Song I listened to for this chapter: Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds To Mars
Alice is shocked how fast the investments of their new titles are. She stands there with Hatter, looking out at the crowd of people who seem shocked but happy and looking at their new banner. Hatter sends a burst of love to her and when she glances at him, he leads her to the side and smiles. She looks to where he is guiding her, and sees two ivory thrones with navy blue cushions sitting next to Mirana. Hatter seats her and then sits himself, still holding her hand. Alice thinks back to the videos she had seen of the Queen of England taking office and realizes this is much more personal. She finds herself relieved not to have had to deal with that kind of rigmarole.
She notices that Alice and Tarrant are now standing behind Mirana’s throne and wonders about it.
Feeling her curiosity – not a huge shock with an Alice – and seeing where she is looking, Hatter leans towards her and murmurs, “They are the White Queen’s Champions as well as the Champions of Wonderland. Their position is by her side in war, and in peace behind her throne.”
Her question answered, Alice nods slightly and sends her thanks to him. ‘This Bonding definitely has it uses!’
They hear Nivens call out, “Hearts of the Red Kingdom, please present yourselves to the Queen of Wonderland, the White Queen, Mirana and to the King and Queen of the Kingdom of the Knights, Champions and Bonded, David and Alice.”
Alice winces as she feels Hatter’s dismay come through their bond strongly. She didn’t blame him since she knows how much he prefers to be called Hatter. She notes that their Bonded status is now stated. ‘Are married couples marked the same way or is it just them?’
Before she can ask, Nivens addresses them. “Queen Mirana, King David and Queen Alice, Champions Alice and Tarrant, I present the Hearts of the Red Kingdom.”
Alice looks up and sees Jack; his father, Winston; and the Duchess. She frowns wondering where the rest of their entourage is and then Hatter tightens his grip slightly looking at Jack. She glances at him then looks back at Jack and can see his feelings for her show briefly. Hatter’s anger spikes enough that she can practically hear him say, “Oi! MY Mate!”
Before anything else can happen, Mirana addresses them. “Winston, how are you dear cousin?”
Winston bows and answers, “As well as expected, Mirana. I am sure you have heard my petition?”
Mirana nods and speaks, “While I have heard it, David and Alice were not present. Could you please present your petition for them? No decision will be made without their input.” There are quiet gasps throughout the throne room. In that one statement, Mirana told everyone that she is sharing the absolute power she has with the new King and Queen.
Winston looks at Alice, remembering how he had tried to help her the couple of times he had met her without letting his wife know. He hopes she remembers those times and the times Jack tried to help her as well. “I have petitioned this court for Jack to be instated as King. Even though the crown is mine and most of Wonderland would expect me to follow in my wife’s footsteps, I would rather follow the rules of Wonderland for the transfer of the crown. I am tired and have proven that, while I did temper what I could for my wife’s excesses, I was not strong enough to stop her. The Red Kingdom will need a strong, young hand to rule it. However, before I transfer the crown, I insist that ALL of the rites that need to pass for a new ruler will need to happen, from having a Bond to having Wonderland and the Red Kingdom accept him as King.”
Winston pauses and addresses the new Royal Couple directly. “Wonderland has told me that the two of you would have to agree to this before she will.”
Hatter’s shock comes through the Bond to Alice. She too feels the same way since it seems that Wonderland has given them the chance to either have revenge on Jack for what he has done, or prove themselves to everyone by not acting like the former Red Queen would have in the same circumstance. Alice looks at Hatter, trying to figure out what he needs. That is more important to her than what others may think. She had thought of what others may think of her actions in the past and it brought them nothing but misery. She has since promised herself that she will not allow others to dictate her or Hatter’s happiness anymore.
Hatter is shocked at what Wonderland has wrought; no one will blame them if they deny the request, especially if he vocalizes his anger at Jack’s look at Alice. Bonding is very important in Wonderland and no person would try to get in between a Bonded couple, or even lust after one of the Bonded. It is such a serious offense that, in the Outlands, a man can be killed for it.
Hatter realizes Alice is leaving this up to him. He looks at her and can see her faith and absolute trust in him to do what is right for them. But, he has a new responsibility as a King also. This is one of the few times that Bonding made it hard for him to do what is right. He thinks on it and realizes he can live with Alice doing the right thing, but the Bonding is too new for him to be able to do anything other than protect his Mate from what it senses as a threat. He sends this all through the Bond and waits.
