Usual Disclaimer - I do not have legal rights to Alice in Wonderland, nor any of the characters contained within.

Chapter Ten

All Together Now

The light in the darkness should have been blinding, but Alice could still see. Stars and comets danced around the two, as they walked on a surface not visible to their eyes. In the distance, so close yet seemingly far away, there was a mirror frame handing in the darkness. Tarrant pulled her along, but she went with him with a willing heart. To be back in Underland, with her Hatter, that was all she had ever wanted. Together, they reached out for that frame, time taking it's sweet time as they moved through the liquid light and darkness.

Mirana and the others stood shocked, as the mirror in front of them started shimmering and sparking out beams of brilliant colors. A hand broke the surface of the mirror, sending waves of motion through the surface. Not thinking of any possible danger, the White Queen took the hand and started pulling. It was like trying to remove something from thick caramel, the mirror's surface rippling dangerously from the tension. Thackery grabbed a bare foot as it stepped through the mirror, tugging with all his strength.

Tarrant made it through only a half step before Alice also broke through the surface. The two stumbled to the floor, kneeling on the white marble. Tarrant quickly covered Alice's head with his arms, burying her face in his chest. Mirana wondered at the strange move, then realized that the Hatter had something of a clue on what was about to happen next.

The mirror they came through shattered, fairly exploding from the frame. Mirrors throughout the hall shattered in sequence, scattering razor sharp shards of glass through the air. The sounds of glass shattering filled the air, but not loud enough to drown out the startled screams and gasps. Then all the shards fell at once, leaving shimmering pieces scattered through the hall. Silence returned to the room.

Then a voice interrupted the silence. "Quite an entrance, Tarrant Hightopp. Very impressive." It was a voice that Alice had never heard, but it filled Tarrant's mind with terror. He'd never seen the man, but he knew that voice, oh did he ever.

Helping Alice to her feet, Tarrant took a quick glance around the room. He'd managed to break more mirrors, he sighed to himself, and there was a figure that he'd never seen actually in the flesh, but he knew quite well.

Alice made it to her feet, and saw a man standing off to one side that she'd never met. He was dressed in a velvety black, his pale face framed by long ink colored hair pulled out of the way. The others, the ones she knew, were doing their best to not actually stand next to the new arrival, and that worried her more than any words this man had to say to anyone. Deciding to be polite, she nodded to him. "I'm Alice Kingsley. May I ask your name?"

"I am Time. You've been living on borrowed pieces of me, young woman. But that is besides the point. I came here specifically to speak to Tarrant." The tall man stepped forward, and the Hatter quickly stepped in his way.

"You'll do nothing to Alice. Not a single thing, not a single moment. We made a deal, that you'd keep your grubby hands off her."

"I think I've been quite accommodating, Tarrant. I am the one that gave you the spare time to spend. I am the one that taught you to step through the mirror to Above. I kept my grubby hands, as you call them, off her and you for over a century and a half. Did I ever complain? Did I go back on my deal?" Time smiled, and Alice had to resist the urge to shudder. It was not a good smile, not one little bit.

"Well, I won't be ordered about by the likes of you. Yes, you kept your side of the bargain, but there was not a single mention that this would come to an end. If, however, you feel that you are owed something in return... Please, don't take it from Alice." Tarrant stepped up to Time, and offered out a hand. "Take whatever you wish from me, but in return, you'll never touch Alice, never ever."

Time reached out, the grin on his face growing wide. Then, he stopped. Trying again, he could not manage to grasp the offered hand. He tilted his head in confusion, and tried once again. Still, for some unknown reason, he could not touch Tarrant.

The young woman's voice from behind and above McTwisp startled the poor rabbit. He jumped up a foot, and over three feet. "Dear little brother, surely you've realized, they no longer belong to you..."

All turned to see whom had spoken. She was a young lady, her skin the color of the stars and her gown dancing with light and darkness, neither side winning. Her bare feet ignored the shards of glass covering the floor as she walked up to Time. Time, on the other hand, was not looking very thrilled with the situation, not thrilled at all. Tarrant took Time's momentary distraction to hold on to Alice, still trying to shield her with his body.

