"How long has it been, McTwisp?"

The white rabbit, who had been tapping his paws together nervously for the past ten minutes, looked at the questioning dormouse and took out his watch to look at it. "...Almost ten hours," he replied. Mallyumkun let out a squeaky sigh and nestled into Chessur's fur. The cat was currently asleep at the moment, having been forbidden from entering the room that everyone was sitting outside of. Thackery was actually very calm; he was nibbling on some food that he had brought for everyone who was waiting, and hadnt dared to throw a single thing that day. The Tweedles were sitting quietly side-by-side, twiddling their thumbs nervously. Bayard was pacing in front of the door to the next room like a watch dog, daring anyone to go into the room.

Everything in the White Palace was quiet. The servants were obscure; the boarding Lords and Ladies kept to themselves; even the wind seemed to stop whispering in reverance for the situation. Everything was somber and tense with anticipation.

The silence was broken when the hall door suddenly opened, startling everyone. Bayard stiffened and growled, then went quiet when he realized who it was.

"Absolem!" Mally breathed, poking Chess to wake him up. Chessur opened his eyes and broke into a grin.

"About time you made it, old friend," he drawled.

The human-formed Absolem gave Chessur a withering look and glided into their hall, his long blue robe-like coat billowing behind him, the pattern glittering and looking remarkably like a cluster of blue butterflies trailing him. "I am not 'about time'," he replied. "I am on time."

Just as he spoke, the door to the highly-anticipated room opened and Mirana poked her head out, smiling, then blinked with surprise when she saw Absolem. "...Absolem...what a surprise...!" The blue butterfly nodded curtly, knowing just why she was surprised to see him there, but at the same time feeling a bit insulted that she would think he would not be there for this day. He strolled to the door and past Mirana, who had stepped aside to let him in.

Inside the room was Alice, who was sitting up in bed. Tarrant was sitting next to her, one arm around her shoulders and his free hand dabbing her forehead with a cool, damp kerchief. In Alice's arms was a little white bundle that was held tenderly to her chest. Both of them looked up when Absolem walked in; Tarrant's face showed surprise as Alice's showed joy that was masking fatigue.

"Absolem..." Alice murmured, hugging the small bundle to her. "...You came." Absolem smiled back at her and made his way over to the bed. Tarrant drew away from Absolem and stood up respectfully.

"Of course I came, stupid girl," he replied affectionately. "I would not miss this for the world." He came to a stop next to her. "...May I?" Alice smiled tiredly and nodded, handing the bundle to Absolem with the utmost care. Absolem took it and pulled back the folds of the white blanket, seeing a tiny round face framed with waves of strawberry-blonde hair. "...A girl," he surmised. Alice smiled, taking Tarrant's hand in her own.

"A girl," she affirmed, squeezing her husband's hand. "A well-earned baby girl." She sighed and leaned back on the pillows. "Well earned."

Absolem nodded in knowing, and stroked the little girl's cheek with the tip of his finger. The baby shifted around in the bundle and opened her eyes, revealing vivid blue eyes that were the exact color as Absolem's wings. He smiled and looked at her parents, who were looking at him expectantly. "...She's perfect," he said, handing her back to Alice. Tarrant's work-scarred fingers fumbled nervously, his face showing all that Absolem knew he was thinking. "...If I may," he spoke, looking at Tarrant, "...might I bless her?"

Alice blinked, looking at Tarrant, whose eyes had gone from a nervous pinkish-peach to a delighted emerald. "...Bless?" she questioned. Tarrant knelt by Alice's side, stroking his little girl's face.

"It's an extraordinary honor!" he said softly, though excitedly. "A blessing of a newborn from Absolem reaps marvelous results for Underlandians." Alice shifted her gaze to Absolem, who nodded.

"How so?" she asked. Tarrant also looked at Absolem, who sat at the foot of Alice's bed.

"A prime example would be Tarrant himself," Absolem replied, nodding to the hatter. "His mother went into labor in the forest while looking for a certain type of fruit." He smirked at the memory. "Thackery's mother assisted with the birthing, if you can beleive it."

"...That's impossible thing number five today," Alice said, smiling. "Go on."

"When Tarrant was born, I happened to be there at the time, and while Tarrant's mother rested and Thackery's mother sent one of her children to alert his father, I gave Tarrant a blessing, and it gave him the Gift of Sight." Alice's expression turned to confused curiosity. "...Tarrant, if you would."

Tarrant smiled at Alice, his eyes fading into that pinkish-lavender of love. "As he said, sweetling," he continued, "it gives me sight. Insight, outsight, up-sight-down, any sight. It allows me to see things as they are, and at the same time, allows others to see me as I am."