Alice frowns making sense of what is wrong and can, again, almost hear his thoughts. Wonderland is doing its part in trying to show her why what Jack had done is so wrong. Bonded couples rarely survived each others death, or even just being separated from each other – especially when they are so newly and strongly Bonded. That any inhabit of Wonderland doing anything to mar the Bonding is unthinkable. Bonding is that special. Hatter sends her his wordless acceptance of whatever she decides.
Alice looks down at Winston and Jack. She can see how tired Winston is and remembers his attempts to help her in the throne room. She and Hatter stand simultaneously as she addresses Winston. “Your request of Hatter and I is difficult, sire. However, we will give our approval after Jack has proven able to handle the rest of the requirements.” Alice turns and looks Jack in the face. “Jack Heart, our approval is not given on your merits, but due to your father’s wishes.”
Hatter takes a deep breath and knowing and understanding his Mate’s decision, informs Jack, “Not only do you owe the two of us for the freedom from your mother’s reign, but you owe us for restraints that are my right to do with you as I will.” The court gasps at Hatter, seeing his eyes darkening. Hatter walks over in front of the Heart, leans forward and tells him quietly, but in no less threatening manner, “Ya need tae read aboot Bonding an’ then ye may realize how I hold ye life in muh hands. She’s mine, my Mate!” Hatter leans back and stares into Jack’s eyes as he watches Jack’s emotions flicker across his face.
Jack is angry that this upstart would dare threaten him! But, before he reacts, some part of him whispers, ‘He is not an upstart. In fact, he outranks you! Even if you do accomplish being King, he will still outrank you with Miranda’s announcement of her sharing her power with them!’ And, he has Alice. These things that he wants, this man, whom he had known as no better than a Tea Shoppe owner, has in spades. He is a recognized king and he is the Bonded Mate of Alice. From what he can gather, these two are the promised King and Queen to the Kingdom of the Knights of legend. Then Jack feels shame replace his anger. Hatter is protecting, as he put it, what is rightfully his. Even though this grandmother had banned Bondings, as a resident of Wonderland, Jack knew what he did was wrong. He just couldn’t help himself and had given in to the desire to glance at Alice. He should have known her Bonded would be watching him after the way he had treated Hatter at the Manor.
Hatter watches, and when he sees what he wanted, Jack’s contrition for his actions, he nods slowly, saying, “Ya owe Alice most of all fer her restraint – never forget that.”
Jack nods. Hatter turns from him, his eyes fading back to their normal soft brown color, and answers Mirana. “If it pleases you, Mirana, that is our condition for Jack to take the throne. He is to accomplish all the Rites of Royalty. The Rites are there to protect Wonderland, the Kingdoms, and the people. The Hearts have, in the last two generations, run over their people too much. The Hearts will need the help they will receive from the lands and their Bonded and it will go far in giving the people of their land the reassurance that they won’t become the dictators their predecessors were.”
Hatter feels Alice’s support as she makes her way down to him. His protectiveness, though, makes him pull her to his side and wrap his arm around her waist.
Mirana has heard from Chess about David’s Madness. Unlike his father’s, David’s is under his control and seems to come out when he believes that Alice is being threatened. She never thought something would happen in her court that would cause it to surface and is upset he had to go through that. However, David had handled it, and both of his parents had restrained themselves from leaping to his defense. Tarrant had actually growled at seeing the look Jack had thrown to his new daughter!
Mirana stands and descends the few stairs to speak to the Hearts with David and Alice by her side. “You have heard what David and Alice have decreed. Jack Fredrick Heart, to gain the Crown of the Red Kingdom, you will need to Bond with a Mate and receive the approval of the Red Kingdom and Wonderland. In addition, you will need to undergo the binding of rulers to the land. This is no less than what David and Alice have done themselves. I, myself, have undergone the binding of the land. Do you agree and promise to not seek the crown by any other w-“
“Mirana!” Alice yelps as she almost collapses. Hatter instinctively tightens his arm around her waist and prevents it. Everyone in the room turns to her.
“Alice?” Hatter asks worriedly.
Alice regains her feet with Hatter’s help and notices Tarrant is also by her side and Alice K. is by her son’s. Mirana comes closer, worried. “Alice?”
“Mirana, my apologies but Wonderland…I guess… spoke up?” Alice is puzzled as to how to explain her outburst.
Hatter can feel her confusion and then he feels what she is talking about. He straightens as his parents and Mirana do. They all turn and look at Jack.
Hatter speaks first, “It seems this is your lucky day, Knave. Wonderland has proposed that if you prove yourself worthy in the times coming, you will be Crowned with the binding to the land. If you are not Bonded by then to a Mate…”
Mirana takes up from there, “you will be Bonded to the Crown of Wonderland, and therefore unable to harm Wonderland or the Rulers of the Kingdoms until you have been bonded to a Mate.”
