Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Alice in Wonderland 2010
Character/Pairing: Hatter/Alice, Cheshire
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "I have remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind." -- attributed to Edgar Allen Poe
Word Count: 906
Date Written: 18 July 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Carroll, not the author, and are used without permission.
"I have remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind. Don't look at me like that, Alice," he continues, cocking his head to one side and returning her intent and curious stare. "It's actually quite nice here. You're here, after all."
"Hatter -- "
"Hush now," he orders, his large, red lips pulling down into a pout. "You'll ruin it if I let you, so I mustn't let you."
"But, Hatter -- "
"I said hush, Alice. There are thousand things we can talk about other than that which you so want to bring about. I won't have that, but we can discuss any matter of other things. You used to say that you believed in six impossible things before breakfast. Why, then, can you not give me this?"
"No reason," she says, her frown mirroring his own. She shrugs, but then speaks up quickly, "Except that I am not here after all."
"Hush!" he cries, throwing his hands over his ears and closing his eyes tight. "I will not hear that! That is but a lie! It is not an impossible thing in which to be believed! You are here; I see you before me even now!"
"You see only what you wish to see," the figment of his imagination murmurs, but with his eyes tightly shut and his hands still over his ears, