After what felt like about an hour Alice could feel her eyelids beginning to droop. She gently shook Hatter awake, being careful not to jar his shoulder.
"Whatisit?" he mumbled opening his eyes.
"Your turn to keep a lookout."
He groaned but she couldn't tell whether it was out of pain or annoyance. As she curled up in her spot the last thing Alice saw before she fell asleep was Hatter shifting himself into a sitting position.
Sleep came instantly that night, but was also instantly removed from her as Alice felt somebody shaking her. Hard. Whoever it was had one hell of a grip.
"Ow!" she exclaimed, promptly opening her eyes.
Hatter crouched directly in front of her.
"Ssh!" he hissed, raising a finger to his lips.
"What is it?"
"Shut up!" For a moment there was silence and then there was the sound of footsteps. "They've found us." he whispered. "We have to move."
Realising the urgency of the situation Alice scrambled to her feet.
"Where do we go? They sound close." she noted as there was another nearby crackle of leaves.
"We go to the last place they'll want to. The centre of the forest."
"To the Jabberwocky." Alice realised.
"Yeah I try not to think about that part. Come on!" Hatter whispered.
Alice was surprised to find his fingers enclosing around hers. Part of her wanted to shy away from this strange man she barely knew, but the other part of her knew that for the moment this stranger was the only person she could trust in this crazy world. Together, they headed deeper into the dark forest. For the most part Hatter lead the way.
"Just how far in do we have to go?" Alice snapped, beginning to lose her patience.
"Don't shush me!"
Hatter put his hand over her mouth. For a few minutes there was silence, then he withdrew his hand. Alice was not happy.
"I think we're safe now." he said.
She rolled her eyes.
"I should damn well hope so!" she replied a little too loudly.
That was when the Suit jumped out from behind the tree.
"Alice behind you!" Hatter cried.
She took in his expression and whipped around to give her opponent a powerful kick to the abdomen. The Suit crumpled to the floor. Hatter whistled. Alice of Legend or not, this woman could be pretty impressive.
"Let's go." she said and stepped over the Suit she'd incapacitated.
Hatter started to step Suit too but the man grabbed his leg. Taken by surprise Hatter crashed to the ground, shoulder first. He bit his lip, trying to prevent the inevitable cry of pain from escaping him and clutched his wounded arm. The Suit was now scrambling towards him. The man's clothing acted as good camouflage in the darkness of night; Hatter could hear him but had difficulty seeing him. Blindly he kicked out and, judging by the yelp of pain, struck lucky. He slowly got to his feet and headed in the direction he hoped Alice had gone in, taking a moment to apply another kick to his attacker.
"Alice?" he whispered. "Alice where are you?"
He knew this was not the best of ideas given that he had the Queen's best assassin following him again but he didn't know how else to find her. Hatter prayed that she was nearby.
He still reeled from the agony in his shoulder but knew this was no time or place for screaming just as much as he wanted to scream. Instead he was forced to whisper.
"Alice?" Then he heard an unforgettable roar. He was in the Jabberwocky's territory now. However it was the following yell that truly scared him. "Alice!"
He started to run in the direction of the noise, hoping he wouldn't be too late to help her. He could hear the huge, clomping footsteps of the beast approaching. Then they abruptly stopped. Hatter cursed and decided that now was the time to make himself heard.
"ALICE!" he shouted.
"Hatter?" She was close. "Hatter where are you?"
He followed the sound of her voice to find her on the floor. The Jabberwocky's monstrous head was barely an inch away from her. It was hard to tell in the dim lighting but it seemed like the creature was stuck.
"I'm right here." Hatter replied and, without thinking, punched the Jabberwocky as hard as he could manage.
The creature's head reeled back just long enough for Hatter to help Alice up and together they began an adrenaline fuelled sprint to safety. It was pitch black so they didn't see the pit until it was too late. Hatter cried out in pain and yelled a few other words that Alice didn't recognise. Judging by the tone of his voice however she guessed what he was saying wasn't polite.
"Hatter are you okay?"
"OW! No. Are you alright?"
"Yeah I think so. Where are you?"
"I'm right-OW- next to you!"
It was too dark for Alice to see her hand in front of her face, let alone her companion. She reached out for him but found her hand kept hitting wood. There were a number of spikes all around them. She was amazed that they had not been speared when they'd fallen. Finally she touched Hatter but quickly pulled her hand away when she heard another cry of pain.
"Where does it hurt?"
"Shoulder." he gasped.
"Okay just stay calm."
"I-I can't believe I punched the Jabberwocky," he paused. "with my bad arm."
"You what!?" There was silence. "Hatter? Hatter!"
Not caring whether she was touching his shoulder or not Alice shook him but there was still no response. Suddenly a new voice came from above the pit.
"Vermin! Saboteurs! Anarchists! I was this close to catching him you scoundrels!" the stranger complained in a thick English accent.
"Who the hell are you?" Alice cried.
He climbed down through the darkness towards her. She wondered how he could see anything when it was so dark.
"I am a knight. A white knight to be precise. Sir Charles Eustice Fotheringay Malfoy the third. Who are you?"
"I'm – Alice."
"Alice? The Alice?"
She could tell that he was barely a metre away from her now.
"No, just Alice."
"Hm. And who is your – friend?" he asked.
"Hatter. How can you see anything at this time of day?"
"Oh I have my ways, specifically I have my inventions. Take this." Alice held out her hand and felt something smooth and cold being placed on it. "They are goggles. Try them on."
Sure enough, when Alice put them on, she could see as clear as day.
"Wow! These are amazing!"