Stay with me
A Oneshot inspired by Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

This mini-story was forming in my head even whilst watching the movie - which I loved.
You just can't not think things like this after lines like 'why is it you're always too small... or too tall?' and such :P


"There are questions I have to answer… things I have to do…"

"Answer them later! Do them later! Time won't carry on without you, Alice." Alice paused. She had been so sure of her choice. The way ahead had been so clear…

"What do you mean?"

"Time here is different. Very different. Doesn't actually go forwards, really. Well not if you don't want it to. Stay. See if you like it. Take as long as you want. Take even longer – it's not like it'll matter!" Alice felt a frown tug at her features and her gaze drifted across the battlefield, sweeping over all of her eccentric friends. She looked down at the vial in her hands, wondering…

A little longer wouldn't hurt, would it? If time stood still back in London, she could still return and set her life straight there.

"The blood…"

"Won't lose its potency." The White Queen spoke up, gliding back towards her. "You can stay for an eternity if you wish and still be able to return."

"Stay an eternity." The Hatter repeated, a hint of pleading in his voice.

"Well I don't know about that…" Alice murmured, "But… I'll stay a little longer, if that's alright." A wide and slightly demented grin broke across Hatter's face and he started rambling happily, following as Alice was swept away by the White Queen.

"We have a beautiful guest wing in the castle." She said airily, her steps more like a dance than walking. "You may stay there as long as you wish! Anything you need just ask, of course." As her speech ended, Hatter's came back to the forefront.

" – and a tea party, we must have a tea party!"

"She's tired, Hatter! Give her a break, she's only just killed the jabberwocky!" Mallymkun snapped, brandishing her tiny sword at him. Hatter gave it a disdainful look, but his jabbering ended. Alice giggled, feeling strangely at home. Yes, she would enjoy a while longer in this crazy, dream-like world where she was a champion and a hero, before answering her never-would-be fiancé's question and setting things straight.

Alice looked around her room and smiled bemusedly. It was undeniably beautiful, far more lavish than she was used to. A huge room with huge windows and a huge bed with a lot of ornate furniture. Of course, right now the effect was rather wasted since almost every surface was covered in dresses and hats. The royal tailor had visited a few times to take measurements in order to make clothing for her. A while later, Hatter had come in with the oddest hat Alice had ever seen, grinning happily at her. As he was about to leave, the tailor had returned with a dress for Alice to try on.

What followed could only be described as a war between hatter and tailor, each trying to outdo the other in making the best items possible in the shortest amount of time. Alice now had more hats and clothes than she could ever wear – and nowhere to put them. She groaned as she heard a tap at the door for what felt like the thousandth time, jumping over a large pile of skirts to open it.

"M,miss Ah…ah…Alice…" the tailor croaked out, holding another dress out to her. She took it a split second before the poor little man collapsed at her feet, out cold.

"Oh dear…" she murmured. She heard the sound of someone dashing closer and then Hatter wheeled around a corner with a bright red silk hat clasped in his hands, out of breath.

"Ah ha! I win!" he declared. He placed the hat on Alice's head and let himself into her room. Alice blinked, turning to watch as he began throwing all of the clothes into one big pile in the corner. "Honestly, who needs this many clothes?!" he asked, shaking his head as if it were a crime. Alice smiled faintly. She closed the door – careful not to hit the tailor's head with it – and set the new dress on top of the pile Hatter was creating.

After the pile had reached the ceiling, Hatter stood back and looked at it triumphantly.

"Waste. Utter waste. Useless profession. Well I don't mind, I suppose everyone needs clothes but still what a WASTE." He rambled. He glanced over at Alice, who was sprawled out on her bed watching him. The madman gulped almost awkwardly before smiling at her. "I'm glad you stayed, Alice."

"I would have come back eventually anyway." Alice said, returning his smile. It was true. How could she not one day return to such a place?

"Wouldn't be the same." Hatter muttered, turning back away from her.

"How so?"

"… you wouldn't remember me." Alice frowned.

"How could I forget you?"

"You did once before."

"I was a lot younger. My memories from back then… well, they were more like a dream." Alice sat back against the headboard and sighed. She felt a little guilty for not accepting this crazy world sooner. It must not have been very nice for Hatter to hear - 'This is all too odd to be real.'

