The reunion of the Pevensie, Scrubb, Kingsley, Lewis, and Carroll families was going as planned. The grown-ups mingled and chatted whilst the children ran around the gardens and horsed around. Of course, there were the occasional odd balls there, too. Aunt Imogene didn't mingle with the other adults, preferring to sit in a chair and daydream about her "prince" that she swore was going to come sooner or later, Eustace Scrubb was enjoying himself by not playing with the other children but by tormenting them, and then there were the Pevensie children.
There were four of them: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Peter was the eldest, about nineteen, and Lucy was the youngest at thirteen. Susan and Edmund were the middle children, at eighteen and fifteen. However, they didn't mingle with the other children or young adults. It wasn't just that the Pevensies didn't want to join in the fun and merry-making – they actually would have enjoyed some company – but, there was a sort of eeriness about them that made others tend to skirt and avoid them. It was unnerving how they seemed mature beyond their years. They tended to gravitate towards conversation with adults, but even the grown-ups started dreading conversation with the four Pevensies. It just wasn't natural, their understanding of political affairs and their advanced vocabulary. Though it was agreed that the one who attained her youthfulness most was Lucy, even she could prove to be exceedingly wise at times. And it was noted how Edmund was no longer the immature wet-rag he used to be. Susan was still a bit of a know-it-all, and Peter still a bit bossy, but they all acted like they were ten years older than they actually were.
However, the Pevensies and the daydreaming Aunt weren't the only ones who were outcast. Alice Kingsley was considered unusual as well. Though she certainly was respected for setting up trade with China, people did notice when she would ask those odd questions about what it was like to fly and if a zebra was really white with black stripes or black with white stripes. Questions no one had ever even dreamed of asking, because they were so ridiculous. And what was worse, was that she never even tried to hide her oddness. She was much more open about it than she used to be.
So, it was quite natural that the Pevensies and Alice Kingsley gravitated towards each other. Outcasts often do that.
"Hello Alice!" Lucy said brightly, practically bouncing up to her cousin.
Alice smiled down at the youngest Pevensie. "Hello Lucy. How are you?" she asked.
"Oh! I'm alright. I'm just hoping Eustace doesn't act like a pratt for the rest of the reunion." Lucy said, a disapproving frown appearing on her face as she looked over at her other cousin.
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Pratt? Normally only Edmund would say something like that."
Lucy looked at Alice in surprise, and then slapped her hand to her forehead. "Oh, no! Peter's right! I have been spending too much time with Edmund!"
"What do you mean she's been spending too much time with me?" Edmund asked Peter, an offended look on his face.
Peter smiled. "Well, you must admit Ed: you're not the best influence."
Edmund scowled. "Come on Pete! You know I've changed since . . . ." Edmund drifted off, a suddenly wistful and almost dream-like expression on his face.
Alice was about to ask the other three Pevensies what had gotten into their brother, when she noticed the same look on their faces. It was like they were all remembering something, something wonderful.
"You're right Ed, you have changed since that. We all have." Peter said.
"When do you think we'll go back?" Lucy asked.
"It won't be all four of us, Lu. You know that. It'll just be you and Ed." Peter said.
Alice was entranced by the whole thing. She felt the nagging curiosity as to the place they were talking about, and why Susan and Peter couldn't go back. It was all quite odd. She longed to ask them about this mystery place, but she was almost afraid to break the trance. She sensed that something important was going on between the four Pevensies.
Susan was the first to shake herself out of the spell. "Come on now, there's no use living in the past. We might as well forget about the whole thing, get used to the fact that this is our home." She said practically.
"Not anymore it isn't," Lucy murmured, but Susan's tactic had worked: the trance was broken, and the Pevensies went on with their previous conversation, as if nothing had happened.
"So, Alice, how was China?" Peter asked.
Alice, a bit bewildered, answered "Oh, it was quite lovely. Everyone didn't stand on their heads like I thought they would."
