Author's Note: Very, very, very late but finally I am able to post the sequel to Alice's Return! Again very sorry for late posting, I just wanted to make it good enough for you to read. Little warning before you read: NOT a full AliceXHatter fic! It is focused on their daughter, hence the title. And be warned: VERY depressed Alice. Well, hope you enjoy and please review!
Summary: Eighteen years ago Alice was taken from the man she truly loved and her new home, now her daughter has found her way into the magical land filled with talking animals and flowers, grinning cats, walking cards, and other things you would only find in your dreams. Only, this land isn't the way Alice had described it. Something dark has plagued this once magical land and it's up to Tempest Kingsleigh-Hightopp to help the inhabits while trying to find a way to make her one wish come true. She teams up with the White Prince, Alaric, and together they set about saving their world... while fighting their undeniable attraction to each other. Can they stand up against an unknown danger and a lot of unpleasent surprises?
"Tell me the story again, Mommy." The five year old Tempest Kingsleigh bounced on her bed, looking pleadingly up at her blond haired, brown eyed mother. The girl's curly red hair bouncing around her shoulders.
Alice chuckled and shook her head at her daughter. "You've heard that story so many times, you could tell it to me. Besides it's late and you need to go to bed."
Tempest pouted and flopped on her bed. "But you need to finish it. Pleeeeeease?"
Alice laughed and pulled the blankets back. "Alright but you need to get into bed."
Tempest squealed and quickly crawled under her covers. She snuggled into her pillow and smiled up at her mother, begging for her to tell her tale.
"Alright," Alice sighed, pulling the covers up. "Where did I stop?"
"You stopped after you were on the balcony with daddy." Tempest answered.
"Right, so the next morning I stood beside the White Queen in Marmoreal's courtyard." Alice began her story. Tempest listened to her mother like she never heard the story. She still gasped in surprise when Alice described the Jabberwocky and her fight with the dark creature. Alice even did her own little Futterwacken when she spoke of Hatter's dance. "Just as I was about to drink the blood he stopped me, asking me to stay."
"But you couldn't." Tempest chimed in, losing her smile.
"But I couldn't, not then at least. So I promised to be back." She brushed her daughter's hair out of her face.
"And you did!" The child smiled widely.
Alice rubbed her nose against Tempest's. "I did, I found true love, and I had a beautiful little girl. Now it's time for bed."
"Awww," Tempest whined but settled back against her pillows with a yawn.
Alice kissed the girl on her forehead and turned to leave.
"Mommy?" Tempest's soft voice had the blond turning back to the girl. "Will we ever seen daddy?"
"One day Tempest." Alice promised. "Good night sweetie."
"Good night, Mommy." Tempest yawned again and watched her mother leave. The little girl rolled over in her large bed, grabbing her stuffed grey grinning cat. She lifted the cat and stared into its aqua beaded eyes. "Well, Chess, I don't wanna sleep. I wanna go to Underland!" She lay back in her bed and stared at the ceiling, thinking of the world she half belonged in.
A loud crash from downstairs had her jumping from bed. Fear for her mother caused the girl to rush from her room and run down the stairs in time to see her mother running from the house and into the rain.
"Mommy!" She called but the blond didn't turn around. Tempest took a deep breath, held her stuffed cat to her chest and followed her mother. When she nearly fell she lost sight of her mother. Standing in the clearing she spun around, searching for any sign of Alice. She called out again. "Mommy!"
No answer. Tears began to form in her eyes as fear set in. Before she started to really cry the wind wrapped around her, pushing her in one direction. Whipping at her tears she let the wind all but carry her to a small clearing. In the center was her mother standing before a tall man with bright orange hair and green eyes. Tempest gasped at the man who was no doubt her father, their hair and eyes matched.
"I love you Tarrant." Alice tried to touch the man but her hands slipped through his disappearing form. "No, not now."
