Disclosure: I do NOT own anything but that my little brain thinks of when my fingers do the walkin..
Song I listened to for this chapter: Broken by Lifehouse
Alice runs into the maze losing herself purposefully to get away from everything, to help her forget the words that tore her future apart; it might be childish but she can’t help it. She could barely see through the tears or breathe through the pain of her broken heart. ‘Why can’t I have anything without it being taken away?’ She finally collapses on a bench in an alcove, crying so hard she can’t get enough breath to make a sound. She can not explain why it hurts so much to think that Hatter would not be with her. She feels like she is literally falling apart. All she could ask now is, ‘Why? Had she not done everything that this world wanted from her? Did she not suffer enough? Did she not love enough?‘ Alice wrapped her arms around herself while rocking back and forth.
Absolem watches this new Alice. He does not approve of what Alice Kingsliegh has done. He is aware that part of her reasoning is that she had just gotten David back and does not want to let him go. But to do this, to refer to it as a ‘reward’, that made it worse and hammered at Alice’s fragile psyche.
Tarrant should have known better. He had already seen the beginnings of the bond forming between his son and Alice and should have stopped his mate. After how long Alice has lived here in Wonderland, they all tend to forget she is not Wonderland born and bred. That does not excuse her, or any of them, for doing this to the new Champions of Wonderland.
But then is he not also to blame? He is aware of what will happen to David and Alice if this situation is not resolved, and yet he has not told David where to find his Alice. Absolem thinks about it and realizes that, unfortunately, he has a part to play; his own redemption for allowing this to happen.
Alice needs to be stable; David and Wonderland need her stable, and Wonderland realizes she needs to heal her Champion since she has almost broken the girl. Wonderland knows that David and Alice will be bonded and had thought that starting it early would heal everything. But, she had underestimated her other Champion’s feelings of threatened motherhood and this Alice’s feelings of inadequacy.
Absolem sighs wishing for his hookah. To fix this, Absolem knows he couldn’t be the Absolem he presents to most people. Absolem quietly flies away and once he is where Alice couldn’t hear him, he calls Chessur.
“How can I help you now?” Chess lazily inquires as he materializes examining his claws on his one paw as he leans his head on the other.
“Alice needs David and David needs Alice, but not quite yet, you stupid cat. I need to start the healing process for Alice, but she will need David before too much longer.”
Chess sits up looking a little worried, which for him is telling of how worried he truly is. “What is wrong with Alice? And, why is David not with her now?”
Absolem quietly sighs but knows he needs Chess’s help. Aside from David, Alice is most likely to trust Chess. In fact, Chess might be the only one that either of the couple will trust. “Alice of Legend drove the new Champion Alice away. She thought she was doing the girl a favor, but the way she presented the choices caused David’s Alice to believe that she couldn’t stay with him. They have started the bonding process and between her own insecurities, not knowing anything about the bonding, and everything else that has happened in the past day or so, Alice of Legend’s statements proved to be the tipping point and broke her.
“To make matters worse, our Alice held David back, and has received the shock that every mother receives; her son is grown, he does not rely on her, and she is no longer the only woman he loves or is even in the first place in his heart. Now he is searching for Alice, barely keeping the Madness in place. His Alice is broken, our Alice is coming to grips with what she has done, and Tarrant is being torn in half. Tarrant knows this is needed and is glad that his son is grown and found love, yet he is sad and trying to stay sane while his mate hurting. Mirana is working with the two of them. I am going to work with Alice. You need to help David.”
Chess stood there with his mouth open, shocked that Absolem said so much and is actually going to interfere. Chess can’t remember the last time this has happened. He then closes his mouth as he processes what has been said. “There is much sorrow today when there should be much happiness. I will go and see what I can do. But, it may take Alice if he gives in to his madness, you know. He is his father’s son.”
Absolem thinks and tells his longtime friend, “If you hurry, you should be able to stave it off. Tell him what I told you and let him know you will bring him to Alice, but that I need to talk with her first.”
