"So that's the truth?" she said in a voice that was hushed, that echoed low across the landscape. Her dress waved in the wind gently, her eyes downcast.
She knew the truth, and Wonderland changed. It felt darker and even more foreign, as if it actively didn't want her there anymore, as if it actively fought against her existence. She was no longer a dreamy lost girl. Because now she knew. Oh God, she knew.
"Isn't it nice to forget things, Alice?" Nightmare whispered into her ear, his breath fanning across the delicate skin of her neck. He hovered down to her level and gingerly took one of her hands in his own, his other wrapping around the curve of her waist and holding her against him.
She wept into his shoulder, tears staining the collar of his coat. "I-why?"
He smiled sadly. "Why? My dear, you were sad and lonely, and the world took pity on you. It wanted to see you escape your grief…and find happiness." He quietly wiped the tears from her eyes, her head still on his shoulder.
"No! Lies are not happiness! You all fooled me. You all pretended-"
"Our love was never a lie."
"But your existence is. Everything else is." She broke down, gripping the front of his shirt tightly. "Love means nothing."
Holding Alice, he looked past her to the landscape beyond. Twisted clouds painted a darkening sky. Unwelcoming forests dotted the landscape, trees closing in and becoming impenetrable walls of nature. It wouldn't be long…this round of the Game was ending, he knew. Very quickly it was ending.
Because she knew. Alice knew everything.
She knew about her sister's cold body buried deep in the earth, and the lie that was crafted just so she would forget.
"Do you remember the Ball, Alice?"
A more carefree time. Of course she remembered it! But why would he mention it now? It almost felt cruel. Her twisting heart felt like a heavy lump in her chest just remembering the event. It was a time when she fit in, when everything felt so real. The pleasure of dancing, the taste of food and drink…everything was so real.
"Of course," she said. "It was the first time I-" She shut her mouth immediately.
"You and the Hatter? I know." His smile turned strained. Drawing her head away from him and looking deeply into her eyes, he continued. "Shall we dance? Dance for old times, Alice? I never was happy I missed it."
Shaking, her hand touched his. It was like a spark of electricity passed between them, and they twirled, feet moving gracefully across the dying grass.
Lonely dancers in the ruins of her paradise.
Even as paradise was lost.