"I'm sorry Alice." He tried to touch her cheek but fazed through it. "I can't stay any longer." Tempest watched as he reached up and removed his hat. He handed it to Alice. She shook her head but he forced it into her hands. "Keep it. Remember me."
"Tempest." She looked up at him with tear strained eyes, holding his hat to her chest.
"Her name is Tempest and she's beautiful."
His eyes widened as he realized what she was talking about. "Our baby…"
The wind gusted behind Tempest and she called out. "Mommy!" Both adults turned to her with shock on their faces. "Mommy?"
"Tempest." Alice knelt to the ground and Tempest didn't hesitate to run into her mother's arms.
Tempest couldn't stop from staring up at the disappearing man. She followed him as he knelt before her and reached out his gloved hand; his long fingers were tipped orange with thimbles on a few. He tried to touch her cheek but his hand went through her.
"She is beautiful, just like you." Tarrant smiled at her then Alice, his hand nearly gone.
"Tarrant, don't… please." Alice tried to touch him again but her hand fell through him. Tempest watched in shock.
"I love you, both of you." He said before fully disappearing.
"No, Tarrant come back!" Alice cried out into the storm but he didn't answer. The wind gusted around them as the rain fell steadily.
"Mommy, was that daddy?" Tempest asked, looking up at Alice with big green eyes.
"Yes, that was." Alice pulled her daughter into her arms. "But now he's gone."
Tempest looked at where Hatter had been then at the hat still clutched in her mother's hand. She took it and examined it like it was some new invention. It was big and different and she liked it. Then she placed it on Alice's head. "Then there is hope."
Alice stared in shock at the happiness in her daughter's eyes before pulling her back into a hug. The red-head turned back to the spot where Hatter disappeared, tears beginning to form in her green eyes. It was then that she knew what she wanted. She wanted her mother and father together and would give anything to have them be that way.
Thirteen years later
Tempest Kingsleigh walked across the campus on the warm summer day. She had an open book in one hand and a partially eaten apple in the other. As she walked through the lunch break crowd she took a bite of the apple and turned the page. She was too entranced by her book to notice the looks some of the people sent her way. Not that she cared, most of the people always stared at what she wore.
Today she wore a sleeveless corset vest, with barely an undershirt, and her skirt was tied to one side rather than stitched, revealing the trousers she wore underneath. Her ankles and sandals were also clearly visible. Some would say that she wasn't properly dressed but she would simply counter that what is proper depends on the person and then walk away. Eventually they stopped saying anything, even her teachers realized that she would wear what she wanted. It wasn't like she was going around naked.
Tempest finished her apple and tossed it into a trash can. Just as she turned to the next page of her book, someone called her name.
"Hey Temp!" She turned to see her older cousin, Thomas, running up to her. She smiled at his outfit. He was wearing a pair of short trousers that hung loosely past his knees, a grey open vest with a white undershirt and simple Grecian sandals. She had made that outfit going off her pirate stories she'd read and Thomas had jumped at the opportunity to wear it.
"Hey, Thomas. Nice outfit." She waved.
"Like it, it was a special make by this designer I know." He stopped before her and straightened himself up like many of the lords they'd met. He turned his head to the side and looked down his nose at her, gripping his jacket.
Tempest couldn't help from laughing at his antics. Thomas joined her, relaxing his pose. "So, you know what today is, right?"
She frowned and cocked her head. "No, what's today?"
A look of disappointment covered his handsome face. "Come on Temp! You have to know today's my birthday."
"I know." She laughed, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes. "How could I forget? Twenty years old, huh. How does it feel?"
"Like every other day." He shrugged. "You're gonna be at my party tonight, right?" He gave her a you-better-say-yes look. With only a year and a few months separating them in age, Tempest and Thomas grew up together. Because of that they were very close, more like brother and sister than cousins. They counted on each other deeply and it was hoped for that the other showed up for their parties. If they didn't then the parties tended to be rather dull and disappointing.
"Like I have a choice." She rolled her eyes again. "Have I ever missed one of yours, or your bothers' birthdays? No and neither has mother. So yes, I'm going to be there. Besides it at my house."
