A/N: So, this is a continuation of a multi-fandom/multi-pairing series I started in 2006, with each story being a one-shot in a different fandom, bringing my fave ship together under the mistletoe. I have different sandboxes to play in these days, and so there is more. This is kinda random, and I doubt anyone will read it, but I'm still glad I wrote it! ;) Just in case someone does read it - hope you enjoy! Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all :)

Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to people that aren't me!

The Mistletoe Effect VIII - Alice & Hatter

Christmas was going to be different this year, Alice Hamilton knew that for sure. So many times as she and her Mom decorated the tree and hung decorations, she thought about her Dad, wondering where he had gone and if maybe this was when he would choose to come home. Now she knew for sure that could never be and although she could cry over her Dad's untimely loss, at least she knew now he hadn't really left by choice. She could remember happy times with a smile, she could mourn and eventually get over the loss in some way.

The other difference about this Christmas for Alice was the addition to her family. It was still strange when her Mom talked about David coming over for Christmas Day, since Alice would always think of him as Hatter. He had taken that as his last name to save on confusion when passing himself of as a citizen of New York, but Alice still wasn't sure she understood how he had all the right paperwork to be here, unless some magic had been employed. Wonderland and its residents had such powers, she didn't really want to ask. She just accepted that he was here and he was the only man in the world she had ever loved this much.

It took a lot of adjusting for Hatter. The 'real' world was very different to Wonderland, a whole different kind of society. He had some understanding of the 'oysters' and their world, but there had been so much to take in. Christmas was a particular learning curve.

Alice had given him the religious description first, since it was the true meaning of Christmas after all. He seemed to grasp that pretty well, but when she then went on to point out the more commercial aspects, the additional traditions, and the fact that plenty of non-religious people celebrated Christmas just for the fun of it, she felt as if she lost Hatter a little bit. For a man that came from a land seemingly without sense, he had a lot of trouble with the mildly illogical.

Hatter had shaken all the mixed up facts from his head then and started over, asking Alice to tell him only what Christmas meant to her, and how she and her mother celebrated it. As soon as she was done waxing lyrical on the roaring fire and fairylights, the gift giving and special dinner, there was a grin on Hatter's face as wide as any she had ever seen before.

"Sounds lovely," he had told her, holding her in his arms as they watched the stars chase the moon across the night sky.

"It'll be even better this year, because you'll be a part of it too," she'd replied with a smile of her own, right before she kissed him.

Now it was here, Christmas Eve, and Hatter would be on his way over to share in the veritable feast Alice and her Mom had prepared. He was to sleep over on the couch (at least that's what Mrs Hamilton had said) and then spend Christmas Day with his love and her mother. Alice couldn't think of a time when she was happier than this.

A knock on the door had her hurrying to answer it, pointlessly calling out that she would get it, since she was already half way there and her mother was still basting the bird for dinner. Alice stopped by the door, straightened her hair and took a breath, determined not to look so desperate as to have run over here in such a way. With a smile she opened the door then, and there was Hatter. She was a little surprised to see him looking so smart, but then he had a habit of dressing up some when he was coming over and facing Alice's mother, despite the fact he'd been told several times already it wasn't as important as he thought.

"Hi," she greeted him.

"Hello," he replied, feeling stupidly awkward all of a sudden, mostly because he was trying to remember all the traditions and such that he had learnt about Christmas recently.

Putting his foot in it and messing up the greatest happiness he had ever known scared Hatter half to death. It was much more frightening a concept than anything in Wonderland. Back there he had very little too lose. Here was everything he held dear in the form of Alice.

She kissed her boyfriend on the cheek and led him inside, where Mrs Hamilton came to say hello and was thoroughly pleased with the flowers David had brought for her.

"And that's not your Christmas present," he told her definitely. "Just, y'know, me being polite."

"Okay, thank you," said Mrs Hamilton with a chuckle as she took said flowers to the kitchen to put them in water.

She wasn't sure why he amused her so much. Maybe it was the British thing, or perhaps it was just how quirky and different he was to any other boy Alice had dated. It didn't matter, she liked him a lot and was glad to see how happy he made her daughter. That was all that really mattered to any reasonable mother anyway.

"So," said Hatter when they were alone, dropping his bag down by the couch. "This all looks very... red and green," he said eventually as he took in the Christmas tree, holly, lights, ornaments, mostly in the same two colours apparently.

"It's traditional, sort of," Alice admitted. "As is..." she continued, putting her arms around his neck and looking up.

Hatter followed her eyeline and then got confused again. She seemed to be looking up at a green plant with white berries on it as if it were marvellous, and yet he hadn't a clue why it ought to be significant.

"Er... white holly?" he tried, though that didn't seem right. "The holly and the ivy?" he tried again, calling to mind a phrase he had definitely heard recently, but Alice continued to shake her head 'no'.

"It's mistletoe," she told him with an indulgent smile. "See, there's a tradition at Christmas that when two people stand underneath the mistletoe they're supposed to kiss," she explained.

"Ah, right then," Hatter replied, his hands already at her waist and pulling her closer. "Well, if it's a tradition then I suppose we ought to do it. Just for the tradition's sake, obviously."

"Oh, obviously," Alice tried not to laugh as she moved in ever closer and they finally kissed.

Mrs Hamilton was just coming back into the room when she realised perhaps she was interrupting. No, she was definitely interrupting, she thought, as her daughter and David shared a deep and seemingly unending kiss. No doubt there was something in the kitchen she could still be doing, she said silently to herself, leaving the young people to it.

"Wow, that mistletoe is great stuff," said Hatter when he and Alice finally broke for air.

She giggled at that, she couldn't help it, so ridiculously happy to be here in his arms, his forehead resting against her own still.

"Merry Christmas, Hatter," she whispered.

"Merry Christmas, my Alice," he replied just as softly, before he kissed her again.