I do not own Alice or (unfortunately) Hatter or any of the other characters mentioned, let me know what you think, I love reviews no matter how long or short :)
The beautiful brunette woman tucked the giggling bundle that was her five year old son into bed. She knew that it was pointless to try and get him to sleep, he was always just so hyper and awake all of the time, it was exhausting yet always rewarding in the long run. He reached up grabbing hands to a dusty top hat that sat almost forgotten about on the top shelf above his bed. His mother followed his gaze and pulled it down. Blowing the dust off of the top and smiling at it.
"This was your great granddad's hat." She smiled, "He was the Hatter to the Queen." She placed the hat on top of her son's head and laughed as his tiny face disappeared underneath it. His head lifted towards the sky, confused as to why he could no longer see anything before his mother's gentle hands, lifted the hat and propped it behind his ears so that it sat, far too big but at least he could see now. "I'll tell you a bit about him if you like." The small boy nodded over-enthusiastically causing the hat to fall over his face once more. His mother laughed and his head appeared rather self consciously from beneath it before he placed it on his pillow beside him.
"This was a long time ago mind, I was only a little girl myself when I met him and he was so entertaining for a child to be around, entirely bonkers, mad as a box of frogs really, but apparently he wasn't always like that." The small boy snuggled down under his blankets as his mother weaved her magnificent tale about a strange little girl called Alice, fearless, brave and incredibly curious and not that much older than he was himself. She told him about his great grandfather with his strange hats and mad tea parties with his friends and how this strange Alice girl had wandered in and befriended him. The boy's eyes were wide with awe as she told him how this Alice had brought down the whole house of cards, she was just one girl but she had made a difference, a big difference. And unknowingly, the beautiful brunette woman had set an idea in motion inside of her son, that one person can make a difference.
Five years later...
"David!" His mother called up the stairs, "It's time to get up."
The ten year old groggily lifted his head from his pillow and stretched, letting the morning sunshine soak in through his window before swinging his legs over the side and making his way downstairs. His mother was waiting at the kitchen counter, busily attaching two sides of what would undoubtedly become another patchwork quilt.
"Morning." He smiled and started pouring himself some cereal.
"Good morning. I have a present for you." She smiled and reached bellow the counter, reappearing with a hat box.
"What's this?" he asked, taking it from her and removing the lid. Inside was a black hat, simple in design with a dark blue ribbon around it. He lifted it with a smile and placed it on top of his head- it fit perfectly but pushed his fringe too far into his eyes.
"Hmm, here, try this." His mother twisted his fringe so that flicked upwards over his hat, "Very handsome." She smiled.
"Thank you, I love it!" he adjusted his hat before grinning at his mother.
"My little Hatter David." She mused before coughing in a way that shattered everything in the world for the ten year old. It was the kind of cough that sucked all of the happiness out of the room and made you painfully aware of the present and what may lie ahead in the future.
Neither of them acknowledged the cough, because that would be like confirming the illness and neither of them were ready for that just yet. Instead David changed the subject.
"Did you sell much of the goat's cheese at the market yesterday?" he asked,
"Some, but not as much as usual." She sighed, "It's the same with everyone at the market. People aren't buying food anymore, something strange is happening."
"What? Why wouldn't people buy food? Everyone has to eat, right?" he questioned, as far as he knew, if you didn't eat, you died, so how could people not want to buy food. In the past they had done really well at the market.
"There's not even as many people on the streets anymore." She paused her sentence with another throaty cough before attaching another square of fabric to her patchwork and continuing, "They're building something as well, up on the hill, some sort of palace or something for the Hearts family."
The boy rolled his eyes at the mention of the royals, "Don't they own enough of Wonderland as it is? They already wiped out all of the knights." This was something that David had been told at school as he wasn't born when this had happened, although it hadn't stopped him from making a sword out of cardboard and tin foil and attacking any inanimate object that he could find that could possibly 'pose a threat' to him and his mother when he was younger.
