At the End of Adventure

Disclaimer: I don't own Alice in Wonderland.

Warnings: Spoilers

AN: I've never actually read any of the books, so a certain amount of leeway is required.

Her letters were written.

It'd taken her nearly the entire trip back to find the words, but somewhere between India and the first sight of English shores, they'd poured from her like rain from the sky during a cloudburst. Three neat letters for the most important people to her, in this world at least. One for Lord Ascot to be found on the morrow in her room. One for her mother to explain all the things Alice couldn't say. One for her sister and nieces to let them know that they were loved and cherished, even if she was leaving to never return.

Her money had already been aside.

Alice wouldn't need it where she was going; she wasn't entire sure that Underland even used currency and couldn't remember either way. Regardless of that, her remaining family would never want for anything as long as they lived. She'd made more than enough for that, and her business ventures would continue to pay out to them for many years to come.

Her trinkets and treasures were packed away.

They'd go to her nieces. Alice was certain that two little girls would find them quite amazing in the years to come. Perhaps for play. Maybe for other things later on. Alice only hoped that they would use what she'd left wisely.

And now, it was time. It'd been three years. Three long but unbelievable years. Full of travel and learning and exploration.

But Alice was more than a bit tired. She was ready to go home. To hear the flowers sing in the morning. To watch invisible cats appear and disappear. To talk to dogs and fight for queens and kingdoms. To have impossibly good tea with impossibly mad fellows.

It was time to go. There was nothing here left to do. No dreams left to fulfill. No more letters to write or funds to direct or things to pack. Nothing really to take with her.

She was a woman. A lady. A champion. An adventurer. She'd traveled this world and another. She didn't need anything of this place.

But there was one thing that might just need her. Or at least, her help. Need her to be taken somewhere better. Somewhere more fitting. Somewhere wonderful.

"Ready, Aunt Imogene?" Alice asked as she adjusted her blue dress one final time, pleased she'd remembered to forget the stockings and corset.

"Of course, dear," her aunt stated then with a winning but vague smile.

She looked rather fetching in the starlight, if Alice did think so herself. Lovely even. Dress new and neat and lavender. Hair brushed and falling in soft, grey curls down her back. Pink-cheeked and excited. If a twinge confused.

"Where are we going again?" the older woman questioned as Alice took her arm like a gentleman and not at all as a lady.

Alice just smiled as they walked outside under the full moon and towards the Ascot gardens. It'd be some time before the lord or his wife even noticed that their guests were gone. But by then, it would be far too late.

"To find your prince, aunt," Alice reminded her. "To find your prince. I've an idea of where he might be." Her smile grew, and she nodded with absolute certainty. "Yes, we'll certain find him there. And if not, we'll find you a new one. Even better than the first."

Imogene shook her head. "I don't think that's possible."

"Why ever not?" Alice questioned as she led deeper into the bushes and trees. "Anything is possible. Impossible things even more so."

Her aunt paused for a moment then. Paused and looked at her. Eyes focused and no longer distant. Seemingly knowing and seeing too much.

"Why are you doing this, dear? Why do you believe me now when you didn't before?"

Alice studied her face before bringing up a hand to touch her cheek. "I was wrong before. I didn't understand that one could have a prince without losing herself in the process. That one could have adventures and a family. That one could be both brave and be married." The skin under her fingertips was warm in the cool night air as she pulled back.

Her aunt was quiet, and her face completely expressionless. But her eyes gave her away. They told a story that would never be said out loud. Whispered of years spent being neglected and mocked and disbelieved.

Alice was listening now though. She listened, and she heard, and she wouldn't turn away.

Imogene stared at her and kept staring. But then, she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her niece's forehead.

"Well, dear girl, what are we waiting for?" she asked and took a gallant step forward.

There was a sound of laughter behind her.

"What indeed?"

Alice took her hand then and squeezed it. She led them both under the stars through the garden. Walked up to the precipice of where their futures waited. Took one last look at this world and everything – everyone – in it.

And jumped.

Ever Hopeful,