Rated T for fluff, M later on

AN: I'm so glad you guys are still interested in this story! Well we've got some really nice fluff for ya here, but it comes with a price... A little shorter than the last few but I'm more focused on quality over quantity. I'm gonna be shifting back n forth between Alice and Hatter's POV's, hope it's not too confusing. Anywho, please read review and enjoy!

puppiescute a.k.a. Mic Mic- I've always liked Mally, and I feel bad for her. Doormouse gets no love! I'll try to make sure everyone ends up happy, though.

Bucket Vinja- Yea, those plots are nice, but I wanted mine to be a little different. Glad it's appreciated!


Friend... he called me his friend... Alice been shaken when Tarrant had said the word, but she'd tried not to show it. After the initial shock, she began to think about it more objectively. Well, we really haven't known each other that long. True, we went through a lot together, but I suppose I can't expect him to fall for a girl he barely knows... For all I know, he might still think of me as the little girl who first stubled upon his world, calling it "Wonderland." But still, I love him. I know I do. Well, I've been through far too much to just sit back and cry. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that sometimes we have to go after what we want.

And with that strengthened resolve, Alice decided that she would take her time getting to know her Hatter better, and let him get to know her. She loved him, and she couldn't live with herself if she didn't at least try to win his love. She asked Mirana if she could stay at the palace for a while, and she was told of course. After speaking with the Queen for a bit, she walked back over to her Hatter.

"Hatter, I- " She stopped for a moment, Tarrant looking at her expectantly, and laughed. "I'm sorry, but I've just realized, I don't even know your real name. I feel bad calling you 'Hatter' all the time." The Hatter just smiled at her, and bowed slightly, tipping his hat.

"Tarrant Hightopp, at your service. I wasn't sure if you'd heard anyone use it. I don't mind being called Hatter, of course, but it is good to hear my given name once in a while." They smiled at each other, before Alice remembered what she had been going to say.

"Well, Tarrant, I'm afraid I don't know any Underland dances. Do you think you could possibly show me?"

"Certainly. Shall we?" He offered her his hand, and led her to the dance floor. Alice learned that she actually did know a few of the dances, being Underland versions of ones she'd done in London, like the waltz or quadrille, only with a few differences. She tried her best to concentrate, which she found exceedingly difficult being held in the arms of her Hat- No, Tarrant. His name is Tarrant.

Later in the evening, the pair were standing on the balcony, much as they had done on the eve of the Frabjous Day. Alice sighed happily as she looked up at the stars.

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"Tarrant, does Underland have any constellations?" Tarrant smiled at her and stepped closer, pointing up at the sky.

"That group of stars there is known as Blivety, the centaur. And over there are the dancing sisters, you see?" Alice smiled and nodded, paying close attention. "And over by the horizon, is-" Tarrant stopped suddenly as he looked down at Alice. She was gazing in the direction he'd been pointing, a dreamy look on her face. He was amazed by the way the starlight reflected in her eyes. She looked at him then, expecting him to continue. He swallowed hard, finding it difficult to breath.

Was it his imagination, or was she leaning closer to him? Or was he leaning closer to her? It was difficult to say; it might've been both, or neither. Her lips parted ever so slightly, her cheeks turning pink, her eyes half-closed. Tarrant's heart did that funny skip again, and he licked his lips, his mouth feeling unusually dry. He knew what she wanted, and if he was honest, part of him wanted the same thing. But he didn't want to lead her to the wrong conclusion. Or was it the right conclusion? Or the left? It was getting more and more difficult to think straight. One thing he did notice, however, was how quiet it was. Not just outside, but in his mind. Not a peep. That thought made him smile inwardly.

"Tarrant," Alice mewed, her voice pleading. In that moment something sparked within him. He felt a surge of heat, not unlike when his madness took over, but there was no malice behind it. Only a strong desire, one the Hatter had started to think he'd never feel. Alice opened her eyes, and widened them when she saw the look in his. It wasn't fear that crossed her lovely features, but excitement, and could it be? Did she truly desire Tarrant as much as he did her? That's quite enough chatter, he thought, before claiming Alice's lips with his own. The suddenness of his move made Alice let out a tiny "mph" sound of pleasant surprise.

