Summary: Alice has forgotten her friends in Underland until one day she follows the figures she sees in the looking glass.

Rating: NC-17/M (quite innocent until later chapters)

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction and the author receives no profit from the work

Gaelig Day

Alice squinted at the looking glass. Perhaps her eyes were less than perfect. She was, after all, twenty-two: a fact that her mother was rather fond of repeating.

You are twenty-two, Alice.

Alice parroted back the familiar phrase, looking beyond her reflection at the miniature creatures she saw shimmering somewhere at the edge of the looking glass.

You've made your fortune, Alice. You've travelled the world, Alice. You've turned down a half dozen suitors that were willing to put up with your peculiarities, Alice; supposing, of course, that you would put those troubling peculiarities aside, Alice.

But what was that there in the glass?

She peered at the glass, leaning within a couple of inches of its surface. The diminutive creatures were a little larger at this distance and their animations more evident. They seemed to be sitting around a table, but she could not tell what it was they were doing with such gusto. Glancing backwards over her shoulder, she checked to see if a remnant of her childhood might be lurking in the corner somewhere and reflecting in the glass: a child's table and toys, perhaps. But alas, nothing lurked in the corner but the dress form.

She frowned down at her own dress. It had not yet been a month, but she was already missing the liberty in dressing that she could take when she was travelling beyond her mother's ever present gaze here in London. Dreadful stockings and corsets and hairpins and high button boots. Dreadful everything. Her home would be the Austro-Prussian War, if she did not sometimes concede to her mother's wishes about dress. Better to concede on dress than the truly important things, she reasoned. Age had not broken her independence, but it had warmed her to the notion of compromise. A rather adult development, she congratulated herself.

I will not marry, Mother. But I shall wear stockings. Sometimes.

She frowned: the creatures were still there, hands waving in the air. She leaned just a bit further, her hands rising up in a pale imitation of the actions of the shimmering creatures through the looking glass. Her nose was almost touching the glass. She was overcome by the sensation that it might be possible to walk right through it, so that she might get a better view of these intriguing creatures.

Would it be terribly selfish to smudge the glass by pressing her fingertips to it, so that she might test her theory? She was not the one who did the cleaning, after all. Out of thoughtfulness for others she might take some care. And yet, she felt herself pressing into the glass, although the glass did not feel like it should: like water perhaps or ephemeral coolness to the touch, but nothing solid.

Wicked, girl, she thought to herself, you have leaned on the looking glass and made it go all mush. A mushy mirror: she had never heard of such a thing. And floors gone green; and ceilings gone blue; and walls gone wide.

Alice twirled around, hearing birds and voices. Her room had disappeared.

Her heart began to race as it had not done since she was last standing on the bow of the ship during a particularly dastardly storm, which had left her feeling delightfully and dangerously alive. Alive, Alice, she had whispered to herself on the ship. "Alive, Alice," she repeated to the flowers and trees that surrounded her now in a cacophony of colors.

"Alice, alive," something sang back to her.

Placing her hands on her nipped in waist, she turned to her left and right. Nothing but daisies were smiling up at her, but they were smiling, and that made her curious.

"Did you just speak to me?" she questioned the flowers at her feet.

"Alice has lost some of her sense," an upturned face replied.

"But she is the right color, and that is something at least," another argued.

Alice knew that this should surprise her, but somehow, it seemed right—resplendently right—that these lovely daises should honor her with their conversation.

"Her petals curl even less than before," a rose bemoaned.

"What's wrong with my petals?" Alice asked, peevishly petting her upswept hair. Honey caught more flies than vinegar, she remembered, even though these delicate flowers were not obnoxious gnats. "You are the most charming garden of flowers I have ever seen. For, I have never been spoken to by flowers before."

"We have talked to you before, Alice: many times," a chorus of daisies insisted.

A thought formed in the crease between her brows and Alice worried it for a moment. It seemed she had forgotten something. It was all so new and yet all so familiar.

The voices came floating back to her once more and she remembered why she had pressed her naughty fingertips to the looking glass: she wanted to see the creatures at the table at play, and so she turned and twisted through the garden path, seeking them out and humming to herself.