"Good," He nodded. "Mother wanted to make sure you were there."
Tempest groaned. "Don't tell me she still thinks I need to find someone."
"Afraid so." He sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets. "She still thinks you should marry off."
"Let her think what she wants." She wrinkled her nose at the idea of being forced to marry. She was her mother's daughter alright.
"Yo, Thomas!" A man called from behind them. They turned to see a group of men waving at him. "You coming?"
"Be there in a minute." He called and turned back to his cousin. "We're going to go out for lunch, want to come along?"
She looked to the group before giving her cousin a smile. "No, I'm going to head home and finish making the dress mother's making me wear."
His hand went to his chest, eyes going wide and he gasped in fake shock. "A dress? You, in an actual dress? Someone call the newspapers."
"Oh, shut up." She punched his arm softly.
Thomas just laughed before patting her shoulder. "I'll see you tonight then, cousin."
"Have fun." She shooed him to his friends. "See you tonight." She watched with a sad smile as Thomas joined the group of five men. Everyone loved her second eldest cousin. He fit in everywhere, where as she fit in nowhere. He was a child of one world and she, a child of two.
With a sigh she headed off the school grounds to one of the carriages waiting out front. She continued reading her newest book as the diver took her home. When the carriage arrived at her home she immediately went inside and flopped on the couch, continuing her book. She got about two pages further before someone cleared their throat behind her. She tilted her head back to meet a pair of brown eyes and a frown.
"Hi mom." She smiled up at the blond woman.
Alice crossed her arms and gave Tempest her best mother's stare. "What are you doing?"
"Reading." Temp held up her book.
Alice shook her head at her carefree daughter. At the age of forty-three Alice Kingsleigh-Hightopp was still a beautiful woman. Only a few little wrinkles marked her beautiful face, but there were many grey hairs mixed into her lightened blond locks. Her deep set brown eyes shone with intelligence and age as she continued to stare at her only child. The woman looked worn out and exhausted, like she hadn't slept in days. Bet was she hadn't slept in months again.
"What?" Tempest shrugged, giving an innocent look. She feared for her mother's health but knew her antics cheered the older woman up.
"We have a party tonight and you still need to get dressed." Alice put her hands on her hips.
"I have plenty of time." Tempest shrugged again and turned back to her book. With a huff, Alice grabbed the book from her daughter. The younger woman sat up. "Hey! I'm reading that!"
"Not until you go finish your dress. For Lord's sake it's Thomas' twentieth birthday. You can at least be a little excited." Alice took the seat across from Tempest.
"I am, but…" Temp sighed. "It's just another day and you know I hate going to the parties Aunt Margaret throws. I never feel like I fit in."
"Honey," Alice reached over and patted Tempest's knee. "I feel the exact same way. To tell the truth I only go because of your aunt and grandmother and cousins."
"But you seem to fit in with the others so well."
"I've had lots of practice." Alice pulled back and sighed again. "I don't like being around all those snooty people but we have to. Being there shows that we care for the person throwing the party."
Temp groaned and looked to the mantle above the fireplace. Her green eyes settled on the out of place top hat. The one with the peacock feather and the tag that read: In this style 10/6. Her father's hat.
"I guess I could try to put effort into tonight." She sighed.
"Don't sound too thrilled." Alice smiled at her. "Go finish your dress while I help set everything up."
"Why exactly are they throwing the party here?" Tempest stood and stretched.
"Because they are having their home remodeled and I offered to let them stay here. It's not like we don't have the room." Alice also stood and headed out of the room.
"What about my book?" Temp called after her mother.
"You can have it back when you finish getting ready." Alice called back and laughed at her daughter's exaggerated groan.
A few hours later the Kingsleigh estate was busy with people ranging from all ages. Everyone was laughing and talking, moving from inside the grand home to the beautiful gardens. A string quartet could be heard mingling with the party goes, playing a happy tune. The man of the hour was currently standing near the main entrance, greeting the newest arrivals.
