. . .but. . .what about the rabbit?" she babbled, as he gave her a befuddled glance. "Seriously. . ." she insisted. "How will he get out?" Although she meant the "White Rabbit," Lord Ascott didn't realize it, and thought she was being rather dramatic. Fighting not to smile, he cleared his throat in an attempt to be sensitive.
"Alice. . .dear. . .I really don't think there's a rabbit in there." he soothed, as Alice looked away from him. "The hole is much too deep. And that's what makes it so dangerous. Besides. . .with my being away on business most of the time, suppose someone else gets curious and falls in? Like one of my groundskeepers? With no one aware of it, they could be trapped for days." Knowing he was right, Alice could only remain silent, as he shook his head. "No. . .It needed to be filled in. And frankly I should've done it a long time ago."
By then Alice was so overwhelmed with disappointment, she could barely look him in the face. Setting her cup down, she weakly replied, "Excuse me. But I'm not feeling very well. I think I'll turn in early tonight."
"Oh, alright then. Just so you know that we set sail for Japan at 6:00am, sharp."
This only had her more upset. "Fine. . ." she whispered in a cracked voice. Troubled over her emotional state, Lord Ascott gently gripped her by the shoulder.
"Alice. . .I don't know what's going on with you lately. But if it's because you're feeling pressured or obligated to come with me, don't. You're free to do as you please. . .Ok?" Barely able to look him in the face, she gave him a timid nod. As Alice quickly headed out, she tearfully whispered to herself. "Not anymore. . ."
Between that, and the disappointment with her sister, she could bear it no longer. From that point on, Alice began to contemplate an alternate plan for her life. But knowing that she had to break it to her mother wouldn't be easy. By the evening, she'd found Helen alone in the study, sitting by the fireplace.
"Alice. . .Come sit and keep me company." She cheerfully replied, as she now walked inside. Yet instead of sitting across from her, Alice found herself kneeling down, as though she were a small child. Rather surprised by this, Helen asked, "Is something wrong?"
"I-I have to talk to you. . ." Putting her macramé down, she looked at her rather puzzled.
"About what, dear?" Hesitating just a bit, Alice found herself blurting out,
"I can't stay here anymore. I have to go, and I hope you can understand why." Already knowing her reasoning, Helen gave her a serious gaze and nodded. "I do." Her quick compliance surprised Alice, who began to feel a little more at ease.
"Well. . .I've also decided that I'm not going to Japan. But I am going away. . ."
"But where?" Thinking it over a bit, Alice sighed and shrugged.
"I'm not sure, exactly. But I do know it will be far enough to start my life over again."
Seeing the sad expression on her mothers face, had Alice torn with guilt. "But. . . I won't forget about you. And I'll find a way to keep in touch, somehow. I-I just want your blessing." She pled.
Touched over her daughters consideration, Helen reached out until she was giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "Of course, Alice. You're a grown woman, now. You have to do what's right for you, and not for anyone else. I just appreciate you're confiding in me about it, instead of running away."
Deeply overwhelmed by how much her mother understood, Alice reached forward until she was hugging her tightly.
"I love you, mother. . ." Sniffling, Helen smiled through her tears.
"I love you too, dear. . And remember. . .no matter how far you go, it's never goodbye as long as you have them in your heart, and in your mind. . ."
Although it sounded easy to believe, after what happened. . .Alice wasn't so certain anymore.
By the 10 o'clock hour, Alice had her bag packed. Determined to leave before the dawn broke, in order not to upset her mother any further. Gradually, this had her looking down at the pin-cushion ring on her finger. Full of deep regret and sadness, her head slowly shook. "I'm so sorry, Tarrant. I wanted to believe so badly." She tearfully whispered, now pulling the ring off her finger. "But now. . .It just seems impossible." And with that. . .she set it down on the mantel, just over a huge mirror. As she turned to grab her suitcase, Alice could feel a cool wind hit the back of her neck. Turning back around, she glanced toward the mirror, momentarily stunned to find that her reflection had completely disappeared. For a moment, Alice blinked hard, wondering if her own eyes were playing tricks on her. Heart beginning to pound from the remote possibility of what was happening, she found herself numbly walking back up to her dresser. The closer she got, the more she began to realize that there was much more to this blackened reflection that met the eye. For she began to make out the all-to-familiar contours of hat racks, and shelves.