Chess mentally reviews everything and asks, “Where is Alice?”
“On the other side of the hedges. Now go you stupid cat.”
Chess looks at him and slowly fades out.
Absolem is connected to the Oraculum in ways that most people can’t understand. He quickly uses this connection to see if they are in the clear yet. He sees that while there is progress, it will take Alice and David being together and bonded for it to end well. He sighs and flies to Alice.
Hatter is getting desperate to find his Alice. He can’t believe how everything went to bloody hell so fast. Hatter had been getting ready to show Alice how much he loves her and wants to be with her, and then all this happens. He was not the least bit exaggerating when he said he would leave everything to be with her. He loves her and is aware that she needs time to heal, and he will be there with her every step of the way. ‘Where is she?’
Chess slowly materializes before David and calls softly so as not to surprise him, “David.”
Hatter stops, barely restraining from lashing out. Seeing his longtime playmate and friend, he holds his hand up for a moment while he closes his eyes to reign in his temper. He knows Chess genuinely likes Alice and would never condone what his mum did.
Chess realizes the situation is pretty bad. David’s eyes are black. The skin around his eyes is already and beginning to darken further out. This causes Chess to hasten in telling him, “Absolem told me what had happened. I am so sorry David.” He then floats lower until he wraps himself around Hatter’s shoulders. “Absolem sent me to you to guide you to her, but we need to take our time since Absolem is taking an interest in her.”
Hatter’s shoulder jerks as he looks at Chess and chokes out, “In his usual way? What is he thin-“
“David!! Absolem is acting atypically and is taking care of this personally. He knows how to deal with Alice. Do you think I would be here if I didn’t trust him?”
With that comment, Hatter relaxes knowing Chess would not leave Alice unless he thought that it would be better for her. Then his eyes flick to Chess, remembering what he said at the beginning of the conversation. “Chess, why did Mum do this? When I asked her earlier about Alice and I, she was thrilled. I just… I don’t understand.”
Chess mulls over it and musingly replying, “Knowing your mum the way I do, she probably thought it was best to tell Alice everything so she could make a fully informed decision about what is best for her. From what Absolem said, it didn’t come out the right way.”
Hatter growls out, “She basically told her that I am to be King and that she is not worthy of being my Queen. Or at least that is what Alice is thinking.”
Chess stares at him dispassionately and asks, “How do you know this David?” He knows why, but part of the bonding is that the pair must both acknowledge it. If David knows what is going on, he can help Alice decide and guide her through the process. Chess is feigning disinterest, though in reality he is very interested in these two – even more than he is in Alice of Legend. He is not sure why, but he has a feeling that he is going to be much more involved with this Alice, and it makes him strangely happy.
Hatter thinks on what Chess is asking him. He knows Chess well enough to know that there is another reason for the question. ‘How had he known what Alice had thought at that crucial moment?’ He frowns thinking about it; he has been feeling odd lately and seemed to know what Alice needed him to do when they confronted the Queen of Hearts, without a single word being said. He also thinks back to when they had worked in concert with Jack, and the pain he had physically felt when he had thought of sending her away. Staring at Chess in shock, he realizes what is happening. “It’s the Bonding isn’t it? But I thought… And…” Hatter trails off trying to get over his shock. Then he gathers himself and states, “It began awhile ago; that’s why we could work so well together.”
Chess nods and comments lazily, “I think it happened the first time you were with her. But, it is not fully formed since neither of you have acknowledged it. With what your mother has done to Alice, well, you may very well need Absolem to help fix everything.”
Hatter stares at Chess and then his shoulders slump down. He leans his back against the hedge, which is as solid as a wall, and slides down to sitting position with his arms around his knees and his head on his arms. “I guess we will know when we can go to Alice…”
Chess curls tighter, effectively hugging him and purring, trying to comfort the dejected Hatter.
