He hadn't been joking when he said that Wonderland was no kid's story. Sure it was beautiful, the perfect setting, at least aesthetically. But the things that went on in that world… they were not a suitable source for children's literature.

At least it wasn't now.

Yes, he said it wasn't a kid's story. But he never said it hadn't been.

Oysters may not live all that long, but he did. All Wonderlanders did, given the chance. 'Course, those close to a certain axe-happy queen were less likely to reach a ripe old age, but if you kept your head down – that didn't mean not acting up; simply being good enough not to get caught – then the land they lived in filled them with vitality way beyond the logical life span in a logical world like Oysterland.

He'd seen this place when it was beautiful. When it had truly been wonderful. He'd seen one little lost and confused girl bring down the whole world without even knowing what she was doing. An Oyster, throwing down a royal flush and bringing down the entire house of cards.

He still maintained that she should get her hair cut.

He remembered the days when he'd been free to be odd. To be as mad as a hatter.

Now he barely even remembered what his nickname was meant to mean.

You see, that's the thing about war. About suffering under a cruel and merciless monarch. In a world of mad people, there's only so many directions a person can go.

You can allow yourself to fall deeper into your insanity, and choose which path you follow from there. The path of cowardice; of using your madness as a safety blanket, taking solace in it and hiding yourself away until everything blows over. Or the path that you take in someone else's footsteps. You chase the power. The insanity turns on you, warping you from the inside, darkened by the hunger for authority and dominion over someone, anyone else to escape you own weaknesses. Deranged by the promise of power, you become like Mad March and the Tweedles.

Or, on some special occasions… so very rare… it instead incenses you to that strange strange world of sanity. Sure, true sanity is impossible to a cracked mind, and it's a fine line that's walked… but the hope… the slightest sliver of hope of an end to all this, and end to the chaos, to the addictions and the squalor and the austerity; a chance that this world may once be wonderful again…

It's that hope. That impossible hope… is what keeps you from falling

It keeps you strong.

Hatter and Dodo, they were among the few who could honestly claim to be in that rare group.

Never would he have believed if he was told that he would be in it, let alone the sanest of the pair.

He took pride in what he did, of course he did. He would never even think of going back, choosing anything else. He saw every day what they were fighting for. He knew what a difference he had made, and he would never want it any other way.

But that didn't mean he didn't sometimes miss being able to be as mad as a tove's nose every now and then.