You are the best, Wacky!!!
You are too kind, as usual, december.
Anyway, new day, new shreds. This one is a bit strange not just for matters of content but also context because Renee and I seemingly share a brain now because she sent me Cheshire Cat gifs just the day after I wrote about that character in the shred. While we talked about Cheshire Cat (a Wacky has many spirit animals) before, it was odd to see that it popped up right when I was writing those lines. Anyway, as can be guessed, it's time to shred Alice in Wonderland
So… this is basically a bit of a mash-up of the movies as well as parts of the books (though I haven’t read them in greater detail than synopses) because, while bearing a hatred for Johnny Depp, the movies gave some “shipping material” in the form of the Hatter because he got more to do than e.g. the White Knight or the Red Knight from Through the Looking-Glass
who only feature more or less briefly. I kind of liked the movie’s idea of a more adult Alice having to rediscover that world after she forgot all about it because it allows for having Brienne in there as an adult rather than as a kid, and it generally allows to merge the two books in the shredding, I believe. Anyway… this is how it shreds:
Once upon a time…
Brienne of Tarth is very much displeased with her life. Nothing goes in the direction she would have wanted it. She is expected to find herself a suitable match, being the only living daughter of her recently deceased father who was… I suppose… some Victorian-era-ish estate owner… However, the problem is that she is as ugly as a mare and whenever she was introduced to potential suitors, things just always went wrong (as per book canon). Her father privately let her have fencing lessons back in the day, though she was never supposed to make a show of it, a treaty she only broke once when it came to Humfrey Wagstaff.
Brienne was invited to a garden party where she is supposed to be introduced to new suitors, an event she was more or less dragged to by Septa Roelle, who has been super pushy ever since the thing with Wagstaff and with her father dead and the estate failing, you know, she wants to know Brienne being married off for that matter as fast as possible. She fears that word will get out about Brienne’s non-conformity to society and the incident with her former fiancé, which she fears would torpedo all of her chances to ever find a man.
The garden party is a disaster, to say the least (I am changing time order on that one for the sake of the shreddy plot), at least it is once Brienne realizes that the guys eager to ask her for a dance are actually doing so to challenge one another to dance with the ugly beast. Since no Renly is present for the purpose of the plot, Brienne simply makes a run for it and flees the scene, feeling utterly humiliated and like a failure, after all, he father would have wanted her to find someone to run the estate with or whatever.
She runs all the way to an old oak by a stream, sits down, not much caring for how that ruins her dress (she never looked good in it anyway, but the stupid septa insisted). She takes a pocket watch out of her pocket, she always carries it with her since she was a kid, but could never quite name the reason why she had such affinity for it, even more so because the watch is broken, stuck at 6 p.m., and with a mirror attached on the other side of the watch. Brienne looks at herself in the looking glass, feeling ever the more miserable as she calls to mind her septa’s words about how she will find the truth only there, that she is ugly and should not JB BANGTICIPATION for men to fall in love with her because of her looks as they all supposedly only ever have her dead father’s estate in mind.
“How much I wished to be on the other side of the looking glass,” Brienne ponders. “Maybe things would look much different there.”
A white plot bunny appears to get Brienne’s attention for a moment, which is why she does not see the sudden shining light coming out of the mirror that sucks her right into the mirror world.
Since it is spring time for the garden party, she now finds herself in sucky winter time. She can’t help but stare when her eyes catch the white rabbit again, just that this time, it wears vest and has a watch as well. However, when Brienne wants to talk to the fellow, he hops away. Brienne feels ever the more devastated, because the bunny seems afraid, and that just seems to be the thing with “beast” like her – people are either repulsed or scared.
Brienne carries on thereafter and seeks refuge in the nearby woods as the cold winds keep blowing. Once in there, she discovers that it’s pleasantly warm in there, so the poor woman won’t have to freeze to death.
She eventually meets a caterpillar smoking a hookah whose name may or may not be Bronn. The caterpillar is not at all forthcoming when Brienne asks for the way, instead only asks “Who the fook are you?” to which she replies “Brienne of Tarth.” The caterpillar’s demeanor changes for a moment there, but then catches himself to question whether she truly thinks that this is her name. She insists that, yes, that is her name, but he questions whether that is who she truly is. Brienne is baffled by that question, because she always used her full name as a badge of pride, but ever since her septa told her that men were only ever looking at her for matters of her name and her father’s estate, she no longer felt that sure about it anymore.
*identity crisis intensifies*
Brienne wants to lead away from the topic and instead questions the caterpillar about where she is and what this place is, but the caterpillar remains very vague about it. The only thing he will let her know is that she should seek out the Cheshire Cat because “he knows many ways leading nowhere and just as many that lead somewhere.” Before he lets her go, the caterpillar tells her that she could take a bite from the mushroom he sits on in order to become smaller (as she complained about being freakish tall), but only if she eats from the right side. For funsies, Brienne just goes like “I won’t just eat something I don’t know, are you mad?”
Brienne continues into the woods thereafter, hoping to find that ominous cat, just that the cat finds her. It’s actually a Chejaqen Cat, able to change faces at will, disappearing and reappearing out of nowhere. Brienne asks him whether he knows where she ought to go from where she is. The Chejaqen Cat says that it depends a good deal on where she wants to go to. Brienne says she doesn’t much care so long she gets somewhere, so the Cat tells her that she surely will if only she walks long enough.
Brienne grows increasingly frustrated with everyone’s secrecy, even more so because she continues to have the feeling that she knows those folks somehow, even more so because they seem to be familiar with her for some reason, but neither one will spill. Brienne follows the cat until they come to a crossroad. Chejaqen Cat then drops the line about how they are all a little mad here and that it doesn’t matter what path she takes, she’ll inevitably end up with another mad person. Brienne insists that she is not mad, the cat only ever laughs as the rest of his body disappears, leaving nothing like the grin, which has Brienne, like Alice, remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but not a grin without a cat.
She takes the passage to the right, only to stumble into a mad, mad tea party. There is the March Hare, could be Thoros, but the narrator is indecisive regarding the matter. Then there is the Dormouse… it could be Pycelle if he weren’t such a massive dick because he used to fall asleep a lot… but I guess for the sake of having nicer characters, I will roll with Maester Aemon… the narrator is really indecisive, you may notice… and the March Hare is all over the place, asking nonsense questions and riddles. Brienne just doesn’t even know where to begin, even more so when the Hare acts like she’s only just left the tea party and finally returned.