Jack stares at them, his throat swallowing as he realizes that either he can be bonded to someone or he will be bonded to the Crown in a manner that makes him little more than a puppet. He glances at the Duchess trying to figure out what to do and sees her nod slightly. Jack squares his shoulders and tells them, “I, Jack Heart, promise to abide by these decisions.” A ripple comes from him and everyone relaxes.
Hatter helps Alice to her throne, and after making sure she is ok, sits down in his. Mirana watches the Hearts walk away with sadness prominent in her features. She never likes to cause any type of harm to people. Her vows are to physical harm, but still it causes her pain to do it. Alice K. touches her arm and Mirana nods, turns, and seats herself.
Nivens watches Mirana and once she nods, steps forward and asks, “Are there any other petitions for the Court of Wonderland to hear?”
The man that Alice and Hatter know as the Ten of Clubs steps forward and bows to the Majesties. After receiving their acknowledgement, he quickly announces, “I would like to make a petition to Queen Alice and King Hatter.” Murmurs can be heard through the court, and the Hearts turn on their way out of the throne room to watch him.
Alice acknowledges the man she recalls being kind to her when he could have been cruel. Hatter remembers what Alice had told him and, feeling her curiosity, smiles. “Speak, if you wish.”
Ten of Clubs inclines his head in thanks, before he continues his request. “I would like to petition to be a member of your new court. I am, in reality, the Duke of Clubs. After speaking with my fellow Clubs, we would like to be a part of your kingdom. Clubs were once closely connected with the Kingdom of the Knights and have been forced to serve the Hearts in bondage since the day it fell. By your actions, we have been freed from that bondage. To show our gratitude, we wish to serve you and yours, in whatever function you wish.”
Alice stares down at him in shock and then looks to Hatter. Hatter quirks his head to the side and raises an eyebrow. Receiving her answer through the Bond, he stands. “We accept your petition.” The Duke of Clubs bows gratefully, but before he can do more, Hatter is there and helping him stand straight.
“None of that, now. As a member of our court, as long as you serve us faithfully, loyally, and to your full ability, we ask that you not bow to us.” Hatter then grins, telling the shocked man in front of him, “It upsets Alice, you know.”
The Duke of Clubs glances at his new Queen and smiles gently. He inclines his head to her and watches her smile, feeling it lift his spirits. “I will be most honored, your Majesties.”
Hatter pats him on his back and then gently leads him to his new place as their advisor behind their thrones. The Duke stands proudly behind his King and Queen.
Mirana smiles thinking that the new Royal Couple have done well this day.
Nivens clears his throat and asks if there are any other petitions. When no one else speaks, he calls the Court dismissed.
Mirana rises and advises everyone, “There is a ball to honor David and Alice in the hall following Court. All are welcome.” She smiles and glides gracefully out the side door to the courtyard, with the Hightopps and the Duke following her.
Once out of site of the Court, Alice K turns and faces her son and daughter-in-law. “I again apologize for what had happened earlier. I was out of line-“
Alice interrupts her mother-in-law and tells her, “Yes, you were. But it’s in the past and you’ve already apologized, so let’s just drop it.” She had felt Hatter’s anguish and fear for her when his mother had turned to them and knows this needs to end. She smiles at her new mom.
Alice knows she shouldn’t have been shocked at how well Hatter dances considering how well he dances in other areas. She is also relieved that the dance is not complicated, since she has no knowledge of formal dancing at all. When Hatter had felt her unease, he had whispered down to her to follow him and to relax into the Bond. She did as he suggested. The Bond lets them act as one and it’s fun; she decides that she will like dances in Wonderland. When the dance ends, he leads her off the floor.
Then two twin boys came up running. “I told you it is he!”
The other boy nudges his brother and tells him, “No, I told you it is him!”
Hatter laughs, and as with Nivens, he drops to their level and says, “Tweedles!”
They run to him and hug him. He looks up at Alice and tells her, “These are the original Tweedles.” She feels his support and warning to prepare herself before he continues. “This is Tweedle Dum and his brother Tweedle Dee.” With that, he watches her carefully.
Thanks to his warnings, she can smile and says, “Nice to meet you.” Inside she is confused and scared.
Hatter wishes he had known the Tweedles were here, so he could have warned Alice. But, quite frankly, he had forgotten that they would have been invited as a matter of course. He sends love and reassurance to her, but is glad she can hide her feelings. What had been done to the Tweedles had outraged him when he found out. He knows that Alice is confused and will need to hear their story to understand.
