Disclaimer: I don't own Alice in Wonderland, nor any characters, things, ideas, or places therein. Those belong to Lewis Carroll, Tim Burton, and Disney. I am making no monetary gain off this fic, though I would love a few good reviews…
Summary: Alice had never really realized that the word "Fairfarren" was meant to be a final goodbye… AlicexHatter angst!fic
Warnings: Violence, character death
Dedication: To jewel of athos and verseblack for giving me the courage I needed to post this fic, which I've had written for a while. Thanks to both of you, you're amazing! -hugs-
Author's Note: Usually I have no qualms about killing off characters, especially not in one-shots. But when the natural progession of time went by after I discovered this wonderful fandom and couple and I got the idea for this story, at first I put on the brakes and tried everything I could do to resist it. I didn't want to kill anyone! But alas, the Muse ignored me and kept shoving the idea upon me until I wrote it. I just take comfort in the fact that I got the last laugh... Please don't hate me too much? Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy! ~fyd
Alice's first year upon her third and final return to Underland was like a dream come true. During the White Queen's reign, color and life had returned to everything, making it seem more like the fairyland she remembered from her childhood. Hatter had gone back to making his famous Hats, and together (with some help from the Tweedles, Mally, and more hindrance than help from Thackery, though it was the thought that counted) they (mostly) restored the windmill to its former glory.
On a clear and beautiful day five months after her return, with all their friends about them, Alice and Tarrant had wed. It was a wonderful occasion, with much partying by all and cup-throwing from Thackery and bawling from Mally and happy sighs from Queen Mirana.
She and her Hatter had started their life together with peace, happiness, and a bit of madness. After Mally had gotten over her grudge at Alice for "stealing" Tarrant, the two of them delivered the Hats that Alice's husband made. She got to see a great deal more of Underland than she had before, since previously she'd only been to Tugley Woods, Marmoreal, and the Red Queen's castle, which now lay in ruin.
The trouble came without warning one fine day during a private tea party at Marmoreal. The Red Queen Iracebeth and the Knave Stayne had been busy during their banishment, and had somehow rallied a mismatched but determined army to come back and fight.
Mirana had immediately placed the Vorpal sword in Alice's hands, since she was the Champion. Though there was no Jabberwocky to slay (and she was surprised to find that she wished there were, because she at least knew how to fight a Jabberwocky), Alice threw herself into the fight. She caught occasional glimpses of Mally, who was stabbing at the ankles of everyone she could get to; Thackery, who was throwing everything he could get his paws on at the invading army; the Tweedles, who were doing a surprisingly good job of defending the White Queen; and even Chessur, who was appearing and disappearing among the fray with his wicked claws out and slashing.
But her Hatter… He'd always possessed and shown a fiercely protective streak, especially when it came to Alice. But now he was trying to be everywhere at once, fight everyone at once. His eyes were blood red with anger, the orangey-purple shadows under his eyes suddenly black against his otherwise pale face, and his shouts were thick with the Outlandish brogue that befell him when he came under the influence of one of his "bad times," as he often called his bouts of out-of-control anger (which he never showed toward her, even when they were having a spat). His sword, which had always looked too large for him but which he always handled with a grace and skill that belied his usual kind, passive state, was once more going up against Ilocovic Stayne's, and they were looking terrifyingly evenly matched.
Among them, and Queen Mirana's extremely efficient soldiers, the Red Queen's short but bloody uprising was quickly quelled. Iracebeth was taken into custody and led off by two soldiers. She screamed insults and once more promised revenge upon her little sister as she was dragged away.
Alice looked around, her eyes widening slightly when she noticed Stayne's body among those who had fallen. She turned her gaze up then, following the length of the ruby-tinged blade that was still pointed at the fallen Knave, as if waiting for him to make a move so it could taste his blood again.
Tarrant looked up at her, the scarlet shade in his eyes fading to ginger, then amber, then back to their usual fluorescent lime. Then a puzzled expression flitted across his pale face, and his knees went out from under him, dropping him to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut.
"Hatter!" She felt like she was moving through mud as she tried to get to him, stumbling over the bodies strewn across the space between them, her own feet, and the uneven ground itself. At last she threw herself to her knees next to him, dropping the Vorpal sword as she frantically searched for the wound that had felled him.
An ever-widening burgundy stain was spreading across his grey jacket like some evil living entity all its own. His battered hands went to the source of the flow, a cringe physically shaking his entire body as he folded them over his middle.
