Hello readers! I'm excited to present to you my newest story! After watching Alice in Wonderland for the first time since I saw it in theatres, I absolutely fell in love with it, as well as the Hatter and Alice pairing. I understand the feeling of having a best friend for years, and then having that relationship turn into something more. So I couldn't wait to start a story of my own!

Alright, enough rambling. Let's get on with it. My chapters will be from 1,000 to perhaps 3,000 words, and I suspect this will have 6 or 7 chapters, unless readers push me to write more. The M rated stuff is for a reason; if you've read my stories before, you'll know that I write lemons that make you pucker up for hours. But that won't be for a few chapters, sadly!

One last note: I don't own Alice in Wonderland or any of the characters, just this plot and the movie and a few posters! Please R&R and enjoy!

A Taste of Madness

Chapter One

Regret, Return & Rage

Written by Illuminate the Shadows

Beta'd by Innocent Sinner in Hell

Word count ~ 1,374

He was mad. Simply mad. But then, all the best people are.

I found that once I'd remained in Underland for a few sunsets after having slain the Jabberwocky, the memories of my former visit began to flow back. I could recall the tea parties, all of my friends, and exploring the depths of 'Wonderland' as a child.

The Hatter hadn't seemed as mad then. I remembered his face – he had looked a bit younger, but not much. His clothes hadn't been as tattered. And I could remember how he'd made tea for me. I'd watched him in his workshop, happily making hats with practiced hands. Nothing made him more pleased than making hats.

I could put all the pieces together now. All the dreams, all the time I'd spent in Underland. He'd been my father-figure with my dad had passed. He'd been my best and childhood friend. He'd always been with me, throughout the years.

And now, my heart wanted him to be more.

It was unexpected, what he'd done to my heart and mind. Perhaps insanity was contagious. I closed my eyes and I could see those vibrant green eyes. I didn't dream in Underland, but I'd still think about him before I slept. I could hear his soft, Scottish accent, echoing in my ears.

And now here I was, lying in my bed in London, hurting like I'd never hurt before. Salty tears rolled down my cheeks, staining my pillow and silky blue nightgown. It was utterly unfathomable, how much my insides hurt. I curled myself into a ball, completely clueless as to why this pain was so unbearable, and prayed for sleep to come and chase away the ache.

My mind was made up. I was going back tomorrow.

I bade my mother and sister farewell, and, having told them I was traveling to China, they didn't expect me back for quite some time.

Time. Time was all I'd been looking for when I'd fallen into the rabbit hole. Now, as I wandered through Lord Ascot's garden, time seemed to slow down. My footsteps matched the frantic beat of my heart as I hurried to the tree, hoisting my dress up as to not trip on it.

The hole was within sight.

Closing my eyes, I willingly plunged down, screaming this time from not fear, but excitement. I was on my way home.

"Dear Alice, you've returned."

A smile formed on my lips; I knew that voice. Turning around, I looked up into big, somber blue eyes.

"Chess." The body that belonged to those eyes became visible, and my smile fell as I gazed at the cat. "Could I ask you something?"

"Perhaps," he replied, spinning in a circle in the air before me.

I gathered my thoughts for a moment before speaking. "When you love someone here in Underland, is there some sort of tie that makes it hard to go back to the real world?"

Chessur settled on a rock, that knowing grin never leaving his face. "Indeed, there is." He examined a claw as he spoke. "Love is long-lived in Underland. Perhaps even stronger than the love in Aboveland." He tilted his head, a glint in his eye. "If you love someone here in Underland, and you return to your world, or perhaps the one you love does so… It can be quite torturous for the both of you. It can drive you… Mad." His grin grew wider, and felt my cheeks heat up.

"So pain, depression, loss…"

"All normal symptoms in your situation. Within reason, of course." Chessur's eyes saddened and his grin faded, leaving him looking rather un-Chessur-like. "I must warn you, Alice, that he's not taken your second farewell kindly."