"No. . .It can't be. . ." She whispered, full of denial. That is. . .until her eyes fixed down on the pin-ring. (What if I leave this time, and never find my way back.) Her own voice rang out in her thoughts. (You see this?) Tarrant's voice echoed, as she now picked the ring back up off the mantel. (No matter what happens, if you get to doubting. . . feel how real it is. And then you'll remember. . .how real I am.) This had her trembling hand reaching out toward the mirror. Sharply her breath sucked in when it passed straight through. . .the blackness spreading like ripples of water!
Meanwhile. . .
Losing a battle to insomnia, Tarrant was so exhausted that he could barely focus in on what he was doing. It got to the point where the stitch he was sewing for a bonnet, began to double before his eyes. Tired and frustrated, he pulled away from the table knowing he'd better take a break before sewing his fingers together! Yet, what started off as a ten minute tea interim turned into 20, then 30 minutes. As the time passed on, somehow. . . that divan in the corner of the room looked more and more appealing.
With his cup in hand, Tarrant walked over. . .stubborn. . .and determined not to rest longer than necessary. Yet once he lie back, his eyelids grew heavier and heavier, causing him to nod off until he could bear it no longer. Through the pleasant transition into sleep, Tarrant gradually began to feel as though he weren't alone. It was almost as if a presence was there with him. . .getting closer, and closer until finally he felt a light nudge on his arm. One that was just enough to jar him back into consciousness. Rather startled, Tarrant began to focus in on a silhouette that was merely inches away from him. It was a figure so hauntingly familiar, that for a moment he began to wonder if he were truly awake. "Am I dreaming?" He softly asked. Before he realized what was happening Alice lurched forward, throwing her arms around his neck. Through the shock of it all, the sensation of her touch and the sweet smell of her hair had awakened him fully.
"A-Alice?!" Lost in her embrace he tightly hugged her back, not wanting to let go for anything in the world. he giddily chuckled. "Oh, Alice. I can't believe it!"
"Me neither. I'm so glad to see you. . ." Although elated that she was there, Tarrant was still overwhelmed by his own curiosity. Pulling her away, he sat up and studied her intently.
"So am I, but. . .what in the world happened?" His question had her sitting back, as though trying to compose her thoughts.
"Well. . . for one, I did settle things with my sister, and had a long talk with my mother. And. .she understands that I need to live my own life. Even if it means going away. Which is why I'd made up my mind to come back. But before I could, I found out that the rabbit hole had been boarded up."
"What?" Tarrant said, literally horrified over the very thought of losing her forever. "But. . .if that's the case, then how-"
"From there. . ." Alice cut off, pointing to the large mirror in the corner of the room.
Mouth falling open, his head slowly began to shake with disbelief. "My word!" he muttered, gawking back to Alice. "You mean through that looking glass?"
"Yes. . ." she chuckled, looking at the enthralled expression on his face. "I was on the verge of giving up, but this ring made a way back, just like you said."
Eyes lighting up from realization, a huge grin spread over Tarrant's face. "No Alice. It wasn't the ring. . .it was you. You still believed enough, to open the door one more time." Now gradually his smile began to fade from a realization that occurred to him. "But now that you're here, you may never find another way back."
The unexpected look of regret on his face suddenly had Alice feeling a little insecure. "Is that so bad?"
Letting out a weak chuckle, he replied, "No. . .Ordinarily I'd be thrilled. But. . .to sacrifice your home for someone like me. . ."
Slowly shaking her head, Alice gently interrupted,
"When I thought I'd never see you again, it had me so sick at heart that it felt like I couldn't breath. And I realized it was because I belonged here with you." She stressed. "Can't you see that?"
