Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! Here's a stocking stuffer for you guys, and although it's not Christmas themed, it is Hatter-centric! Hope you enjoy, and please tell me what you think!

Hatter's family hadn't exactly been rolling in dough when he was a kid, so his old man took to teaching him hat and card tricks at an early age to amuse him. Sleight of hand was something that fascinated him to no end, and he'd spend hours trying to replicate his old man's tricks flawlessly. So at age ten, when his parents up and well…got themselves killed, he ran from his home with nothing but the clothes on his back, his old man's hat, and a deck of cards.

He'd set up a small crate along the side of some building (usually a pub), lay the cards down, and work his magic. He had a natural talent for drawing in people; his childish appearance (slight bucktoothed smile, single dimple, and scruffy hair) gave others the impression that he didn't know what he was doing, that he was the one being duped. The hat tricks also helped catching passersby's attention. If his innocent appearance wasn't enough, then he'd be able to persuade them with a few words like, "Hey, Mister, try your luck? I'm sure a sharp gentleman like yourself will win easy. Tell you what, first game's free. What've you got to lose?" And if they lost (and they did), well the prospect of being made a fool of by a kid was unpleasant, so they'd start laying down the pretty coins, and they'd keep going until they were completely cleaned out. He amassed a large collection of hats and jewelry, accepting those as payment when players ran out of money. He sold most of the jewelry, but kept a few nice rings for himself; and his old man's hat soon became one among many in his possession, but it always remained his favorite.

The major appeal of the tricks was the manipulation involved, the complete control over everything. He loved that feeling of power, of setting up all the circumstances and watching the whole lot unfold by his own rules. If people won, it was only because he let them; when they lost (and they normally did), it was because he was too skilled, too quick for their eyes to keep up.

However, for all his expertise with sleight of hand, he hadn't been able to fool March.

March was the sort of guy who lived in the moment, who liked to take chances and focused only on the short-term objective. But Hatter saw the whole picture, and that was the type of perspective needed when it came to business. He explained such to March, and it was through his crafty words that he was able to influence his friend's decision of letting him more or less run the show. He liked giving the orders, being in charge, calling the shots, whichever term you prefer. So when the Queen set him up with running the teashop, he was just fine with it. The cards stayed tucked away in his back pocket, the hat tricks only really coming into play when he was bored or trying to impress a lady. He went from cheating people with his hands to deceiving them with his words. It was a skill he practiced and perfected through his surprise visits with the Queen, when she decided to check up on him and the shop without notice, feeding her the lies he knew would keep him in her good favor. Playing both sides of the field had made him quite fluent in the language of deception.

He loved having complete control over people, when they were completely unaware of it, and the fact that he could do it without the use of teas made it all the more satisfying. So it irked him to no end whenever Alice argued with him. And she tended to do that a lot.

He wasn't used to being questioned and denied. Even when he and March were just starting out with their business, he could convince people that they wanted what he told them they wanted. And when he ran the teashop, people bought the teas he suggested. He just knew how people worked, knew what to say to make them do what he desired. However, he was at a loss when it came to Alice. She was different, infuriatingly so. At first, he had thought it rather amusing; he'd seen her as a challenge, a test for his abilities. But after a while, an interesting challenge became an aggravating woman that tried his patience repeatedly to the point that he wondered if he'd lost his magic touch. No matter what he said, she absolutely refused to give up on Jack and leave Wonderland while she still had her head, all because she liked him. Perhaps what was most maddening about her was the fact that she wanted to make the decisions while knowing absolutely nothing about this place! He was her tour guide, for lack of a better term, so he should've been the one calling the shots because he knew better than she did! Actually no, really the worst part of it all was that since leaving the Great Library, he wasn't trying to con her, but genuinely looking out for her best interests!

Most took his word as it was, and the rest were bought after a minimal amount of answers. But not Alice. He told her to find a tree to climb, and that should have been the end of it, no questions asked. But (haha) he forgot for a moment who he was dealing with. She asked why, because she just couldn't believe that he would give her such advice for a good reason. He told her he was bait for the trap, and she asked what it was. He told her it was the Jabberwock, and she asked, "What?" He told her to get going, and she wanted a run-through of the plan, continuing their little game of let's-just-stand-here-and-become-Jabberwock-food. He told her the plan and to go (again), and she had the nerve to question his ingenuity. He was about to tell her to shut her trap or else she could be the bait, when the Jabberwock decided to show up. And now, where was he thanks to her inability to keep her disagreements to herself and do what he said? Staring right into the face of said monster, its putrid breath rolling over him in hot waves, with no control over the situation whatsoever. That was something he hated: being powerless in a situation. And just like Alice, this beast was one thing he knew he couldn't sweet-talk into doing what he wanted. His knuckles connected with the Jabberwock's eye and he pulled Alice up while the pain distracted it. As he ran alongside her through the wood, away from danger, he hoped that she might have learned to do what he told her to do without a fuss.

Of course, no such luck.

Maybe it's just me, but for some reason I could just so easily imagine Hatter being a whiz at card tricks.