This is my first piece for fairfarrenlovelylydia's forum, Alice in Wonderland Writing Challenges! I only hope it turns out alright, so bear with me! The given prompt? Colors.

Disclaimer: I own nuthin' of Alice in Wonderland

Inspirational Song: "Painting Flowers" - All Time Low

. . . . .

Alice hadn't yet returned to him.

Should Hatter even be saying 'yet' at all? It was a definite possibility that she had completely and utterly forgotten him, like she had done once before. (In which case, he doubted she'd be returning in the end.) That had been his unspoken answer to one of her questions, right before she left him standing to himself on the Checkerboard Field. He sighed wearily, leaning on his workshop table, remembering her glowing expression right before she left him for the Otherworld and whoever waited for her there. Not that he could blame her for leaving him.

"Be back before you know it." She smiled at him then, completely at ease, in confidence that she thought what she was doing was right.

It certainly wasn't right for Hatter. "You won't remember me."

Alice quickly frowned. "How could I forget?"

Hatter merely looked at her, thinking, 'You did last time, didn't you. . . ?'

Of course, he didn't say that. Why cause a scene if Alice knew where she wanted to go, and that it wasn't into Hatter's waiting arms? He just wanted her to be happy, and perhaps she was, but that happiness is what brought him his misery. That misery that had kept him up so many nights. That misery that had engulfed the saner side of Hatter and allowed Madness to temporarily overcome him. The most recent bursts of anger he had great trouble getting out of, which had truly frightened him a bit once he'd calmed down. What if Madness completely took over his being? What if, pray tell, Alice did come back to him? But ironically cruel-like, came back as soon as Hatter was overtaken by his Madness? This seemed horribly likely, given Hatter's luck.

A part of him, the regrettably logical part, had expected the Champion to leave in the end. After all, she wasn't just Alice (as if this weren't enough!), but she was also the Champion of Underland. She deserved the highest honor and should receive the highest glory. Why should she, nay, why would she ever decide to stay with a man as unstable and quirky as him? He could never step up to her level of muchness when it came right down to it. He never dared to think himself worthy of the whimsical blonde.

Hatter was only adding to the fire by adding to the pain. He felt most at ease (or numb, some would say) when he was creating hats. Unfortunately, Alice neverceased to leave his mind completely. She only drifted into the dark and restless corners of it. So he figured that in her boredom of these times, she often interrupted his hat-making process for her own personal amusement. It was certainly no entertainment for Hatter.

He'd recently come to a discovery which, in truth, really shouldn't have surprised him. Ever since her departure, there had been a sudden increase in the amount of blue hats he made. Some of them had ribbons, some of them had sparkles, some of them had flowers, some of them had feathers. . .By Underland, one of them blew bubbles if tickled in the correct spot. There was so much blue in his workshop now. . . Too much blue. . . The blue occupied so much space. . .

There hung blue from the ceiling as the shimmery fabric dangled from the chandelier. Tapestries of blue adorned every single wall. The blue hats occupied every other chair and a whole corner of the room. Every single speck of the colorful blue was like a cheerless wave from Alice, who continued to remain up, assumedly content with her life, in the Otherworld. Without him.

Perhaps she had met a nice man. Perhaps they'd already had children. Children without red hair, changing eyes, and a knack for creating things from their lovely and overly imaginative minds. . .

The blue seeped into his eyes as he looked around. So many hats for Alice, but not a single Alice to wear them. He frowned and a blue tear ran down his sallow cheek. He was hit with the sudden realization of inner agitation that this had to stop.

There could only be one way to stop the Blue Madness from taking over. His friends had already left him long ago, the tea parties had all but ceased completely, Alice was torturing him from the inside out, and that was that. He couldn't top the list off with this newest kind of insanity, for he was sure that something else would soon come up, too. If he had the power to actually help himself this once, why not give it a go?

What did he have to lose?

Hatter stood up off his chair, hearing a few joints pop. He gathered a few bins from the corner where he threw all the mistakes he created. There seemed to be a higher pile than usual sitting in the bins, but Hatter only vaguely realized this. He placed the bins in the center of the room and began his numbing mission. Not only did he now have to look at the blue, but he had to touch the blue, as well. The cheerless Alice-waves were gone. Every time he picked up a hat and tossed it into the trash bin, he felt a searing pain spread throughout him.

You're throwing out Alice!

He ripped down a swirling blue tapestry. Nay, I'm throwing out reminders of her.

You want to forget Alice!

He winced as he yanked some blue fabric off his chandelier and catapulted it into a second bin. It hurts so much.

You're so weak, Tarrant. Why do you even try. . .