"Thank you for coming, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon." He shook the middle-aged man's hand and bowed to the man's wife.
"It's always a pleasure to come to one of your family's parties." Mr. Gordon chuckled.
"Indeed," Mrs. Gordon chimed in. "I can't wait to see what happens."
As the two went to mingle with some of the other guest, Thomas turned to his aunt. Alice was halfway through running her hand through her hair. She looked tired.
"Are you alright, Aunt Alice?" Thomas touched her shoulder.
"I'm fine, Thomas. Just wondering what is going to happen." She turned her brown eyes to the grand staircase. No doubt she was looking for her child.
"Any idea what she's doing?" Thomas asked also looking up at the top of the stairs.
"No but she's not hiding out in her room this time." Alice turned back to Thomas. "I'll be right back." She patted his arm before almost stomping up the stairs. She was going to get that daughter of hers down those stairs if she had to drag her.
When she got to Tempest's door she knocked and called out. "Tempest, open up!"
"Coming!" Tempest's voice was muffled and a moment later she opened her door. The younger woman was currently only dressed in her bloomers, blouse, and corset. (Unlike her mother Temp didn't mind corsets so long as they weren't too tight and were short.) Her long red hair was still drying from the bath she had just taken. "H-hey mom, what's up?"
"Tempest what are you doing? The party's already started." Alice placed her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes.
"Um…" Tempest rocked on her heals, eyes looking anywhere but at her mother.
Alice sighed, pointing past the girl. "Get in there."
Tempest nodded and stepped back. Like always her room was clean and neat except for the area by her desk, which was littered with fabric and drawings. So much like her father.
"Come on, let's get you ready." Alice indicated the stool before the ivory vanity.
Tempest took the seat and looked at her mother in the mirror. "I'm sorry. I was getting ready but got distracted. Too many ideas bouncing around in my head." She knocked on her forehead.
"You are so much like your father." Alice smiled down at her child, running the brush through her hair. "Never stopping the creations inside you. But you have to learn to push them aside."
"I know but it's so hard." Temp groaned, bouncing her knee. "I can barely sit still, how am I supposed to last through one of these parties?"
"Just remember it's for Thomas. You're doing this for your cousin." Alice answered as she began to intricately twist the red hair she held. "And he really wants you there."
"He told me that earlier today." Tempest winced when her mother pulled a little too hard.
"There, now where's your dress?" Alice patted her shoulder when she was done twisting up half of Tempest's hair, letting the rest curl down her back.
Tempest stood and opened her wardrobe, pulling out the long gown she'd been working on. With some help from her mother she was able to get it on and laced within a few minutes. The dress was a light purple color with golden trim. It rested just off her shoulders, with short flat sleeves, and clinched at her waist. The skirt fell in layers of purple and gold down to her feet, roses embroidered at the edges. She had even embroidered more roses on the sleeves and middle section.
"Tempest, this dress in beautiful. Your best one yet." Alice praised then ushered her to sit down once more. "Let me just add a little lip and eye color."
"Mom," Tempest called as Alice dusted a small amount of make-up on her. "You're not expecting me to get married soon are you?"
Alice stopped and frowned down at her child. "Why would you think that?"
"Because you're trying too hard this time." Temp shrugged.
"Am I? I didn't realize." Alice quickly finished and sat next to the red-head. "Tempest, if I wouldn't accept a marriage because it was expected of me, why would I force one on you? No, I'm not expecting you to get married until you are ready. As for the trying so hard, who else is going to put in the effort? You obviously don't want to. I just want the world to see how beautiful you really are."
Tempest smiled and hugged her. "Thanks mom. I wish I was more like you."
"You are perfect the way you are." Alice shook her head and stood. "Besides I need you the way you are or else I might lose my muchness again. That would be scary." Tempest laughed and followed her mother down to the party.
