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Never Lost

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A/N: Obviously an AU. Characters are going to be a little OOC (out of character). Similarly, as this is AU,  many situations are going to be different. I honestly have no idea where I’m going with this or when the next chapter will be up. Anyway, beta’d by my good friend, MoisMo!

I hope you enjoy. Feel free to R&R, if you like.

Chapter Warning(s): None that I can think of. (I'll edit if someone finds something I should warn about, though.)

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 Alice could hardly believe her mother and sister when the Chattaway girls told her that Hamish, of all people, was going to propose to her. It truly shouldn’t have surprised her; for the last few years, Alice’s mother and the Lady Ascot had always made sure she and Hamish spent at least a little bit of time together at parties. But to bring her to her own “engagement” party while everyone but herself knew was simply an outrageous concept to Alice.

 Yet here she was, being led to a white gazebo in the center of the garden, where everyone in attendance was already waiting. And there Hamish Ascot was, kneeling down and asking for her hand in marriage with all the emotion of a wet blouse carelessly flung upon a drying line and left there. She felt her mouth moving, and heard her own voice, but she didn’t seem to hear whatever fell past her lips until she took a step back from Hamish and turned away, only to face the gathered party-goers.

 “This is all so sudden, I…”

 Alice felt her heart speed up in nervousness and fear as she looked out into the gathering staring at her and Hamish expectantly. She was barely twenty-one years old, and, while this was normally the age for a young woman to marry, Alice wasn’t sure that being married and having children and becoming the next Lady Ascot was what she wanted to do with her life.

 “I think I….”

 There’s that rabbit again! she thought with slight exasperation as she glanced over to the far left, where the tall hedges ended and a small forest began. The white rabbit, in a waistcoat, was standing on its hind legs, very nearly glaring at her and tapping on a golden pocket watch.

 “I need a moment.”

 Making a snap decision, Alice lunged down the gazebo steps and dashed off after the rabbit, which had left just a moment before. She ran as well as she was able through tree branches and sticking brambles, just barely keeping sight of white hind legs and a colorful waistcoat. She came to a sudden stop in front of a old, gnarled looking tree that had a massive hole settled at the very base between two massive roots. Had the rabbit gone down here?

 Better to check and be safe, than to not and be sorry I missed such an odd creature, she thought as she crouched down on her hands and knees, leaning forward to peer down the dark hole with slightly narrowed eyes. Perhaps she had been leaning too far, or the soil was loose around the hole, but with a yelp of surprise, Alice suddenly pitched forward, almost as if pushed, and tumbled into the hole engulfed in darkness.

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 When Alice took the long fall down the enormous hole at the base of such a large, old looking tree, she was beyond afraid. When she landed, fell again, and finally landed on the actual floor, she thought she was having the same nightmare she’d always had since she was a child. As Alice looked around at all of the doors, however, something felt different. Something was niggling at the back of her mind, pushing its way forward. And when she finally approached the glass-topped table, staring hard at the key and the small bottle full of a clear liquid, she remembered everything .

 The vanishing cat, tea with a crazy hare and a rather strange man with a beautifully patterned top hat, painting Red Queen’s roses red, the blue caterpillar surrounded by blue smoke…...Falling into Wonderland at just eight years old had never been her nightmare, or even a dream of any kind.

 “....Wonderland,” she mumbled to herself, delicately picking up the small silver key and glancing over to the tiny door against the wall.

 No, not Wonderland, her mind supplied. No one here had ever called it that. Wonderland is a child’s nightmare. Her fingers tightened around the silver key and she turned back to the glass table, determinedly picking up the vial labeled “Drink Me”.

 This potion, she recalled, was one that would make her smaller, and somewhere beneath the table, there was likely a small cake that would make her bigger. The blonde narrowed her eyes at the vial as a thought came to her before gently setting the vial back down and stepping away to remove her boots.

 No need to have to climb out of them, she reasoned to herself as she set them to the side of the glass-topped table. That settled, she uncorked the little glass bottle and took the smallest of sips, quickly replacing the cork before a short coughing fit started up.

 Alice felt a tingle run all over her body, and she looked around curiously as everything around her seemed to suddenly grow enormous, though she knew that is was in fact her own self shrinking down to about the size of a doll. She dropped the bottle somewhere in the folds of her light blue dress, but the key she kept tight in her fist, even as she climbed her way free of the dress.

 Stepping away from the heap of cloth, Alice gathered the extra fabric of her underskirts around her and cinched it at the waist with a ribbon-like sash. After tucking the key into a pseudo-pocket, she ran her hands through her wild blonde locks before immediately stepping beneath the table to pick up the tiny cake residing in an ornate case and gently placing it into a different pouch while simultaneously hoping that it wouldn’t get crushed or mushed in the folds of her under-dress. She went back again to the pile of a dress she had no choice but to leave behind--as such a quantity of fabric would be nigh impossible to drag behind her--to retrieve the bottle still nearly full of shrinking potion.

 It was a small struggle keeping hold of it, as it was nearly one-third her current size, but Alice was determined to keep it with her just in case she needed it in the future. Making sure the bottle was well balanced on one arm, she fished the silver key from its pocket before walking over to, and unlocking the small door that was now only slightly shorter than she was now. The blonde took a nervous, steadying breath a moment before she opened the door at stepped through into Underland, free arm covering her face to block out some of the sudden brightness.