Author's note: Thank you for reading! I'm sorry the chapters aren't longer, but I never seem to have enough time. Please review!
"Pixie?" whispered a hoarse voice. Her nerves must have been on red alert even as she'd slept, because Allison's eyes shot open immediately. Allison was greeted by the sight of the Hatter's pale face turned towards her, his gray eyes meeting her gaze.
"Hello Hatter," she whispered back.
"Are you alright? Are you hurt at all?"
"No, I'm just fine," she assured him, her stomach twisting with guilt. "You're an awful mess though." The Hatter smiled weakly.
Sorry, he mouthed.
It's ok, she mouthed back. As she'd slept, Allison had curled into the Hatter, her arm laid gently over his chest. Somehow she didn't feel like moving at the moment. Instead, she clutched at the fabric of his shirt for comfort.
"What are you apologizing for?"
"The Knave... he escaped," came his strangled whisper. He sounded so despairing, so ashamed. Allison bit her lip to keep from crying.
"You don't have to apologize for that, silly," she whispered back. "I'm just glad you're alright. And I... I'm sorry I left you. I'm sorry that I... that I ran."
"Pixie!" The Hatter was clearly taken aback by her apology. He may have been about to say something more, but Allison got there first. By this time, her emotions had finally overcome her, and she was struggling to control her breathing.
"I- I- I shouldn't have... run... Shouldn't have left y-... And, and now you, and Mallymkun, are hurt and... and Bayard... Bayard is... And if I hadn't... It was me he wanted, not... not any of you, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Hatter!"
The Hatter could not bear to see his Pixie crying and trembling so. Each halted breath and each new tear broke his heart into smaller and smaller pieces. Grabbing her hand, he squeezed gently.
"Oh, no no no," he cried softly, a sad frown on his face. "Don't say sorry, Pixie. It was not your fault, no no. You have done nothing wrong. It was right of you to run, just like I asked you to! I wanted nothing more than your safety. It was unfair for you to have been put in that position in the first place. The troubles of Underland are not your troubles."
The Hatter soothed Allison as she continued to cry, stroking her hair calmly and making 'shhh' noises. After a time her tears subsided and she quieted down. It was at this time that the room's third occupant finally came to.
"Hatter?" Startled, the Hatter jolted a bit before smiling in relief. Turning his head to Allison, he smiled and lifted her arm off so that he could jump to his feet. Allison followed suit, but soon felt ashamed when she realized that she was cowering behind the Hatter because she was afraid that Mallymkun would be angry with her.
Mallymkun took a few more moments to blink herself awake and orient herself. As soon as she had, she jumped up on the bed and immediately drew her sword, hopping around, looking for any dangers.
"What happened? Did we get him? Where did that lousy man go to?" she snapped. The Hatter giggled a bit at his friend's behavior.
"You must rest, little one," he reprimanded gently, kneeling by the bed, propping his head up on the bed in a way that Allison felt made him look like an adorable puppy dog.
Mallymkun scoffed at his remark.
"Rest? I will not rest until I have that- that- cretin's blood on my sword!"
"And yet, you must!" exclaimed the Hatter lightly. Reaching out with his finger, he gently pushed Mallymkun back down onto the bed. She stayed there for a moment, before spotting Allison. She leapt back to her feet, causing the Hatter to sigh and shake his head.
"Pixie! What are you doing back here?" cried the mouse.
"I came back," was the meek reply, "I'm sorry Mallymkun, I know I shouldn't have run, but I-"
"I'm not mad at you!" she cut in loudly. "I just thought you'd have gone and hid out somewhere, for safety!"
Allison fair beamed at the little solider, relieved that she wasn't angry.
"Well I couldn't stay away from you all for too long," she replied with a teasing air.
"Rest, my friend," insisted the Hatter. "You are still weak.
"I know!" His sudden bright exclamation made Allison jump a bit. The Hatter leapt to his feet, an impossibly goofy grin on his face. "How about I go make us all a bit of mmm-breakfast! Yes, that's it. Just the trick! A spot of tea, a bit of toast, a piece of ham..."
Rushing around Allison, the Hatter pranced out of the room, still chanting about food. After making sure that the Dormouse was following her orders to stay abed, Allison quickly left the room, following the Hatter downstairs.
She found him at the stove—an abrasively pink apron tied around his middle—frying up some bacon and eggs, whistling as he worked.
Coming up behind him, Allison rolled her eyes fondly and flicked his arm. He turned to her with surprise and grinned brightly. The very sight brought an equally bright smile to Allison's face. After the horrible events of the previous night, the Hatter's colorful, cheerful appearance was really the best cure. It was quite impossible to be sad around that flaming hair, blazing clothes, and pearly shining teeth.
"Pixie! What are you doing down here? Want a bite?" The Hatter raised his eyebrows questioningly as he held out a piece of toast, but when Allison opened her mouth to respond, he merely placed the toast in her mouth quickly.
"Well, thank you for the toast," she said, swallowing the bite and handing the rest back to him, "but no, that's not why I came down."
"Oh? Then why did you?" Allison felt the color rise in her cheeks and her heart fluttered anxiously.
"Well I just couldn't bear the thought of being away from you, not right now," she admitted. "I wanted to keep you in my sight."
The Hatter immediately understood, and he gained a serious tone.
"I see. Well, you do not need to worry Pixie. I shall never leave you."
"But... Bayard, he..."
When the Hatter met her eyes, his own eyes were a dull blue.
"Yes I know," he whispered sadly. The energy seemed to have left his body. Knowing that the same sadness had overcome them both, Allison stepped boldly forward and wrapped her arms tightly around the Hatter. Hesitantly, with sharp awkward movements, the Hatter wrapped his own arms around her and rested his head on hers. The tears were flowing from her eyes now, and the Hatter also released a lone tear.
"Bayard was brave," he whispered to her, "and he did what he knew was right. He would be happy with this. His time was fast approaching as it was. This does not make it ok, but he would wish us to understand and to move on."
"Just please..." Allison drew away from the Hatter and stared him in the eye. "...promise me Hatter... promise me that you'll never leave me."
"Never," he whispered sweetly, a small smile playing about his lips. "I would never leave you, my little Pixie."
The Hatter gently stroked Allison's hair and enveloped her in another, softer, embrace.