Chapter 5 part 2
As Alice walked through the doors, she was astounded at the beauty to be found in the garden, but enjoyed the petals of the cherry blossoms slowly floating to the soft grass that cushioned Alice’s feet as she made her way silently towards the bright tea party.
Finally, she reached the table undetected by the majority of the guests, as Mallymkin had just so happened to glance in her direction, however with a gesture to remain silent from Alice, she did not alert the rest of the table.
Smiling to herself, Alice took her usual seat at the table, to the complete surprise of the guests, except for Mirana and Mallymkin, for Mirana knew that Alice would return to Underland and Mallymkin had seen her come to the table.
Out of all the guests, it was Tarrant who was the most shocked. For a full five minutes, Tarrant was rendered speechless.
“Alice, it is good to see you my dear.” Mirana said with a smile.
“It is good to return to my friends. I was quite miserable without seeing all of you.” Alice replied earnestly, looking around the table as she spoke so as to include all present in her statement with her gaze finally resting on Tarrant.
Tarrant had not moved an inch during Alice’s greeting to her friends. He continued to stare straight ahead, as if in a trance, his eyes slowly darkening for some inexplicable reason.
Despite Alice’s clear happiness at being in the one place that felt like home, the Hatter’s reaction was shocking and upsetting her.
“Maybe I should go...” Alice said, standing up to leave the table, no longer able to restrain her sadness.
“Where do ye think yer goin’, lass?” a thick Scottish brogue asked suddenly.
“I was leaving as you...”
“I didnae say anythin’ did I?” Tarrant asked, grasping Alice’s hand as if his very life depended upon it. Alice smiled and slowly extricated herself from Tarrant’s grasp before resuming her seat.
A tense silence hung over those gathered at the tea party, however Mirana seemed to be the only one to notice the glances Alice was giving Tarrant and the way that Tarrant’s eyes glowed a particularly bright shade of emerald green. Mirana smiled as the couple barely took notice of the other party guests.
At that moment, Thackery threw a scone at Tarrant as he knew that Tarrant was being most rude in ignoring his guests. Tarrant frowned at the impact of the scone upon his face.
“Thackery, please, not in front of Alice.” Tarrant reprimanded, slightly annoyed.
Mirana chose that moment to exit the party, as she had to address her court about the arrival of their Champion and the ball that was planned in her honour.
“Please excuse me, but I have urgent things to care for.” Mirana said, gracefully rising from her seat and walking in the direction of the palace.
Alice smiled, enjoying simply being in the one place that was home to her.
Thackery and Mallymkin fought about scones and other trivial matters while Tarrant finally drew the muchness to speak to Alice.
“Lass, it’s really nice to have you back.” Tarrant said, smiling at Alice.
Alice smiled back before replying, “Thank you. It is nice to be home.”
“Home? You, you...are staying?” Tarrant said with his voice thick with emotion and excitement.
“Yes, I am staying.” Alice affirmed, smiling.
Tarrant’s eyes glowed a brilliant shade of purple, the likes of which Alice had not seen before, causing her to wonder what it meant.
“Alice, would you like to go for a walk with me in the gardens?” Tarrant asked, suddenly unsure of himself.
“Of course. I have not had much of a chance to explore yet.” Alice said, rising to stand.
Tarrant gallantly offered his arm to Alice, which she accepted, and together they walked away from the table leaving the Hare and the Dormouse staring agog at them.
The further into the garden they walked, the more at ease Alice felt. She wondered if it was part of the magic of the peaceful garden or simply the company of one of her friends. Alice pondered her father’s reaction to the beauty that she was witnessing. The blossoms slowly falling from the trees like snow onto the lush, emerald green grass. She wished her father could see this type of beauty, for she remembered his love of nature and odd things.
She totally forgot about the Hatter as she saw a waterfall. Alice had not seen very many, as her mother had forbidden her from accompanying her father when he travelled to far places such as the Americas and the far reaches of Europe.
Alice ran forward to get closer to the waterfall. Tarrant’s arm went slack, which slightly confused him as he was just becoming used to having the weight of her arm on his own. He noticed a blue dress far ahead at the waterfall, which brought a smile to his lips before he raced to join Alice.
Alice heard footsteps behind her as she admired the waterfall- the water seemed to be flowing over some sort of gem, for it did not appear to be any type of rock that Alice had seen.
“This is a beautiful sight, is it not?” Tarrant asked, suddenly appearing to be slightly awkward, which had the effect of confusing Alice.
Unsure, Alice replied, “It is magical. I wish my father could have seen this sight for he would surely be as enchanted as I am.”