Tarrant has been keeping an eye on Alice and David. When he saw the Tweedles, he realized that he needed to stop them, but before he could do something, they had approached the new couple. He watches them and while David has no problem with the boys, he can see that Alice is struggling. The Tweedles need David, but he can help Alice.
He walks over to her and lisps softly, “Alice, may I have a moment of your time?”
Alice looks up into Tarrant’s green eyes and nods, not trusting herself to speak. She is worried what voice may come out. She knows her ten year old self is close to the surface, and doesn’t want to upset Hatter. She is managing, barely, but she can see the Tweedles need David’s assurances that he is fine. Tarrant holds out his arm, and she loops hers through her new father’s. He smiles down at her and leads her outside, knowing his son can find his Bonded when he is free.
Robert watches the Mad Hatter lead his daughter outside and rises to follow. He needs to talk to Alice. He saw some of what had upset her and needs to make sure she is alright and help explain.
Tarrant walks with his daughter – ‘Daughter and Mate to my son!’ – completely content and happy. He looks down at her, smiles, and gently says to her, “Thank you for making my son happy, and making my mate happy too.”
Alice glances up at him, and noticing his green eyes, smiles. “I should be thanking you for raising such a wonderful, loving man.”
Tarrant’s smile widens. Then his face drops.
“Alice, you were tortured also, weren’t you?” The brogue she hears in his son when he is angry is faintly there.
She stops, noticing a bench and indicates it. Tarrant seats her on the bench, she arranges her skirts and answers him quietly, “Not like Hatter was. But, Hatter told me I was tortured instead by the Doctors in their favorite way – mentally.”
Tarrant’s eyes darken and his facial markings become more pronounced. He closes his eyes and draws upon his Bond to calm himself. When he is sure that he is as calm as he can be, he looks at his daughter. He tries to explain to her the difference in the young boys she saw, and the evil older men she had been tortured by. “The Queen kidnapped the Tweedles and did something to make copies that she turned evil. She did it to torture us without breaking her promise. When Hatter found out, he came the closest to exposing himself ever and breaking his promises just to get them out. He could not leave them there.”
Those simple words clarified things for Alice, specifically the reason the Tweedles need her Mate’s assurances and why they look like younger versions of the evil Doctors. Then she hears a voice that made her gasp.
“It is my fault, Jellybean.”
Alice turns and sees her father. She smiles and jumps up to hug him. Tarrant keeps a careful eye on him. Robert notices and acknowledges it. He lets go of his daughter and looks at her. She is very happy and glowing as she was when she walked into the throne room with her Mate. He shakes his head that his little girl is now a Queen and Bonded. “I am so proud of you, Jellybean.”
Alice smiles at her father, overjoyed to see him again. She feels a question pulse through the Bond and she sends her love back. Realizing Hatter is coming to her, her smiles broadens.
Robert looks at her and then his smile fades. He glances at Tarrant and asks Alice, “Is Hatter coming soon, I have some information to give you both.”
“You can start when you wish, Carpenter.” Hatter rounds the corner and drops a kiss on Alice’s mouth and murmurs something softly to her. She nods and they smile at each other. Hatter then turns to his father, “Thanks, Fa.” Tarrant nods, stands and hugs his son, making moves to leave.
Robert stops him. “Tarrant, please stay. I think you know what I am going to say, having known me the longest. You can help, and you deserve to know the whole story.”
Tarrant stares at him, then sits down again, his eyes a yellow and grayish color of curiosity and worry.
Robert sighs and turns to his daughter and new son.
“The best way to do this is at the beginning.” He sees Alice and Hatter glance at each other with grins, and realizes that it must be an inside joke.
He starts again, “I was born here in Wonderland a very long time ago.” He hears Alice’s gasp and keeps going, knowing he needs to tell them everything. “I was born in the Kingdom before the Red and White Kingdoms were formed. Tarrant and I knew each other then, along with the other creatures in the book, Alice.”
