When I woke, I was on a couch, covered by a dark blue blanket. I yawned and winced. My head was killing me. Maybe this is what it felt like to have a hangover. I sat up and looked around. I havent seen this room before. It was cute and homey. A large bookshelf was against one wall and a fireplace was on another. I was currently on the couch in front of the fire. The warmth felt heavenly. The floor was carpeted with a soft green color and the walls were a darker gray-green. A TV and some chairs were against a wall. The room was large and paintings hung from the walls.
One caught my attention in particular. It was a portrait of a young girl who looked to be my age. She had large, innocent blue eyes and a sweet, trusting smile. She had long blonde hair that went down her back and hung over her shoulders in soft ringlets. She had pale skin that looked absolutely perfect for her sweet appearance. She wore a simple blue dress that buttoned up and had a white lace collar. She held a rabbit in her arms. No one had to tell me who she was. It was obvious.
The guys were right; she was beautiful, more beautiful than I could ever hope to be. She was the symbol of purity and innocence. And, though I was human, I was nothing like her. This beautiful woman the guys loved. That, Shiro loved...The thought of it made my heart tighten painfully in my chest. I had a desire to just rip it off and throw it in the fire. I wasnt like this girl! I never would be! I cant be their Alice!
A hand on my shoulder made me turn around. I was gazing into the cool red eyes of Hatter. He looked up at Alices portrait then back to me. Reaching up, he took my chin in his hand and with his other hand, gloves still on, wiped my cheeks. It was only then I realized that I had been crying. I tried to look away, but his hold on my chin was firm and I was forced to look at him.
Have some faith, was all he said before letting go and walking from the room. I stared after him, shocked. Had he known what I was thinking? I sighed and sat down in front of the fire. Something told me that this day was only going to get worse and worse. I looked down at Alices dress with disgust. It was itchy and held onto me too tight. Plus, the apron was ridiculous. Maybe
I could wear something else. I stood and was about to walk out of the room when Ches came running in.
Youre awake! Youre awake! he said, hugging me tightly. Where did this guy get all his energy from? I smiled a little.
Um, yeah. I am, I said. Shiro came in next, holding a silver tray with tea on his hand. Hatter was nowhere in sight. Shiro smiled.
Hello Miss Annabelle, feeling any better? he asked. I nodded. He set the tea tray down on the table and picked up the cute teapot, pouring hot tea into three cups. I sat down on the couch and Shiro sat beside me. Ches was on my other side. Shiro gave me one of the cups.
"Thank you." I said softly, sipping the tea. They both smiled and I settled down into the couch. I was tired; after all, Ive had a long day. And something told me that is wasnt over yet.
.? I said, directing my question toward him. After all, he seemed to know the most.
Yes, Annabelle? he asked. I looked down in my lap.
.will I ever be able to go home? I asked. Shiro sighed.
But, Annabelle, why do you want to leave? Ches asked his voice sad. I struggled to answer, but Shiro saved me.
Because she doesnt belong here Ches
she belongs home, with her family. He said. I nodded silently. Ches nodded.
Oh, yeah. I forgot
, he said softly.
So, will I ever be able to go home? I asked. Shiro nodded.
In time. You have to wait for another portal to open. When that happens, you can go home
. He said. I gave a little smile and nodded though, I had a feeling I wouldnt be leaving anytime soon. I looked at Ches to see him look down, ears back, sad. I reached over and scratched behind his ears. He instantly perked up and started meowing. It was so cute. He was purring and acting like a real cat. I couldnt help but lean over and plant a small kiss on his nose like Ive done to my own cat so many times.
However, Chess reaction was quite different. His cheeks turned red and he looked at me shyly. It was another cute effect. I could help but smile when he leaned over and kissed my cheek. After that, he laid his head in my lap and I continued to scratch behind his ears. Shiro looked at us with a stoic smile. He looked almost, jealous. He took my other hand and kissed it gently, his eyes on my own. I was blushing. First Ches kissing my cheek, now Shiro kissing me hand. Next thing you know, Id be kissing Hatter!
Having a tea party? said the all-too familiar voice of Hatter as he walked into the room. My cheeks heated up more due to my more recent thoughts. He took in the scene. My blushing face; Chess head on my lap and him purring with a blush on his cheeks; Shiro holding my hand, his lips still to the back of my hand. Hatter closed his eyes and shook his head.
Its Alice all over again, he said, disgust in his voice. I was puzzled. What does he mean; its Alice all over again. With one final, disgusted look to us, he left the room. Shiro rolled his eyes.
Ignore him. Hes just upset that he hasnt been able to kiss you. He said with a wink. I smiled back nervously. Maybe that was it, though I couldnt see why. However, his words kept nagging at me.
+~+ +~+ +~+
I was in the blue room again, for I cannot bring myself to call it my room. It was night and I felt nice and refreshed from my shower. I wore another outfit from the closet. It was a simple white nightgown. One of those old-looking ones with the long sleeves that tighten slightly at my wrist and had those high collars. It wasnt uncomfortable. Actually, I liked it quite a bit. I sat on the bed now, running a silver brush through my hair. It was obvious that this Alice was well off. A knock on the door distracted me.
Come in, I call, brushing through my hair, my back resting on the pile of pillows. The door opened and Hatter walked in. I put my brush on the bed beside me.
Yes? I asked. He just stood there for a second, staring at me. It was annoying.
Hatter, say something! I said, throwing one of the smaller pillows at him. He caught it with ease and came over, placing it back on the bed. He sat before me. He just sat there, looking at me for the longest time and didnt speak until I reached for a pillow.
Im sorry, was all he said. I was confused. Sorry? For what? My confusion must have shown on his face for he sighed, took off his top hat, and ran his fingers through his hair.
Im sorry about earlier today
saying that it was Alice all over again
, he said. I nodded, remembering. I leaned over, placing my hand on one of his.
Its ok. Nothing to worry about, I said. He stood, frustrated.
It is. Alice
.Alice was beautiful. Innocent, pure. We all loved her. And that was a problem. She liked to string us along, play with our affections. She broke all our hearts that way, and continued to until she died. Shiro and Ches didnt get it. They thought she loved them both and didnt know whom to pick. Nevertheless, I knew. When I tried to tell them, they defended her, he explained. I nodded, understanding. A boy had done that to my best friend and me once. Needless to say, we werent best friends anymore. Hatter sat back down, this time a little closer to me. He rested his elbows on his knees and held his head in his hands.
"What happened?" I asked, a little afraid to know.
"Like I said, it tore us apart. They didn't trust me with protecting her anymore. They thought I was jealous. And for a while...they thought I gave her to the Queen...." he almost whispered. My heart went out to him. I kneeled beside him and gently but my arm around him in a soft hug. He was quiet for a few moments more.
"I didn't do it though. I never would have, no matter what. Alice was our responsibility," he started, "I don't know how the Queen got her, but, I do know I wont let it happen again."
"He stood again, and I had a feeling that was the end of our talk. He nodded at me once and left. I heard a small click and knew he had locked me in. Whether it was to keep me prisoner or keep me safe, I don't really know. I crawled into the bed and shut off the light. It was dark, but the soft light of the moon came in through the small window. I couldn't help but think about Hatter. And about Alice. It was troubling me, how he said the Queen got her. It almost seemed like someone gave her to the Queen. But, who? Was it one of the guys? Hatter seemed genuine, but, he could be lying. I bit my lip as the thoughts ran through my head.
Someone in this house might be working with the Queen. Or, there might not be any Queen at all. They could have made her up. A shiver went up my spine at the thought of that. I cased all those thoughts away, pulling the covers over my head. Soon, I was asleep.