Disclaimer: I don't own Alice in Wonderland, or any characters, places, things, or ideas therein. The rights for that belong to Lewis Carroll, Disney, and Tim Burton. I am writing this fic for entertainment purposes only, not monetary gain.

Summary: After all those times Hatter scolded her for being late for tea, and here he was, later than ever! His tea was getting cold, for goodness sake. He hated cold tea. Whatever could be keeping him? AlicexHatter

Rating: K+

Warnings: Fluff and Thackery throwing things

Spoilers: Very slight ones for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

Pairing: Alice/Hatter

Part: 1/1

Dedication: To jewel of athos, who requested Hatter being late to the tea party for once. I hope you enjoy this, my lovely twin sister! -hugs-

Author's Note: I certainly hope you're all not growing tired of me -- I know I am posting a lot of AiW fics, but the movie is just so inspiring, and even more so is this couple! This is just a little piece of fluff set in the future, after Alice returns to Underland to stay. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you so much for reading! ~fyd

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A Late Tea Party

fyd818

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Alice took one swift glance around to make sure no one was watching, then hitched up her skirts and ran for it. Despite the fact that she'd been living in Underland for a very long time (something like three years in Otherland time, but since Time was measured differently in Underland, she wasn't sure exactly how long it had been), sometimes a few prim and proper English ways that had been bred into her popped out, such as not showing her ankles in public. But since she was barefoot -- well, that might cause a bit of a problem.

The White Queen had summoned her for a while, complaining (if such a graceful, fairy-like woman could be said to complain) that she hadn't gotten to see Underland's Champion in so long. She urged Alice to tell her about how everything was going, which had taken a fair while since it really had been a good bit of time since the two women had last chatted.

But now Alice might be late, and that would never do! She had been accused several times of being late for tea, and she made it a habit not to make the same mistake again. So she ran pell-mell through the woods, shouting apologies if she accidentally knocked into a flower or scared a rocking-horsefly off his intended flight course. The brightly-colored woods in Underland flashed by her at incredible speeds, but she didn't stop to talk to any of the flowers as she normally did, and she heard huffs as she passed. She would have to go back and apologize later, after tea.

At last Alice burst, breathless but on time, into the clearing that had grown so near and familiar to her over the past few years. Three mismatched tables with lines of mismatched chairs along them and mismatched tea sets atop the tables awaited her, sitting in front of what appeared to be a broken-down windmill, but was actually the home and headquarters of Tarrant Hightopp, the best Hatter in all of Underland.

The March Hare, Thackery, was already seated at the table, muttering madly to himself as he poured his tea through one broken teacup into another, unbroken one, beneath. Across from him, the Dormouse Mallymkun was loading sugar cubes into a spoon. Her favorite sport was launching them at the various tea-takers, waiting to see if they would catch them in their teacups or try to avoid being hit by them.

It wasn't until Alice had almost reached the table that she realized the chair at the head of the table was empty. "Where's Hatter?" she demanded, looking around to see if he was hiding somewhere. Hatter never missed tea!

Thackery threw a cup at her, which she promptly ducked, long used to his game. Mally looked up from her sugar-spoon-launcher with a shrug. "He'll be along," she said. "After all, he never misses tea."

"That's what has me worried," Alice murmured, easing down into her chair, which was right next to Hatter's. She stared worriedly at his empty place, murmuring a distracted thank-you as she took the teacup Thackery handed her. Neither of them looked during the motions. She'd had a long time to practice and perfect such a maneuver, especially since she had to make up for his lack of attention.

After all those times he scolded her for being late for tea, and here he was, later than ever! His tea was getting cold, for goodness sake. He hated cold tea. Whatever could be keeping him?

For a while the trio sat in silence, nibbling on scones, drinking their tea, and avoiding the teacups and saucers and sugar cubes Thackery threw. Alice felt herself growing more and more worried the longer that went by. Where was Hatter? Surely he was all right… Yes, he had to be. She would know, deep inside herself, if he wasn't.

There was a flash of movement in the woods, and then Hatter was there. He slowed his steps as he came out of the woods, adjusting his Hat atop his head as he strolled toward the tea table as casually as if he wasn't terribly, terribly late.

"You're late for tea!" Thackery shouted, sounding positively scandalized. He launched a cracked teacup at Tarrant, which the Hatter promptly ducked.

Alice fought the urge to leap to her feet and plant her hands on her hips. "Where have you been?" she demanded, trying to keep the worry and anger out of her tone.

"So sorry to be late," he said smoothly, ignoring her question. He dropped into his chair, offering her his gap-toothed smile. His green eyes were sparkling -- she recognized that look. He'd done something devious.

Across the table, Mally giggled. She scurried over to Thackery, tugged on the March Hare's floppy ears, then ran off. After gathering up an armful of tea things, the shouting Thackery followed her, throwing things willy-nilly and completely missing the little white Dormouse every time.

As soon as they were out of sight, Hatter's expression melted into one of contriteness. "I'm sorry I'm late for tea," he said softly. "But I had something terribly, terribly important to do."

"More important than tea?" Alice asked, half-teasing. It was hard to stay upset with Hatter for long, especially when he looked at her like that.

"Oh, infinitely!" He looked shocked that she would suggest that there wasn't something more important than tea. Suddenly he produced a box, slightly worn out, from under the table and set it before her. "For you." He grinned proudly, his eyes shining as he watched her with those intense, inhumanly beautiful green eyes.

Now that Alice thought back on it, she realized he'd been carrying the box under his arm when he entered the clearing. "What is this?" she asked.

"Open it and see!" Hatter leaned forward slightly, completely ignoring the untouched teacup in front of him. It was just as well, probably. The tea inside would be frightfully cold by now.

Reaching out, Alice snagged the bow that had been tied around it and tugged. It fell gracefully away, allowing her to lift up the lid and peer inside.

The moment she saw what was inside, she gasped and fell backwards. "Hatter!" she said, shocked.

He was standing now, nervously turning his Hat around and around in his hands. "Do you like it?" he asked, his eyes taking on a yellowish tint. He was worried.

"Like it--?!" The words strangled on her lips. Slowly standing, she reached into the box and gently lifted out its contents, her eyes wide with surprise and pleasure.

The Hat was an almost exact copy of his own. It was quite obvious that he'd put a lot of time and energy and thought and love into it, because it was perfect. It was slightly smaller, just right for the size of her head. The sash around it was a beautiful silvery blue instead of faded red, and the hat pins were all smaller, too. Instead of ten-sixths on the card sticking out of the sash, though, her name was painted in delicate, curving script. "Oh, Hatter, it's perfect!" With shaking hands, she reached up and set it atop her head, then folded her hands in front of her and waited for his opinion.

Tarrant's eyes glowed bright green, proof of his absolute happiness. He lifted his own Hat and placed it atop his head, so they stood there, in their Hats, just staring at each other. "I've been considering words that start with the letter 'W,'" he whispered. "Waistband, waistcoat, whisper, whistle, wholehearted, wellbeing, water, willing, wife…" He trailed off, smiling radiantly.

Alice stepped forward into his arms at the same moment he came towards her, his arms open. They moved like two people well-versed at the movement, which they were. Alice accepted his kiss on her upturned lips, then returned it with a wide smile. "I love you, Tarrant," she whispered, resting her newly Hatted head on his chest.

She knew he was smiling, though she couldn't see it because of their height difference and the brim of her new Hat. "I love you, too, Mrs. Hightopp," he replied earnestly.

~The End~

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Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!