“I was never here before,” she insists.
“But how would you know?” the Hare questions.
“Because I can’t remember.”
“But what if you forgot? As far as I am concerned, we can’t remember what we forgot, therefore you could have been here before as much as you could not have been here before.”
Brienne’s attention then falls on the Hatter sitting furthest away from the March Hare, boots on the table, slouched in his chair, the massive hat pulled over his face. Since he is the only one not taking part in the folly of chasing around and asking nonsense questions, Brienne hopes that he may finally give her some information or guidance. However, the Hatter proves to be quite a miserable pain in the ass, being totally dismissive of her, and telling her to go her ways, to go back home.
“But I don’t know how.”
“You probably knew once, so just go back to whence you came.”
“I was sucked in through a mirror, I don’t know how to cross back over it. When I tried, nothing happened.”
“Then evidently, you are not trying hard enough,” the Hatter tells her.
“Or you could stay and have some tea with us!” the Hare points out.
“It’d seem to me that the lady wants to be on her way,” the Hatter argues.
“But it’s tea time!”
“It’s always tea time!”
“Why is that?” Brienne questions, but the Hatter won’t answer, so the Dormouse speaks up to recount it: “It’s because of the Queen of Hearts (was tempted to write Queen of Farts, very tempted, but resisted). She sentenced the Hatter to death for murdering the time, but barely escaped decapitation after he got some unexpected help. In retaliation, he, the time, halts when it comes to our dear Hatter, keeping him stuck at tea time forever.”
“The Queen of Hearts?” Brienne repeats. “Why would she do such a cruel thing? And how would you murder time anyway?”
“She was fed up with the songs I had to sing because they were not of praise for the Queen of Hearts,” the Hatter mutters. “But that’s over now.”
“Oh, such things are never quite over. Quite on the contrary, or else we would have dinner at last,” the Hare argues.
“You like tea best anyway.”
“Actually, I much prefer ale.”
“Then have ale?”
“But at tea time?”
The Hatter tosses cake across the table to make the Hare stop talking.
“You should be on your way, lady. Nothing much to see here,” the Hatter tells Brienne, then. “And we are about to go through the same motions over again. I can’t imagine that you fancy seeing that. As far as I am concerned, one can grow sick of it quite easily.”
“But I don’t know how!” Brienne insists.
“You know, you could be nicer to our guest,” the Hare argues.
“I could, but I refuse,” the Hatter argues, looking back at the woman. “You should just go back from whence you came. It’d seem to me that you’d have best chances going from there.”
“But there was no way for me to get back.”
“Just walk back and you will be fine, trust me.”
“Why would I trust you?” Brienne scoffs. The Hatter seems caught off-guard for a moment, which is why the quip dies on his tongue, giving Brienne opportunity to go on with her rant:
“Well, it’s as the cat said,” she snaps. “You are all mad here.”
“Oh, fuck that cat!” the Hatter exclaims. “He’s the one talking.”
“Fight your quarrels on your own, then,” Brienne says at last. “If you don’t want to help me, I will have to find my way back home on my own. Good day to you.”
With that, Brienne walks off, roughly in the direction the Hatter pointed to. When she is gone at a safe distance, the Hatter lifts his hat to reveal that it is, yup, Jaime. The Dormouse looks at him almost sadly, “And you are still sure it’s best to leave her unaware?”
“It is the way it is, with time, he let her move forward while keeping me in place,” Jaime says. “That just is the way of things on this side of the mirror. Names can be changed, but not things.”
“But you truly think she can find her way back?” the Dormouse questions.
“She did once,” Jaime recounts. “I don’t see why she shouldn’t again.”
“Because she seems to have forgotten all about us and about our ways on this side of the mirror.”
“Which is why I told her to go back. That is where she went to in order to disappear last time. She’ll be fine. She knows how to defend herself. I should know.”
“But can you be that sure?” the Dormouse asks, but then dozes off.
Jaime opens his mouth to mumble some other complaint, but then notices the lack of madness around him, signaling that the Hare is gone. Jaime gets to his feet to go looking for the guy, only to find him somewhere close by, waving with a tissue in hand, even though no one is there to see him.
“What’s gotten into you, cranky cottontail?” Jaime questions.
“Oh, I just bid our guest farewell.”
“But she went off the other way,” Jaime argues.
“Oh, yes, I know. I told her that this was the way forward to get to some place she has not been to before.”
“You told her what?” Jaime gapes.
“What’s it to you?”
“What’s it to me? Oh, I don’t know, the Queen of Hearts taking her, perchance? I shall be damned. You all shall be damned.”
“Well, you could always go and try to fetch her.”
“And once it’s past tea time, I will be back to here,” Jaime laments. “Forever and always.”
The Hare just gives a shrug before walking off again, telling him that he remembers him to be braver than he seems to be now.
“Though perchance you forgot about that, too.”
Jaime grimaces, but then decides to follow the path the Hare pointed to. Because he can’t have Brienne run into the Queen of Hearts.
Brienne, saddened at the lack of support and weary of this most ominous place, continues her quest through odd locations, hoping that at last, the mirror will let her back, but no such luck. Though as she goes, a part of her keeps wondering about the Hare and the Hatter said. It almost sounded like they truly knew her, but then acted as though she was a stranger.
“It is all a paradox in this, and how am I supposed to solve it?” Brienne laments.
She enters a garden where she comes upon three living cards eagerly painting all the white roses in the garden red. When Brienne asks them for directions, they tell her that they are busy and must get it done before the Queen of Hearts catches the white roses, because she hates white roses with a burning passion. They seem very afraid of the Queen of Hearts, which only ever affirms Brienne that she wants no business with that lady.
However, she sees the white rabbit again, which is why Brienne chases after the rabbit in the hope that he can take her back or at least tell her what way to go. She enters a maze within the garden, but the rabbit keeps hopping away before she can ever reach the thing, even though she keeps calling out to the animal to please stop because she has a question.
Rabbits, very much like plot bunnies, can be cute but also kind of assholes.
Brienne keeps running through the maze, only to keep getting lost when she abandons the rabbit hunt to continue on her own. However, now it seems she can’t get out, which is why she continues walking through the maze without a sense of direction. She hears voices close by – and then spots the rabbit again. Brienne means to lunge at the thing as it has its back to her, but that is when she is pulled backwards and into the brushes behind her to come out on the other side.
