A/N: All right, this was inspired by my returning obsession of Alice in Wonderland. XD If this paring was made canon in the Tim Burton movie coming out in the spring, I would die happy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Alice in Wonderland, I'm just a mere fan.
The Sensibility behind Insensibility
I always wondered just why the Mad Hatter was as eccentric as he persistently proved each time I visited him. Honestly, I cannot help but think that could easily be compared to pondering over why the sky is blue. It simply is. Still, I found it odd that such an answer can justify the sheer oddness of the Hatter himself. Yet, I confess that that quality draws me to him—somewhat attracts me, in fact. But, suppose he knew that? Over the years since age ten (the landmark year in which I first discovered Wonderland), I keep returning to that nonsensical world, specifically the Hatter's front lawn. Nothing has really changed there, the ridiculousness of his often childish behavior remaining virtually ageless. His two companions' personalities have also stayed intact: the Dormouse still sleeps in the teapot, and the March Hare is just as enthusiastic about tea as his colleague.
This strange, almost hackneyed trio of tea drinkers hardly ever altered in both appearances and demeanors, whereas I seemed to grow older every year. Ages ten through twelve saw no difference in me as a person, bit it all came to an end once I turned thirteen. Officially, back in that drab by comparison country called England, I had crossed the threshold from childhood to budding young adulthood. As such, my older sister Lorina and my meticulous mother groomed me to look like a proper young woman. Of course, me being the daydreaming sort of girl I once was, I at first objected to this hurried treatment I received. Bluntly speaking, I refused to grow up. The inner child in me (who, to this day, still exists in me) wanted to elude this type of high society for the impish delights of Wonderland.
But, as time passed along with my visits and increasingly frustrating conversations with the Mad Hatter, I became nearly a woman by sixteen. I could barely recognize myself both physically and mentally, my blond hair dangling past my shoulders and my mindset maturing to one of practicality and decorum. I had transformed into the person I struggled so steadfastly and tenaciously not to be back in those golden years of childhood. Now, with my sensible mind as I lounged in my retreat in the gardens of the quaint mansion where I lived, I discovered how desperate I was to know why the Hatter was so childish. Recently, he had admittedly irked me with his weird enthusiasm regarding tea and questions that one could never answer in a lifetime. As a child, I laughed at these quirks. As a sixteen-year-old woman, I nearly looked upon these disdainfully. Nonetheless, my curiosity was obviously alive and well, even as my fanciful self died.
Surely, I thought, he must have a sensible reason for being this...well, mad. I automatically detected the ironic contradiction this theory consisted, but I considered this the only reason why. Perhaps conducting a confrontational interview with him would provide me the answers I needed. And then I would depart for the real world, never to return to my childhood dream come to life again. Once I elaborately planned how I was going to go about this to my satisfaction, I placed the book I read down on the stone bench. Proceeding to walk briskly down the white gravel pathway (one of many throughout our gardens, the most beautiful and famous in the county), I sought for the familiar rabbit hole. How could I ever forget about this, as much as I tried? Soon, I fell through the hole, the blood rushing unbelievably to my head. If I had been more carefree and less restrained, I would have enjoyed this tumbling sensation.
In fact, I could have laughed breezily like I did with my fourth trip down here, but I did not. Insufferable pride would scarcely allow that to happen due to my old-fashioned upbringing and all that. After all, the Liddell family had to keep up their respectable reputation in every single type of circumstance. Lorina especially ensured to brainwash me into sharing that same sentiment with her and Mother. Unsurprisingly, I must have looked outwardly annoyed as I landed on the ground in an undignified fashion before proceeding to return to the Hatter. Once I strode quietly up the brick walkway to his table, he calmly sat there with his two friends. Hardly lucid due to the drunkenness of tea, the Dormouse snored as loudly as only a small creature could.
The March Hare, in the mean time, chatted incessantly with the Hatter about trivial topics, one of which was a recent trial the Queen of Hearts conducted. Apparently, the unfortunate fellow possessed enough nerve to sleep throughout the entire event. Naturally, that heartless old biddy (even after all these years, I think this) sentenced him to permanent exile, though not death, to that frightful forest I once walked through. Though I discreetly eavesdropped on this conversation, I pretended not to hear, coolly approaching the table. To say the least, the daft man who was the Mad Hatter looked more than happy to see me standing on his lawn. Admittedly, I was glad to see him as well, as much as I loathed confessing to myself.
"Dear Alice," he addressed me, eagerly standing to his feet, "I must say that you look very presentable this afternoon. If I do say so myself, you look presentable and accounted for!"
Fully rapt in this increasingly easier role of high society debutante snob, I very slightly wrinkle my nose but didn't appear as disgustingly standoffish as originally planned. I simply could not be this way around him, unlike the other young men I encountered.