The instant she stepped off the stairs she regretted it. Everyone in the room stared at her. She fought the groan that was making its way up her throat and followed her mother to the main entrance where Thomas was greeting another group of his guest, one of his 'friends' (Thomas was never found of him) and the man's parents. She saw the shock on the man's face and the flash of heat in his eyes but decided to ignore it.
"Welcome and I hope you enjoy yourselves." Thomas shook Lord Havilland's hand. "There's bound to be a surprise."
"I think I already found one." Henry said with a smirk and crossed his arms, staring past Thomas.
Thomas raised an eyebrow and turned when Henry pointed behind him. He felt his jaw drop at the sight behind him. Well, at least Tempest kept her promise.
"Tempest," He nodded to her. "You remember Lord and Lady Havilland and Henry."
"Of course, it's a pleasure to see you again." Tempest bowed to them.
"My lord, Tempest Kingsleigh you look a lady." Lady Havilland gave her an approving look. The first time she didn't look shrewd, in Tempest's opinion. But that lasted all for three seconds before she turned to her husband. "Come along." She led the men with her into the party.
"That woman is a shrew." Tempest whispered watching the elderly woman make her way through the crowd like she owned the place. She then turned to face her cousin with a smile. "Happy birthday, Thomas."
"Wow," Thomas eyed her and crossed his arms. "Tempy, you actually look like a girl."
"Oh, shut up, Tommy." She wrinkled her nose, resisting the urge to stick her tongue out at him. "I hate this and you know it."
"I know, but at least you look good." He laughed when she growled at him. "Lighten up, Temp. It's my birthday and, as the rule we set up as kids, you have to do as I wish."
"Don't remind me." This time she crossed her arms. "What do you want me to do, besides wear this dress?"
"I wish for you to go mingle." He smiled and relief had her sighing. At least until he spoke again. "And you have to dance with anyone who invites you."
"What!" She nearly yelled. Every year he did something like this just to make her mad.
"That's one of my wishes." He gave her a mischievous smile.
"You're going to convince everyone you can to ask me to dance, aren't you?" She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. His shrug told her everything. "Thomas, that's not fair! You know I hate this!"
"Oh, deal with it! On your birthday you had me wear a dress the entire day. I think this is fair payback." He countered.
"At least I let you choose which dress." She hissed. "If I had picked then yes, this would be fair."
Thomas turned her around. "Cousin, there was no way I was going to wear that skimpy dress, even in private. Now go." He pushed her into the crowd.
Tempest looked back at him with a scowl before moving to find her best friend. Cassidy was standing on the back porch talking with Robert, Thomas' older brother. The brunet was blushing and giggling as the older man talked. Temp couldn't help but shake her head at her friend.
Cassandra Morton, "Cassidy", was a vision of high society. She had long brunet hair that was currently twisted in braids on her head with flowers mixed in. Her green dress was very modest, going from her collar bone all the way to the floor. She was proper with everything she did, the exact opposite of Tempest. And the girl had a huge crush on Tempest's oldest cousin.
Strange how that worked, Temp thought as she watched the two. Cassidy had gotten her crush on Robert when she thought he had saved her from drowning when she was fourteen. The twenty-three year old only thought of Cassidy as a friend, and was clueless about her feelings. There was someone else who wasn't though.
Tempest turned back to look at Thomas, who was looking at Cassidy. His brown eyes staring at the young woman with genuine love. When he saw Tempest's smile he blushed and walked off. That man has been hopelessly in love with her friend since she could remember and had actually been the one to save her.
With a grin she went back after her cousin, calling, "Oh, Thomas."
"Not now, Temp." He didn't even look back.
"I have a deal for you." She grabbed his arm, pulling him to a stop.
"What kind of a deal?" He sighed.
"I'll dance with anyone who asks me, if you tell Cassidy, tonight." She smirked at his shocked look.
"Why would I make that deal? You already have to do what I ask today." He crossed his arms.