It turns out the Hatter is the one pulling her back, covering her mouth with his hand to keep her from shouting. Brienne struggles against him to get him off of her, but to her shock he is almost strong enough to keep her down, lol. Brienne manages to turn the tide eventually, but just as she is about to make a run for it, she can see a procession walking on the other side, fanfares blowing to announce that the Queen of Hearts is meaning to take a look at her wonderful red roses. At last Brienne gets the hint that the Hatter meant to save her from running into the Queen.
“I know a way out of this maze. Follow me. And be quiet,” the Hatter warns her. Brienne follows his orders this time, reckoning that she doesn’t have much of a choice. They reach a place to stay for a moment.
“What is all this?” Brienne demands to know.
“It would take too long to explain.”
“Try me. You know me somehow. You came after me because you knew the Queen is dangerous, and now you still won’t tell me much of anything,” Brienne retorts. “If you want me to be gone, give me the means for it and I shall bother you no more, Sir, but I can’t find my way back home and frankly, hiding away in a maze forever won’t do much to change that.”
“We have to be quick about it because I am running out of time,” the Hatter answers. “Once the hour strikes, I will be back to the tea party, whether I want to or not. But the procession I headed in the direction we need to go.”
He reaches into his pocket to take out a piece of cake which he hands over to Brienne.
“Once you get to where I tell you, you will eat it. It will shrink you in size.”
Brienne shakes her head. “I don’t need to be shrunk to the right size.”
“You won’t fit through there, now don’t be that stubborn. I don’t have the time for that, wench,” he grunts.
“Wench?!” she exclaims. “Don’t call me that!”
“Apologies,” he huffs. “Now, if you follow down this path till the end, then turn right, then turn left, then right, right, right, then five steps down that way, turn around to the left and you will get to a place where you can sneak through the brushes. The roots are not as thick there, so you should be able to slip through, granted that you eat the damned cake once you get there. Did you understand that? Straight ahead this way, then right, left, right, right, right. Five steps, turn left, eat the cake, and then sneak through. Now, put that cake away in your left pocket.”
Brienne does so wordlessly, still very much confused about what is happening right now. She stares when the Hatter takes out another piece of cake, which he hands over to her. “Now, this you eat once you are out of the maze so you are your usual size again. Otherwise getting back will take you forever. Left makes you shrink. Right makes you grow. Got that?”
“Yes,” Brienne confirms, stuffing the cake in her right pocket. “And where do I go from there?”
“Just back, to the tea party, to where you came from, just stay away from the castle. It means no good.”
“Why are you helping me now?” Brienne asks.
“Because Hatters always pay their debts,” he says, only for the hour to come and Brienne watches in shock as the Hatter disappears before her eyes. To her shock, the feeling seems strangely familiar to her, though Brienne can’t really put it. She is pulled out of her thoughts when she hears the people from the procession again. Brienne rushes ahead, rightfully recounting the steps Jaime told her, but oh no! There are a bunch of cards painting the damned roses red. Brienne has no choice but to retrace her steps and try to get to the outer rim another way. Thankfully, she finds her way, but just as she is about to take a bite from the shrink cake, the white rabbit appears, calling her by her name.
“You know me?” she asks.
“You are running out of time again, Brienne,” the rabbit warns her. “The Queen is on the way. You must not encounter her or else all battles will be lost a second time.”
“A second time,” Brienne repeats, but that is when the cards find her and tell her to come with them. Brienne tries to escape anyway, but they manage to hold her back. Brienne struggles as she is brought before the Queen who turns out to be Cersei. I wanted to run with Dany first because… beheading… and stupid… but Cersei, as she does so often, makes most sense to connect to Jaime, so here we are. Anyway. The Queen of Farts, I mean Queen of Hearts, sipping wine, dressed in all red, is irritated by Brienne who winded up in a pale blue dress, and ew, that is not red. And ew, she be ugly.
“Off with her ugly head, I say! Off with her ugly head!”
“You can’t just behead me for being ugly!” Brienne insists. “I did no wrong that should bear such consequence!”
The Queen looks at her with growing irritation. “Isn’t it that I know you?”
Brienne chews on her lower lip. She knows she has to be careful with her words now. Eventually she says, “If you can’t remember, it’d seem that you forgot all about me. But who remembers that which is forgotten? I would not mean to say of myself that I know what the Queen knows or doesn’t know.”
Cersei is pleased for the moment and demands of Brienne to come with her to her castle. Brienne is very hesitant about the matter because the Hatter warned her about the Queen, but it’s not like she has much of a choice, is it?
Normally, a game of good old flamingo hedgehog croquet would be in place, but Cersei never does anything besides drinking wine and watching people be harmed, so instead, she orders for an impromptu tournament, a joust, where the contestants shall ride on flamingos and their lances shall be something equally nonsensical I can’t think of right now. She tells Brienne to join because she looks like she could compete against her *new* Knave of Hearts, who turns out to be Frankengregor.
“And what of the King?” Brienne asks. “Does he approve of that?”
“Oh, he is dead. Inconveniently fell on a boar,” Cersei says, sipping red, red wine. *cue for music*
“… I am sorry to hear that, I suppose,” Brienne says with a grimace as she watches the big, big Knave approach. And now the travesty continues whereby she is supposed to joust against the guy whilst riding a friggin’ flamingo.
Brienne wrecks her brain about how to get out of this situation, but then feels reminded about her septa telling her how useless and dumb she is, so she has self-doubt and already fears that this will be her end. Just as the lances are about to meet, the Chejaqen Cat appears and irritates the Knave so much that he falls off and crashes to the ground, thereby breaks his lance and Brienne is declared victor according to rules no one bothered to explain.
Nevertheless, the Queen demands that the Chejaqen Cat be beheaded for interfering with the Queen’s tournament. The executioner, Ser Ilyn, is summoned instantly, but the Chejaqen Cat points out to them the struggle the “poor executioner” is in because “it is frankly impossible to cut off my head because that is all there is to see of me.”
