Good morning/day/evening/night to you and thank you for checking out this little one-shot! While I am here, I'm gonna take the time to do a little, quick. . . advertising, if you will. :) Please, do check out Melanthios's Champion Rising! It's relatively new, is all written and only needs publishing, and is simply wonderful, but isn't getting the fame it deserves! Now, on with the writing below.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carrol, Disney, and Tim Burton do.

Inspirational Song: "Simple Man (Acoustic)" - Shinedown

. . . . .

Margaret was crying.

She was sitting in an armchair by the fireplace for warmth, for she had just run back indoors from the cold and stormy night that was outside. She was drenched with rainwater and was still trembling down to her core, yet not from the coldness. In her clammy hand a tear-streaked letter resided.

The letter bare no ill messages, nor any offensive accusations concerning Margaret or her family. In fact, the letter was written by a family member.

Alice.

She'd actually sounded. . . relieved, to say, in the words she had written down. Margaret sniffled and brought the note back up to her watery eyes and began to read it again, for good measure.

To my dearest Margaret and beloved Mother,

By the time you read this, I'll have gone for good. I love you both so very much, but I can no longer live in this world. It's tearing me apart, for I cannot call it my home. Mother, you must know deep down that I don't belong here. I've always been living on the outskirts of propriety and, like father always said, am too stubborn for my own good. Margaret, I know that you also inherited a fine amount of our father's imagination and insight. I beg for you to search within yourself to see if you're truly happy. If this information gives you nothing but confusion, please talk with Faith and Fiona about Lowell. I apologize for the hurt this may bring you, but if I were you, I'd imagine I'd want to know.

I've already informed Lord Ascot that I am resigning and he has accepted my terms with much grace, and albeit with a smidge of confusion. I've told him just as I have told you. The only reason I've actually waited this long to leave is because I felt it to myself to fulfill and finish our father's wish of expanding the trade. That is now done.

Please don't fret too much over this. Where I'm going, I'll have nothing but happiness to keep me going. And Mother, well, you might just get your wish concerning myself and marriage. Also, don't bother searching for me. For where I am going, I cannot be found.

Please don't think ill of me for leaving you. I love you both so, so much and will miss you greatly.

With all my love and best wishes to you,

Alice Kingsleigh

When Margaret had first read this letter, her jaw fell open with shock and she had to stifle a sob. She'd thought it was a suicide letter. To defend her faith in her sister, there had been so many indications of it within her words! How she spoke of leaving this world. . . She'll find nothing but happiness. . . Going where she could not be found. . . It hit her like a ton of bricks.

Though after reading the note at least five times more, Margaret could decipher that it was not a suicide letter. She did mention a possible marriage, after all. Was she leaving to elope with a secret lover? But if that were the case, why couldn't Mother and her have met the lucky man? And where was she going with him that she could not be found? Margaret could only assume that she had met him on her travels. She never did like any of the men Mother had introduced to her.

And then there was that mystifying, little part about Lowell!

What had that to do with anything? Lowell and her were fine and Margaret was six months with child! Lowell was constantly at work, the poor man, but he always came back to her with a bright and energized smile on his face. . . What could the town's biggest gossipers know about her husband that she didn't? Paling, Margaret came to a sudden realization. That was the thought that scared her most about that. The Chataway twins were full of hidden secrets. Did they know something she didn't. . . ?

It was in the midst of all this thinking when it finally hit her.

Alice was gone. She wasn't coming back. She didn't want to be found.

She had thrown the note down then and sprinted out of the manor, despite her condition. She was immediately soaked with the thunderstorm's downpour, but she didn't care. Perhaps, she could catch her? Maybe Alice had been too quick to judge the timing of her departure and she could catch her in the act of leaving them! Margaret ran down the drive, looking for her younger sister's blurry form in all this rain.

When she found her, she'd be able to persuade her to stay. She'd tell her how much she needed her and her rambunctious attitude towards life. She'd tell her that Mother could. . . could stuff it! She'd tell her that she didn't have to get married at all! But if she wanted to marry some strange foreign man, she was completely free to do so, of course. She'd tell her that she'd kick Hamish if he ever lay another finger on her again! She'd tell her how she, and so many else, truly loved the fact that she was different, bold, and daring! She'd tell her how much she loved her and how much she'd miss her if she were ever to leave her. . .

"Alice! Alice!" she kept calling.