"I'm sorry," she murmured, "I'm sorry for thinking you weren't real."

"That's okay. I wouldn't have minded being a figment of your imagination." Alice smiled. "Although… if I were a figment of your imagination then you could get me to do anything you wanted me to."

"I suppose I could." Alice agreed, shrugging. Hatter turned back to her with an odd, expectant glint in his eye.

"What would you have me do?" she frowned, considering it. She didn't quite understand the look Hatter was giving her, almost willing her to say something in particular – what exactly she was supposed to say eluded her though.

"I'd have you be exactly as you are now. You're fine that way." Alice answered. Hatter seemed to sag slightly and his grin became a little forced.

"Really? Well, that's good to hear I suppose." But it was clearly not what he wanted to hear. The Hatter nodded, more to himself than to Alice, and crossed the room to leave. "I hope you'll enjoy your time here."

The next day as Alice was sorting through her pile of clothes, looking for something to wear, she heard a deep menacing growl from outside her door. She paused, frowning. It sounded like the bandersnatch…

"LET GO!" and that sound like the Hatter! Alice dashed to the door and threw it open. Outside, the bandersnatch had his huge jaws clamped firmly onto a huge bouquet of flowers and Hatter was thumping the creature on the head, trying to wrench them free. "Get off get off GET O-" Hatter froze as he noticed Alice. He blushed vibrantly and spun around quickly and Alice remembered just what she was wearing – a short silken nightgown.

The bandersnatch finally let go of the bouquet and moved protectively infront of Alice, growling warningly at the Hatter again.

"Are you… protecting me?" Alice asked.

"Stupid thing set up camp outside your door some time last night and won't let anyone in." Hatter muttered, still turned away. He stretched his arm out backwards and jabbed the flowers in Alice's general direction, earning him another growl. "For you." Alice smiled bemusedly and took the shredded, drool covered offering.

"Thank you… I'm sure they were lovely."

"They were." Hatter said, daring a peek over his shoulder to glare and the bandersnatch.

"It's ok." Alice murmured, patting the bandersnatch gingerly. "He's a friend." The bandersnatch let out a low whine and trotted past Alice, into her room. It jumped up on the bed and curled up, keeping its fierce eyes glued to the Hatter.

"Right, well…" the Hatter mumbled, fidgeting on the spot. "Good bye!" and he darted back down the corridor. Alice watched him go, completely baffled. He'd come all this way to give her flowers?

"What was that about?" she asked her furry new roommate. The bandersnatch shrugged.

Alice found a simple blue and white dress and made her way out into the castle grounds. Now that there were no crazy disproportioned queens running around capturing everyone, she wanted to explore Underland a bit more, perhaps rekindle a few more old memories. The bandersnatch seemed to have appointed itself her very angry personal guard and was following her closely as she cross the grounds towards the gates.

"… just wanted to-"

"To what, exactly?" Alice frowned. Instincts acting before decency, she ducked behind the foliage just outside the castle walls to eavesdrop on the conversation. She couldn't help it; she'd never heard the Hatter quite so dejected, nor Mallymkun quite so angry. Fortunately the bandersnatch followed her lead instead of dashing forward to eat them. Alice heard Mallymkun tut. "Court her?"

"Oh honestly dormouse, you make it sound ludicrous."

"It IS! Hatter, she's not from here! Please, just stop this nonsense and come back. The tea party's not the same without you and the March Hare's getting upset!"

"I can't stop I won't stop and you can't stop me!" Hatter snapped. "If she says it's ludicrous then and only then will I come back."

"And what about us? We've spent eternity with you and now you just off and abandon us for a fresh bit of skirt?"

"She's far more than a bit of skirt!"

"Yes, she is! She's Alice!" Alice jolted. "She's the hero of Underland! Our saviour! Our champion!"

"Are you saying she's too good for me now?!" Alice heard Mallymkun sigh.

"Hatter, I just think you're setting yourself up to fall. You're not exactly the most… stable person around are you? And Alice comes from a structured, proper world." The silence that followed was deafening, the air thick and tense.