The Queen is enraged and orders for the cat’s owner to be found. When asked, the cat only ever says that he belongs to the Many-Faced God. Cersei orders for that guy to be summoned anyway, even when the cat tells her that he is a god and thus cannot be really found. Until then, he is supposed to be put in prison. Brienne wants to speak on his behalf, but the Chejaqen Cat assures her that it’s fine because no prison ever held him for long.
The cat is led away, leaving Brienne as the victor of this strange game, against the odds of the rule violations, because of some extra clause that says so. Brienne thus is suddenly supposed to be declared Knave of Hearts as well, but they can’t do that so long the old Knave is still around. Brienne insists that she does not want that position. Cersei tells her that she has no choice regarding the matter and that on the next day, she shall duel the Knave a second time to see who is best suited to protect the Queen.
Brienne tells her that she doesn’t want to be a part of her Queensguard, which greatly enrages the Queen. She orders for Brienne to be brought to a prison cell until she sees sense again. Brienne is dragged away by the card soldiers and put in a prison cell. The cat keeps true to his word, easily breaking out of his cellar once all are fast asleep in the castle. The cat sneaks into Brienne cellar, asking some philosophical question again sounding smart and that relates to Brienne having to ask him the question of who she is.
We cut to the tea party where Jaime is nervously pacing up and down, waiting for Brienne to come at last. She should have made it there by now, but nothing. The Hare tells him that maybe she disappeared again, but Jaime is not convinced. The Dormouse wakes up from his slumber to continue with his speech right where he left off, though completely out of context. Jaime says he is heading back out again, but the Dormouse tells him that he should go back to the castle better prepared. Jaime gets the indication and heads into his little house to retrieve something super secretive. Then he rushes off.
“You think he will make it this time?” the Hare asks, but the Dormouse is already fast asleep.
“More tea for me then. Man, do I want ale, though.”
Back in the cellar, the cat thus lets Brienne in on the big secret.
“You forgot all about us, but we used to be familiar.”
“When was I here?”
“You were younger by that time, but just as brave, if not braver,” the cat recounts. “The Hare and the Dormouse were your friends, just like the White Rabbit.”
“And what of the Hatter?”
“Oh, the Hatter you held most dear of all.”
“He does not act like that at all.”
“The things we do for love are often very different from the things we do because of love,” the cat tells her. “One tastes sweet while the other is very, very bitter.”
“Love…,” Brienne mutters. Because she can’t imagine that a) the Hatter is supposed to have loved her or that she loved him, and b) that someone would love her in the first place, other than her father, considering what her septa indoctrinated her with ever since he passed.
“You changed his heart and that is what set him free. You and his friends did it. It was madness to be sure, but you did not so much mind back then. It seems to come with age,” the cat recounts.
“I set him free?”
“Yes, from here, from the Queen. He was under her spell, and you made him sing a different song.”
“But because he sang that song, time made him be stuck at tea time forever.”
“The things we do for love.”
“I thought those are supposed to taste sweet.”
“Then it was the other, I suppose.”
“But I don’t remember any of this. I don’t know when I got here and how. I don’t recall.”
“That is because you forgot all about the girl you used to be in here,” the cat tells her. “You didn’t forget us, you forgot yourself. And only you can remember you, because no one knows you the way you know you.”
I am trying to sound confusing, that’s all. And I am confusing myself.
Brienne is shocked when the Chejaqen Cat exits the cellar and tells her that he must leave now. He says he won’t and can’t help release her, she has to do it herself.
“You simply have to remember that which you forgot.”
“But that is impossible.”
“It’s not if you are mad enough to believe that it’s possible.”
Brienne closes her eyes, all the while fiddling with her pocket watch. And that is when it occurs to her at last. Once she lets all confusion aside, she starts to remember those places, the people, the animals. She was a teenage girl by the time (so 18, I don’t want to have her as a kid coz Jaime ain’t falling in love with a kid, okay?), shortly after the fiasco with Humfrey Wagstaff. She fled, just like she did now, and then she followed a rabbit, the white rabbit, down a hole and ended up in…
However, she can’t remember the Hatter at first. She remembers the tea party, and how she got bored of it and wandered off until she came to the garden as well, saw the roses, then got lost in the maze. She then met the Knave of Hearts that was there before the one she jousted against, a handsome man who made her all blushels and feels at first, but then he meant to take her as a prisoner, and Brienne and he started to fight with a self-made sword she made from gods know what. She beat the Knave and that seemingly broke a curse so that the man realized that his actual name was Jaime and that the Queen had made him her loyal knight only just so she could continue however she pleased, even though they were twins, even though he should, by rights, be as much worth as the King of Hearts. Young Brienne then told him to come with her, but he refused, telling her that he had to face her. Brienne reluctantly walked off when he said so, but stayed around to see him face the Queen. He openly accused her of putting him under a spell, which is forbidden according to the rules. Cersei said she knew nothing of that and instead demanded that he take up his duties again. He then told her that he was fed up with how she treated people and that cutting off people’s heads was not a very democratic solution lol. Cersei got enraged over that and demanded for him to be beheaded, but that was when the Hare and the Dormouse came to the rescue and sang a song to distract her so Jaime could escape. As punishment, the Queen had time curse Jaime forever, so he may never have a future without her, aka which is why he is stuck at tea time ever since that day. She sent out for him to be found and returned to her, but the Hare and the Dormouse alongside with Brienne thought better of it, stripped him of his armor *mhmmmm* and gave him a new identity as the Hatter.
When the Queen’s cards passed through the woods to find their tea party, they could not recognize the Hatter and all were happy for a time as that meant they could be forever, if only at tea time. Brienne and Jaime spent countless hours fighting and laughing all the same, but then there came the point in time when Brienne wondered about her father and remembered how ill he was. That was when Jaime made the choice to send her back home because he didn’t want her to be stuck in the here and now and have a future instead. Jaime brought her back to where she began, in the land of Winter, and then told her to look through the looking glass in his watch and tell him what she saw. He knew of her fear of looking glasses ever since the stupid septa told her how ugly she is and how that is the one truth she ought to remember. Brienne wanted to refuse at first, but he gave her the watch and urged her to tell him what she saw.
“I see me,” was the answer. “Just me.”
“And that is all that matters,” Jaime then told her. “And that is all you have to remember.”
Jaime kissed her out of the blue, then, but that was when she got sucked back into the real world and was found by her septa who was all angry at her for the Wagstaff debacle.
