Author: Random-Battlecry PM
The truth was, he'd seen this girl coming miles away. Seen straight to the future to her reentry to Wonderland, when suddenly she was so delightful. Now, though, she's an annoying little girl who prattles on endlessly. Hatter/Alice, and a tea party.Rated: Fiction K - English - Humor/Romance - Alice & Mad Hatter/Hatta - Words: 2,002 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 25 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-13-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4990456
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Yes, I've got Alice and the Hatter stuck in my head again. For the record, the few lines of good dialogue are Lewis Carroll's. The rest are mine.
"Your hair wants cutting," said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiousity, and this was his first speech.
It was teatime; but then, when wasn't it?
The brim of his oversized hat casting an elongated shadow over his elongated nose, the Hatter glared a bit balefully at his watch. The watch, brought up to better manners than this, did nothing back; only sat quietly in the palm of his hand and told the date.
Wrongly, as it turned out. But he wasn't to know that yet; and with a great effort of will, he restrained himself from informing himself of the situation. Disappointment would come in its own due time, and there was no sense in rushing things like that. Juggling the watch, present tea cup, and spoon, he balanced balletically over the sugar bowl and, with great care, lowered the watch into it.
"I say, I say," said the Dormouse, waking up slightly; but then shook himself, and didn't. The Hatter spared him hardly a glance, being used to this sort of thing. Hare nudged the smaller animal slightly with his patched elbow.
"Dormouse:" he eulogized, "all talk, no action."
"All sleep, no talk," contradicted the Hatter.
"All ears, no brain."
"All tail, no tale."
The Hare stood up and peered over the rim of the large sugar bowl. "What are you doing with that bit of sophisticated machinery?"
The Hatter snorted. "Sugar is hardly sophisticated, my dear Hare; it's been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years."
"Oh, well," said the Hare, resignedly, and sat down again; but his ears perked up at once, and he gained a strange look of urgency, and cried, "No room! No room!"
The Hatter absentmindedly laid the watch on the table and shoved the spoon in his vest pocket, echoing his friend's vociferation. But there was nothing to do about it now; the girl, who had either appeared out of nowhere in the manner of a ghost or, more simply, had walked out of the woods without them seeing, now seated herself at the table and said stoutly, "There's plenty of room."
There was more than that, of course— much more. But the Hatter was lost somewhat in his own mind— which was certainly a large and confusing enough place to be lost in— and could only bring himself out of it slightly when there was a lull in the conversation and the Hare looked at him. The girl, naturally, turned to him as well, and in order to keep himself from smiling at her he was forced to say the first thing that came into his head.
Which was, "Er— your hair wants cutting."
The girl was quite irate at this, and Hatter found himself participating once more, quite against his will. He'd never been able to resist a challenge, especially not of the verbal sort. Well, especially not of the tea-drinking sort, but after the last competition the Hare had been so bloated they had come to a mutual agreement never to try it again. And verbal altercations were so much neater than physical ones.
The problem, of course, was time. Or Time, rather— all that quarreling the two of them had done, he and Time, the spring before. It had, of course, led to his present curious incarceration in the six o'clock hour, but before that— before that, had been a chronological contretemps of a different sort. The present had become the past, the future had suddenly been now, and he found himself living up all his tomorrows today. Which was quite confusing enough to a man in his right mind; for one in his left, it was nearly devastating.
A bit fun, though.
Another lull in the conversation. The Hatter leapt to his feet, slammed both hands palm-down on the table, and bellowed, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" He was quite proud of this one. It had taken all night to think up. The fact that, as yet, it was unanswerable was a trifling matter, a piddling little triviality which would be remedied as soon as he could be bothered.
The girl was going to have a go at it, anyway. The Hatter subsided back into his chair, rested his elbow on table and his chin in his hand. The truth, shaky and unreliable as it was, was that he'd seen this girl coming miles away. Days away, rather— weeks, months, years. Eons. He'd seen straight ahead past the now to where the young woman Alice re-entered Wonderland and found it to be no more of a bore than at first. And she was so, so delightful—
Right now, of course, in this ill-gotten, meowing bit of a moment, she was an ill-mannered child with no respect for her elders who prattled on ceaselessly regardless of whether she was alone or in mixed company. This was not nearly as endearing as her future self, and the Hatter took issue with it.
April the 15th of '96, specifically. It was a bi-monthly.
"Have you guessed the riddle yet?"
The girl looked down at the table and owned that she had not. The Hatter gazed at her, not without triumph. Alice always hated— she would tell him years later— to admit that she had been bested.
"What's the answer?" she asked, looking up at him once more.
