Disclaimer: I do not own Alice, nor does it own me, we are all quite free around here…well except for that slave driver I call school.

Author's Note: Just making a small visit while I endeavour to unblock my muse and cope with impending exam stress (not to mention assure certain reviewers that may have begun to wonder that I am still alive – did get hit by a car not too long ago, but fortunately I took no damage…nor did my groceries, lucky for the driver else I'd have been really steamed instead of pardonably annoyed). Anyhoo, I think I shall dedicate this to Rhavis, mostly on a whim, but also because he was polite enough not to try and give my brain ideas (unlike certain other reviewers who take every opportunity to feed the muse and drive me mad). Brain-brain has a lot on its plate at the moment, so it was nice for at least one person to cut it a little slack. I should try that sometime.


...

Alice will never know exactly what he gave up to come here. His Oyster is fully aware that he'd abandoned his shop to help her (as if that ransacked dump was anything of a sacrifice), she knows he left behind all his friends when he followed after her (all one of them), and the non-legend is painfully cognisant that he exiled himself from his home when he threw himself through the mirror like that (it was happy enough to get rid of him anyhow). The girl of many perplexing emotions is managing, at one and the same time, to be ecstatically overjoyed that he'd come after her, and to feel horribly guilty at all he'd give up to do so (she even has the room to imagine and empathize with a myriad of sentiments on his behalf). Alice Of-The-New-Story (and soon to be legend, he is sure) is so busy making up for all that she thinks he has lost that she misses entirely what he has truly surrendered (or at least so he hopes).

As Alice (his Alice, his Oyster, his legend) mourns the closing of the Looking Glass for his sake, Hatter couldn't be more grateful that Jack Heart (the rat bastard) has apparently locked the Stone of Wonderland away for good (or at least for some distant future), that they cannot visit Wonderland nor can their friends (Charlie, of course, but certainly not Jack Heart) come to them, and that there is no way for her to realize (or be reminded) that in the short time she's been home, decades have passed on the other side of the mirror. What she doesn't know (and he'll never tell her) is what he really (and knowingly) forfeited when he chased her through the Looking Glass with every intention of staying forever…

…because what he really lost was time.

It moves so fast on this side, an hour in Wonderland is but a blink of an eye to an Oyster; here they spent a year rerouting a highway while on the other side of the Looking Glass they've built an entire empire (and watched it collapse); here he'll die of old age centuries before the Wonderlander should have even had a fleeting concern about the possibility of his first grey hair (as if he would). Alice doesn't know that what it means for him to live in this world, with its pace, is to toss century upon century to the winds (it's not like he was going to do anything with them anyhow). He'll never tell her because, in the end, he doesn't really care…

…what he wanted couldn't be found in Wonderland (not for all the time in the world).