Brienne put the watch away out of instinct, only later wondering how comes she has a watch with a looking glass and a clock that is stuck at tea time, for a moment thinking about whether she just dreamed of that handsome man kissing her, but when the septa told her that her father had fainted, Brienne quickly put it all aside and has since pushed that so far back that she completely forgot about Wonderland and Jaime.
When Brienne opens her eyes again, she is surprised to see the cat still waiting for her.
“So have you remembered what you forgot?”
“Yes,” she answers. “But I shall not forget it again.”
She reaches into her pocket to take out the shrink cake (she used those a number of times when she was there for the first time, as she recalls now) to slip through the bars and get outside. She then eats the other cake to grow again so she can move faster. To her great shock, they run into Jaime who comes disguised as the Knave of Hearts, though she instantly recognizes him this time.
“She remembers the forgotten now, good ser,” the Chejaquen Cat chimes, only to disappear before saying a single word more.
“I think we should talk about that later,” Brienne says, though her heart is pounding with all of the feels. Jaime agrees and the two try to make out of the prison and back into the woods. They make it all the way to the part of the maze of which Jaime told her, all the while arguing as per usual:
“You could have told me, you know?”
“You were supposed to go back!”
“And I could not have made that choice if you had just told me?”
“I am irresistible.”
“That is yet to be tested,” Brienne scoffs. As they reach the spot, she hands Jaime one half of the cake that’s meant to shrink so both can slip through. Just as they are about to take a bite, they are found by a bunch of cards. Jaime wants to fight them and urges Brienne to go, but the stubborn, brave thing she is, she refuses and joins the fight, but all are interrupted when the Queen of Hearts appears and recognizes Jaime. She demands that he be put to OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ, ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE DAVOS SEAWORTH, NOW THE JUDGING JUDGER WHO JUDGES at last for his wrongdoings towards the Queen and rules that Brienne will be witness.
Jaime tries to console her that it’s going to be fine, because he will be back by the tea party, but the Queen announces that since the tourney is meant to take place tomorrow, she cannot JB BANGTICIPATION for sunrise, which is why there is no way for Jaime to teleport away.
The two are dragged to a midnight OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ, ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE DAVOS SEAWORTH, NOW THE JUDGING JUDGER WHO JUDGES. The Queen just wants Jaime to plead guilty that he did not only defy his Queen but also falsely passed himself off as a Hatter even though he never made a single hat. The Hare and Dormouse are also gathered to testify against Jaime. Jaime ponders whether to just plead guilty, but Brienne tells him that this would be “craven” so he should better think of something. Jaime smiles at her and then starts to drive everyone near crazy by constantly answering with counter questions, remaining awfully vague, and generally confusing everyone, including the Queen of Wine but not of Tits.
Brienne is called up as a witness last. She has no intentions of incriminating Jaime, which is why she turns tables by stating that if she means to charge Jaime for assuming a new identity, she should have to suffer the same destiny as she passed herself off as not his sister, even though that is who she was and that is who she is.
“So unless the Queen is willing to carry out the proceedings with regards to her own case a well, it would be unjust to let such charge rule against him.”
Cersei, in an effort not to be dethroned, says that those charges will be dropped, but that this still does not erase him singing such naughty songs about her that accused her, which is forbidden according to the rules. Brienne then argues that the man she knew as the Knave of Hearts is no more and that this is “Jaime, just Jaime, known as the Hatter though he never made a single hat.”
“But that makes no sense,” the Queen insists.
“And it doesn’t have to,” Brienne argues. “So long we are all a little mad in here.”
The Queen is furious and fears that she cannot keep pushing her claims. She thus redirects the attention to the circumstance that there are three Knaves of Heart now and that such a situation is inacceptable. A tourney shall leave only just one standing, who will then be the Knave of Hearts forever.
Brienne and Jaime are shocked, because that means that they would have to fight one another if only to get one of them free. When the Hare points out to her that Jaime won’t last until day time without returning to the tea party, she has time summoned who lifts the curse “for the time being.” Jaime and Brienne are brought back to the prison, but since it’s all filled up now with the Hare and the White Rabbit and the Dormouse, JB are granted to share a cellar. For plot purposes. The two thus finally have to have a heart to heart conversation about their past and what to do with their future now. Jaime instantly tells her that she ought to fight the best she can and not hold back against him.
“But you will?”
“I want you to have a future, Brienne. That was always my wish.”
“Why don’t you want to have a future, though?”
“Because you are my future, it’s just that simple,” he tells her. “You have been the one who ever gave it to me when you lifted the curse. And for that, I owe you till my last day.”
“But I don’t want to have a future without you.”
“You hardly know me.”
“I remember you, I do now,” Brienne recounts. “Nothing much awaits me in the real world. My father is dead. The septa hates me. The people mock me. I don’t fit in… I am too mad.”
“They are just mad and don’t want to admit it.”
“I don’t want to go back there.”
“But it’s safer for you there.”
“But there is nothing in that life worth protection.”
“It has you in it, so of course there is.”
“If you wanted me to forget, then why did you give me the watch?” Brienne then asks, and Jaime, sheepishly, has to admit that maybe he didn’t want her to entirely forget about him after all. Brienne tells him that from now on she should get to decide on what she wishes to remember or forget. Jaime eventually gives in, and admits that a part of him is glad that she came back, even though the other part of him is scared for her wellbeing.
Brienne, for matters of the plot, asks him about his backstory because she can’t remember much of that despite her best efforts. Jaime explains that his earliest memory is of being the Knave by his sister’s side and that she always made him sweet promises of how they would be together once the King was out of the way (yuck). Just that when he was out of the way, she didn’t make him her King, instead she kept him as her Knave and demanded that he does her bidding. She became more and more cruel to the point that she wanted beheadings on a regular basis (almost as often as wine refills, but there aren’t possibly more executions than wine refills for that woman, that much is for sure). Jaime lost faith in her and what they had then. However, there was no way of getting out because, you know, he was part of the game.
Brienne starts to question something she didn’t do when she was first in Wonderland – namely whether it’s possible that Jaime, too, exists in the real world and just forgot all about it thanks to the Queen’s spell and influence. She tells him the same that the Chejaqen Cat encouraged her to do, to close her eyes and try to remember that which is forgotten. Jaime tries it and after some time, he sees blurry images of his childhood and teenage years, then of his times as a young adult and Cersei telling him about dreaming away with him because she hates all about how life is meant to look like – and Jaime joining, only to wake up in Wonderland.