Margaret tripped and let out a short, but clearly audible, scream. Thank the Lord, she held her hands out in front of her, so as not to injure the baby. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, a seemingly logical voice was telling her to get back in the house right now, for the baby's sake.

She promptly told that voice to shut up if it ever wanted the baby to meet her aunt.

"Alice!" She had to be around here somewhere. . . ? "Alice. . !" Margaret had to stop for a bit and placed her hands on her knees, gasping for air. She never was much of a runner, and that had been when she wasn't pregnant.

Lightning flashed. Everything went white as the world was split apart by thunder. Margaret stumbled and began to run again, losing her sense of direction. She now had no idea where she was heading, but she did not care. Again, that logical voice in the back of her mind spoke to her.

You know you won't find her, Margaret. You know she's long gone. She had written it to be so.

But even though she knew this to be correct, Margaret Manchester had gone slightly hysterical. Her sister was gone and never to be found, her father was dead, her mother cared too much of proper society to listen to what her eldest daughter was truly saying half the time, and her husband was cheating on her! Yes, she knew! She had simply suppressed the thought so much that it stood with the shadows in the back of her mind. Margaret would do that no longer, for Alice's sake. She had to be happy. She'd be the happiest she could ever be in her whole, entire life!

Her panic-stricken sobs could hardly be heard in the mixture of the downpour and mind-rattling thunder.

Margaret slipped in the mud under her bare feet and fell hard onto her back. "Alice. . . " she said weakly.

She had only been down for a moment when the brightest flash of blue danced across her vision. She sat up quickly, her eyes frantically searching for Alice's favorite blue dress. Though when her gaze was only met with rain and more rain, she began to silently cry.

She didn't know how long she sat there in the mud, but she knew she had no desire to move. Alice had really been the brighter sister. She had worked for what she'd wanted and despite the noise of the townspeople, attained those wants. And now she was happy.

And now Margaret was sitting in a puddle of mud during a world-shaking storm.

She felt drowsiness start to take over and closed her eyes in relief. She leaned back and accepted the mud as if it were a downy bed-

When she felt a slight pressure on her nose.

She opened her eyes in sleepy surprise to find the most peculiar butterfly looking right at her. It was bright blue, held a hookah in one of its miniature-sized hands, and was steadily meeting her gaze through the golden monocle adorning its left eye with a frightening amount of intelligence.

And then it was gone.

Margaret's eyes rolled back into her head and felt herself drift away until all the rain, thunder, and lightning was gone. Until all that was surrounding her was blackness.

. . . . .

"MARGARET!"

"MARGARET, WHERE ARE YOU?"

Margaret vaguely heard those voices calling out for her, but she needn't respond. She felt a pair of strong arms sit her up. She then felt a softer pair of hands shake her slightly by the shoulders.

"Margaret, it's your mother and Lowell. Please wake up."

"Margaret, dear, open your eyes. Margaret, come on. . . That's it. . ."

She slowly opened her eyes, to find herself sitting in the same storm, but now with her mother sitting across from her, tears streaking and hair dangling down her face, and her husband holding her up with a stern look on his face.

"What. . .?" she muttered. She shook her head roughly, clearing away the muddled thoughts. "Alice," she said more clearly. She sat up a little straighter, shrugging off Lowell's hold. "Alice?" she said frantically.

Helen nodded and the tears flowed more freely from her now. "We found her letter on the floor." She sniffled. "She's gone." Helen was immediately consumed by a series of uncontrollable sobs. Margaret leaned forward and embraced her mother, silent tears still being shed from her, as well.

She felt Lowell touch her back and shivered involuntarily. "You left the door open; we felt the draft," she heard him say. "We came to investigate and. . . well. . ." There was a tone of discomfort in his voice. "There was this butterfly. . . " She felt him shake his head and large drops of water slapped her on the back. She could imagine him shrugging. "You know."

Yes. That was the one thing Lowell could tell her the truth about right now.

She knew.

She now knew so much that she didn't before. And she intended to use that knowledge to her advantage. For her, and for Alice.

. . . . .

Rachel: Margaret is strong!

Insanity: FlOwEr PoWeR!

Rachel: Yes, well. So sorry, readers, if you are now feeling slightly more sad than you were before.

Insanity: Also, sorry, if you were sad to begin with. . . ? O.o

Rachel: Pardon my wording. You'd think I'd be better with that.