"Ohh," Alice said, touching Tarrant's face with one hand. "...Your eyes. That's why your eyes change." Tarrant nodded, and took her hand to kiss it.

"It is also how it let me see that you were the real Alice, the second time you came to Underland," he said, and Alice recalled that Tarrant had said immediately that she was the right Alice, and that he would know her anywhere. ...It would also explain why he was staring at her chest when he said that she was the 'proper Alice size'...

"...So...your blessing...gives children 'gifts'?" she asked Absolem. The butterfly nodded.

"In a sense," he said. "Even I do not know of what gifts will be bestowed; I can only take what was already there, and inhance it to something akin to a power. Understand?" Alice nodded. "...Would you...allow me to bless her?"

"Of course!" Alice said, smiling. "It would be an honor!" Absolem smiled, and with a swirl of blue smoke, became a butterfly again.

"My dearest Alice," he said, "the honor is all mine." He fluttered over to the little girl and landed softly on her forehead, making the baby's blue eyes light up with delight and curiosity. Absolem began whispering things in Old-Underland (something that sounded between Latin and Old English), and the baby girl's eyes emitted a soft glow, as did Absolem's wings. After a moment, Absolem went silent, then he fluttered to the top of the bundle to face Alice. "...I dont believe it..." he murmured after awhile.

"What is it?" Alice asked, her voice thick with anticipation. "...Do you know what her gift is?" Absolem fluttered to Alice's shoulder, his wings twitching.

"...It's...so unprecidented..." he replied. "...Your child...is an Oracle, like me."

Tarrant blinked, then half-fainted into a chair next to the bed, his eyes a swirl of gold and green. Alice looked down at her baby, and saw for the first time that her child's eyes were the same color as Absolem's. "...What does that mean?" she asked. The butterfly fluttered to the child's head and nestled in the reddish waves.

"It means...that she is my successor," he replied. Tarrant took a swig of the water that had been used to cool Alice's forehead.

"But there...has nae been ae successor t' an Oracle since..." he calculated, his accent thick with the shock he had heard.

"Since myself, Tarrant," Absolem finished. "And that was...ages-literally ages-ago."

Alice smiled at Absole and her baby. "...Tarrant?" she said, cuddling her baby. Tarrant looked up at his wife, his eyes fading back to green.

"Aye?" he asked.

"...I think I've found a name for her," she murured. Tarrant blinked and leaned in closer.


Alice smiled more broadly down at her daughter.

"...Venetia." She shifted her eyes to Tarrant's. "'Blessed'." Tarrant's eyes went lavender with love again and he leaned in to kiss Alice softly.

"It's beautiful," he murmured, stroking Alice's hair. "Venetia Hightopp. Quaint." He looked at Absolem. "I would expect her to be trained well in the ways of the Oracle," he said in a very father-like voice. Absolem laughed softly and fluttered his wings.

"You should expect nothing less than the best from her godfather," he replied affectionately. Alice smiled at him and gently shifted Absolem onto her fingers.

"Correction," she whispered, looking down at her Venetia lovingly. "We expect nothing less from her grandfather."

Absolem passed on the Oracle eighteen years later, when Venetia "Tia" Hightopp was an adult and ready for the responsibility. Before he retired as the Oracle, he was the blesser of all of Alice and Tarrant's children-all seven of them:

Carmel, the second-born son, who was given the Gift of Flora; he could make any plant, sentient or no, flourish and grow.

Tristan, the third-born son, who was given the Gift of Battle; a natural-born warrior that Venetia made her first Oracle prediction about-he was to become the next Champion of Underland.

Teagan, the fourth-born daughter, who was given the Gift of Word; she could write and speak in any language, and made speaking an art form.

Aislin, the fifth-born daughter, who inherited Tarrant's Gift of Sight; her eyes changed as her father's did, and she saw things as they were, insight, outsight, and up-sight-down.

Callie and Conner, the sister-and-brother twins, who were given the Gifts of Fawna; they could assume the forms of any animals and insects they chose.

After the twins were born, Absolem felt that he had given his last blessing and glanced his last at the Oraculum. A week later, he used the last of his power to induct Venetia to the full-time role as Oracle of the Oraculum, then decided to live out the rest of his no-doubt long life in the White Queen's Palace as an advisor-in his human form.

And despite his normal dour and sarcastic disposition, he was happy.

Just ask his daughter and grandchildren.

"All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly."

And that is the end of this storyline.