Everyone laughed at that, but Lucy looked over Alice's shoulder, and her eyes widened in shock.
"Did you see that?" Lucy asked.
"See what Lu?" Peter asked.
"That white rabbit!" Lucy exclaimed.
"Rabbits are quite common in this area, Lucy." Susan said.
"But this one had a . . ." Lucy began, but she drifted off.
"This one had a what Lucy?" Edmund asked.
Lucy murmured something that sounded like "I'll be right back," and she ran off in direction of the shrubbery.
"Lucy!" Susan called.
"Not again!" Peter groaned.
"She's always running off," Edmund sighed.
"Come on! We have to catch her before she gets herself into trouble." Peter said before running off in Lucy's direction. Susan, Edmund, and Alice followed. It soon became difficult to even see Peter, and they found themselves following the sound of his voice, screaming his sister's name. When they finally found Peter, he was standing under a tree, looking around frantically.
"What is it Pete?" Edmund asked.
"I've lost her!" Peter said.
"You lost Lucy?" Susan exclaimed.
"She just disappeared!" Peter said.
Alice looked over Peter's shoulder, and she felt an odd tickling sensation in her stomach. She walked past Peter and to the base of the tree, and she looked down at the ground.
"What is it Alice?" Peter asked, coming up behind her. Alice felt Susan and Edmund step behind Peter.
All three Pevensies looked at where Alice was looking, and there was a collective groan from them.
"By the Lion," Peter swore.
At the base of the tree, was a rabbit hole. But this one seemed different. It was much larger than a normal one, and it seemed to go on forever. They could almost hear the wind rushing in it, like the sort of noise you hear at the top of a cliff.
"You don't think she fell . . ." Edmund said.
"Even Lucy isn't that foolish." Susan said.
"Maybe she was just looking, and she slipped . . ." Alice whispered, memories floating in front of her eyes. Memories of a strange place, untouched by the sun and inhabited by the oddest and maddest of creatures. Memories that were clouded, but as Alice stared deeper down the rabbit hole, she found them becoming clearer and clearer. And then, out of the corner of her eye, Alice saw a flicker of blue. Looking over to where she saw the color, Alice beheld a vibrant blue butterfly, that looked like it had the face of an old man. What was even more extraordinary, though, was that the butterfly seemed to be looking right at her, scrutinizing her, as if it were evaluating and assessing her. Unbidden, a memory surfaced in Alice's mind.
"Is she the right Alice?" a white rabbit in a waistcoat asked.
"Hardly," replied an abnormally large blue caterpillar before it disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
All at once, the memories came flooding back to Alice, and she silently gasped in realization.
"Wonderland," Alice whispered.
"What was that, Alice?" Peter asked.
"Nothing," Alice quickly replied.
"Are you alright?" Susan asked.
"Yes, I'm fine," Alice said.
"How do we know for sure if Lu fell down?" Edmund asked, bringing the other three back to the present situation.
"Well, we can't jump in after her," Peter said.
"Be realistic Peter! It's just a rabbit hole, it can't be that deep." Susan said.
"Well then, you go down," Peter said, gesturing toward said hole.
Susan seemed suddenly less confidant, and she hesitated. "Well . . . there'd be no point in it. Lucy couldn't possibly have fallen in. I mean, she'd have had to crawl through the tunnel, and she couldn't possibly want to find a rabbit that badly, now, could she?" Susan asked.
"Su's right Pete. Maybe she didn't fall. Maybe . . . you know, she went back." Edmund said.
"But Aslan said you'd be going with her," Peter said.
"Who's Aslan?" Alice asked.
Edmund and Peter both hesitated, and Susan glared at them.
"You know, it's quite possible that nothing unusual happened to Lucy. Who's to say that she just didn't run off in another direction and Peter didn't see. You two are automatically assuming the worst –"
"Oh, and it would be the worst-case scenario if Lucy went back?" Edmund asked angrily.
"I think that's the best-case scenario, Su." Peter said.