Alice is still sitting on the bench, mindlessly rocking herself, lost in her emotions. She could only mindlessly repeat to herself, ‘Why?’ and is unable to break herself out of this loop. She can also hear herself screaming in pain and denial. Her determination that no one will see her weakness is so strong, that an observer would not see anything wrong. They would just notice a woman who is slightly rocking and rubbing her arms like she is trying to keep warm.
Absolem stares at her trying to figure out a way to pull her out of where she is. He begins to think that it may be too late, and they will need David after all. He is concerned, very concerned. They can not lose their Champion to herself. After thinking for a second, he decides to try the direct approach. He lands on Alice’s shoulder and, using a wing to softly brush her hair to the side, gently asks the catatonic woman, “Sweet Child, Beloved of Hatter and Wonderland, why are you weeping?”
Alice hears someone talking and tries to surface. The voice sounds like her Grandfather and she so desperately needs someone to help her…
Absolem can see her reacting and continues, “Beloved one, please come back to us and tell me why you are so sad.”
Alice blinks and then, looking around, sees the blue butterfly that had been so scathing to Hatter after he almost died. She blanches but before she can do more, the butterfly caresses her cheek with a wing and gently tells her, “That’s better, Cherished One.”
Alice chokes out in reply to his words, “I am not cherished by anyone.” A single tear makes its way down her cheek.
Absolem continues to stroke her cheek with his wing and asks her, “Do you deny that Hatter cherishes you?”
“No,” Alice quietly answers. She can never deny that after everything he has done, said, and gone through for her.
Absolem nods and continues to ask, “Then can you deny the title?”
Alice thinks and says just as quietly and reservedly, “No.”
Absolem nods; he is making progress. Then he asks again, “Why are you weeping, Cherished One?”
Alice looks down at the butterfly and then looks out at the maze as she answers honestly, “Because I am falling apart, still breathing, with a broken heart that is still beating.”
Absolem is pleasantly shocked that she answered truthfully. He pushes his advantage, “But who has broken your heart? Has Hatter broken your heart?”
Alice is still staring off and thinking about his question and answers, “No, he hasn’t as far as I know”
Absolem hummed, understanding that in her mind, she is trying to qualify if Hatter wants her, either as herself or as his queen. He thinks quickly and then he asks, “Do you feel like he has?”
Alice is surprised by this question. Especially since her heart and mind both answer the same thing – “No.”
Absolem “hmmm’s” again and asks, “Does it matter what others think or want for you two, if Hatter loves you?”
Alice stares at the blue butterfly and contemplates what he has asked. ‘Does it matter what anyone thinks? Does she trust Hatter or not? Because that is the real question, does she trust Hatter with her heart and to do what is right for them?’ And, the answer is yes. With that simple and absolute answer she turns to Absolem and tells him, “Thank you. That is the question that needed to be asked. And now I give you a question, where is he?”
Absolem is relieved and…happy? He then realizes that they had basically watched Alice Kingsliegh grow up with all her muchness and she had entranced them. When she came back later as a young woman, they had to work to help her regain her muchness. Through the process of her regaining it, she brought courage to Wonderland, changing it for the better.
This Alice is going to bringing love and caring to this world. He knows that this will be a better and more lasting change to Wonderland. He understands now why Wonderland needs her so much; she wants to feel love again. He looks at her, keeping the awe from his face, and asks her, “Do you wish to go to him?”
Alice looks at him and before she could answer, she hears someone coming. She looks up and sees Alice K. coming her way. She freezes for a second, then her temper erupts and she barely held onto it with her fingers. ‘This is Hatter’s mother, control yourself Alice!’
Absolem stares in disbelief, he just can’t believe the fates and what they are doing. Are they trying to break Alice? He quickly thinks and then quietly says, “Chess, we need David now.” Then he thinks to himself, ‘How much more can the girl stand?’
Alice slides to a stop in front of the other Alice and…Absolem? She stands there shocked that Absolem had involved himself; he normally is so aloof. Then she shakes herself out of it and goes to the other Alice. She needs to set this straight. Tarrant and Mirana had spoken with her and let her know that she can either accept both of them, or have neither.