All Tarrant knew in that moment was that his arms were wrapped tightly around Alice, his lips kissing hers fervently, and she was returning the embrace with equal vigor. She clung to him helplessly, letting out the softest of moans and mews, which only fueled the fire within the Hatter. He felt his desire growing ever stronger, threatening to take him over completely. He was backing her up now, until she was pressed against the wall, with his body firmly molded to hers. He let one hand tangle in her beautiful curls, the other firmly grasping her waist, pulling her ever closer to him.

When the need for air became too great, they broke apart, staring into each other's eyes, chests heaving breathlessly. Alice closed her eyes tight for a moment, and Tarrant worried he may have hurt her, his more lucid mind taking over instantly. He gently brushed her cheek, and she looked up at him, her eyes conveying some sort of inward struggle. Her Muchness was wavering, and he didn't know if he was to blame. She took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and touched his cheek gently.

"Tarrant Hightopp," she began, her voice rough and wavering. She looked down for a moment, steeling herself, before looking back at him.

"I love you." Oh Alice, dear sweet poor Alice... It was as Tarrant had feared. He slowly pulled his hand away from her cheek, and tried to smile. His mind whirled, trying to come up with a proper response, one that would make Alice happy, and that wasn't a lie. He watched as Alice's smile faltered, then fell slowly, her eyes filling with panic. Her breath began coming quick and shallow.

"Alice," he started, still not sure what to say, but knowing something had to be said. When he continued, he spoke slowly, choosing every word with the utmost care. "I want you to know that I care for you deeply. I have immeasurable respect for your strength and bravery. I am forever indebted to you for saving my life on numerous occasions, as well as saving all of Underland." It was breaking his heart to watch Alice's eyes lose their sparkle, her face losing all emotion, as he spoke. Still, he knew he had to clarify the situation, rather than lead her on. "You truly are the best friend I've ever had. It gives me great pleasure to see you back, because now we can spend as much time together as we like, getting to know each other." That seemed to perk her up slightly. "There are so many things I want to show you, Alice. You've barely seen Underland. So much to see, to learn. Let me show you my world," he finished, holding out a hand to her. For a moment she was motionless, and Tarrant feared he'd done too much damage already. But slowly some color returned to her face, and she hesitantly took his hand. He led her back to the balcony, looking at her out of the corner of his eye. She was much more quiet than she'd been before, but at least she'd lost that dead-to-the-world look she'd taken on for a few moments.

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Alice half-listened as Tarrant continued his lesson on the constellations of Underland. It had taken every ounce of Muchness to confess her love for Tarrant. And he had rejected her. No, not rejected, she reminded herself. He just suggested we get to know each other better. It wasn't a no, it was a not yet. Yes, that's it. But he had kissed her. More than kissed, he had practically ravaged her lips. Alice felt herself blush at the memory. Oh, how happy she'd been when he'd kissed her. The look in his eyes had been so... Alice couldn't even think of a word for it. His eyes had gone red, and it would've been frightening if not for the wicked smile on his beautiful lips. That smile, so full of unbridled lust... it had made her breath catch, and her body react in ways she hadn't thought possible. And when his mouth claimed hers, it was pure ecstasy. He had pushed her against the wall, pushed himself against her... She'd been able to feel every inch of his body pressed against her, far better than in any of her dreams.

And then it had been over. Alice had tried so hard not to show her disappointment. No, that word was far too weak... her heartbreak. And then he'd gone on about wanting to show her his world, and she'd felt a spark of hope. And so she was reminded of her previous plan. She would let him show her his world. They would get to know each other better. And maybe, just maybe, he could learn to love her as she loved him. It was a bit of a long shot, but it was her only chance at happiness. She knew there was no going back to her world. But what would she do, if her one true love, her reason to exist in Underland, didn't feel the same? What world would be fit for her then? Alice shook her head. She wouldn't allow thoughts like that to hinder her. This was her world too, now. And she was determined to find her place here, one way or another.