"If she says it's ludicrous… I will come back." The Hatter repeated finally before striding past Alice's hiding place and back into the castle. Alice heard the dormouse sigh again before the tiniest patter of paws signalled her departure. She left it a few more minutes before coming out from her hiding place, eyes wide in shock. She let out a breath she didn't realise she'd been holding in and unclenched her fists to reveal tiny half-circle marks.

Oh no no, this just wasn't right. Hatter couldn't… she couldn't… she had a home and a family and a suitor back in England! Granted, a suitor she wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but all the same it didn't seem right to go gallivanting off behind his back.

But would she gallivant? It was all well and good ranting about how much she shouldn't do these things because of her commitments, but didn't her tenacity mean that there was a chance she would? Hatter wasn't at all handsome in any conventional way, but Alice had never had much of a conventional taste anyway. Her sister Margaret was always going on about how handsome her fiancé was – and if he managed to seduce some other poor girl then it must have been true. But Alice never really saw it. All she saw when she looked at Margaret's fiancé was smugness and an odd-shaped nose.

No, Hatter was interesting. He was the most interesting person Alice had ever met and was kind and loyal with it. Utterly mad of course, but in a much less dangerous way than say… the March Hare and his cup-throwing ways. Alice had felt very close to him during her adventure through Underland. She'd felt the need to rescue him, protect him, calm him when he was angry or frightened and she'd even admitted aloud that she would miss him. But anything past friendship? Her mind simply didn't think of such things… well, until now.

Alice felt the bandersnatch nudge her shoulder impatiently and it jerked her from her thoughts. She smiled apologetically and nodded, beginning her trek back up to her room.

Exploration of Underland could wait. She had something far more delicate and frightening to investigate.

Alice didn't see Hatter again for the rest of the day and she found herself missing him. She sprawled out on her bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering what he was doing and whether it involved making even more hats. She wondered if she ought to make room just in case. The bandersnatch had taken up position on the floor at the foot of her bed and Alice could hear his deep breaths as he slept.

She almost wished she had access to the Oraculum. Perhaps it could tell her how this whole thing was meant to pan out.

Alice was jerked out of her thoughts by a knock on the door. She sat up and shushed the bandersnatch, who was already growling.

"Come in!" the door opened slowing and a shock of orange hair peeked through, followed cautiously by the Hatter, whose gaze was focussed on the snarling creature at Alice's feet. "We've been through this." Alice snapped warningly at the bandersnatch, who let out a deep huff and turned away in a sulk. Hatter stepped into the room a little more boldly and produced yet another bouquet of flowers from behind his back. They were beautiful, arranged perfectly and- and part of a very elaborate lacy hat. Alice took the hat gingerly and smiled. "Thank you, but you really don't have to bring me something every time you visit." She paused before adding, "Is there something on your mind?"

"On my mind?" Hatter blushed and averted his eyes. "Oh no, nothing at all, my mind is perfectly empty. I'm here to tell you lunch is nearly ready, actually, and that you look very lovely today – well I didn't come to tell you that, since I haven't seen you today except for this morning when you did indeed look stunning but I didn't get a good look-"

"Hatter!" Alice interrupted, unable to stop an amused smile lighting up her features. She shook her head and placed the hat down on the bed before standing up, hand outstretched towards the Hatter. He looked at it curiously for a moment so she jerked it towards him.

"Come on then, let's go down for dinner."

"Oh…oh!" Hatter nodded fervently and took her hand in his, another blush tinting his cheeks – Alice was growing quite fond of that colour.

They walked down in amicable silence, a serene smile on the Hatter's face which was somehow very different from his usual whacky grin. Alice for her part felt a little light headed and her fingers, intertwined with his, were tingling pleasantly at the foreign contact. She felt herself smiling too as they entered the dining hall. All too soon, their hands dropped apart to sit at their respective places as the White Queen glided smoothly into the room, taking seat at the head of the table. Several other white-clad men and women were there too, but Alice didn't know their names or anything about them other than that they all looked oddly calm and peaceful.