Alice K. never meant for this to happen. She then looks at Alice H. who obviously is ready to fight her and realizes that there is a reason why Alices are almost always commented upon for their muchness. This one has it in spades and she suspects that if she wasn’t David’s mother, she would be hearing quite a bit from the woman in front of her.
Alice of Legend thinks quickly and blurts, “I am so sorry Alice. I never meant you to think you are not acceptable as Queen. Who am I to judge? I just was trying to give you the choice and what the outcome would be either way. David needs a queen and it would give me no greater joy to have you as my daughter-in-law. I didn’t want you to think you have no choice, or that you have to stay here in Wonderland,” Alice K pleads with Alice.
Alice stares at the woman who had just a little while ago put her in pure… “Hell. You put me through pure hell. I don’t know how Hatter feels, but you made me feel like shit. I don’t appreciate it.” She stares at the woman in front of her. She realizes Absolem not only helped her bring her back to herself and deal with everything, but he had also helped to put things in complete focus. Hatter is all that matters. What she feels for him is so beyond anything she has ever felt. She already knows that she plans to stay in Wonderland, because while she had no doubt that he would follow her, she can not see him enjoying her world. Quite frankly, with all the wonderful things she has seen, she’s not sure would enjoy going back. She also can see that her doubts about their relationship had left her open for the Queen of Hearts to manipulate her. Those doubt had ended up hurting Alice and Hatter at a time they couldn’t afford to have any divisions; she is determined not to let it happen or to lose her nerve again.
Before either Alice could say another word, Hatter arrives. Without a glance to his mum, he moves quickly to Alice, grabs her, and hugs her to his chest. “Oh thank heavens…Alice…” he murmurs. They both relax having the other half of their soul here with them. The healing of their pain is starting.
Alice watches her son and realizes what Tarrant aleady has; these two are in the process of Bonding and may actually end up being closer than Tarrant and herself. Then she feels very ashamed. Tarrant had been correct that she had wanted David to herself. She had not lied, she feels a very real debt to Alice, but her son has returned after long centuries in the Red Kingdom and she wanted him to be hers. She had forgotten that he had grown during that time. Now the proof is that Wonderland wants him as King, and he has found true love in a very worthy woman.
Hatter holds his love to him. He had felt a little frantic when Chess had twitched and told Hatter, “We need to go to Alice now.” Hatter had no thought beyond getting to Alice. He jumped up, dislodged Chess, and ran to where his heart and Wonderland told him to go. When he came around the corner, he heard what she said to his mum and is proud of her. He is unsure of what Absolem has done, but his Alice is back. He murmurs to her, “I will never choose anyone but you, and if anyone disagrees we will leave.”
He pulls back from her and looking in her eyes tells her, “I love you, Alice Hamilton, and I will never let you go. Nothing can force us apart.” Hatter stares into her eyes until she nods in agreement. In relief, he then kisses her, pouring his passion and love in the kiss. He feels her go slightly lax in his arms and can’t help the smirk that appears. He remembers what he had planned to do earlier and pulls away from the kiss, drops to his knee and pulls the Ring of Wonderland from his pocket.
Looking up at her, he tells her, “I was meaning to do this earlier at the Tea Party. I love you, Alice, and I want you to be mine in every sense of the word. Will you do me the honor of assenting to be my wife? I want no one but you, and I want everyone to know that.”
Alice stands there shocked, but how can she deny him? “Yes! Oh god…yes, Hatter!” She smiles down at him in pure happiness and he slides the Ring onto her finger, jumps up and pulls her back into his arms to hug and then he swings around in a circle until she laughs. He puts her down and they stare into each other’s eyes.
Alice softly tells him, “You are my other half Hatter, in every way. Only you know just how to take me from being angry to happy with just your presence. Thank you.”
Hatter softly replies without thinking, “There is nothing for you to thank.”