Nay! Hatter could feel his eyes burning. He wasn't being weak. He was being strong! He was showing strength by throwing out the blue. It took so much willpower. . . but he had to do it. . . He must. . .

Within an hour's time, the blue had finally vacated his workshop. Blue, being the color of sadness, was not completely gone yet, though. After Hatter rolled out the trash bins, he had to get rid of anything that could possibly create a blue itself. Or even a blue tint. There would be no more Blue.

He stalked into his workshop, peering into every crevice of the room as if searching for prey. At last, his amber eyes landed on a paint set. The act of painting his hats had previously been a fun one, but now it only held dangers. He would not be able to contain himself when he began working on his hats. He couldn't control the outcome, not really.

He opened the set and firstly threw out all the blue-shaded paints. He was planning on simply tossing the containers of paints into another, smaller bin, but no, no, that would not do. It'd find a way of coming back to him. (Unlike the one thing he did want to return to him.) So Hatter grabbed an empty bin and filled it up with water from the bathroom next door to his workshop. Then, and only then, did he take two containers at a time and squeeze the lifeless blue out of them. The indigo and the sapphire swirled and met in the water, mixing before his eyes. He tore his gaze away and began working with a navy color and a pleasant (but not pleasant, under the circumstances) sky-blue shade. Two by two, the blues left his workshop completely.

He sighed with an intense relief after being shocked by a horrible insight. He'd thought of the act of mixing colors, before remembering that no other colors could make a color as primary and significant as Blue. That would have been a very tedious job, indeed, and he didn't wish to throw out all his paints. Only the ones that would bring him despair.

Hatter looked around himself with wide eyes. Not a hint of blue in sight.

He made to run his hand through his hair when he stopped it in mid-air.* He was shocked to see that his horribly marred and wrapped hands were dried with blue paint.

He couldn't run to the bathroom fast enough. Once there, he scrubbed his hands so hard and so fast that he opened up former wounds. But he would not stop. He continued to soap, scrub, and soak, until the Blue mixed in with his Red, creating a Distorted Purple. But even Distorted Purple was acceptable next to Blue. . .

Soon enough, even the blood had made its final trip down the drain.

Hatter casually made his way back to his workshop and placed himself back into the most comfortable chair of the room. He began planning a visit to Thackery's for tomorrow, when he remembered that he hadn't seen Chess in a while. That was odd, he usually came to lecture or scorn him while he was in here. . . This friendly, non-Blue environment. . . He smiled softly as he looked around the room with pride. Yet slowly, that smile slid off his face as Truth crept inside Hatter' mind.

All the Blue was gone.

An utter sadness swept over him like a tidal wave as he fell to the floor on his knees. All of the beautiful Alice colors were gone now, just like her. He didn't know if he regretted what he did or not, he just kept whispering to himself in the dim lamplight about what he could've done to make her stay. There had to have been one thing, at least one thing, that would've made her stay. But Hatter had done nothing and could not change the past. That was his deepest regret of all.

Perhaps if he hadn't murdered Time at that concert, he would've helped him out now. He knew it was too late for him to simply ask him for a favor. He would never grant it.

Hatter held his head in his hands, leaning against the chair behind him. He was surely the most worthless scum of the world, reminiscing about the Blue.

Somehow, a single whisper of a little, truthful thought flew into his mind. The Blue would come back when Alice did. Yes. If all he hoped for was meant to be, then Alice would come back to him, bearing all the Blue he needed. That was a fact. And that fact was what allowed him to sleep that night.

The next morning, Hatter was feeling slightly more chipper than usual. He whistled a low tune to himself as he created a hat that was requested by a White Courtier. He'd enjoyed her intentions of what she wanted for her hat, for it sounded very nice, but it wouldn't have gone with her eyes at all. He'd suggested a different pattern of sort and she immediately feel in love with the idea.

So now Hatter stood, with a smug, little smile on his face, to beam at his new creation. He felt that he'd done exceptionally well with this one. It was a smaller white one with an elegantly black crocheting pattern covering the whole of it. An off-white band of fabric wrapped itself around the hat, right above the brim. His green eyes appraised his work with glee. All was well! But he would triple-check, of course, he always did. It was part of his routine.

Hatter turned it over and over to make sure nothing was out of place, not even a thread. He twisted the hat in his hands when he noticed it. His suddenly white eyes widened in shock.

There, snuggled within the off-white band, was an artificial blue flower.

. . . . .

Insanity: I had to mark it with a *! I believe I've just made a rhyme!

Rachel: I typed it.

Insanity: I believe we've just made a rhyme!