A/N: So, don't you just hate it when a story you're reading just takes this super long hiatus? I mean, that just really bothers me ... oh, wait.
I am SOOOOO sorry, everyone. You would not believe everything that has gone on in the past few ... well, let's not talk about length of time. I hope this fluffy chapter makes up for it. I have a few ideas for other chapters, but I make no promises on how long it will take to get them up. Life is crazy! Please forgive me, folks! And please enjoy!
I stared and stared, barely believing I was here. The music was playing, and I watched as my baby boy (certainly no longer a baby) was twirling his beautiful bride around the dance floor. Her snow white gown floated around her and his white tuxedo sparkled.
"How did I get here?" I wondered silently. "Just where have the years gone?"
It was bittersweet as I watched Will's green eyes twinkle with delight. I am of course happy that he has found love; it's every mother's dream. And yet, I felt compelled to drag him back to his room and beg him to just stay my son for a little while longer.
"He's quite the dancer, is he not?" Tarrant asked as he walked up behind me and slipped his arms around my waist.
"Indeed," I replied. "I've only seen one other with that talent." I turned slightly and patted my husband on the cheek.
"And he's on quite the journey now."
I remained quiet for a moment as I turned back to watch the couple on the dance floor.
"Are you alright, love?" Tarrant softly questioned.
"Yes. Of course, I am. It's so surreal, though. Watching him dance with Lily like that. Knowing that he is a married man now. Each of our children is married, Tarrant. We are an old, married couple. Our babies are no longer babies!" My voice cracked as I finished the thought.
"Sweetness, this is what our intentions were. We wanted to see them grow into happy adults. And I believe we have accomplished that and then some!"
"I know. I'm just being a weepy mother."
He pulled me a bit closer and rested his head upon mine. "They are a beautiful couple."
My heart soared, despite it's previous longing, as I saw Will and Lily laugh. I see a great deal of Tarrant and myself in them. Their marriage is one of mutual respect, friendship and love. I'm happy to say that Charlotte has the same kind of marriage, so I am proud to see them living what Tarrant and I taught.
The song ended and they shared a brief kiss. Then William walked over to me.
"Mum, may I have this dance?"
"Always," I replied.
I accepted his outreached hand and he led me to the floor. I had to stretch a bit to place my hand upon his shoulder, as he was even slightly taller than Hatter, but it was worth it. As I began to sway with my sweet son, I realized this dance would be the last time he would be regarded as my son (at least solely). From here on out, he would still be Tarrant and Alice's son, but also Lily's husband, a future father, and the future king of Underland. So much responsibility placed on those blond curls, but I had no doubts that he would excel at each of those roles.
"Mum, are you alright?" Will asked, breaking me from my thoughts.
"Yes, yes, of course. I was just thinking back to when you were a tiny lad. It wasn't that long ago, was it?"
He smiled. "Perhaps not. But I'm certain we can't go back."
"Never be certain of anything in Underland, Will. But nonetheless, for as much as I miss those days, I am very excited to see the ones to come. You have made me so proud! You are everything I hoped you would be and more! I love you, so much!"
"I love you too, Mum. You have given me more than I could ever ask for. You are everything a son could want in a mother. And I thank you, Mamaidh."
His use of Outlandish got to me and I instantly began to bawl.
"Oh, Mum, I'm so sorry! Did I upset you? Because I assure you that it wasn't my intention! On the contrary, I wanted to make you feel better and yet here you are crying and I hope I'm not-"
"Will!" I interrupted. "Mo mhac, I'm not upset. I'm just amazed at where the years have gone. Amazed at the young man you have become. You are your father's son."
"And I shall count myself lucky for it," he said, flashing his father's smile.
"As you should."
We were quiet for a moment.
"You know, I'm not going far," he whispered. "I'll still be in the castle."
"Will you be right down the hall?"
His smile grew a bit sadder. "No."
I returned the sad smile. "Well there you have it then. Will, I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I'm just trying to understand how we got this far, this fast. I am thrilled for you, my precious son. I wish you nothing but happiness and love."
"Thank you, Mum. I love you so much."
"And I love you. Promise me you'll take care of your family. Promise me that the lessons we taught you will serve you well."
"You have my word. Lily is my universe."
"I can see it in your eyes."
"Have they turned lavender?" he asked with a laugh.
I returned the grin. "No, not that. Though perhaps I spot a few speckles. I just see true love shine in your eyes and hers when you're together. It's beautiful, Will. I know you'll be so happy."
The tears began to well up again. A tiny sob broke loose when my sweet son wiped away a tear.
"The song is ending," he said.
"It shall never end, mo mhac. I'll always have a dance for you."
"And I for you, Mamadaih."
He bent down and kissed my cheek and I held him close, so reluctant to let go. I glanced at Tarrant and I knew he was telling me it was time. I returned the kiss to my son's cheek and let him guide me back to my seat. Will leaned over and kissed his father's cheek as well.
"Thank you, Dadaigh."
"You are so welcome, mo mhac."
Tarrant led me to the dance floor then, presumably to distract me. It worked, for the most part. We danced for most of the evening. But before I knew it, the reception was coming to a close. It was time to close another chapter of our lives and send our son out into a new chapter of his own. I went back and forth between happy and sad so quickly and so often, one would have thought I was having Tarrant-sized mood swings.
Lily walked up to me and hugged me tight.
"Mama Alice, thank you so much for everything!"
I am lucky to have this girl for a daughter-in-law.
"Sweet Lily, you are so welcome. Thank you for making him so happy. It's all I've ever wanted for him."
Her dark eyes sparkled as she smiled. I tried to remember when she was a baby, born with blue eyes and white blond hair. As she grew, the colors had changed into her father's dark hair and mother's brown eyes, still with her mother's ivory complexion. Landrew often laughed that it would be Mirana's stubborn daughter to change her looks within such a short time. Mirana worried that Lily would not look right as the next White Queen, but the rest of the kingdom couldn't have cared at all. We knew all would be well with this family line. Besides, with the dark hair, she reminded me of another princess I had seen before.
"You'll have to take care of him now, Lil. Promise me that you will," I said softly.
"Good. And for now, I must go and tend to my own husband. Congratulations, my dear."
"Thank you. I love you," she replied, hugging me tight again.
"I love you too." I tried to keep the tears back.
Will joined us then and we said out teary goodbyes. As they left the hall, he turned and blew a kiss to me. I caught it and held it with all my might. And then they were gone.
Tarrant gently took my hand. "Come, poppet. Let's get back home and go to bed."
I was exhausted, so I let him lead me back. I would worry about its emptiness in the morning. For now, I focused on the bright new beginnings our family was embarking on.