“Tyrion,” he gasps when he opens his eyes. “My little brother… I had a little brother. His name was Tyrion… how did I forget all about him?”
“The same way I forgot about you, I suppose,” Brienne tells him. “But you know what that means, right?”
“You now also have something to hold on to beyond the tea time. To see your brother again,” she explains.
“I won’t allow that you get harmed for matters of my own OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ, ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE DAVOS SEAWORTH, NOW THE JUDGING JUDGER WHO JUDGES.”
“You are aware that I am on OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ, ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE DAVOS SEAWORTH, NOW THE JUDGING JUDGER WHO JUDGES as well? You can bet that I would rather die than serve the Queen of Hearts for the rest of my days. I won’t be her Knave, that much is for sure.”
“I still wonder how comes she has not figured out yet who you are. I think she saw you before I went up to tell her what I truly thought of her,” Jaime huffs. “She normally never forgets a single slight against her.”
“Sometimes it seems to pay off to be as ugly as a mare. Then people don’t bother looking at you for too long.”
“I can’t say so,” Jaime argues, offering a soft smile. “I know I looked at you for a long time.”
“Do you know what I still wonder about?”
“How is it possible that you made no single hat in all that time?”
Jaime laughs, leaning his head back. “I don’t know why you ever saw a hatter in me. I didn’t even wear a hat back when we first met.”
“We had to think fast, as far as I remember. I found the hat in the Hare’s house and thought it might be put to good use that way. And anyway, in Wonderland, things are supposed to be paradoxical, no? A knave as a hatter though he cannot make hats? I find that quite fitting for a world like this.”
“True again,” he agrees. “Though maybe I will have to learn how to make hats after this. Because past tomorrow, she surely won’t want to see me as her knave ever again. Who knows, maybe I can finally repay the debt and make you an equally terrible hat that I had to wear since.”
“I only found it fair,” Brienne recounts. “That made me feel a little less inadequate around you.”
“How is that?” Jaime asks.
“I said too much,” Brienne argues.
“No, now I need to know.”
“Well, I look how I look, and I didn’t look prettier during that time either. You on the other hand… you were always quite… handsome? And with that hat, you looked… a bit more ridiculous like me, that’s what I learned to like about it.”
“There is nothing ridiculous about you safe for the fact that you always seem to run into trouble because of your own stubborn bravery.”
“Anyway, that’s why I liked the hat.”
“It’s odd to me that in all this time, you didn’t manage to change your mind about that whole matter of the looks.”
“It’s what everyone keeps talking about when it comes to me. Ever since I came back. You know how I returned to Wonderland? I ran away after I was mocked at a garden party and the possible suitors only ever danced with me to ridicule me. Septa Roelle’s shame was without limits, and so was mine.”
“From the sound of it, they all deserve a slap.”
Yes, Jaime, they do. They do.
“Not just one if I was asked, but I am not, at least not regarding those matters,” Brienne sighs. “Though looking at the situation just now, I may have an upside to that at last: I may not have to worry about that anymore. Then truly, my looks won’t matter in the end, and isn’t that oh too sweet?”
“I call it rather bitter.”
“Bitter sweet, then.”
Just like it seems to be with love.
“I missed you, Brienne.”
“It’d be a lie to say that I missed you as well because I lost my recollections of Wonderland, but… I don’t want to lose you ever again.”
“Neither do I want to lose you.”
The two eventually doze off, resting against each other almost within kissing range, but we are keeping this vanilla for now.
Anyway, next day, JB are led into the arena where the battle of the knaves is meant to be settled. Both are very unsure about what to do because only one will leave the arena, Cersei will see to that. Jaime, as an act of defiance, actually fights with the stupid hat on, arguing that he has since been the Hatter, and that won’t change ever again.
JB team up to take out Frankengregor and take him down. Fight scenes of extravaganza Wacky don’t write. However, that leaves the two to compete about who gets to live and die, even though living means becoming the knave for Cersei, which may be a destiny worse than death *ahem.*
As they cross blades to put up more of a show, Jaime tells her again that she should just do it and get over with it because he meant it when he said that she is his future no matter what. Brienne obviously can’t do that. Cersei keeps screaming for someone to finally get his or head chopped off. Panic. Excitement. OMG. DRAMA.
Brienne eventually makes the choice to do what she is not fond doing – making up bullshit – but for the sake of it, she’ll do it. She drops her weapon and faces Cersei, stating that she could never possibly be a Queen of Hearts because she is no native of Wonderland. There goes an uproar through the crowd. Apparently, she had everyone believe that she was born there to strengthen her claim to the throne.
“How could she be your Queen? How could we two be your loyal Knave? We aren’t even from here.”
“Nonsense, she is telling you nonsense!” Cersei insists. “Off with her head! Off with her head! I will keep him, but you get rid of her for speaking so ill of the Queen!”
Anyway, Brienne manages to get through with the nonsense to raise doubt against Cersei and her validation as the Queen by applying Wonderland logic, or rather the lack thereof – and sets it finally into stone by sneaking a bit of cake into her wine which shrinks her. Brienne then recounts a rule stating that a Queen must at least be that tall to be Queen and the others readily agree that a woman that small could not possibly rule.
“After all, she can’t wear the crown like that. And what’s a Queen without her crown?”
Cersei wants to explode in anger and demands of Brienne and Jaime to turn her back. Brienne picks up tiny Cersei and tells her that she will do no such thing because that is what she truly is, small.
“If you want to be tall again, all you have to do is awaken,” Brienne then says, taking out the watch with the mirror. “You can go back from whence you came and you will no longer be this short, I can guarantee it.”
Cersei eventually begrudgingly agrees. She never spent time outside the castle because she thought it was all filthy, which is why she does not know about the size-changing food and drink out there, whereas Brienne, a woman brave enough to go out there, has the clear advantage in the game. Cersei goes on cursing, but then looks at the mirror and is sucked in. Everyone cheers because yay, the witch is dead I mean the monarchy is overthrown. Jaime and Brienne are celebrated in a mad party and the two just let themselves be carried away by the mood. Jaime realizes only minutes thereafter that it’s no longer tea time and he was not sent back to the table in the woods. He happily embraces Brienne, awkward moment of longing ensues. The caterpillar, now turned butterfly, says in the background that they should just fook already, but then says he will see about the castle because he always wanted to have one.