"With silver bells and cockle shells…" she intoned, gripping her skirts in her hands so they did not drag so in the dewy grass. [1]

The voices grew louder as she rounded the bend and finally the table of creatures came into view framed by a large windmill. But they were not creatures all: a March hare, a dormouse, and a man—a hatter. Alice did not know how she knew he was a hatter, but she knew that he was, just as she knew today was Wednesday. Or Thursday, perhaps.

"Alice!" the hatter exclaimed, climbing atop the table and running along the length of the three tables together knocking over mismatched cups and saucers and sending a cake plate of tea cakes flying.

He leaned down over the edge of the table and extended his be-thimbled hand to her. She tilted her head, feeling the thought wiggle more insistently behind her brows, demanding to be heard. Her mouth may have opened in a tiny 'o' for all the thinking she was doing and it may have made the hatter sad, for he began to frown and his eyes shifted slightly in color.

"Ye'r late!" the March hare shouted, pulling his ears down to his chin and trembling.

"I'm very sorry," she apologized. "If I would have known, I would have chanced making marks on the looking glass much earlier."

"You used to come at ten o'clock and now you come at noon," the hatter said, his frown growing more pronounced.

"Dilly-dally!" the dormouse said accusingly. [2]

"Ye huv forgotten," the hatter said, slipping into a brogue that matched the March hare's.

"Have I?" Alice asked. She was very sorry if that was the case. She tried very hard to be mindful.

"'n' ye wull nae tak' mah haun, lassie," he said, extending his hand out half a foot further to emphasize his point.

This point nearly cost him his footing as he teetered at the edge, and the point was clearly making him so cheerless that Alice rethought her trip through the looking glass. These happy little creatures were happier without her. She had spoilt their tea party.

"Forgive me, sir. I will happily take your hand," she said with a smile. Business and pleasure is conducted with the shaking of hands, she thought with a nod as she took his larger hand in hers.

At the touch of his hand, Alice suddenly felt the world begin to brighten about her, as if a lamp had just been lit for her personal enlightenment.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer's day." [3]

"She did quite a bit more than that, Alice," the Hatter reminded her, lowering his voice to a quiet lisp. "Bluddy Behg Hid."

Alice nodded, squeezing his hand. "And you were all there!"

Hatter's frown was reversed into a beatific smile that threatened the corners of his eyes, which glowed a pleasant green. Still having her hand in his, the Hatter attempted to haul Alice up onto the table with him, but Alice wobbled, encumbered by her heavy skirts, tight sleeves, high necked collar, and constricting corset.

The Dormouse shook her head, "She has lost her muchness again."

"I have not," Alice insisted, scrambling up first on one knee and then the other before being pulled upright by the Hatter.

Her heeled boots fought for purchase on the heavily laden and uneven table, and seeing her struggle, the Hatter grabbed her elbows to steady her.

"You have a case of the Wiggles and Waggles, Alice."

"It would seem that I have."

"Never mind. What matters is that you are Right Sized Alice. Proper Perfect Pleasantly Sized Alice," he assured her, moving into her personal space.

Alice was not given to blushing, but she thought the tips of her ears might have turned a bit pink at his compliment—a compliment she was not used to receiving, but which pleased her all the same.

"But, you are late, you know: Thackery is right. Naughty," he said, raising one brow saucily.

Turning on his heel, he began to pull her by the hand across the tables towards the tall seat that he had abandoned in his initial enthusiastic greeting. In the process of the short journey, her lengthy skirts were dragged through all manner of wet and muddle. This unfortunate accident was brought to the Hatter's attention when he climbed down into his chair and spun to face Alice, who was still perched above him on the table. The stained hems of her many layered skirts hung limply amid the wreck of the table.

"We have made a mess," he said with a nervous giggle.

"It is my skirts: they're too too," she said. She peered over her shoulder: the train was in the most horrid condition.

"We shall have to sort you out," Hatter asserted, lifting his arms to grip her waist and lower her to the ground beside him.

She was caught momentarily off-guard by his actions and she held her breath as his hands held her tightly and she slid almost down his chest. While she was acutely aware that this was most definitely not Otherland, she was also aware that this would not be proper in Otherland—a fact she could not easily shelve. That must have been why her stomach hitched, she reasoned.

"Humph!" the Dormouse groused before throwing a cracked tea cup at the pair.

