The Outlands: Prologue

"I'll miss you when I wake up," said Alice with a sad smile before looking out at the moon-lit land once more.

Tarrant, the Mad Hatter as everyone called him, was confused. How could she still believe him a dream? She had felt and lived all of Underland now for a second time, even been injured and healed by the Bandersnatch! Tarrant knew this to be real, he'd slowly been recovering his mind ever since Alice had returned, and she was now no longer a child. Yes, no longer a child. Tarrant's thoughts toward Alice had been taking on a new quality since she had returned. At first he had not noticed, but with his mind having come back from the far off landscape it had wandered to he recognized that his feelings and motivations had changed.

Reaching out with a shaking and bandaged hand, Tarrant touched her arm gently so that Alice turned to face him again. Her eyes were warm, if a little confused, when she smiled at him. He let his fingers slide down her arm gently to entangled themselves with her fingers.

Luminous green eyes met blue and Tarrant smiled gently, "I will miss you as well, Alice Kingsleigh."

Alice's eyes widened slightly, she'd never seen that expression on Hatter's face before! She realized with a start that her heart was pounding and there were butterflies in her stomach. As she stood, frozen, Hatter slowly lowered his head until his lips were only millimeters away from hers. Hesitantly, Alice leaned forward and closed the distance between them.

The kiss was sweet, innocent, and a little shy on both sides and only lasted a few seconds before Alice pulled away again. She smiled shyly and he grinned at her happily, pulling her into a warm hug.

Alice's soft voice broke the comfortable silence with a revelation, "This is real, you're real!"

Tarrant held her tighter, smiling into her thick, wavy hair, "Yes, sweet Alice, I am real. But so is the Jabberwocky."

Alice stiffened in his arms for a moment before relaxing with a tired sigh, "Hatter, I'm not sure I'm really the Champion the White Queen has been waiting for. What if I'm the wrong Alice after all and everyone gets killed because of me?"

Tarrant pulled away from her and held her still at arms length, sharp eyes boring into hers, "How can you be the wrong Alice when the moment you stepped into Underland a second time, I began to heal?"

Alice looked at him blankly, confusion furrowing her brow, "What do you mean Hatter?"

Tarrant smiled and released her, gesturing with a hand for her to follow him, "Come, I'll explain inside."

Alice nodded and followed him inside, her eyes and expression still confused. Tarrant led them through many corridors until they reached the wing of the castle that had been made up for him when he still worked regularly for the White Queen. It had been renewed and refurbished when he had returned with Bayard's wife and pups, the Tweedles, Nivens, and Mallymkin. He opened the door to his suite and gestured for her to enter first, bowing grandly enough to make Alice giggle as she entered his rooms, Tarrant close behind.

A/N: So what did you think? Leave a review if the prologue struck you, in a good way or bad. And please bare with me, I have little time to get these updates out so they'll most likely be a bit sporadic. I have chapter one written already but I want to get a jump start on chapter two before I post it.