“Of course.” Tarrant said, cursing his inability to say more as he had become self-conscious around Alice.
“I have important orders to complete, so I will need to return with haste to the palace to complete them in time. Do you wish to see where you are staying, for the Queen will surely offer you a room within the palace?” Tarrant rambled, his madness flaring in his sudden nervousness around Alice.
Alice smiled as she placed her hands on his cheeks to calm him, reminded of a similar scenario albeit the setting and circumstances were different.
“Of course I shall return with you. I should like to see your workshop and you working at your trade once more.”Alice said, hoping to put the Hatter at ease.
Nothing could have alarmed Tarrant more than this declaration, his thoughts flying to his magnificent creation and many hats that had been created in his madness. His facial expression must have revealed the depth of his dislike for Alice’s suggestion that she was slightly taken aback, trying once more to quell her disappointment; however the Hatter’s alarm served to reignite her curiosity with regard to the man who she considered to be a very close friend.
Tarrant didn’t seem to notice Alice’s disappointment as he once more offered her his arm so that he may escort her to the palace.
As they walked out of the garden and into the palace, Alice pondered the Hatter’s odd reaction to her presence. She had hoped that he would be glad to see her once more =, and she supposed that he was but there was something else in his gaze that Alice could not figure out.
“Alice, we shall speak to the Queen about arrangements for your stay in Underland.” Tarrant announced as they neared the double doors of the throne room.
Alice simply nodded, as she was lost in her thoughts about the man beside her.
The throne room was silent, except for the little sighs that escaped Mirana’s lips. She had hoped that her absence would allow the couple to reacquaint themselves with each other. She had spoken to her court briefly about the preparations for the ball to be held in Alice’s honour, which was now scheduled for the next evening. Mirana could not wait to see Alice’s reaction to the ball and the decorations.
At that moment, the couple that she had been thinking about entered the room. Mirana could sense Alice’s confusion about some matter that she could not work out.
“What ails you, my Champion?” Mirana asked, gently trying to find out the problem.
“Nothing, your Majesty.” Alice replied, forcing a smile.
“Alice, please, I would hope that we are friends and as such I would like it if you would call me Mirana, at least in private.” Mirana said happily.
Tarrant chose that moment to speak, “Mirana, I was wondering if a room could be prepared for Alice.”
Mirana smiled, as the room she had planned to give Alice was finally ready, and it was beautiful.
“Of course. I have a room prepared for your stay Alice, however long it may be.” Mirana replied.
The throne room doors were suddenly thrown open and a guard strode confidently into the room, bowing low to Mirana.
“Majesty, I have urgent news. It is the Red Queen.” The guard said.
Mirana rose from her seat in alarm before replying, “Captain, are you certain?”
“I have it on good authority that she has broken her exile.” The captain affirmed.
Tarrant and Alice had witnessed this exchange and were slightly panicked. For Alice, she knew that once more she would have to face the Red Queen if her home was to be free of the terror that she invoked once and for all.
The captain of the guard realised that his information would cause panic for his Champion who, it was rumoured, had just arrived in Underland. Of course he noticed the woman next to the Mad Hatter and that’s when he realised that he was in the presence of the Champion.
“Forgive me, my Champion. I did not recognise you.” The captain said, bowing in Alice’s direction.
Alice blushed at receiving such treatment before replying, “It is alright. I have only lately arrived in Underland.”
The captain bowed once in Alice’s direction and once to Mirana before sweeping out of the throne room.
Mirana tried to muster a smile; however she was not really able to, due to the latest information.
“Sorry for the interruption, Alice, however it appears arrangements will need to be made to face my sister if and when she comes near Marmoreal,” Mirana said grimly before continuing, “Tarrant, would you mind escorting Alice to her room as it is quite near to your own, in fact it is right next to it.” Mirana said with a smile.
Tarrant stared, slightly dumbfounded, at Mirana but nodded. He glanced at Alice before leaving the room, forcing Alice to hasten after him if she did not wish to become lost in the vast, white halls of the palace.
She caught up with Tarrant, slightly out of breath. Alice reflected that the captain of the guard seemed familiar though she was sure that she had never met him. She wondered why he had barely acknowledged the Hatter but had bowed reverently to her.
“Hatter, what is the name of the captain of the guard, he failed to mention what it was. Why have I never met him?” Alice asked, curiosity coursing through her veins.
Noticing her use of his profession, Tarrant replied, “He is new to the post, that’s why you did not meet him last time. As for his name, well that is interesting. His name is...” Tarrant said, clearly toying with Alice.