"Why, hello big sister. What brings Timeless out of her important slumber, to make an appearance here in the flesh?" He sighed. "And what is this, that they no longer belong to me? I am Time, in case you forgot, and all living beings have to eventually bow before me. This Tarrant made a deal with me, and I am merely here to collect my due."

Timeless smiled. "You don't have it in your power to stop time for one person or another. I'm the one that's kept them shielded from you and your territorial ways. I am here, to offer them choices, rather than threats or bargains."

"No! He made a deal with me, and that's final! I will take from him every second he stole, and then some! He will crumble to dust in an instant, never to return! I will no be denied, not by him, and not by you!" He stomped one foot, and cracks formed in the white marble under him.

"Do you wish to fight with me? You might want to control yourself, we both know how ugly family arguments can become, especially with an audience watching the outcome." She stepped closer to Time, and lowered her voice. "And let's be honest. Have you ever managed to best me in a fair or unfair fight?"

Time took a deep breath, then exhaled. "What is so important about these two? They're just humans, boring little humans worrying about things they can't control. Why choose now to make an appearance, to wake up from your sleep?"

"They have a love that managed to survive, in spite of it all. Neither knew where to find the other, but they kept in their hearts a love that is so pure, so simple yet deep, that it caught my attention. So, I gave them a piece of me, a piece of Timelessness." Timeless held out her arms, and Time stepped into her hug. "Oh, little brother, we need to sit down for tea sometime soon, and catch up on gossip. But, it's high time that you head off, and back to your duties." The siblings parted, and Time walked out of the room, his feet not disturbing the glass shards on the floor.

Mirana was the one to disturb the silence this time. "My Lady, what do you mean, that our Hatter and Alice have Timelessness within them now?"

The young woman turned, and smiled. "Every so often, the desire to have children that I can call my own gets to be too much. I cannot have children in the traditional sense, but I love to adopt those that have a pure heart." Timeless tilted her head to one side. "Actually, you've one of my adoptions helping you now and again. I'm sure you know of Absolem. He changes form, yet his heart and mind remain the same. Well, not exactly the same. He is wise, for he lives time and time again, learning from each incarnation."

Mirana nodded, then bowed to Timeless. She nodded in return, then turned to face Tarrant and Alice. "I will understand if you refuse, and I will level no punishment or trials upon either of you. But I will be honest, you love each other with all your being. I simply would like to have you both as my children. Your lives will never end, as long as you remain in Underland."

Tarrant turned to Alice. "I've taken you from your world, your family. I would understand if you'd prefer to return to Above... and leave..."

"Never! I've waited this long to get back here! This is my home, it always was. I will never leave Underland, and I shall never leave you." Alice turned from Tarrant, and offered a curtsey to Timeless. I would be honored to be part of your family, if Tarrant can join me as well."

Tarrant smiled, and it was just a wonderful smile. "Then, I think becoming part of Timeless's family is a great mad wonderful idea."

"There is a catch. You will never have children, Alice. I've spent quite some effort rounding up the remainder of the Hightopp Clan that survived the Red Queen's reign, so his name will live on. But my abilities are limited when concerning those that are Above. I cannot promise that your name will continue." Alice froze at those words, then she glanced over to Tarrant.

"They will live their lives, and I will live mine. I was around for too long up there, in charge for too long. They have the support of each other, and they can live a normal life without a dried up Mama Alice watching over their every move." Wrapping an arm around her beloved's waist, she grinned up to him. "I'd love to meet your family. I figure they are wonderful people, if they managed to produce you."

Timeless motioned with her hand, scattering stardust over the two. Their skin started to shimmer with the light of the stars, as they gazed at each other. "I love you, Tarrant."

"And I love you, Alice, for as long as there are stars in the sky above."

Much Later

Under the night sky that was visible from the rebuilt Hightopp Clan's village, an older woman was busy teaching the names of the stars to a wriggling batch of children. Finally, one of the younger ones asked a question, a very important question.

"Grand-mama, why are those two stars dancing together?"

"Dear, that's Mama Alice and Daddy Tarrant. Apparently it's time to dance in the skies tonight."

"Oh. Will they be here for tea tomorrow? Daddy Tarrant promised they would come."

"Most likely. Those two might be a bit late now and again, but they keep their promises."


Author's Note - This was not the original ending when I started writing. But this is much better than the one that was in mind. Thanks again for all the reviews, I am deeply honored.