However, as happy as they are that they are now free in Wonderland, the two have to realize that they can’t have their forever in Wonderland because they have lives out there. Jaime has Tyrion to take care of and he has to face Cersei in real life. Yet, anxiety is great about that step being taken because Jaime doesn’t know what year he went to sleep, so it may be years until he’d even have so much as a chance as to go looking for Brienne in the real world.
To his great surprise, it is Brienne who states that she has confidence.
“I trust you to find me.”
“But how?” Jaime questions. “We reckon that I came here before you did, but there is no sure way to tell with Wonderland. Everything is a paradox. It may well be that you were there before me in the actual world. How would I find you then?”
“You just keep walking until you come somewhere. And I will do the same,” Brienne explains. “And if you happen to be first: look for a garden party in the year of I DON’T KNOW AND I AM TOO LAZY TO LOOK IT UP AND MAKE IT FIT WITH VICTORIAN AGE, SUE ME. April 5, at Wickenden, a house belonging to Lady Waxley. Just about tea time.”
“I don’t even know my last name, you see.”
“But you know you have a brother and a sister. The rest will figure in due time, I am quite sure.”
“What makes you so confident?” Jaime asks, quite happy to see that restored after Brienne was so beaten down thanks to what happened at the garden party.
“If we can overpower a Queen in this kind of madness… I tend to think that the madness in the real world is tiny by comparison.”
There is a mad if tearful goodbye from the Hare and the Dormouse, though the hare is just glad to finally be able to quit tea and have more ale. There is some more joking about Jaime being shit for a hatter before they go. They don’t realize that the Chejaqen Cat watches on as they pass through the woods hand-in-hand, remarking that even the bitter can taste sweet at times. They eventually reach the spot from whence they came.
Brienne takes out the watch, only now noting that it is working again and does no longer jump back to tea time. They vow to find each other. Jaime tells Brienne to look at the looking glass another time and tell him what she sees. Brienne scoffs at him that she already knows his advice on that one, but he insists that she does it, so Brienne does and says that she sees herself.
“And that is all that counts,” he repeats as before. “And that is the woman I fell in love with.”
Passionate kiss this time (was more of a chaste kiss last time). They are then sucked in through the mirror.
Brienne wakes up by the creek, her dress still a mess. She lets a sigh. This time she remembers what happened in Wonderland, but is saddened for a moment when Jaime doesn’t instantly jump out. One can hope, after all. Instead, her septa finds her. Obviously, she is totally pissed and wants to tell Brienne that she does best swallowing it and not letting it show because they still want to make a suitable match. Brienne finally stands up for herself and says that if they treat her like that, they are certainly not good enough for her. Roelle freaks out because she is ugly and should be lucky to get just about anyone of rank. Brienne says that she is done with that and that her father would not have wanted that for her.
“If they can’t love me the way I am, then they are not good enough for me. Father would have wanted me to be happy. And like that I won’t ever be,” Brienne tells her, walking ahead with her head held high. Back at the garden party, she stands her ground as well, telling the mocking potential suitors when asked that she can’t seem to recall what happened because “I forget such nonsense right away. And you can’t remember that which you forgot unless you wish for it. And I do not wish for it at all.”
Brienne leaves the party, telling Roelle that if she were to drag her to another of those parties, she would never come in such frilly dresses again and instead show up the way she walks around most of her time. The septa is short before losing her shit, but Brienne now knows that none of them are good enough for her because a) none compare to Jaime, and b) if she can’t be herself with a man, what’s the point?
They return to the small inn where they made camp for their stay at Wickenden. The septa is fussing around the room and busies herself with packing up. Brienne leaves her to her “useless madness” and instead goes into the common hall. Brienne reckons that she has to start recognizing who she is if she wants others to recognize that and appreciate it about her. Since it’s quite busy (they also serve drinks there as well as the reception desk), Brienne chooses a spot that is a little more secluded in one of the corners. She observes as a short man comes inside. He motions to the reception and confidently grabs a stool to climb on top to speak to the receptionist.
“Good evening, sir, I would like to rent a room for two people,” he says. “If you are already booked, we can also take one, so long it has two beds. I know I look like I can fit into a wooden chest, but I would rather have one of my own. My brother is in a terrible mood.”
“We have two rooms.”
“Splendid, then we take those!” the man says.
“Under what name?”
“Tyrion Lannister,” the short man answers. “Oh, and just to be sure. Once my brother comes in here… don’t mind him. He has been in a terrible mood ever since we missed our ferry which made him miss a very important appointment in turn. He is not pleased at all, but it seems we cannot continue our search that late in the evening. So… just ignore him.”
“Will do, it’s the same to me.”
Brienne perks her ears at the sound of “Tyrion,” after all, that’s not the most common name. She reckons that it’s too much wishful thinking, but then the door opens and a guy with a tophat comes inside, looking straight-up pissed.
“Brother, I just booked us two rooms. That means I can indulge in my own activities for the night while you can go after your own, which is moping, I’d suppose,” the short man says, looking over two a bunch of giggling girls he seemingly wants to sure to get to know a whole lot better.
“I’d much rather see another time about whether I can convince that stubborn lady to tell me to where her guest went. One should think that it’s not asked too much to get a bit of advice.”
“We can just get up early and ask around in the morning.”
“What if they left already, though?”
“Then we are not going to change much of anything by looking through the night. Listen to reason, Jaime.”
Brienne stares as the man takes his hat off and thereby confirms that, yes, it’s *her* Jaime. She stands up abruptly and motions over to him. Jaime starts to rummage through his pocket.
“What time is it?” he mutters. Maybe he can go through town another time. At some point he almost misses the time where he jumped back to tea time, because that means he would be on time at last.
He frowns when suddenly a watch moves into his vision. Jaime looks up to see Brienne standing there. “Do you need the time?”
“… I’d much rather take the time,” he answers.
“Good evening to you,” Tyrion greets. “I don’t know if it’s safe for you to approach my brother, he was in quite a terrible mood.”
“I am no longer.”
“Since right now,” Jaime answers, only ever ogling at Brienne. “That’s her.”
“That is… oh goodness, it appears that us being not on time resulted in us being right on time. Quite a paradox.”
