"These clothes are disgusting," I muttered.
"You can say that again," Queenie moaned.
"These clothes are disgusting," Rabbit laughed.
"You can say that again!" I laughed.
"These clothes are disgusting!" Queenie yelled.
"What was that, Ella?" Stayne slipped through the door, his eyebrows sky high. Ella coughed and stared at her feet, blushing. Fortunately, Rabbit and I had already come to the rescue.
"We were just singing a song!" I cried.
"A little song!" Rabbit yelled. "That's it!" Stayne peered at us, extremely suspicious.
"Oh really? How does this song go?" I grinned, and turned to Rabbit and Queenie.
"All together now!" Queenie and Rabbit grinned.
"Twinkle twinkle little bat! How I wonder what your at!
" Stayne growled and put his arm around my throat and lifted me clean off the ground.
"De ja vu
or what?" Queenie whispered.
"If you upset the queen I'll have your head!" Stayne hissed.
"Already lost it!" I choked. Stayne growled and dropped me to the ground. I stood up, gasping. Stayne smirked.
"You're so very much like your brother," My eyes swirled, and I stormed right up to Stayne. With my temporary (and rather uncomfortable if I must say) hat on, I matched Stayne in height perfectly.
"FOR THE LAST TIME -"
"HATTER!" Rabbit yelled. I blinked, and my eyes returned to the norm, but I was still glaring at Stayne.
"You really must control your temper, Harriet," Stayne smirked. He flicked my hat off my head. Queenie gasped.
"What?" Rabbit whispered.
"Big Mistake. Big. MISTAKE
," I growled, raising my fists.
"Temper temper!" Stayne teased. "Remember who you're going against Harriet." I scowled, and lowered my fists.
"That's better. Now, the Queen has asked me to give you some news."
"Ah crap," I moaned. "Has that sandworm sicked up Beetlejuice?"
We all spluttered, and Stayne sighed.
"No. Because her majesty has not been properly introduced to you yet -"
"I have a question!" Queenie piped up, waving her hand like...well - mad
in the air. Stayne rolled his eyes and glared at her.
" Queenie cleared her throat, and flattened the hair on her head that was usually covered by her crown (poor dear, Stayne had anything that resembled rebellion confiscated).
"How did Iracebeth get her butt back on the throne anyway?"
"Well, her majesty
regained the throne, because after the young lady who shall not be mentioned
was banished, Miriana of Macrebeth did not formally reclaim the throne." I rolled my eyes. "Anyway, as I was saying," Stayne continued. "Her majesty has not been properly introduced to you, so she is holding a garden party to introduce you to her subjects." I groaned and hung my head. Stayne chuckled.
"Your clothes are nice, but maybe you should put some more...
"How about I put some formal clothes on your face," I snarled. Stayne scowled, and grabbed me by the collar of my jacket. He pulled my face close to his, so close that I could smell his putrid breath.
"You listen to me, Harriet" he hissed. "I don't know how you did it, but somehow you've got yourself in her majesty's good books. But you're not in mine."
"Ahh, and I thought we were bonding," I smiled mockingly, and he pulled me into the air.
"You behave yourself at this party, or your head, no matter how messed up, will be thrown in the moat. Is that clear?" I smiled.
"Perfectly." Then I thrust my knee into his stomach.
Stayne dropped me and rolled on the ground, groaning.
"Hatter!" Queenie gasped. "He'll have your head!"
"He can't have it. He said I had to behave at the party
. The party doesn't start for three hours." Queenie's mouth dropped open, and Rabbit smiled.
"You're a genius!" she cried. "A genius!"
"Why thankyou," I went to tip my hat, but it wasn't there. I sighed and twiddled my thumbs.
"I never knew how attatched you were to that hat," Rabbit remarked. I said nothing.
"Without that hat, I'm going to go insane. And not in a good way." I didn't notice that Stayne had got to his feet.
"I'll kill you," he growled. He went to hit me, but Iracebeth suddenly burst into the room. "
"STAYNE! Where are my favourites?" Stayne turned to Iracebeth and bowed lightly.
"They're here, your majesty." Iracebeth smiled and trotted over to us. She walked over to me and inspected my outfit.
"Ah, much better. I bet your glad to be out of those ragged hand-me-downs." I was so very tempted to protest, but I hung my head and nodded.
"What was that Harriet?" Stayne prompted, smirking behind the Queen.
," I grumbled.
"Excellent! Are you ready for a garden party?"
"Will there be tea?" I asked. The queen looked horrified. Queenie came to my rescue.
"Old habits died hard," she laughed. Iracebeth stared at her for a bit, then laughed. Her laugh made my ears tingle, not in a good way.
"Well, I shall see you girls at the party, for your royal introduction."
"Wait," Rabbit said. "If you're not introducing us...who is?"
"I am," Stayne announced.
"That's it." I muttered. "We're doomed."
"Oh my god," Rabbit gasped. "Crouqet!"
"What are we going to do?" Queenie cried. She gasped.
"The balls are hedgehogs - and - flamingoes
"Oh dear god," I groaned.
"Hatter, we have a problem" Queenie whispered.
"These animals...it - it goes against my vows." I slapped my hand to my face.
"We are in big trouble."
"Maybe they'll play croquet after the intro?" Rabbit suggested.