No matter, my lack of a cruel facial expression hardly prevented me from asking, "Why do you insist on putting your own personal touch on every formality ever spoken?"
To translate, this was my fancy way of interviewing him by merely asking why he made ordinary expressions so odd. Honestly, I felt that I needed to know, since this could be my surely, undoubtedly last visit here. Afterwards, I simply could not call upon the Hatter any more, though he was dear to me. But, what would my family think if I attempted to tell them about Wonderland again?
My relatives would most definitely declare me insane and send me off to the farthest asylum possible, perhaps all the way to Scotland. While I dwelled on such a morbid possibility, the Mad Hatter pondered over my words. His periwinkle blue eyes took on a wistful glaze while he tapped his fingers on the tablecloth. I observed that he must have predicted my impromptu visit, judging by a brand new purple waistcoat. Of course, he still kept that ridiculously emerald floppy top hat of his, since it was indeed his favorite hat. In fact, I could see traces of wear and tear on that clearly filthy thing, which served as an ill-fitting crown for his auburn hair. I had considerably aged since ten, whereas he retained barely a day over twenty-one. He had always looked like that.
Finally, after what seemed to last for forever and a day, he aptly responded with, "I don't know. When one is as insane as I, one does not stop to think over what one means by one's words. To put it simply, child, one doesn't care about the matters of one."
A heavily etched frown formed on my face as I reproachfully crossed my arms. Not only did he continue his esteemed tradition of confusing me, he dared to consider me a child. On the last visit, I had directed him to not address my by such a demeaning name. Leave it to him to avoid listening to me!
"Mr. Hatter," I replied primly, pursing my lips, "you fail to grasp that I am no longer a child. This has made me rather cross."
"Hot cross buns," he murmured distantly before regaining his wits. "Oh, so you are a high class lady, are you? I never thought you would be this aggressive about your age."
My mouth dropped open in enraged shock. The nerve of that impossible man! Due to his indiscretion of referring to a woman's age (always rude, no matter what), I took revenge by grabbing the teapot to pour myself a cup. I inevitably neglected to recall that acting this assertive concerning a tea party was an insult to the host. Suppose if the host was insulted? Well, I knew that this host was insulting rather than taking offense. Just as I prepared to utter a remarkable comeback retort, the March Hare cut in with a question to his friend.
Tugging on his sleeve, he asked, "Sir, when is this tea part to start? We haven't had one in exactly four minutes."
I stifled a laugh just then by the Hare's impatience, which actually amused me.
However, the Hatter waved a dismissive hand, and he grinned meaningfully yet slyly at me before telling his guest, "I suggest you leave for now, Hare. Take the Dormouse with you as well. For, our little heroine and I are about to engage in a breathlessly intriguing, delightfully interesting, and mostly amusing conversation. It is to be strictly between the two of us. Come back around 7:45 in the afternoon, will you?"
The Hare appeared to mouth "good luck" to me before departing with the constantly snoozing mouse, which he held by the tail. Much to my chagrin, this left me with the Hatter, who stirred his tea as though nothing had happened. Silence settled upon us aside from his occasional slurping and my far quieter sipping. He seemed to enjoy melodramatic pauses before talking; naturally, I didn't.
"Well, now that those two are out of our hair"—and here he cunningly winked—"I think it is time to start our conversation. Go on, I will let you begin."
I set down my cup abruptly, and I smoothed down my sea foam green casual dress, since I had deemed years ago that I wore blue too often. Plus, it painfully reminded me of the childhood that had passed by far too quickly for my tastes. In spite of this, the Hatter was not to know of this anguish.
Speaking slowly to partially calm my flustered nerves, I divulged, "The conversation has begun two minutes ago, Mr. Hatter. So, I will take the liberty of continuing it. I might as well disclose the real reason why I am here. I wish to investigate your reasoning behind your behavior, which I am confident is put-on, a façade of who you really are. And I need to know this one time."
The Hatter leaned forward by cupping his chin in his hand, a lock of his disheveled red hair falling into one of his eyes. I hoped that a blush hadn't dusted my face, for he did appear rather appealing despite his certifiable madness. Getting involved with insanity, though, would be dangerous.
"My dear, I don't really have a clue yet again. It is quite odd that you should ask after the sensibility of one who is the textbook definition of insensible. In fact, I am truly at a loss concerning why ravens can become writing desks to this day. Maybe I should think about how bluebirds can moonlight as ink pens."
Tightening my lips until I thought for certain they would vanish from my face, I sarcastically remarked, "I would think that dragonflies would be more suitable for the role, sir."