The lunch itself was amazing. Some of the foods were very strange to look at, but everything was delicious. Alice wondered vaguely what the food was made from, since every plant and animal could talk in Underland – she quickly pushed the subject out of her mind before it put her off her meal. She listened to the chatter around her, noting that she and the Hatter looked decidedly out of place in amongst all of these pure-looking people.

"-And forgive me, but we haven't spoken of your wedding!" one of the ladies in white turned to another and smiled. "Tell me, when is it?"

"Soon. We haven't picked a date yet, but you're all invited, of course." Her friend smiled back coyly.

"Ah, young love." Mirana sighed dreamily before turning to Alice. "Do you have a husband back home?" Alice raised both brows.

"I… no."

"No one special?" another lady pressed. "If not a husband, then a fiancé? Lover?" Alice felt herself going red.

"No, no one." She muttered. She felt all eyes on her and searched for something to say. "I er, I did have someone propose to me though." There was a collective gasp of excitement and Alice kept her eyes firmly on her plate.

"What happened? What did you say?"

"Well, I sort of… didn't say anything." Alice said, trying to shrug it off. "He asked me straight before I came here, you see. I never gave him an answer."

"What a shame that our crisis stood in the way of your marriage." Alice looked up at this, wondering if the white-clad man had been being sarcastic. But no, he looked genuinely guilty. Alice marvelled at the absurdity of it and glanced at Hatter, hoping to give him some sort of 'please help me change the subject' look. But the thought of trying to form such a look flew away when she saw the expression on his face – completely void of its usual mirth and happiness, Hatter looked sombre and dejected; it was a look that suited his earlier tone – the one he'd used as Mallymkun told him his plans to court Alice were foolish.

"I didn't want to marry him anyway." Alice blurted out. "He was obnoxious and pompous and… he had a digestion problem… and…" she averted her gaze as she felt all eyes turn to her again, the room going silent.

"…Yes, well…" Mirana said after a while, "I'm sure a beautiful girl such as you will find a man you love soon enough." Alice just made a quiet 'mmf' noise.

"Well, I should be getting back." Alice felt her heart drop at the words. Hatter had been silent all through pudding – most unlike him – and had uttered a quiet 'thank you' to Mirana before heading out. Alice had caught up with him in the entrance hall.

"Must you?" she asked, frowning. Hatter gave her a confused look.

"Well of course. I don't live here, you know."

"But you will be back?" she must have looked even more scared than she felt, because Hatter put his hand gently on her shoulder and looked at her curiously.

"What's wrong?"

"N,nothing. Just checking."

"You didn't have need to check yesterday." Alice averted her eyes.

"You just… just seemed upset at lunch." Hatter chuckled.

"Mood swings. They come with being mad, you know."

"It wasn't just that though, was it?" she looked back up once more and saw the Hatter staring away into space, thinking.

"It just caught me by surprise, that's all, your having a fiancé."

"I don't have a fiancé." Alice said firmly. "Hamish just proposed to me. I didn't want to say yes and I never will."

"One of the questions you had to answer?"

"Yes." Hatter sighed. The fingers on Alice's shoulder tapped lightly against the material of her dress in an odd, methodical rhythm as he thought.

"Alice, you know how I am… what I am. I'm quite mad, you know that." Alice frowned. "But even knowing that, I can't help but hope… well, wish… that perhaps…" he sighed again. "Look, I'm not the best with all this forwardness – well, not in matters like this – and I realise that I have a lot of very bad faults and that you are very perfect and more than worthy of someone who at least has their full set of marbles…"

"Hatter, you're rambling."

"Ah, yes… the point is… well, the point is…"

"I know what the point is." Alice said, smiling gently. As she moved forwards a little, a small voice in the back of her mind wished that she'd had some practice with this. She wasn't really sure of what to do, but going on instinct, she reached up, ignoring the look of pure terror on Hatter's face, and kissed him. She felt arms holding her gently, carefully, and she pulled back slightly to smile at the madman she was rather fond of. "I don't have any answers to give you, but we have all the time in the world to find them. Together."

"I rather like it when you say that word." Hatter murmured. Alice smiled, reaching up for another kiss.

Dawww :P I had intended to get a little more graphic with this (and fuck, did my perverted muse ever want to) But I decided that this couple is just way too cute to do things like that with D:

Reviews make my day :)