"Just because it's a fantasy world, doesn't mean that it's not dangerous, too!" Susan snapped.
As the Pevensies argued, Alice knelt on the ground and peered down the rabbit hole. The dark vastness seemed eerie and inviting at the same time. It seemed to be calling her name, almost begging her to lean forward a little more, to fall in and return to the world she had saved. Return to your home it seemed to say. You know that you never really belonged in the Over World.
Entranced, Alice leaned forward, and felt gravity pull her. She let out a yelp, and the Pevensies immediately stopped bickering and turned their attention to their cousin.
"Alice!" Peter yelled, grabbing onto her arm. But the tug seemed to only grow stronger, and as Alice fell, so did Peter.
"Pete!" Edmund cried, and he grabbed onto Peter's leg. But, of course, he started to fall as well.
"Edmund!" Susan exclaimed, and for once, she did the stupid thing – or perhaps it was the smart thing – and she grabbed onto Edmund's foot. But something seemed to be pulling at them, and soon, Alice Kingsley and her cousins were falling down the rabbit hole.
Now, let us return to Lucy. If you haven't guessed already, the white rabbit she saw was indeed the same white rabbit that had seduced Alice down the rabbit hole two times. Now, Lucy followed it, of course, because it was wearing a waistcoat and holding a giant pocket watch. Talking rabbits Lucy could deal with, but a rabbit in clothes was just plain odd. Reepicheep had his circlet, and his cape, but an animal wearing actual clothes was just plain odd. So Lucy followed the strange rabbit until she came to the rabbit hole. And of course she looked down into it and was pulled by the same mysterious force that pulled her siblings and cousin, and down she fell.
At first it was total darkness, and then she came into a dimly let tunnel that seemed to be filled with falling furniture. She had a few close calls with an opening and shutting wardrobe that nearly chopped her head off and chest of drawers that almost captured her foot, but she managed to escape any harm. When she finally came crashing through the floor of the seemingly bottomless rabbit hole, she immediately noticed something odd. She had that aching feeling in your head that you get when all the blood rushes there whilst hanging upside down, and she no longer felt her hair on her back. Looking up, Lucy saw what seemed to be a table on the ceiling, but soon realized that she was on the ceiling right before gravity decided to work properly and she came falling onto the floor. Lucy groaned and rubbed her soar head, and sat up to look at her surroundings.
She was in a small room with a black-and-white tiled floor. Surrounding the room were doors, and in the center of the room was a wooden table with a glass top. Lucy stood up and looked at the table, and she noticed a glass bottle marked "drink me" on it. Lucy didn't even touch it, for she knew better than to drink from a random bottle filled with who-knows-what. Instead, she decided to try and open one of the doors, for they seemed like her only way out.
Lucy tried and tried, but all seemed locked. There was one small door no higher than Lucy's knee, but she didn't even try to open that one, as she knew it would be impossible for her to fit through it, even with her petite figure. Lucy sighed in frustration, and put her back against one of the doors and leaned her head against it. Closing her eyes, Lucy took a deep breath before opening them to try and evaluate the situation.
"Alright, so I'm locked in a small room filled with doors, but all are locked. What would Peter or Edmund do? They'd try to break the door down! That's what!" Lucy exclaimed triumphantly, not the least bit bothered that she had been talking to herself.
Lucy placed herself opposite of one of the weaker looking doors, braced herself, and ran as fast as she could against the door, her shoulder facing towards it. However, the only thing Lucy succeeded in was badly bruising her shoulder.