Utterly moved by her confession, an elated smile spread over his face.
"What I see. . .is someone whose made me the most jovial person in the world." He softly replied. "You've given me confidence and strength, when I had none at all. When I felt over the edge, you always brought me back cause. . .you are my sanity." he whispered, as tears began to gleam in her eyes. "Apart from you, I'm nothing. Because you're the one. And it's far more than a petty admiration. " he nervously stammered. "In fact. . .that "L" word most assuredly comes to mind." Thereafter Alice watched the way his eyes slowly found hers, narrowing into a very pensive gaze. "It just so happens. . .that I l-love you, Alice. And have for a very long time." Completely enrapt by his confession, Alice softly replied,
"Are you aware that's the most you've spoken from your heart, since we've met?"
"I know. . ." he shyly admitted.
"Well how come you've never told me before?" Her question caused him to look away.
"Dunno, really. Maybe because. . . I thought it would sound a bit daft, coming from someone like me." This had Alice reaching forward, until she was caressing the side of his face.
"Well then, I must be daft too. because I feel the same way. . ." She whispered, as his eyes slowly widened.
"Y' do?" Letting out a chuckle Alice shook her head.
"Of course. . .Why do you find that so hard to believe? When you deserve to be loved more than anyone else?"
Deeply overwhelmed by her sincere words, Tarrant found himself beginning to grow a little nervous. "Really, now?" he asked, fidgeting just a bit. "Then. . .I don't suppose you'd mind a bit if. . . I k-kissed you?" Inwardly delighted that he would even ask,
Alice smiled, then shook her head. "Not at all. . ." she whispered, as he slowly began to lean a little closer until they were inches apart. Through closed eyes she could feel his warm breath on her face, followed by the gentle sensation of his lips as they pressed against hers, kissing Alice just enough to send her into a blissful state of mind. Thereafter he slowly pulled away, gazing into the eyes of not only his best friend. But someone who now had the potential of becoming more. . .so much more. Or was he still asking the impossible. Sighing heavily, he leaned his forehead against hers and whispered,
"Oh dear me. . .This might make it a bit complicated, don't you think?"
Hearing the insecurity in his voice, Alice found herself pulling back, until she was looking into his eyes.
"Not at all. Because, this time, there's no time limit. Remember?" she replied, as his eyes widened with intrigue. "So now. . .we'll be able to get to know each other the right way."
There for the first time did it occur to Tarrant, just how sincere Alice really was. Although they were close, with all her brief comings and goings they still didn't know each other. Now that she was back for good, they had all the time in the world. And for her to want to spend it with him, meant more than anything in the world. Inside he knew that this would only strengthen their bond, which was something he so desperately wanted.
Fervently gazing into her eyes he nodded. "I agree. . . But for now, I only hope I can make you as happy as what you've made me. And I'll do anything. . .anything."
Once again leaning forward, Alice softly whispered, "Then hold me. . .Just hold me."
Squeezing her tightly against him, Tarrant lovingly kissed the top of her head began to rock her in his arms. "Ohhhh, I'll do more than that. . ." he softly replied. "This time no matter what comes our way. . .I'll never let you go again. Ever."
As they held on to each other, Alice knew that her life with Tarrant would be fun and a bit unpredictable at times. Yet in spite of all the craziness, and everything they'd been through. . .this was where she was meant to be all along. Safe in his arms.
The End. . .
Authors note: I truly hoped you were satisfied with the ending of this story. Although I do ship Tarrant/Alice I honestly wouldn't see them jumping into an intense relationship right away. They would still have bumps and obstacles, just like any other couple. And I honestly believe Tarrant would be insecure, due to his health. . .mentally and physically. And Alice would have to adjust to that. . .if it were truly meant to work. Although I had a second part for this in mind, due to the second movie being made, it's being put on hold. I want to see what happens between the couple, and then maybe we'll work from there. So, I hope for now my version will do. Thanks for reading it.