Disregarding my vicious poison lacing these words, he held back his head and laughed very rudely.
I clicked my tongue at his boorishness, though I knew that sarcasm was something a woman should never utilize in conversation. But, this was the Mad Hatter, a man whom I doubted a saint could put up with. What he said next truly incensed me.
"I have to admit, sweetheart, you're as tart as a lemon cart."
He spoke in rhyme and in such an impertinent manner that I clenched and unclenched my fists mutely. I still had not received my answer to the question that had bothered me all day. Once aware of his secret, I could go home for, hopefully, the last time necessary. Frostily, I drank some more of the tea in my cup, waiting impatiently for him to explain himself.
When he said not a word pertaining to it, I set down my rapidly cooling tea to inquire of him once more, "I genuinely want to know why you act like a madman."
Typically of him, the Hatter grinned and comically replied, "It is a simple equation, darling. Take my favorite beverage tea plus my green hat (my favorite) times my friends. You take that divided by my delight in jokes, and you get my insanity as the product."
Rolling my glacier blue eyes, I asked in my sarcastic tone again, "Does pi come into this equation?"
"Hm, come to think of it..."
When he practically leapt over toward my seat, he lifted the stainless steel cover of the hitherto concealed dish suddenly in front of me. Sure enough, a pie sat underneath the cover, on a china plate. I almost appreciated his wit, which I thought incredibly sharp. My lips twitched from suppressed giggling.
Unluckily, my enjoyment in this eccentric situation scarcely endured, for the Hatter caused my half full teacup to shatter on my lap. The splash of the lukewarm liquid ruined my dress, though this had been not a rare occurrence in itself. Other times, he would break my teacups on purpose simply to anger me due to the stained skirts that resulted from them. I couldn't even name the countless times I had to explain to Mother regarding the stains. Even with this history, I shouldn't have lashed out at him the way I did.
"Hatter," I raised my voice toward him, abruptly standing and pushing in my chair, "even with your explanation that has put my mind at peace, your frightful behavior both disconcerts and angers me. I have no need to return to Wonderland with that infraction aside. Good day."
Frustrated to the point tears of rage and sorrow welled up in my eyes (though these did not fall), I turned my back to him and attempted to storm off. However, a hand on my wrist stopped me, the fingers warm against my skin. I instantly regretted ever snapping so cruelly to him. After all, it had been an accident and done without any sort of intent.
"Dearest Alice," I heard him murmur in my ear, "I don't want you to abandon this place forever. I mean, it shall be a terrible inconvenience, for I might not see you again."
Gulping my tears before turning toward him, I said, subdued, "I know."
"And the behavior I saw from you today... It wasn't you. I could barely recognize you in that sense."
Shamefaced at this point, I glanced down at his bright orange shoes (those of a circus clown) and merely nodded now. No words could escape me. For some strange reason, he must have forgiven me, since he enveloped me in his gentle embrace. Putting away my pride that my adolescent training instilled in me, I accepted it. Resting my head against his shoulder, I realized how much I loved him at that moment. Perhaps his shortcomings as a madman only endeared him to me still further.
I felt his lips move against my hair while he explained, "I think...that this is one of the main reasons why I'm insane. Before you, it was just tea and hats and all that. But...love is enough to make anyone descend into this enthralling madness, don't you think?"
I smiled, knowing what he was trying to say more than anybody else.
Gazing up at him, my blue eyes softening from hearing the sincere sensibility behind the insensibility, I told him without the slightest bit of embarrassment, "I love you too, Hatter. You're the reason I come back each time. In fact...I'll come back again and again and again!"
Grinning that irrevocably adorable jester's grin, he promptly kissed my on the lips, which felt exquisitely soft. I nearly melted and felt as though this moment could last forever. His love for me touched me deeply, causing me to recognize his devotion for me. And, I realized, no matter how enthusiastically Mother and Lorina tried to brainwash me, I would always remember him. I would always love him. Once our lips parted, I saw the sheer adoration in his light colored eyes. Overjoyed, he took off his hat to reveal an unbirthday cake, which certainly brought back memories of childhood adventure.
"It is a good think I planned for the occasion. Somehow, I was confident that you would see things my way," the Mad Hatter partially boasted.
I laughed outright. "You're still overly confident! That hasn't changed a bit."
And he probably would never change as far as I was concerned. On that day, he dashed my plans for completely avoiding Wonderland.
A/N: Please review, I worked very hard on this. My main concern was the characterization of the Mad Hatter, so I hoped I did that right. Also, for those of you who read my epic Death Note story, V returns through Alice in the narration sense. XD After all, they're both prim and proper English gals. And, after all, you only have one shot to make a first impression on a different fandom.