"We're dead either way," I moaned. I sighed and twiddled my thumbs. Various people were milling about the field, curtseying and generally sucking up to Iracebeth. We'd been trapped on a large podium, decorated with hearts. Stayne stood near us, guarding us. We slumped in the chairs, awaiting our doom. I slumped, analysing every toady that went by. Big nose, huge chin, really really really fat, strange hair - wait. I sat bolt upright, and peered into the distance. Yes, I was sure. I gasped, and sat back in my chair as Stayne glanced in my direction.
"Look out, we've got another toady on the way." Toadies would regularly come over and attempt to make conversation. I nodded, dumbstruck. The man from the distance walked over to us and bowed. Stayne peered at him, but was quickly called away by Iracebeth. I leant in close to the man.
"Tarrant? Is that you?" he smiled.
"I haven't the faintest idea what your talking about Megan." I laughed in relief. Queenie and Rabbit sighed in relief.
"What are you doing here?" Queenie asked.
"We've come to rescue you," Tarrant whispered.
"You're taking a big risk here, thank god no one's recognised you!" I whispered.
"Wait - we
?" Rabbit said. "Who else is here?" Tarrant looked as if he were about to reply, but hurried away.
"Who was that?" Iracebeth asked, striding over to us.
"Just one of your subjects," Rabbit said quickly.
"He was here an awfully long time. Was he harrassing you?"
"No!" Queenie cried. "Not at all!"
"Shall I have him thrown out?"
"No!" I hissed.
"Or maybe I should have his head off?"
"NO!" We all yelled. Iracebeth blinked in surprise, then turned away from us.
"Let the croquet tournament begin!"
"Ah crap," We all said together.
Once again, I was twiddling my thumbs. It had become a habit since they'd taken my hat. Ever since they had I'd sworn revenge. Bloody, brutal, barbaric...
"Hatter! You in there?" Rabbit shook my shoulder. I blinked.
"What were you saying?" I asked. Rabbit sighed.
"It's our turn on the croquet field."
"Uh-oh. Do you know rule number one?"
"You have to lose," Queenie answered for me.
"What? Why?" Queenie and I looked over to Iracebeth, then back to Rabbit. We drew our fingers across our throats.
"Otherwise it's Rabbit stew for tea," I said. Rabbit gulped. We turned and watched as Iracebeth raised the flamingo in the air.
"I can't watch," Queenie cried, hiding her eyes. Iracebeth swung, and the hedgehog flew into the distance. I elbowed Queenie to join in with the applause.
"This is wrong," I muttered.
"Very true," a voice said from behind us. I turned around and gasped.
"Chess!" I cried.
"You're back!" Rabbit exclaimed. Chess grinned. She was there alright, but only her head was visible.
"Where on earth have you been?" Queenie asked.
"I evaporated when Stayne came, but I've been following you ever since. Did you really think I'd abandon my best friends?" I thought for a moment.
"Yes," I laughed. Chess grinned, but her grin quickly faded. I turned around to find Iracebeth stood behind us.
"I say," she exclaimed. "This cat was not invited to my garden party! Stayne! Get over here!" Stayne strode over to us, twirling his sword. He kneeled down and kissed Iracebeth's hand.
"What is it your majesty?"
"Stayne, remove the head of this cat." Iracebeth pointed at Chess' head, which was doing forward rolls in mid air.
"What is it Stayne!?" Iracebeth asked irritably.
"How can I remove the head...if there is no body to remove it from?"
I grinned. Chess was utterly brilliant.
"Nonsense Stayne!" Iracebeth snapped. "Anything that has a head, can have their head taken off
"But your majesty - "
"DO NOT ARGUE WITH ME! OFF WITH HER HEAD!
" Iracebeth turned around, but we were already gone.
While they argued, Tarrant had appeared behind us.
"I think this is a good time to make our exit," We all nodded, and Chess evaporated, while Queenie, Rabbit and I quietly followed Tarrant. But before we knew it, Stayne was stood in front of us, drawing his sword.
"And where are you going with these children sir?" he asked. I grimaced, but Tarrant was ready.
"I'm just escorting these young ladies to their living quarters."
"And why is that?"
"I need the toilet," Queenie said quickly.
"Well you'll have to wait. It's your turn." He grabbed Queenie by the shoulders and marched her back to the croquet field. We had no choice but to follow.
"Ah! There you are!" Iracebeth handed Queenie a flamingo. You could see Queenie's hands shaking. She stood there, motionless, apart from the shaking of her hands.
"Well go on!" Iracebeth snapped. "Play!"
"My apologies, your majesty," Stayne suddenly said. "Ella of Macrebeth
can not go against her vows. Iracebeth's face went bright red.
"A white? In my court?! OFF WITH HER HEAD!"
"RUN!" Tarrant yelled.
He didn't have to tell us twice. We ran as fast as we could. We weaved through the screaming crowds and came against a brick wall.
"How strong are you Megan?" Tarrant asked, looking up.
"Not as strong as I'd like to be," I said, grimacing.
"We're just going to have to try," he said. Tarrant grabbed Rabbit, who yelped in suprise. I grabbed Queenie (who by now was used to me practicing on her) and shot up after them. We got about halfway up the wall and my arms started to burn. The wall was higher than any I'd gotten over before.
"Queenie!" I yelled. "Don't let go of me!"
"Hatter don't you dare drop me!" she yelled back. We reached the top of the wall just in time.
"We don't have time to stop!" Rabbit yelled. I glanced back, and saw that the red guards were scaling the wall with their spears. And they were catching up.
"But-" I yelled. That was all I could manage. Next thing I knew, Queenie was screaming. The last thing that went through my mind was this; we were falling. Then I blacked out.