Holding onto her shoulder in pain, Lucy hissed under her breath a few curses she had heard from Edmund and Eustace. Looking up to the ceiling, Lucy silently prayed for a sign when a glint of gold caught her eye. Looking at the table, Lucy saw a small old-fashioned key on the glass top. Lucy picked up the key and looked at it incredulously; it hadn't been there a minute ago, had it? Lucy shrugged and went up to the door she had previously tried to break down, and tried the key. It didn't fit. Lucy then proceeded to the next door, but once more it failed to work. She went from door to door, once more skipping the small one, but the key was either to small or the locks were too big. It just didn't seem work! In exasperation, Lucy slammed the key down on the table. The bottle labeled "drink me" rattled a bit, and then fell onto the floor. With a tiny clink the bottle shattered, leaving only a pile of glass and a puddle of its mysterious contents. This only fueled Lucy's frustration, and she kicked the table in annoyance. It teetered, and the small golden key fell on the floor. Looking up at the heavens in exasperation, Lucy bent down to pick up the key, but cut herself on one of the shards of glass. Yelping in pain, Lucy put her finger in her mouth to stop the bleeding, but almost upchucked the second her finger touched her tongue. Though she tasted the coppery blood, she also tasted something vile and revolting. Looking at her finger, and then down at the puddle of what had been in the "drink me" bottle. Some of the liquid had obviously gotten on her finger when she cut herself on the glass.
"It couldn't have been enough to cause any serious damage, can it?" Lucy asked herself, almost a little afraid of what had been in that bottle. Almost subconsciously, Lucy put a hand to her forehead to check her temperature, and to her surprise, felt her headband slip.
Lucy frowned, it had almost been painfully tight when she put it on, so how come it was suddenly so loose?
Lucy took of her headband and looked at it critically, and then started in surprise. It looked a lot bigger than she remembered it being. It was then that Lucy noticed that her sleeve was no longer at her wrist. By now, Lucy had forsaken her frustration in favor of confusion. Her sleeves and entire dress had been so tight that Lucy had found it difficult to breath. And now, it was so baggy that her sleeves were falling down her arms and her dress was slipping off her shoulders. And not just her dress, but her petticoat and shoes and stockings and pretty much everything she was wearing. And Lucy also noticed that the table seemed a bit taller and the room a bit larger. Lucy looked down at the ground, meaning to look at the shards of the "drink me" bottle, but instead found it gone. Lucy looked around frantically, and then back at the table. On the glass top was the bottle, unbroken and full. Lucy eyed the bottle suspiciously, and wearily picked it up, unstopped it, and took a light sip. Almost immediately, everything in the room seemed to grow, including Lucy's clothes, soon, Lucy was lost in a pile of her clothing. She managed to worm her way out, and took her undergarment – and with a few tugs of the tightening strings – she managed to make it fit.
Excited now, Lucy ran over to the small door, and pulled on the door knob. However – like all the other doors before it, it was locked. Lucy turned around and looked for the key, and found – to her dismay – that it was back on the table. She was sure that she had left it on the ground!
Lucy looked up at the table determinedly, and jumped, her arm reaching towards the top. She didn't even make it half way. Huffing, Lucy then proceeded to try and climb up one of the legs, but she only slipped back down.
"Oh come on!" Lucy cried.
She looked around the room, hoping to find something she could stand on to get to the table, and found a promising looking glass box. Lucy walked over to it, and found something even more interesting inside it. Inside it, Lucy found a small white cake labeled "eat me." Lucy opened the box and looked at the cake critically.
"Well, if there's one magical food here, who says that there can't be two?" Lucy asked herself before taking a bite out of the cake.
Instantly, Lucy felt herself begin to grow, and she found that her dress – that had been almost immodestly baggy – now uncomfortably tight. She also found that the room was suddenly a little too small for thirty-feet tall girls. Suddenly, Lucy giggled. When she first arrived in a magical world, she was thought a dwarf. Now, everyone would think she was a giant.
Lucy bent down and picked up the key, and then took another drink from the small glass bottle. She began to shrink, and soon she was small enough to fit through the door. However, she found the key a bit too heavy. She stumbled over to the door, and with a slight struggle, she managed to get the key into the lock, turned it, and the door easily swung open. And what was outside, Lucy was not expecting at all.
"By the Lion . . ." Lucy whispered in wonder.