Carpenter watches his daughter carefully and seeing her nod, continues. “Later, after meeting the Alice of Legend, I became curious about a number of things, and studied everything I could get my hands on. Eventually the Great Library was transported magically from Aboveland where it had disappeared to after what was thought to be a fire, and founded in the Red Kingdom. I went there to study and wrote down most of the conclusions I made. I was most interested in science and magic and how they worked together in Wonderland. Magic is most prominent, but science works here as well. After many years and exhausting the resources of the Great Library, I went to Aboveland to study some more. There I met your mother, Carol. I felt drawn to her, and came to find out her father had also been a friend of Alice’s. Being a resident of the Red Kingdom, he had gone to Aboveland to escape Iracebeth’s tyranny. Wanting to honor his friend, he wrote about her adventures. He eventually married and they had Carol. The thing is, in Aboveland, Wonderlanders are drawn together. No one is sure why, but by the time we had found out our connection to Wonderland, we were in love. Then we had you, and as you know, your name was not supposed to be Alice, but through a series of mishaps-”
Alice smiles shakily and repeats what is obviously a well known story, “One being Mom was on an epidural and pain medicine when they asked her what she wanted to name me.” She has been told the story often.
Robert smiles at her. “Yes. But, the name seemed to fit you well and we left it. When the Queen of Hearts kidnapped me, she told me one of the things I had done to grab her attention is my study that made the Doctors possible. The same Doctors that messed with my mind so that I forgot you and Carol. The same ones who tortured both you and Hatter. I am so sorry, Jellybean.” He looks at her and hopes she understands. He also glances at Tarrant who nods to him, his eyes the light green of friendship.
Alice is trying to get a handle on what her father has said. Hatter is beside her, giving her his love and support. She thinks on what he told her and an errant thought enters her mind, she looks on her arm and gasps, the shock sending her to her knees.
“Alice!” Hatter,feeling her shock and worry, drops on the ground next to her while trying to find what is wrong with his Mate. He sees she is staring at her pale arm in horror and then it dawns on him, the Glow is gone!
He stares up at his fa and his father-in-law, worried. “Wha’ happen’d tae Alice’s Glow?”
Robert frowns, trying to make out what Hatter said, Tarrant gently translates for him. “He wants to know what happened to Alice’s Oyster Mark. They have been calling it a Glow.” Robert nods in understanding.
“She believes in Wonderland. The Glow is from disbelief of Wonderland. Alice accepted Wonderland a long time ago and the mark probably disappeared then. The Oysters were kept in a stupor and therefore never knew they were in Wonderland to accept it, and therefore never lost the Glow. It had nothing to do with being from another world. If it did, Alice would have not been marked.” Robert explains to Alice and Hatter, watching Alice carefully. He is worried about his daughter.
Alice looks up at Hatter and he looks down at her worriedly. He sends all his love and strength to her, hoping it helps. Then he feels her love come back and in relief, he gathers her into his arms. “Alice, thank the Gods. Not that I blame you for a moment.” He kisses her head and holds her there safe in his arms, feeling her relaxing and thinking about what her father has told them. He relaxes when he hears her chuckle.
“Daddy, no wonder you always believed in the talking animals in Wonderland.” Robert laughs along with Alice remembering all the arguments with her at bedtime.
Alice reaches her hand up to Hatter as he stands up. Seeing the Ring of Wonderland on her hand, her face drops. “What are we going to do with the Oysters? Have they been stuck here because of me?”
All the men that mean the most in her life hasten to assure her that it has only been a day since the fall of the Casino and the Oysters are still being treated. Alice looks up her Mate and fathers as they all try to talk to her at once and wonders if someone was to take a picture, what it would look like with her on the ground and all these men trying to reassure her. Before she gets overwhelmed, Hatter pulls her off the ground and in his arms in one smooth motion and says,“Oi! One at a time please! Alice is getting confused…”
Alice smiles at him. She then summarizes, “From what I gather, everything is fine, but what about getting them home?”
Robert speaks up, “I need to finish treating some. That is partly why I am here, well mostly to see you and watch your coronation, but I need Mirana’s help. She makes potions and they have helped some. We have agreed that we are going to work together to see what we can come up for the Oysters and the Tea Heads.”
Alice smiles and is happy something is being done for all those poor souls. But, she is getting tired and, quite frankly, she wants some down time with Hatter. She sends these emotions down the Bond and feels Hatter tense and then lean down to her and murmurs, “I take it you are ready to leave, luv?”
She nods and Hatter turns to their fathers. “Fa and Father, Alice is tired and I am excusing us for now. Thank you, Fa for taking care of her and explaining the Tweedles; Robert, we will talk with you more in the morning about the information you have given us. For now, Fairfarren to all.”
As they walk off, Robert and Tarrant are amused to hear Alice ask, “Fairfarren, Hatter? I am beginning to think you’re making up words!” They can hear Hatter’s chuckles fade as they leave.
As Alice and Hatter make their way to their room, hidden in the shadows, there is something watching them. It turns and the light hit its eyes and glows golden.