"Fine, then I'll just tell her myself." She countered and cut him off when he opened his mouth. "And if you tell me not to then I'll simply tell her tomorrow. It's your choice: you tonight or me tomorrow."
He opened and closed his mouth a few times. "You… I… that's defiantly not fair."
"Deal with it, birthday boy." She tilted her hip up in a very girlish move. "Which is it?"
He gave a growl before giving in. "Fine, I will. Sometimes I hate you."
"And I you. But we're family." She gave a sweet smile.
Before Thomas could reply a blond man came up to them. He cleared his throat and bowed to Tempest. "L-lady Tempest, would you honor me with a dance?"
She was about to say no but Thomas nudged her. She bit her tongue to stop from growling then smiled at the man. "Of course." She took his hand and let him lead her to the dancing area out in the back yard.
For about an hour Tempest was bounced from one man to another. Each one was constantly staring at her like they'd never seen her before. Quickly, she grew very board and her mind started to wonder. At least until the one man she couldn't stand took her hand.
Henry Havilland was a self-proclaimed gift to women. He was tall with style blond hair and ice blue eyes. The man was rich, a son of a lord, and only cared for himself. To make matters worse he believed Tempest belonged with him and wouldn't leave her alone. In her opinion, Henry was a toad and she couldn't stand toads.
"Ah, Tempest Kingsleigh," He gave her his 'charming' smile. "You look magnificent this night." He twirled her around, pulling her as close as he could.
"Thank you, Henry." She smiled politely at him, fighting the urge to shrink away from his touch.
He took her thank you as a cue to continue talking. Mostly about himself, the man thought he was a God and it drove her insane. "So, Tempest, when are you going to marry me?"
She blinked in shock, mouth gaping at him. She didn't care if his father owned one of the biggest trading companies to the west and was a major business partner to her grandfather's company. She could care less that a merger between the companies could make them richer beyond their dreams, she was not spending the rest of her life with this egotistical moron! No matter how many people thought they should be together.
"How about when the sun freezes over?" She hissed, so tempted to stomp on his foot.
"Oh, don't be like that." He chuckled, his hand on her waist moving to her lower back, pressing her closer. He lowered his head and whispered into her ear. "You know you want me. Every woman does."
She growled and hissed into his ear in return. "I'm not like every woman." All she had to do was lift her leg and he'd been in great pain.
"That is precisely the reason why I want you." He grabbed her butt to emphasize his point.
She gasped but before she could say anything he kissed her. Tempest was too shocked to move until he slid his tongue into her mouth. The slap of her palm against his cheek resonated around the garden, causing the music to stop and everyone to turn to them.
Tempest began wiping at her mouth and spitting in a very unladylike move. She turned back to glare at Henry, very tempted to smack him again. But she couldn't stop from yelling at him, not caring for their audience. "You slimy, self-absorbed, egotistical bastard! How dare you kiss me without my permission! Don't you ever touch me again or it will be the last thing you ever do."
With that she grabbed her skirts and stormed off, stomping on his foot for good measure. When she got to the porch she saw her mother standing there, arms crossed and a stern look on her face. Tempest swallowed hard and walked quickly past the group of people standing there. She knew her mother was following behind her so she headed for their favorite sitting room that was always closed during a party.
"Tempest!" Alice called following her daughter into her favorite room. "You can't just run away from me."
"I can try." The redhead challenged, moving to the mantle where her father's hat rested.
"Please stop your galloping." Alice huffed.
"So you can yell at me about slapping that pervert? I don't think so." She turned and saw the large hat, stopping in front of it. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I know I shouldn't have slapped him but-"
Alice cut her off. "You should have kneed him and got him good." Tempest spun so fast she almost fell. "Honey, I'm not going to lecture you because you defended yourself. To tell the truth, I would have thought you would have done worse." She chuckled and moved to stand beside her child.
"I'm sorry, mom." Tempest sighed again. "I know you're going to get an earful from Lady Havilland."
