"Well now, Alice, you really must tell me where you get these ideas!" Said Mr. Hamish, as he regarded her latest painting. "It's just so.. Imaginative. I'd expect nothing less from such an extraordinary girl." He beamed down at her. In the two years she had been traveling with him, they had gotten a certain bond. He was like the father she no longer had.
The painting, which, naturally, was of Wonderland, was by far the best she had painted yet. She tried and tried again, to make it just right. It finally was. Ever since she left, she had been longing to go back. She wished she was still plagued with the nightmares she had once had, illustrating her going down the Rabbit Hole. She looked at the faint scratch marks she still had on her arm multiple times a day, to remind herself Wonderland was real.
It was no wonder, when she was younger, that she had forgotten the mystical place. Even now, that she had solid proof it was real, thanks to the scar on her arm, she still found herself wondering if she had gone slightly mad. She wanted nothing more than to visit that place once more, just to prove to herself it was really true. Which was probably why she painted so many pictures of it.
"I've told you a million times already, I didn't make them up. Their images of Wonderland." Alice told him, while gazing into the picture, imagining the Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Mad Hatter.. He was smiling at her, waving. A friendly gesture.. Only one thing wasn't right... "In the picture! Do you see it!?" Alice suddenly shrieked at Mr. Hamish.
"What now?" He asked, looking utterly confused, following her eyes to the middle of the picture. "I don't see anything, M'dear. I suggest you go to bed.. The sun must be getting to you."
"B-But... In the- the picture! The Mad Hatter! He was... Was waving at me!"
"Now now, I'm sure you just imagined it.." He sounded slightly nervous, while eying Alice with a look of great concern. "Pish-posh, I say.. To bed with you! You need your rest."
Alice could not be so easily fooled, however. She put her hand up to her forehead.
"Oh my.. I do think I'm running a bit of a fever.. A good rest is just what I need... It's still rather early, but I'll just retire for the night.. Goodnight, Mr. Hamish" With a quick hug, she hurried off to her bedroom on the ship, with her painting in tow. She was out of the room before Mr. Hamish could return her words.
It wasn't even Six P.M., but Alice dismissed the maid from her room, and locked the door behind her. She sat down on the bed, and looked deep into the painting. Nothing looked back at her, except for the mystical landscape of Wonderland.
"It's not nice to hide... I'd really love to see you." Alice whispered to the painting. She saw one of the colorful flowers move. It was one with a gentle face. It uprooted, and walked a few feet away, re-rooting in a soft patch of earth. Standing right behind the flower, looking slightly awkward, was no other but the Mad Hatter himself. He seemed incredibly interested in his shoes at the moment.
His eyes were a deep blue at the moment, a shade of which she had never seen. She wondered what mood this would be. He took off his Top hat, and dropped down into a deep bow.
"Alice! What a pleasant surprise!" He called, his voice unnaturally high.
"I don't recall painting you into the picture, Mad Hatter." Alice replied, her voice full of curiosity. "How exactly did you get in?"
"Picture? Why- Alice, Dear,- you painted Wonderland from your heart."
"What exactly do you mean?" Alice asked, leaning forward, to get a better look at the Mad Hatter. To any normal person, this would be completely insane. Talking to a portrait, and it responding. Alice had long before expected the unexpected. She knew it was only a matter of time before her life and Wonderland would cross paths again, for they always did. It had, just taken longer than expected.
"You see, Alice, you poured your longing for Wonderland into this picture, you painted it so carefully and with such persistence, that you opened the part of your heart Wonderland was residing in.."
"I-I don't understand... Wonderland is a place.. It's not inside me.. Right? If it were, then it would of all been a dream.. I would of made it all up.."
"Alice, if there was one thing I would of expected you to understand from your multiple trips to Wonderland would be that everyone you know, and every memory you have, resides somewhere in your heart. If you wish hard enough, with enough belief and trust, your widest dreams can come true." He said, with a faint smile.
"I-I painted a-a door to Wonderland, then?" Alice asked, completely unsure of what was going on. "Like the Rabbit Hole?"
The Mad Hatter looked incredibly pleased.
"I'm glad your finally catching on!"
"S-So.. Does that mean, I could come back? I could see you all again?" Alice asked with an extremely eager voice. She had missed Wonderland so much. She had been so afraid that her decision meant that she could never go back there again.
"Of course you can.. Just go through the Rabbit Hole." He winked, and started walking out of the portrait.
"Wait!" Alice shrieked. He looked incredibly alarmed, and looked back at her, stopping in his tracks.
Before she could stop herself, before she even knew what she was doing, a longing to see Wonderland was burning inside her like a raging inferno. She just then realized the true extent of her longing. She jumped into the portrait.
She could hear the deafening air in her ears, completely screaming. She felt a terrible dropping sensation, as she fell through the air. She dared to open her eyes, but could see nothing but the ground approaching alarmingly fast.
Right when she felt like she was going to hit the ground, full speed, a tree lashed out it's branch and caught her, bringing her down gently to the ground. She thanked the kind tree, and looked to her left and right for the Mad Hatter. The moment she laid eyes on him, she ran and embraced him with all her might, burying her face into his shoulder.
He stood there in shock for a moment, but then wrapped his arms around her in return. She started to cry on his shoulder for what felt like an eternity. He just held her, while she let it all out, stroking the back of her head lovingly.
"I-I missed y-you so m-much.." She finally choked out. He looked down at her, trying to find a hidden meaning in what she said. Was it really him that she missed so much? He stopped stroking her hair, and she looked up at him, eyes brimming with tears.
"I thought I'd never see you again." He said, and embraced her tighter still. He buried his head in the crook of her neck, and kissed the flesh there.
He thought she may not of noticed, for all she did was cry harder still. He continued holding her until she ran out of tears to cry, and just stood limp in his arms, occasionally shaking with a dry sob.
"I'm happy your finally home." He finally said, and he could feel her grip on him tighten.