Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 4 of 22

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I Love My Love

Nuning Day

While Time had indeed waited for them, it was still very late when Alice and the Hatter arrived at Marmoreal, and Mirana had them ushered off to their respective quarters to sleep through the rest of the night now that Time was free to move at will. Being as tired as she was, when the morning sun streamed through her window and told her it was time to rise, Alice did not remember entering the bedchamber or laying her head down on this heavenly soft pillow. Looking about the all white room, she did note, however, that the Hatter's top hat was gone. He must have reclaimed it sometime during the last exhausting leg of their journey about which she remembered very little.

Alice was attempting to make herself presentable for breakfast when the Queen floated into her chamber, hands held aloft as if she was dancing across the floor to the sound of silent chimes.

"Oh, Your Majesty!" Alice said, dropping a curtsey.

"My Champion," Mirana responded gently. "You should not have woken. I would have had Time wait for you to rise."

Alice momentarily thought it odd that the Queen did not seem surprised that she had come back to Underland when she did, but then she recalled the Oraculum. In all likelihood, the Queen knew she would return before she did herself. And yet, the Queen had not seen fit to tell anyone this information. Curious, Alice thought.

"Is everyone else up?"

The Queen tilted her head and her dark lips spread into a serene smile. "I can't speak for everyone, Alice, but many people are indeed awake."

"Then, I should be awake too. Time shouldn't wait on account of me. I believe Tarrant and I caused him too much trouble last night as it is."

Alice thought that the Queen's perennially composed countenance slipped just a bit at the use of the Hatter's given name.

"Mr. Hightopp is awake as well," the Queen responded, blinking her doe eyes in feigned innocence. When Alice failed to respond to what she perceived might be teasing, the Queen began once more, as she floated towards the windows. "The Champion has returned, and we must celebrate as soon as you are feeling up to it."

"I shall feel better, shortly, I'm sure."

"Of course you will. You are in Underland. Everything is right now, as it should be."

"I am happy to be back and see everything looking so much better. All due to you, Your Majesty, I am told."

"Yes, everything is quite beautiful." The Queen peered out the window, her hands still held aloft. "Have you admired the gardens, yet, Alice?" she asked.

How would she have admired them in the dark, Alice wondered? Even with the moon and stars as bright as they were? It was still unclear why it was necessary for herself and Hatter to tramp through the night to meet with the Queen. Although, it occurred to her that the White Queen, while consciously dedicated to goodness, might also be as capricious in some ways as her sister had been. If that was indeed the reason for the summons, it was less worrisome than the thought of having to come yet again to the Queen and Underland's rescue, although she would do it again if she must.

Alice padded in her bare feet towards the Queen and directed her gaze to where the Queen was looking. It became clear to her that the Queen did not care for her to see the gardens at all, but what was moving about in them.

The Queen gestured to the left. Yes, there below was the Hatter, pacing in the garden with his hat perched atop his head in its usual place.

"Oh, no. Is he quite mad?" Alice whispered.

The Queen sighed prettily. "A little, I'm afraid."

"I thought he was better. He seemed better to me."

"He is, generally. He is not as consumed with revenge, which has lightened his burden. He just seems…" Mirana said, twirling her fingers, "a little out of sorts today."

Alice turned her back on the window and the pacing Hatter.

"I perhaps did wrong." The Queen said nothing, but Alice felt her eyes upon her. "I teased him. I took his hat." Now in the light of day, Alice could not fathom why she had done such a thing.

"Oh," Mirana laughed. "I think he liked that you did."

Alice's stomach hitched. What a troublesome organ a stomach was, always having its say at the most inconvenient times. Although, it was right: it had been many hours since she had eaten. Breakfast could not come too soon.

"He liked it too much, I think," Mirana concluded. "Well, my dear, Alice," the Queen continued, floating past her, "come down to breakfast when you are ready." She paused in the doorway, looking over her shoulder, her long white tresses swinging to the side. "And you might fetch the Hatter, so that he may have some sustenance as well. Escorting a Champion can be quite exhausting, so I am told."

"Hatter?" Alice called, wandering between the hedgerows, trying to find the pacing Hatter.

Alice paused, thinking she saw tan shoed feet moving behind the hedgerow to her right. She bent down to peek underneath the hedge and discovered they were not merely feet, but feet attached to legs as well—legs in pin-striped trousers that looked as if they might belong to the Hatter.

"Hatter!" she called, hurrying around the edge of the hedgerow and lifting the skirts of the dress that the Hatter had given her the previous day. "There you are," she said with a smile, as the full Hatter came into sight.

It had only been a few hours since she had last seen him. Nevertheless, having previously forgotten him altogether while in Otherland, Alice was seized with immeasurable joy upon seeing him in person again and knowing him, remembering him. He continued to pace, however, paying no heed to her appearance before him in the garden.

"Hatter," she said more firmly.

When he continued to pace frenetically, Alice lifted her hand to grasp his shoulder. Her touch froze him mid stride. He glanced sideways at her and she could see his eyes fleck with a variation of color.