Stayne had managed to hurt Hatter before Hatter had finished Stayne off.
Alice took his face, suddenly more grey than white, into her hands, gently forcing him to look at her. "Tarrant…" She choked, her throat suddenly closing with fear and denial and anguish. Her vision went blurry, and she blinked rapidly to try to quell her tears. But quite despite her efforts, they broke free and streamed down her face.
A ghostly smile turned up the corners of his mouth. "Alice," he whispered. "You're safe."
"At what price?" she cried. She wanted to shake him, to scream at him, to call him a fool for what he'd done. But she couldn't.
"D-Don't c-cry, luv," he whispered, accent thickening and stutter worsening with his pain and anguish. He'd always tried to keep her happy, and she knew he hated to see her sad, in pain, or, worst of all, crying. But she couldn't hold back her tears.
"Don't you leave me, Tarrant," she whispered fiercely. "Not now. Not when we've had so little time together…"
His eyes were paling, turning lighter and lighter at a frightening pace. "You m-mustn't lose your m-muchness, Alice," he whispered, his usually soft lisp suddenly quite pronounced.
"Hatter…" She shook her head hard in denial, tears splashing everywhere. "Please," she begged him.
He smiled in the crooked, gap-toothed way he had when he'd seen the too-small her approaching his mismatched tea table the second time she'd come to Underland. "I love you," he whispered in that heartfelt, innocent way of his. His lips were looking a darker red than normal, and Alice could barely stand to look at his face, which was slowly going slack.
"Tarrant…" She opened her mouth to beg him again not to leave her, but instead said what she couldn't stand to let him go without knowing. "I love you, too, my foolish, brave Hatter."
He shuddered, but that little smile didn't fade. "Fairfarren, Alice," he breathed. His expression smoothed out, his eyes went a glassy grey, and suddenly he was just -- gone.
The first sob left her throat, then: A chest-rattling, stomach-twisting sob that echoed in the deathly hush that had fallen when the other Underlanians first witnessed their strong Champion rushing brokenly toward her dying husband, who was just as much a Champion in his own right.
Leaning over, Alice wrapped her arms around Tarrant's shoulders and cradled him against her chest, head bowed over his, tears dripping from her face onto his. Then, lifting her face to the sky, which was far too bright and beautiful considering the fact that her other half was gone, she screamed, loud and long and heartbrokenly, "Hatter!"
Then, suddenly, her whole world was quaking. Someone was shouting her name…
With a startled, shuddering gasp, Alice shot straight up in bed, a strangled scream still on her lips, tears and sweat mingling on her cheeks. "Hatter!" she sobbed brokenly, hands hiding her face.
Something warm suddenly engulfed her, pulling her into what she belatedly realized was an embrace. She stopped fighting then, slumping against the comforting presence as her tears continued to flow unchecked. "Hatter," she moaned.
"Aye, aye, shhh, luv," a familiar voice crooned. "Ah'm 'ere."
Hope suddenly blazed up in her chest, and she lifted her tear streaked face, her eyes immediately latching onto Tarrant's, which were dark purple with worry. One of his hands was tangled in her hair, the other still around her shoulders as he held her against himself.
"Tarrant!" Alice threw her arms around his shoulders, frantically pressing her lips to his in a desperate kiss before she buried her face in the crook of his neck and shoulder. He was there, he was warm, he was real, he was alive, and her dream had been just that. A dream, a nightmare, a figment of her imagination, her mind's twisting of events into what could so easily have happened that day, but thankfully hadn't.
Ilosovic Stayne was dead, but he hadn't taken her husband with him. Hatter had triumphed that day, saving her and so many others.
"What happened?" Hatter asked, obviously puzzled by her strange behavior.
"Don't make me talk about it, please don't," Alice whispered. "Please, just hold me…" She clung to him a little tighter, still reassuring herself over and over that he was okay.
Stroking her hair, Tarrant began to sing to her in soft Outlandish, a song she didn't understand, but one that was comforting and soon had her tear-swollen eyes sagging sleepily.
He wove his next words into the melody of his song. "Sleep, Alice. I'll still be here when you wake…"
When at last she slipped into sleep again, Hatter's voice wove for her a bright tapestry of happiness and love, erasing the final stubborn images from her dream that had lingered.
And when she woke the next morning, as promised, he was still there: arms around her, lips pressed to her hair, and still humming comfortingly in his sleep.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!