Updated January 2014 (when I re-read it and realized I'd written the thing in present tense. Da hell?) Better now, I hope.
Hours from the city, and worlds away from daily life, Alice had taken Hatter camping. A respite from the constant navigation of her world and its customs.
After the warmth of day faded, a campfire was built. Hatter propped himself against a tree and Alice reclined on him. Together, they watched the fire.
"Too bad we don't have any borogove to barbecue," she said.
Hatter laughed. "They're the devil to catch, I hear."
"But well worth the effort," Alice finished.
They smiled in silence for a moment, thinking of their Wonderland friend. But Hatter continued to remember their first fireside conversation.
"Jack's a lucky guy," he whispered. Alice turned to give him a questioning look.
"What?" she asked, unconsciously repeating a scene played out before.
"That night, by Charlie's fire," he explained. "That's what I said. 'Jack's a lucky guy.'"
She smiled at him and put her cheek to his chest. He continued.
"I looked at you, and it just came out. You'd given me something to fight for, something I didn't even know I'd lost." He paused. "But you were still fighting for him... I wanted you to feel that way about me."
Alice sat up to voice her memories of that night.
"I didn't like it when you gave up on there being a 'we.' I knew it made sense. But I didn't like it," she recalled. "On the boat, when you said you were coming back to my world, that felt right. I liked us being a team."
"I like us being a team, too." He was referring to past, present and future.
The mood had had turned somber, and Hatter tried to lighten it.
"I've got another confession to make," he said. "I wanted to sleep on the bed with you that night."
He meant it to be light, flirty. But Alice remained solemn, still in her memories of a forgotten kingdom.
"I have a confession, too," she said. "Before I left the camp, I stopped to watch you sleep."
She placed her hand on his face. "I didn't want to leave you."
Alice thought of Wonderland often. She tried to decide when she fell for Hatter. It snuck up on her. Everything there happened too fast, and she could only process some of her feelings well after the fact.
That she trusted him when he said "take my hand."
That she could not leave him with Dodo.
That she liked the idea of him coming with her through the Looking Glass.
That she did not like leaving him. Not in the night, not with Jack, not through a mirror.
"I like you by my side," Alice said to him, her voice low. "I like being by your side."
"Then that's where you need to stay," he said and pulled her back to him.
She tucked her head under his chin, and he wrapped his arms around her. He spoke into her ear. A promise, a vow.
"I will stay by your side as long as you'll have me."
She took a moment to feel the comfort of his statement. The sun had set. A tent was waiting. She let go of him to reach for water to douse the fire.
"I thought we were having a moment here," he said.
Alice stood and held out a hand to him.
"I think I'd like to have you now if you don't mind," she said.
He took her hand and smiled. "I don't mind a bit."
Old memories are put to rest. New memories are made.