Duchess looked up at the stars, tears falling down her face. Once again, her older sister, Rosaline had gotten what Duchess wanted. Her mother had just given her the ruby necklace, the necklace given to the queen of Wonderland. With her sister’s coronation, it became official.
Her mother had made it into a competition, whoever won would have gotten the crown. Duchess should have known her mother’s favorite would get the crown. Rosaline always listened and she always did well with the tutors. It also didn’t help that Rosaline looks just like their mother and Duchess looks just like their father. But it was Duchess’ fault she looked like her father and it especially wasn’t her fault that her father left for the other world and never came back.
“What are you doing out here?” It was Rosaline, dressed in a beautiful red dress that matched the ruby necklace she wore around her neck. “Come in, you’ll catch a cold sitting out here.”
“I don’t feel like dancing.” Duchess said trying to hide her tears from her sister.
Rosaline sat down on the grass next to Duchess. “Well I will have to stay out here with you then because I don’t feel like dancing knowing my little sister is upset.”
“Why do you care?”
“I love my little sister more than anything.”
“I just wish… never mind.” Duchess didn’t know how to tell her sister how she felt.
“I know.” Rosaline hugged her sister. “It will all feel better once you start dancing with some of these princes and dukes and even a few knights.”
“Do you think father got stuck in the other world, or do you think he just didn’t want to come home?” Duchess was surprised to hear the question leave her lips. They hadn’t talked about their father in years.
“I remember father, and I know he would have come back if her could.” Rosaline said confidently. “He loved us too much to stay.”
“I’m going to go to the other world get him one day.” Duchess smiled.
Duchess wanted to go to the other world to get her father, but she also wanted to go to the other world because that would be the one thing Rosaline couldn’t do. Now that Rosaline will be queen she would never be allowed to go to the other world.
The two girls looked up at the stars together.
Rosaline was dressed in all white; a forced smile was on her face. Red roses were in her hair and red rubies were sewn into the dress. The golden crown on her head was filled with diamonds and rubies.
Duchess was dressed in a red dress, just like her sister had wanted. Duchess herself never much cared for the color red. Her mother, the now deceased queen, loved the color and to honor their mother Rosaline wanted Duchess to wear red.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Rosaline told her sister.
“What’s that?” Duchess asked her sister.
“You’re going to leave tonight. You’re going to the other world. “
“I won’t leave for long and I won’t go alone.”
“Who are you taking?”
“You know what happens to him up there right.”
“I know he turns into a real rabbit, but we will be fine.” Duchess tried to reassure her sister.
The music began playing. “Don’t go without saying goodbye.”
Duchess didn’t say goodbye. As soon as we could get away from the wedding, she left with White in tow. She changed into a grey dress, which would be easier to travel in. By the time, they got to the entrance of the other world, the sun was setting.
White went first since this wasn’t his first trip to the other world. He had Duchess follow right behind him. When Duchess came out of the portal, she was greeted by a white rabbit dressed in White’s clothes.
“I guess this means you can’t talk.” Duchess asked White.
“No, I can talk.” White replied. “I just can’t talk in front of those who live in the world.”
“What do we do now?”
“See that tree there.” White looked was looking at a tree close to them. “In that hole should be some cash that they use here. We need to use it to get a room for the night.”
Duchess went to one of the local inns and got a room for one night. She slept there and by dawn she was up and ready to go. She packed up the small bag of food she brought with her and picked up White so they could get on their way.
White was quiet as they looked for Duchess’ father. He didn’t know how to tell Duchess that her father couldn’t come back with them. He didn’t want a repeat of what happened with Alistair the hatter.
“Are you okay?” Duchess asked White on their third day of looking. They didn’t seem to be getting any closer.
“I have something to tell you.” White said to Duchess as they sat in another inn. “We can only stay for four more days.”
“Why is that?”
“You know Alistair, the royal hatter?”
“Of course, he makes all my hats. What about him?”
“Well before you and your sister were born, Alistair was a sane man. We went to the other world together to explore in the name of the queen. I came back with in six days, but when Alistair didn’t come back after the seventh day, I went looking for him. He had gotten lost, but he was still sane. We went back to Wonderland together and as soon as we went through the portal, he started acting crazy.”
“Did my father know about this?”
“Yes. Your mother believed he didn’t manage to make it back in time, so he never came back at all. He had no way to get word to us.”
After a minute Duchess spoke again. “We should go back. We will not be able to find him in time.”
“I am sorry.”
Duchess arrived at the palace feeling defeated. She couldn’t find her father and now she had to face her sister. She had rehearsed what she was going to say to her sister, but none of it felt right. She had given her sister hope and now she had to take it away again.
“Did you find him?” Rosaline jumped up and ran to her sister, while her husband sat in his throne. “What happened?”
“I couldn’t find him.” Duchess tried to say more but she couldn’t.
Rosaline’s heart dropped. “Oh.”
“I want to move into my own place.” Duchess declared, changing the subject. “I will not need my own staff and I could have an old house outside of town that I will stay at.”
Rosaline was crushed. First her father couldn’t be found and now her sister was leaving her. “If that is what you want.”
“Well, I will come visit you all the time.”
Rosaline tried to keep her word, but within the eleven years, Duchess would often refuse to see her. Also, within those eleven years Duchess had an affair with the king. The king was not a loyal man, and Duchess needed someone to make her feel wanted. Many times, in the eleven years the king snuck over to visit Duchess and many times she would tell him it was the last time, but it wasn’t.
That is, until the queen beheaded him. This was the last straw for Duchess, who in response to the king’s death started plotting revenge. Five years after the king’s death, right before her oldest niece’s coronation, she stole the royal ruby necklace that the former queen gave to Rosaline instead of Duchess.
Of course, her cook had led Rosaline right to her, but her sister took mercy on her. The flashbacks of their mom forcing them to compete had played through both of their minds. They didn’t talk about the competition, but it was in their heads.
Now the night of her niece’s coordination, Duchess looked at the stars. It reminded her of her own sister’s coordination. Just like her sister’s coordination she did not feel at peace.
“You should come in.” Cook sat on the bench beside Duchess. “You will get sick.”
“I like the calm out here.” Duchess lied. “It makes me happy.”
“Then why are you crying?” The cook asked.
“Will you make hot chocolate if I come in?” Duchess didn’t want to answer the question.
The cook helped Duchess up. “Anything you want.”
The two walked back to the house. Right before going in Duchess stole one more look at the stars.