“That’s how it’s always with us,” Jaime laughs.
The two keep making hearteyes at one another, glad to finally be reunited. Jaime introduces her to Tyrion.
It turns out that when he woke up, he found himself next to Cersei who had also woken back up at just that time. They had gone to sleep and dreamed away when their father pushed for them to be separated because they were too close in his opinion *yes they weeeeere* - and Cersei had Jaime basically swear himself to her and that he would take up a job at the capitol instead of the family business only just to be around her even if she should marry Robert. Cersei went to Wonderland, dissatisfied with her life, and figured out that she could be a queen in there, so when she woke back up, she convinced Jaime to join her so they could be eternally together and all of that shit. Jaime was like “sure” and went with that, but then realized that she was running the country all wrong. By that time it was already too late though and she put him under that spell to make him her willing servant. Brienne broke him out of that. Ever since they woke up, he has stood true to their promise, broke up with Cersei for good, stayed at the Rock for a while, but then ditched the family business when he was fed up with Tywin’s treatment of Tyrion. Cersei, who wanted to stay in Wonderland forever to live the life she always wanted with everyone beneath her, is now dissatisfied in her marriage with Robert and has since been an ass to both her brothers. As a result of Jaime’s disobedience, Tywin disowned him, safe for the trust fund that was both Tyrion’s and Jaime’s by law, which is still… good enough to make a life with… Jaime and Tyrion have been travelling around since, basically. Jaime explains the whole mess with missing the ferry and how he wanted to be there for the tea party.
“If I were still where I used to, I would have been just on time.”
“Well, this is not Wonderland.”
“No, it is certainly not.”
Brienne makes comments about his tophat, and Jaime explains that he has since considered opening up a hatter’s shop.
“It’s something I apparently always dreamed about.”
They are interrupted by Roelle who wants to curse at Brienne again, only to see that she is talking to this handsome young man. Jaime acts up his part perfectly, introduces himself all gallantly (he knows how to be charming, after all), and comes up with a passable enough lie to explain how they know one another and are so close that they make all hearteyes and handholding.
“Didn’t she tell you that we have been writing letters to each other in how long is it? It feels like a small eternity already?”
“If I remember correctly, I forgot telling her,” Brienne says with a smirk.
“You just forgot that how?” Roelle demands. “How would you possibly…”
“Lady Brienne was always clear to me that unless I made the first step, she would not act upon my advances. You did well to raise her in that way, I’d assume. She didn’t want to make a blind bargain, after all. But it seems that luck is on our side at last so we could meet, and frankly, I think I am quite enamored with the lady already.”
Jaime then asks whether he may properly court her and all that shit. And Brienne just says that he may because *she* is deciding on that now. The septa agrees anyway because yay, the child is having a prospect of a good match now.
Jaime and Brienne start talking about their future and how coincidental it seems that she has an estate she inherited she doesn’t truly know how to run while Jaime knows just someone who has interest in just those matters.
“And perhaps you could have a spot to open up your shop there, who knows?”
Some time in the distant future, we see Jaime and Brienne all properly married, settled in at Tarth. Tyrion is running most of the estate and has since been sparking up with enthusiasm about the new set of tasks. Brienne is at peace with herself, walking around in the clothes she likes, always sure to carry the watch around with her. Jaime runs his little hat shop and the mad ladies of the capital *love* his weird creations. He says they are mad and that apparently, it’s a great selling point, so he just goes crazy about them and makes a nice amount of money, always having shit and giggles at what he makes high society wear.
The two take a stroll around the property being all lovey-dovey. They come to a clearing that almost looks like the crossroad Brienne had to go to come to the tea party.
“Sometimes I wonder how our little friends are doing on the other side,” Jaime notes.
“I wonder a lot, too, though I guess that is part of Wonderland.”
“If the white rabbit were to appear and tell you you had a chance of going back, would you do it?”
“Only if the rabbit could guarantee me that I would be back by tea time,” Brienne answers with a smile. “Back the first time, I ran away to Wonderland. The second time, too, but now… there is nothing I would want to run away from anymore. There is nothing about this life that I want to one day remember to have forgotten or forget to remember.”
“Good, because I feel the same.”
They kiss and are all lovey-dovey all over. Because they always are. Always have been. And will forever be. The two are interrupted by someone calling out to them. A little girl with a striped cat runs up to them, crying a little. Jaime picks the girl up. Turns out it’s their daughter.
“What happened, hm?”
“The boys in the town said I was a loon,” the little girl laments. “Because, because I kept winning against them when we fought with swords.”
“Now, now, that’s nothing to be sad about,” Jaime assures her. “Your mother beats me… more often than not, I will admit, and do you see her cry? You know that we want you to do what you like, so long it is within certain limits.”
Because this is not Wonderland and there are some rules to abide.
“Yes,” the girl sighs. “But they said I was mad.”
“And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being mad,” Brienne assures her. “We are all a little mad. Most people just don’t like others to know.”
“Your mother is right,” Jaime agrees. “And while the boys won’t realize that until they are much more mature, you should always be sure of who you are. Because so long you think you are no loon, then you are not.”
The girl feels better then, even more so when Jaime says that he will make Uncle Tyrion play chess with her (the girl loves chess because… you know… Wonderland). He puts her on his shoulder and they continue walking.
“Did I ever tell you the story of the Mad Hatter and the Lady Knight?” Jaime then asks the girl.
“Oh, then I must. You will like it! The Lady Knight was just like your mother, and let me tell you, she was in love with that hatter right from the beginning.”
“I can’t remember that part of the story,” Brienne snorts in amusement.
“Then you seem to have forgotten all about it. The Lady Knight was instantly head-over-heels for that good-looking man.”
“And she beat him in a fight.”
“She did? I like her!” the girl chimes.
“The Hatter came to accept that over time, though he always insisted that she caught him during a bad time.”
“He yet had to become more mature to accept that,” Brienne chuckles.
“I seem to have forgotten to remember that part of the story.”
“It appears so.”
As they walk back to Evenfall Hall, they pass by a white rabbit and a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and a dormouse, which may or may not bear a close resemblance to the friends from Wonderland. However, the two truly no longer have a need for that sweet escape because they found their little world here on Tarth where they can be mad, madly in love with each other, madly in love with this life, and a little odd.
And at the crossroad, there is a single grin that quickly fades from view.