"I know, but this is something new. I've heard talk of it in the town, they say it's going to be a casino or something."
"What's a casino?"
"It's a sort of game place for adults. Where they can play card games and gamble away all of their hard earned money. You can also win quite a bit from taking risks, but the odds are rarely in your favour. I went to one once, a long time ago, but the people of Wonderland are poor enough as it is with the way the Queen keeps raising the taxes, how she thinks anyone's going to have any money to blow in a casino is beyond me." The woman lifted her arms to emphasize her point and dropped her patchwork into a wicker bin reserved especially for this purpose before sighing, "But you needn't worry about these kind of things my little Hatter." She pushed his hat forward playfully, "Everything's going to be alright." Her words may have been more comforting if they weren't followed by her coughing up a handful of blood, "I'm fine."
"You're not fine though, mum. We need the money from the market to..."
"Stop. I'm fine." She kissed him on his forehead, "You better get going to school or you'll be late." The boy begrudgingly gathered up his school things and made his way out of the front door and into the street.
From their apartment he could see the construction of the casino his mother was talking about, starting to take place way over across the water. He thought again of what his mother had said, about how the people didn't have the money to spend in a casino these days, and he tried to figure out what its purpose could be.
He supposed it could serve as a home to the Royal family, as at the moment they lived in a grand, old fashioned building that Kings and Queens of old had lived in, and so maybe the Casino was for their own personal use, but then again, they had most of the money in Wonderland, what fun could they have from playing against themselves? David couldn't conceive of any way in which it would work. Something different had to be going on, they must have some other plans for it that they weren't sharing with the rest of Wonderland and he was determined to find out.
Looking all around him to make sure that he wasn't being watched, David silently slipped away from the crowds of school children and jumped straight off of the side and safely onto the ledge below that lipped out slightly. It was something that he had done a thousand times before, so often in fact that he could do it without looking, confident in the fact that he would land on the ledge. From here it was a slight climb down an old drainpipe to the water's edge. Only one problem now faced him, how was he to get across to the other side of the water to see what was going on. He was a decent swimmer, but not strong enough to cross that much of a body of water by himself. He was too young and poor to buy a boat either.
His better judgement told him to leave it; he would already be in enough trouble from skipping school and adding theft to that wasn't exactly going to do him any favours. Besides, the thought of his mother's face when she found out what he had done, for what? Idle curiosity? It wasn't worth it and so he was just about to turn around and shimmy back up the old drainpipe when a noise caught his attention somewhere further down the water's edge.
Young David hid himself within the nearby bushes and watched as a terrified girl wearing strange clothes stumbled around by the water's edge, mumbling to herself about smiles without faces and how she couldn't remember her name. She seemed to be asking her reflection in the water furiously to tell her what her name was and grew ever angrier when it didn't reply. After a while she collapsed from exhaustion or god knows what else and David had just about gathered enough bravery to go to her to see if she was okay when a large scarab-shaped plane hovered over their heads and a claw reached down and pulled her up and into the depths of the craft somewhere. Two other wooden crates hung from the thing, swinging as it took off again with a great awful sound. He watched as it carried them over the water and to the half-built Casino on the other side. He knew something was going on. In his head, he had already started to calculate a plan of how he was going to get over there and find out what they were up to. He would return after dark when he wouldn't be seen.
For now though, he had to run a low profile and get to school, and so he slipped silently and unnoticed, back into the great throngs of children making their way into the school building just as the bell was ringing, signifying the start of lessons.
It wasn't until half way through his first lesson though that he realized the three empty seats of his classmates, sure, Lewis was often absent, but Posy and Dodge were never off. He elbowed his friend in the seat beside him and gestured silently to their empty seats, not wanting to get told off by his teacher for talking.
"Dunno. They're not in their apartment either, I knocked on Dodge's door yesterday but no one was there. Looked like they hadn't been for a while." He whispered. Something was definitely going on and David was determined to find out what.