He tapped his fingertips against his mouth. "I haven't the slightest idea." He had no qualms about being bested, so long as he was bested by the best. And, in being bested by himself, that was undoubtedly the case. But then she would go and accuse him of wasting time. Again, issue was taken. He wasn't going to stand for that sort of thing; never mind that he was sitting down.
She reacted quite well to his explanation of Time as a personality, with whims and vendettas of his own, and only blanched a little when he went on to tell her about the time he had to sing for the Queen.
"Twinkle, twinkle, little bat,
How I wonder— where's my hat?"
The abrupt segue did not go unnoticed by the audience; however, as abrupt segues were no more than the Hatter's stock in trade, it got no more interest but a round of applause for thinking on his feet. Alice joined in, looking a bit confused.
"It's on your head," she pointed out, and the Hatter ceased panicking as abruptly as he had begun and beamed toothily at her. It was a reassurance to find that, even as a child, she was at least good for something.
"And ever since then," he informed her, "Time won't do a thing I ask. It's always six o'clock, now."
The Hare sighed rather mournfully and shook his heavy head. How he had gotten trapped into this along with the Hatter, he was still unsure. He certainly hadn't sung such a thing. He wasn't to blame. Yet here he was, sharing tea with the madman and a narcoleptic Dormouse.
"Is that the reason so many tea things are put out here?" inquired Alice, who looked as though the thought had just now occurred to her instead of having been obvious from the beginning. The Hatter sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Yes, yes. It's always tea time, and we've no time to wash things between."
"Then you keep moving round, I suppose," said Alice cautiously, pursuing the thought as though it were a rabid rhinoceros in the deepest African jungle.
"Exactly so," the Hatter allowed; he paused, to see where she would go with this.
"Then," said the girl, brow wrinkled in unaccustomed thought, "what happens when you come to the beginning again?"
He stared at her, quite near enraptured. There was the questioning line that he knew from the latter-day Alice, from his Alice. What happens—? indeed. What happens when you come to the beginning again? She had asked him— she would ask him, someday, when he informed her of the terms Time had laid on him.
All your tomorrows used up today? she'd inquired.
Yes, right now, he'd replied.
Round we go, he told her, would tell her.
And you'll be there, my dear Alice. You just don't know it yet.
What happens when you come to the beginning again?
"Let's change the subject," said the Hare, giving vent to a vast and furry yawn. "I'm bored with this one."
It took a bit of convincing, but eventually they were able to sustain the Dormouse's alertness long enough for him to embark on a story, prompted by repeated whispers from the Hare. The Hatter again subsided into thought, thinking largely of the future Alice and what she had become to him, and in a smaller way, of what curious beasts pineapples were. It was only the girl's insistence that it was ridiculous to consider the possibility of the existence of treacle wells that enlivened him. His Alice would never have bothered to contest such a thing. His Alice, he thought proudly, was or would be quite as mad as he himself. They were, as the saying went, much of a muchness.
"If you can draw water out of a water well, then you can surely draw treacle out of a treacle well— eh, stupid?"
The girl put her hands on her hips. "There's no call to be so rude in such a manner."
The future Alice wouldn't have said anything of the sort, the Hatter assured himself. The future Alice would have retaliated in kind. Retaliating in kind, as a matter of fact, had formed the basis of their burgeoning relationship. The thought made the Hatter somewhat weak in the knees; however, he was sitting down, so no harm was done.
Try as he might, he could not bring himself to feel much fondness for this girl, even as greatly fond as he would be of her in the future. She was small and irritating.
"—things that begin with M," said the Dormouse; his alertness was beginning to fade.
"Why with an M?" demanded Alice sharply.
"Why not?" demanded the Hare, more sharply.
Alice was silent. That, thought the Hatter, was how it should be— a silent little girl, a vociferous grown woman. It pleased him very much.
It did not please Alice, however, who had her own ideas on the subject.
"Really, now," she said, doubtfully, "I don't think—"
"Then you shouldn't talk," retorted the Hatter. Alice's eyes fixed on him briefly and she looked for a moment as though she wanted very much to slap him. He was quite sure she would do no such thing, however— he would have remembered. He decided to put the Dormouse in the tea pot, as it had fallen asleep again.
And Alice walked away. Her hands clasped behind her back, her steps sure and resolute, her shoulders squared. The Hatter watched her go, though constrained by pretending not to notice she had left. She would be back, he was sure, once he went forward.
But now it was six o'clock. Tea time. The Dormouse was in the pot— well in, the Hatter amended with a reminiscent chuckle. But there were other tea pots, of course, and somewhere, sometime, there was Alice, and what with the twinkling of the tea— it began with the tea— and most things twinkled after that.
Round and round and round and round
and round we go again
No one ever loses and yet
no one ever wins.