"Let the old bat crow all she wants." Alice waved her concerns away. "What you did was right; don't let anyone tell you otherwise." She patted the girl's cheek and looked to the out-of-place hat. A look of sorrow and longing washed over the elder woman, making Tempest want to cry. It was Alice's turn to sigh. "You're so much like him."
"I wish I could know him." Tempest hugged her mother and prayed that she could find a way to reunite her parents. With another sigh they headed back to the party.
Early the next morning Tempest woke to the sound of loud knocking coming from the front door. Vaguely she heard her mother, who was usually up, open the door and greet whoever was demanding entrance from the storm. The blond woman didn't sound happy from what Temp could tell. She listened as best she could but they had moved from the entry way.
Too curious at what was going on to stop herself, Tempest tugged on a pair of trousers and a blouse and left her room. As she tied her outer corset she headed down the stairs, following her mother's voice. She ended up outside of the large drawing room her aunt loved. From the partially shut door she could see her grandmother sitting in the high backed chair across from the fireplace, Alice standing behind her with a frown evident on her face.
To her right, Tempest could just make out her Aunt Margaret's head over the two seater couch with Lowell next to her. Across from them on the large couch was Lady Havilland and her son Henry, his cheek a little red to Tempest's delight. Behind them stood an annoyed Lord Havilland, obviously he didn't think they needed to be there.
"What is so important that it had to be said so early in the morning?" Alice asked with a sigh.
"I am terribly sorry for this, Alice." Lord Havilland also sighed and Tempest could tell he meant it. Unlike his wife, William Havilland was kind hearted and actually thought about others.
"Yes, well, we are here about last night." Lady Havilland interjected, nose high in the air.
"If you're here to have me make Tempest apologize about what happened-" Alice began but the elder woman cut her off.
"No, no, what she did she had a right to do." The old bat waved her hand giving her son a stern look.
"Of course," Henry nodded eagerly. Someone was scared of their mother. "I was out of line last night. Too many drinks I'm afraid."
'Oh, yeah right! Too many drinks my arse!' Tempest thought with a roll of her eyes, her mental voice taking on a Scottish accent.
Alice blinked, shocked by the boy's words. "Oh, and this couldn't have waited until later? I mean if it's that important to you, you can go wake her up." Lowell coughed into his hand to hide his laughter. Everyone knew that if you woke Tempest too early then you'd better run for the hills.
"Actually we are here to ask you something." Lady Havilland gave a smile she obviously wasn't use to showing. Behind her Lord Havilland also gave a soft smile, his more common than hers.
Beside the elder woman, Henry straightened and tugged at his coat, puffing himself up like he was some big hot shot. "I'm here to ask for your permission to marry Tempest."
This time Alice coughed in surprise, eyes bulging at his words. Tempest nearly fell and had to cover her mouth from yelling.
"Wh-what?" Alice asked, blinking.
"I know it's sudden but I've always felt something for your daughter. That is why I did what I did last night while drunk. I truly do wish to marry her." He smiled at Alice and for a moment Tempest believed his intentions were honest, but only for a moment.
"You want to marry her?" Margaret asked joy evident in her voice. "Wonderful news, don't you agree Alice?"
Alice frowned and walked to the fireplace. "It is indeed good news. And you are here to ask for my permission?"
"Yes," Henry nodded.
Alice sighed and shook her head. "I cannot give it."
"What?" Lady Havilland demanded. "Why?"
"I cannot give something that has no meaning in this matter." Alice crossed her arms. "It would not matter if I said you had my blessing or not. If Tempest wanted to marry you nothing would stop her. You simply have to ask."
"It is not that simple. She will not agree unless you tell her to." Henry challenged, not liking her answer.
'I would na marry ya anyways.' Tempest growled mentally.
"Alice, he's right." Margaret added. "Think about it, this would be the best choice for her. He's a Lord after all."
"And with their marriage, a merger between the two companies." Lady Havilland's eyes sparkled at the idea of having more power.
