and avoided it without missing a step.
"Sorry...we're...late," she panted, walking around to sit next to the Hatter as McTwisp took a seat in between Mallymkun and Chessur.
"Naughty, Alice!" the Hatter exclaimed, standing up. "You said you wouldn't be late, yet, here you are, late!"
He pulled her in playfully for a big bear hug, and Alice found herself giggling. She had noted over the past few weeks, that the Hatter had been acting like this more and more; playfully grabbing her, giving her hugs for no reason, and on one occasion, tickling her. She would have to ask him about that, once the letter was out the way.
Once tea time was over, Alice walked straight back to her room to start writing the letter for her mother. McTwisp had told her that he needed to see the Queen about some important matters, and said for Alice to come and find him when she was finished. But Alice doubted that she would be finished that evening, since she sat staring at the blank piece of paper for half an hour before she even picked up the quill. Truth was, she didn't know what to write.
She tried many times, but the only words she could manage to write were 'Dear Mother,' at the beginning, before she had to put the quill down again. It was hard to think of what to say. Should she lie? Tell the truth? Make it brief? Write a long letter? It was harder than she thought it would be. But in the end, she eventually wrote:
I am so, so, sorry for leaving you, but in a way, I'm not sorry. I don't really belong with you or in England any more, and even now, I question if I ever did. You may or may not choose to believe this, but I found a way back to Wonderland. You remember Wonderland, don't you? I belong here, and it is where I'm going to stay. And hopefully, the messenger of this letter will help you believe a little better.
Tell James that I didn't mean to hurt him, but I just never would have been happy with him. He needs to find a woman who loves him for who he really is. Tell Lord Ascot that the company is now in his charge completely. I know he will do well and go far with it. And tell Margaret to watch that husband of hers. He's not as faithful as she thinks he is.
I know that you have never been proud of me, Mother, but I still love you. And I hope you still love me, too. And as hard as it is to say, I can never see you again. No visits, or anything. Because if I do leave, I would forget, and I do not wish to forget. Never could I bare to forget this place again. Please, forgive me.
Alice dropped the quill, unable to write more. There were tears in her eyes, and one even fell onto the paper and left a nasty ink blotch, since it hit one of the words. But Alice didn't care. She tried to wipe away her tears, but it was no use. She didn't want to go back and say goodbye properly; she could never stand it. Hopefully the letter should be enough.
She hadn't even heard the Hatter enter the room, so Alice gasped, stood from her seat and spun round when he spoke, her eyes still red from crying and the tears still visible in her eyes and on her cheeks. The Hatter's own eyes immediately changed from green to blue when he saw her, and concern swept through his features like a tidal wave. When Alice was involved, all other thoughts left his head immediately.
"What's wrong? Is something the Hatter...I mean, matter?" he asked.
He was immediately attacked in the middle, when Alice rushed into him and wrapped her arms tightly around him. She buried her face into his coat and cried, the Hatter hearing her sobs and feeling the wet tears leave her eyes and trickle down his shirt. He didn't hesitate to wrap his own arms tightly around her, bringing her in close and rocking her back and forwards. He began to mutter Outlandish into her ear in his Scottish brogue, which seemed to do the trick; she calmed down and her sobbing stopped, but she still had the Hatter in a death grip. Not that he seemed to mind.
"I was...writing the letter to my mother," she told him, answering his question. "I just didn't know that it could be so hard."
"I know how you feel," the Hatter said. "When my family died, I mourned them deeply. I had never really gotten the chance to say a proper goodbye to them. So, the White Queen advised me to write a letter to them all, saying my goodbyes, even though they would never read it. It took me a week to complete, since it was a very hard thing to write. But I finished it, and then, I burnt it, sending it up to them."
Alice looked up at him, but before she could say anything, she found herself getting lost in his eyes. They were such a strange colour. A deep blue, like the ocean, but with hints of purple here and there. She had never seen such a colour before, and she wondered what it could mean.
"Hatter, your..." she began, but found herself unable to finish.
"My what?" he asked, although he suspected what she had seen; he had felt his eyes change, himself.
"Eyes," Alice finished. "They've changed colour. A deep blue, with purple specks."
The Hatter had only seen this colour once. It was when his father had been with his mother on their anniversary, or whenever the two of them were feeling a bit...well, they would always disappear to the bedroom whenever that particular colour made an appearance. But he had never had the colour himself. That is, until Alice came back. The colour seemed to appear whenever she was around.
He barely noticed Alice raise a hand and touch his face, since he was so lost in his own thoughts. But his breath caught in his throat when her warm skin came in contact with his pale face.
"Green means happy," she continued, "red means angry...but what does this colour mean?"
The Hatter could have easily answered her straight. But no, he answered in an entirely different way, which was controlled by the mad part of his brain. The part he really couldn't control sometimes, and this was one of those times. Very slowly, so as not to startle her, he began to lean forwards, closer and closer to her. Alice was not startled by this. She wasn't even shocked, or surprised. Instead, she began to slowly lean forwards too, and both their eyes slid shut as their faces became closer and closer still. The feelings were building up inside of Alice once more, but this time, she ignored them. They wouldn't be interfering with this moment again.