The Hatter ducked, and the cup went sailing over his head. Seemingly inspired by the Dormouse, Thackery followed suit and tossed a crumpet into the air, which landed harmlessly with a plop in an open teapot.

Alice took a step back from the Hatter, regaining her composure.

"Are you in there, Alice?" Hatter asked, softly lisping, as he looked down his nose at her.

She followed his gaze and reasoned that he must mean her voluminous dress, which was rather different from what he was accustomed to seeing her in.

"Beneath the corset and bustle and hairpins, yes," she answered in the affirmative.

Alice thought she saw a novel shade of brilliant blue float across his eyes, but she could not guess the meaning of this change.

"It is not as easy to make a new dress for Right Sized Alice," he said with a sigh. "I haven't a bolt big enough. Not with me, here at the Hare House. I want to put things to right, however, given that I caused the kerfuffle. So, if you would allow me: through the woods and around the bend, if we wend, at the Hat House we could spend…"

"Hatter," she said, reaching up a hand to touch his cheek.

"Thank, you, Alice. I'm fine," he said with a swallow.

"It does not matter, although these skirts may interfere somewhat with my muchness. I shall muster through, I expect," she said, gamely brushing herself off.

"Mallymkun did not mean it: about your muchness," Hatter apologized. "Althoogh, ye huv changed."

"But, I am not the only one who looks different," Alice observed.

"We are all the Correct Size," Mallymkun assured her, knowingly.

"Yes, but you look different. Better."

"Humph! We have always looked fine, thank you, the Alice," Mallymkun sniffed.

"Perhaps you cannot see it for yourselves," Alice pondered. "But, you are all much brighter. Much muchier."

The Hatter brushed at his waistcoat, which Alice had noted was a bright new blue. His bow tie, coat, pants, stockings, and shoes all appeared to be new as well. Yet, this was not what she had meant by her observation. The colors of Underland seemed to be freshly painted, tinting the sky, grass, and everything around her a happier shade. The fur of her friends seemed fluffier. Hatter's hair appeared to be softer and more ginger than orange; the skin about his eyes less obviously tinged with tangerine and violet; his hands somewhat less stained and besmirched; his cheeks less magenta; and his skin less shockingly white and more unmarred marble.

"It is the White Queen," Hatter explained. "Everything is nicer with the White Queen ruling," he lisped happily.

Yes, that seemed right, Alice thought. This is what the Hatter must have looked like Before: before his clan was destroyed by the Jabberwocky and before Iracebeth ruined everything. Before Horunvendush Day drove Hatter madder than mad.

"Time for tea!" the Hatter cried, turning back towards the spoiled table.

"Time?" Thackery bemoaned, tugging on his ears. "Dinnae gang dragging him intae it," he pleaded.

"You've only just made friends, again," Mallymkun said, agreeing with Thackery.

"Have you made friends with Time again, Hatter?" Alice asked with some pleasure. She would like to know that Hatter was better off than when she had last left him.

"There is only one way to tell," Hatter said, contemplatively.

"Yes?" she prodded.

"Have you come to stay?" he asked hesitantly.

"I…I haven't much thought about it."

Thackery giggled and hiccupped, "She hasn't a thought in her heid!"

"Alice," the Hatter said, gripping her shoulders with sudden frantic energy.

"Yes, Hatter?"

"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

It was a riddle, as it had always been, but just now it seemed like a very important riddle—not the kind of riddle to be trifled with. She knew just how to answer.

"I don't know. Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

He smiled quite brightly once more, "I haven't the slightest idea."

[1] "Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row."

The oldest known version was first published in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (c. 1744)

[2] "A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar!

What makes you come so soon?

You used to come at ten o'clock;

Now you come at noon."

The word 'diller' is a Yorkshire term for a boy who is dim-witted and stupid so this rhyme is a moral about the importance of punctuality. The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes suggests that 'a diller, a dollar' are related to the words dilatory and dullard or that maybe 'a diller, a dollar' is related to dilly-dally. English schools traditionally started at nine o'clock or earlier, so anyone who arrived at ten o'clock would be rather late. This verse has elements of nonsense with its contradictory third and fifth lines.

[3] "The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summer's day;

The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away.

The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore

The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts and vowed he'd steal no more."

This rhyme first appeared in print as part of a 12 line verse in a feature called The Hive: A Collection of Scraps in The European Magazine of 1782.