I gazed at the cat, not foolish enough to deny the hidden accusation. "What do you mean?"

Chess sighed and rose from his perch. "Best to show you. Come."

It could have been only hours or perhaps days before the White Castle loomed up before me. "He lives with the White Queen now?" I mused. I turned to the cat, but he had vanished. With a soft sigh, I composed myself and walked up the staircase.

The castle was rather large within, and filled with dizzying corridors and rooms. Searching for someone to ask, I finally stumbled upon McTwisp. "Alice!" he exclaimed. I stooped down to shake his paw, and then got right down to business.

"Can you tell me where the Hatter is?"

McTwisp looked uncomfortable immediately. "Alice, I, well, frankly, I'd rather not… I mean, he's, sort of, gotten worse."

I wrinkled my nose. "Whatever does that mean?"

He fiddled with his overcoat. "Well, my dear, I mean that he's… Completely insane."

Instead of becoming fearful like I suspected he'd been hoping, concern filled my features. "Take me to him, McTwisp." He sighed, then turned and hopped away.

I followed him down halls and halls, utterly lost, but finally I spotted something that brought hope back into my expression. A soft yellow glow shone from underneath a door. McTwisp stopped before it.

"He's in there. Alice… Be careful," he murmured, before hopping away. Probably off to tell the Queen that I had returned.

I pressed my ear to the door, and heard soft murmuring. It was impossible to tell if he was alone, or if it was even him. The voice or voices perhaps, were definitely male. Turning the knob, I found it was unlocked, and it opened easily and silently. I stepped into the dim light.

From the surroundings, I instantly knew this was the Hatter's haven. It was a shop, with hats scattered everywhere. I grinned. 'My Hatter.'

But then, I saw the room for what it really was. The hats were unfinished, and covered in dust. Material was scattered everywhere. Cobwebs decorated the desks and sewing machines. The single candle creating the light was almost spent, the wick nearly drowning in melted wax. I raised my eyes to the back of the wooden chair, still hopeful.

"Hatter?" No response, though he continued murmuring incoherently. I moved closer, around his chair, and spoke his name again. "Hatter?"

His eyes flickered up to me, a dark crimson, and then they skittered elsewhere. "Curse these persistent mem'ries," he mumbled, clutching at his dark brown jacket. My mind grew more troubled.

"Hatter it's me, Alice. I am really here."

"Did ya hear tha'? She's lyin' ta m'ae again." His voice was laced with a deep, Scottish accent.

"I'm not lying," I said firmly, reaching out to touch his hand.

It all happened too fast for me to react immediately. He shot up in his chair, throwing the half-finished hat from his lap to the side. His eyes burned a terrifying shade of red. "Ya're nev'r comin' back! Ya left m'ae here ta rot! Ol' Hatt'a 'as no feelin's, ain't tha' it?"

My eyes widened as I stumbled back, my heel catching on the leg of the sewing machine table, and down I went. A sharp pain in my arm made me cry out, and all grew silent.

I opened my eyes and looked up, expecting to see something dangerous or sharp coming down at me. But what I saw was the Hatter standing before me, blinking hard. His eyes were a pale green; almost yellow. He focused on me, recognition sparking in his features.

"Alice!" His gap-toothed smile was ecstatic, and his voice back to a slight lisp. I watched as his gaze wandered down, and his smile fell. "Why Alice, you're hurt!" He stooped before me, taking my arm in his calloused yet gentle hands. With dazed eyes, I watched blood ooze out of a gash in my forearm.

He grabbed a roll of cloth and began to wrap it around my arm to stop the bleeding. "What-… Tarrant?" I murmured meekly. It was the wrong thing to say.

His hands froze. I watched as his eyes darkened to gold, orange, and then the frightened crimson. He stood and turned to throw his desk to the side, supplies scattering everywhere.

"Tarrant! TARRANT! Who is THA'?" he raged. Terrified, I scrambled to my feet and ran for the door, leaving the Hatter to his fury.