Then, like two magnets coming together, their lips touched.
Magic. Sparks. Heat. Chemistry. Love. Love. Love. All of it was happening. Time slowed, but sped up all at once. All thoughts of Underland and the Otherworld were forgotten. The only thing they were conscious of were each other, and the kiss they were experiencing.
But all good things must end, and theirs did all too quickly. They pulled apart for air, smiles wide on their faces as they looked deep into each others eyes.
"Does that answer your question?" the Hatter said.
"Yes, it does," Alice replied with a smile.
"The colour you see now, Alice, is the colour of love," the Hatter explained further. "Alice, I love you. I've loved you ever since I saw you that day, when you walked up to those tea tables at you're not-quite-Alice-size. I have never stopped loving you, and I never will. But I understand that you don't feel the same way, so maybe it would be best-"
"What?" Alice gasped. "What do you mean by that? Hatter, I kissed you back. Is that not enough to prove my feelings for you?"
"You could have done it to make me happy."
"Hatter, I do not do things just to make people happy if it means I'm not," Alice explained. "Like with James' proposal; I knew that saying yes to him would make him happy, but it would then mean that I would have to live a miserable life married to him. So I said no, despite knowing that it would crush him. I don't do things because people expect me to, or because people want me to. I do things because it's what my heart tells me to do. And I love you, Tarrant Hightopp."
"Really. Utterly. Completely. Truly. The list could go on, but all the words would be the same. I. Love. You."
Of course, that did it for him. He immediately pressed his lips to hers again, the kiss becoming more passionate from both sides. The Hatter even found himself pinning Alice up against the wall, a moan of pleasure escaping her lips as he did. He smiled, before he began to plant kisses all down her neck and on her chest. Alice closed her eyes, muttering words like "Hatter" or "Tarrant" or "Yes". There was more, of course, but not even Alice herself could understand what she was saying. The Hatter's hands began to caress her, working along her arms and through her hair, then down the sides of her body until they reached her waist. He didn't want to go further just yet. That would be going into the no-going-back territory.
It was only when Alice began reaching for the buttons on his shirt did the Hatter stop. He didn't want to go too far just yet. Fear of scaring Alice away was clear as day in his head, and it stopped him from going any further with her.
"Hatter, is something wrong?" she asked.
"We should stop," he told her. "Stop before it goes too far. Once we're over the line, we can't go back, and I don't want to scare you, lass."
"Hatter, I'm not scared of you, and I never will be," Alice told him honestly. "And if you ask me, I think I would be rather put off if we stopped now."
"But don't you have rules about this sort of thing?" he asked. "That you're not supposed to do this until after you're married?"
"We crossed that line with what we did just then," Alice pointed out. "And Hatter, really, you should know me by now. When have I ever been one to stick to the rules?"
He lost it. In a good way, he just lost it. Within a second, the Hatter scooped Alice up into his arms, bridal style, and carried her over to the bed. Alice giggled with excitement and the Hatter's smile was as wide as ever, his eyes still that deep blue/purple colour, only a little more purple than they had been.
Helen Kingsleigh didn't know what to do. Where to go. How to feel. It had been two months since the dinner party and the failed second proposal. And of course, two months since her youngest daughter ran away, and disappeared. They had searched high and low for her, but it had stopped when fishermen found the remains of a small boat, and a strip of blue fabric caught on one of the boards. She had taken the boat out into the water and had drowned in the storm which had hit.
And Helen couldn't have felt more guilty. She had chased her youngest daughter away, and by doing so, she had caused her death. If she hadn't pushed Alice into marriage, then she would still be alive. Sitting in the garden of her home, Helen allowed herself to spill tears. Alice was gone.
She almost screamed at the sight of a White Rabbit standing in front of her, wearing a blue waistcoat and holding a letter in his paws. At first, Helen thought she was dreaming, until she remembered something which Alice had said once.
"And then there was this white rabbit dressed in a blue waistcoat. He always carried a golden pocket watch, and he's forever late for everything!"
It was this which made her stand up, and gave her the confidence to move closer towards it. There was the chance that she was dreaming, but Helen knew for a reason that ever since Alice had "died", she had never gotten a goodnight sleep. Why would she now? And the rabbit looked too real to be a dream.
Cautiously, he hopped forwards, holding out the letter. Helen took it, and instantly, the rabbit hopped away. Helen watched him go, before her eyes drifted down to the letter. She gasped and instantly began to open it when she recognized the handwriting on the front. Her eyes scanned what was written; she was shocked, surprised and amazed, but what got her the most shocked was what it said at the end:
But I know you will understand. For I have fallen in love; something which I never thought I would do, and I am sure marriage would follow. I hope you are proud of me with this.
And just so you know, I am no longer a virgin.
I don't know where that Time concept came from, but it fit, right? And just so you know, that little bit of romance is as far as I've ever gone before, but I will go no further (so no M rated stuff from me). I hope you all liked that! Please review!