"Good morning, Tarrant."

His eyes settled into a brilliant green, as he twisted around to face her and bow. "Good morning, Alice."

"You have got your hat back," she observed, as he donned it again, having removed it during his bow.

"Yes," he said, running his thumb and index finger along its brim. "But I shall make you one of your own if you like," he lisped.

"I'm sorry if I upset you by taking it," Alice apologized.

The Hatter pulled the front of the brim down lower over his forehead and looked down at his shoes, scuffing them in the thick turf.

"Ah didnae mind, as ah thought ah would," he confessed.

And yet, until a moment ago, he was still pacing here in the garden, made at least a smidgen mad by something. The Queen's opinion on the matter of the hat taking made no sense to Alice either. It must be true that they were all indeed a little mad.

She noticed that his eyes looked slightly more heavily shadowed than she recalled them being yesterday.

"Did you not sleep well, Hatter?" she asked concernedly.

"I didn't."

She was about to ask if his chambers were not comfortable, when he began again, interrupting her thoughts.

"Sleep. I did not sleep. Not a wink." He spoke slowly, as if he was trying to work out the meaning himself.

"Why not?"

"I was pacing."

"For heaven's sake," she said, her brows drawing together. "You must sleep, Hatter. We all must sleep, for if we did not we would very soon not be of much use to anyone."

"I very much like being of use, but I had so much to think about, you see," he explained, biting his lower lip.

He needed a restorative breakfast more than she did, she realized.

"Will you come inside with me?" she asked.

He looked from under the brim of his hat, appearing uncertain. "I was in the middle of things."

She knew very well what he was in the middle of, and she wished to help him out of it. "I have a riddle for you," she began. "A hill full, a hole full, you cannot fill a bowl full."

He cocked his head barely pausing to ponder: "Mist."[1]

"I shall have to think up better riddles, dear Hatter. You are too skilled at them." She could tell that he swallowed by the bob of his bow tie. "You will tire yourself out," she advised him, obliquely referencing his fit of madness. "Come in for breakfast with me. Breakfast is the most essential meal of the day."

Her hand went to grasp his. At first his hand did not respond, but it shortly squeezed Alice's in response, pressing two thimbles into her palm.

"Tea?" he croaked, running his calloused thumb over her knuckles.

"We shall have tea later, Hatter, dear."

"You will be here for tea?" he asked, his eyes shifting vaguely to yellow and his hand holding hers more tightly.

"Yes, I shall, but now it is time for breakfast. We have trifled enough with Time as it is."

"Yes, quite right," he answered with a businesslike nod. He let her hand slip as he reached in his waistcoat for his pocket watch. Examining the time, he shook his head. "Hickory dickory dock! We're late according to the clock," he lisped, tucking the watch away once more and offering her his arm.[2]

When Alice came to tea that day, she noted that the Hatter looked just a little bit surprised that she was there, despite her assurances that she would be. His mood visibly improved, so that he was actually a little bit cheeky, sitting at her left side.

The cheekiness continued right through Brillig and dinner into the evening's festivities, which included a light show performed by lightening bugs orchestrated by a chamber group of grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.

"I like the lightening bugs best."

"I best like the fireflies."

"They ain't fireflies."

"Fireflies they are."

"Nohow. Lightening bugs they is."

"That being the same thing."

"Not so."

"Yes so."

Alice giggled at the Tweedles, covering her mouth.

"Are you…tipsy?" the Hatter asked, leaning over from his seat so as to be within whispering distance of her.

"No," she lied, hoping to look properly affronted.

She had never had so much champagne in her life. At least, she thought it was champagne. They called it bubblefrothal, but it seemed the same to her.

"Alice," he teased, drawing out her name luxuriously.

"I'm perfectly…perfectly pleasantly…" Alice giggled once more, and the Hatter cocked a brow at her.


Alice sprung from her chair and hurried down a garden path, rushing past guests whose white attire was lit theatrically by paper lanterns. She felt certain the Hatter would follow her, but she threw a look over her shoulder just to be sure. It was affirming to see Hatter advancing towards her in his tartan with practiced composure. She giggled again, thinking that she was now the mad one and the Hatter sane. The last of the guests had vanished behind them as Alice darted amongst white rose bushes, which glowed in the moonlight. Alice would have teased them in her current state of delightful disorder, but these were not the talking kind of flowers. The benefit of that being that these would not report whatever foolishness she did or said. For, she had every Intention of being very foolish.

"All around the mulberry bush," she said breathlessly, as she circled a rose bush.

"You want me to chase you, Alice?" the Hatter purred.

Alice laughed throatily, swinging around another bush and nearly catching her skirt in the thorns. Such funny things, roses—all sweetness and splendor mixed with a possible threat. A bit like the Hatter himself, she considered. The Hatter was now closer, but still strode hands clasped behind his back with surprising self assurance.

