A/N: This is the definite end to Logical Conclusions, so enjoy! The ending surprised even me (and threatened me with an insulin shot) so I hope that it KO's you as well. (I'm not malicious, not at all.)
I want to thank each and every one of you who have either followed this to the end, reviewed, favorited and alerted this story! You don't know how totally awesome you guys are! And as always to my editor/turtle, Will, and my "twin" Jess for the ideas and suggestions and work that they put into this as well. Truthfully, I wouldn't have finished if not for them. Oh! And also to Isaac, who gave me ideas I scattered throughout each chapter. (Cookie for you, Isaac, if you can find them. I scattered them quite well, but they're there, no worries.)
Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed the ride! Please remain seated and glued to your screen until all words come to a complete stop. Thank you, and have a nice day!
With love and diabetes,
Tarrant and Alice sat, Silence between them, on the sofa. Rejection laughed at him from all corners of the room, casting a dark shroud across the bright room. Alice seemed to be oblivious to the hatter's presence, yet Tarrant was anything but oblivious to hers. Moonlight drifted lazily in from the two windows and washed her in an unearthly glow, making her seem almost ethereal. She was wearing her nightclothes; Tarrant would have supposed she had been summoned while sleeping, if not for the dark circles under her eyes that contrasted deeply with her creamy complexion. She seemed something from a story that his mother used to tell him as a child, about the beautiful yet dangerous creatures that lived in the Outlands. Beautiful she was, her golden curls falling over her shoulders and down her arched back. Dangerous as well, he mused, for she could break him—Hasn't she already?—as easily as a Bandersnatch could. It had been three weeks since he had seen her last and amazingly, the time apart hadn't lessened the pain that now resided within him. It seemed his entire body was aching for something.
Abruptly, she said, "Hello." She was still staring at her intertwined hands.
Glancing down at her, he managed a quick, "Hello," before he stared nervously back outside of the window at the large expanse of moonlight and gardens. He couldn't seem to change his Thoughts into Words. Where was the Thinking Room when you truly needed it?
Silence was prodded for a moment by the exchange, then settled back uncomfortably into the couch. It was disturbed again by Alice's next question. "How are you?" Finally looking up to his face, she reached across the short distance and placed a soft hand on his arm, warming his body. He noticed the pain was slightly abated.
"Bad," he confessed in a hoarse whisper. "Mad." He tried a small smile but it turned into a grimace. His large eyes were the blackish side of gray, swirling with brown. Alice felt this wasn't right, that it looked wrong on him. His skin was even paler than usual, and he looked as if he hadn't been eating properly. Worry creased her brow. She turned toward him on the sofa, keeping her hand on his arm. "Have you been taken care of?" she inquired softly.
She nodded. "Good."
He hesitated, then looked out the window again. "Alice?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but it seemed the Words were caught. He couldn't loosen them and he frantically tried to pull them out. Suddenly he forgot completely what he was going to ask, and he found himself blurting out, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
Alice smiled softly and surprised him. "There is a 'b' in both and an 'n' in neither."
Tarrant felt as if all the wind had been knocked from him. Of course! Why hadn't he seen it before? It made perfect sense. In fact, he felt as if he had lost a great weight from his body that had been holding him down. Previous dismay completely forgotton, his mind cheered, Callou, callay! He felt as if he could futterwacken, and stood to do just that.
Alice gasped as the formerly morose man began the dance that signaled his unbridled joy. She marveled at his sudden change in mood, all because she answered his riddle. Smiling despite herself, she watched as he expertly manipulated his limbs in a seemingly spastic way. So exuberant was he at the end of this display that, before he could register in his mind just what he was doing, he had Alice gathered in his arms and was kissing her soundly.
Alice was just as surprised as Tarrant was. She had one minute been contemplating his mood swings, and the next she found herself standing with her arms around the hatter's neck and returned his kiss. It was as if all the frustration and grief that had occurred since that night in the windmill was felt in that brief, yet so very powerful, contact.
He broke the kiss first, much to Alice's surprise. Her arms came down to wrap around his middle. He stared hard into her eyes; his own eyes were a brilliant green, mixed with a wary gray and a bit of purple. "Are you confused?" he asked suddenly.
"Y-yes," she faltered, "How did you know?"
"What are you confused about?" he asked, stubbornly holding on to this subject.
"You," Alice sighed, giving in and leaning against his chest, feeling how utterly right it was. "And where I am to go," she added.
"That one is easy," declared Tarrant. "All you must do is close your eyes, quickly turn around three times, point, and go the opposite way. As for me, I can't help you with that. I am myself, and to help you understand myself, I would have to understand myself in the first place. Myself and I don't come to terms very much, I fear."
"Of course," she muttered, and fell silent.
Nivens McTwisp, being a nervous creature of habit, chose that moment to inspect the Queen's sitting room. Seeing the two embracing, he cried out, "Good heavens!" causing them both to break away from each other quickly and with great effort, for neither had wanted to lose the moment. Pulling his watch out of the waistcoat pocket and tapping it almost compulsively, he chided, "It's terribly late! You should not be here! Shoo! Shoo!" Satisfied with his admonition, he scurried off to finish his rounds.
Tarrant smiled down at Alice and offered her his arm. Taking hold of him, they walked together from the castle to the moonlit path that would take them to where they both belonged- the windmill.
Watching them progress, Mirana smiled from her bedroom window in a tower. Not all was resolved between them, she knew, but it was certainly a most welcome start. Turning toward the blue butterfly that was rerolling the Oraculum, she sighed contentedly. "You were right, Absolem."
"Yes," he murmured in agreement. Pausing in his work, he gazed at the new illustration that was being formed at the end of the scroll: Tarrant and Alice standing together with a small, curly-haired child playing at their feet. "I usually am."