Again Alice sighed and said nothing, just bowed her head. Tempest couldn't believe it; Alice wasn't saying anything against them. So she agreed that Tempest should marry that snobby, pompous, egotistical jackass.
"You're right. It would be a good path for Tempest." Alice final spoke.
Tempest pressed back against the far wall, fear coiling deep inside her. This couldn't be happening. Her lungs squeezed and she fought to breath. No, she wasn't doing this, she couldn't. With tears streaming from her eyes she ran, nearly running into her youngest cousin.
"Tempy?" Edmond called, rubbing his eyes but she didn't stop.
"Then you agree that Tempest should marry Henry." Lady Havilland clapped her hands together. "Excellent! I'll set up an appointment with the wedding planner for tomorrow."
"Hold on." Alice stopped her, straightening. "I said it would be a good path for Tempest. I did not say that I would tell her to marry your son. Tempest has her own mind and will decide what is best for herself. I will not force her to marry if she does not wish to."
"Alice!" Margaret tried to protest.
"No, Margaret." Alice cut her off. "When she was born I swore I would not force her into any certain life, that includes marriage. I did not want it upon me and I do not want it upon her."
"I agree Alice." Helen Kingsleigh spoke up, looking from Alice to Margaret and then to the Havillands. "Tempest is just like Alice, she is destined for great things. She has a right to be with whomever she wishes."
"But-" Henry tried to counter but stopped when Lord Havilland placed his thick hand on the boy's shoulder.
"That's enough." He spoke in his commanding voice that had always seemed to have everyone listening, even his wife. "We must respect their wishes, Henry. I can assume we are to take this as your permission to simply ask Tempest for her hand?" He looked to Alice.
"By all means ask, but I will have no say in her answer." Alice nodded.
"Then we shall return at a more reasonable hour. Perhaps tomorrow night?"
"That would be much more appreciated." Helen smiled at him. "I would much rather go back to bed on such a dreary morning."
"I will show you out then." Lowell offered.
With a nod Lord Havilland lead his family to the front door. He gave Alice and the others an apologetic smile before they left the room.
"Well that went well." Margaret huffed, stifling a yawn behind her hand.
"Give it a rest Margaret. This is between Alice and Tempest now." Helen frowned.
"No, it's Tempest's choice, mother. I will not tell her who she must marry." Alice folded her arms and shook her head.
"Mommy?" Edmond called timidly from the doorway.
"Edmond, what are you doing out of bed?" Margaret picked the six year old up.
"I heard a noise and got curious." He hugged his mother. "I was going to ask Tempy but she just ran past me. She looked like she was crying."
"What?" Alice went over to the two. "When did you see Tempest?"
"A few minutes ago. Out in the hall." He pointed to the door. "I don't think she liked what she heard 'cause she ran outside."
"Oh God!" Alice gasped and ran from the room. She ignored the calls from her mother and sister and ran straight for the sitting room. The double doors were wide open, rain spilling in. Fear spiked through her as she burst into the yard calling, "TEMPEST!"
What good was calling for her? When Tempest was upset nothing could slow her down from getting away. Alice fell to her knees crying, she knew why her daughter had run off. She had paused for the slightest moment before saying marriage was Tempest's choice and now she'd lost her. Her only child, the only thing that kept her going.
"Alice, come back inside." Margaret touched her shoulders and helped pull her to her feet. Slowly she led her sister back into the house, seating her before the fireplace. Lowell was currently getting a fire started. "It'll be alright, Alice. She'll come back."
"We can go out when the rain slows to try and find her." Lowell added.
"All she needs to do is cool off a bit. She'll be fine." Helen added.
But Alice didn't hear them, she was too lost in her pain to listen. Slowly she lifted her eyes to the mantle before shooting off the couch. It was gone! Hatter's hat was gone! That meant Tempest took it, meaning she went to the rabbit hole. Alice sighed. She would be safe there with the large tree that covered the hole.
"I know where she is." She breathed, closing her eyes. She prayed her daughter would return home soon. For her safety and Alice's sanity.