"The monkey chased the weasel," Alice sang louder.

"You make a very poor weasel, Alice, dear."

"Nohow!" she retorted, mimicking the Tweedles. "The monkey thought 'twas all in fun," she continued, skipping backwards to watch him approach.

"And these are most certainly not mulberry bushes, silly creature." He was now within reach.

"A penny for a spool of thread," she laughed, her fingertips reaching out to brush his fluffed bowtie as she continued to dance backwards. "A penny for a needle. That's the way the money goes!"

"Pop! Goes the weasel," he stage whispered, gripping her by the arms. A smile spread across his face and he laughed: not the laugh of a mad man, but a sincere joy filled laugh.[3]

"I'm curious," Alice began, licking her lips as she regained her breath before the Hatter interrupted her.

"Of course you are. Curious Alice."

"How did the Queen arrange the lightening bugs to dance just so?"

The Hatter's hands slipped from her arms. "How does she do anything? The real question is how she got those bugs to play music. After all, it's not as if they're badgers."


"Notoriously musical, badgers are."

Alice snorted a little inelegantly. "I don't know about badgers, Hatter, but where I come from, those kinds of bugs do make a kind of music. But lightening bugs most certainly cannot perform choreographed light shows on command."

"What a funny place that must be. Or not funny. Decidedly unfunny, mirthless, miserable, melancholic, but then, I've been investigating things that begin with the letter 'M' of late."

Alice pressed her lips together tightly, trying to hold back another giggle that threatened to pour forth.

"I can think of nicer words that start with 'M,' you know. They needn't all be so glum. Like marmalade, music, merriment, or moonlight," he said pointing aloft.

Regaining some of her composure, she tried to speak again. "In my world, dormice cannot wield swords, the flowers do not talk, neither do the animals that are quite naked, and tea is only had once a day."

"I am shocked on behalf of tea; Nivens on behalf of animals everywhere. Sounds like a stupid place with a great many stupid things in it," the Hatter said with cheeky grin. "Except for you, Alice. You are not stupid."

"I should hope not," Alice said, flouncing over to a garden bench. "Although, I believe Absolem called me stupid a time or two."

He joined her on the bench, stretching his legs out lazily before him and draping one arm behind her back. Alice noted the impropriety, but could not summon the fortitude to feign caring. Hatter was generally very gentlemanly, despite his madness. It was possible he did not know that this sort of thing was improper where she came from or it was also possible that he too had overindulged in the bubblefrothal , leaving his judgment impaired.

"Absolem is testy. Some might say touchy or temperamental. I am of the latter view," the Hatter said matter-of-factly.

"I haven't seen him, since I came back," she realized, thinking aloud.

"Nor will you."

"Why is that? I saw him in Otherland, you know."

"Lucky, Absolem," he murmured.

"You have not answered my question," Alice pressed.

"You will not see him, because Absolem is not."


"No longer for now," he vaguely responded.

He was not making much sense, but it did not seem to be due to madness. Whatever her thoughts on the matter, they left her mind, because she suddenly felt his hand lazily intertwine in her hair, the thimbles slipping through the silky strands. It was such a divine Sensation that she quite lost herself in it.

"I like your hair down like this," he observed, "all loose and long. It does not want cutting."[4]

Alice's stomach flipped. Perhaps she truly had drunk too much bubblefrothal.

"I would have made a hat for you if you would have let me," he continued, still running his hand through her hair.

"You would have missed tea if you had."

"I never miss tea."

"Your accent…" she paused, wondering if it was thoughtless to bring attention to the signs of his madness, even if it was to note that they were missing.

"I'm very content," he explained, seemingly unperturbed by her implied question. But then his eyes shifted colors quickly and his voice turned hesitant, "Will you stay this time?"

His hand was poised in her hair, unmoving, awaiting her response. His contentment seemed to hinge on her remaining in Underland. Would she stay? It was a wonderfully marvelous, mad idea. She loved her friends. She loved this wonderland. She loved…

"Yes, I'll stay," she impulsively said, slipping from the bench. "Come, Tarrant. We'll be missed." She held out her hand to the man whose eyes had just turned that peculiar shade of blue once more.

"Alice," he said, standing and stepping towards her.


"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

She smiled, rocking on the balls of her feet towards him, as if pulled by a string.

"I don't know. Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

He smiled down at her, obviously pleased.

"I haven't the slightest idea."

[1] From Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

[2] Hatter misquotes from:

"Hickory, dickory, dock,

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

The mouse ran down,

Hickory, dickory, dock."

The earliest copy of the rhyme is in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (1744).

[3] 'To pop' meant to pawn in England. Hatters, who used a tool called a weasel, would often pawn it to pay bar tabs. Therefore, 'Pop Goes the Weasel' is a song about a hatter's cost of living—thread, needles, and whatever else caused them to 'pop' their weasels.

[4] Hatter's first remark to Alice at the Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland is a rude personal remark: "Your hair wants cutting."

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 4 of 22

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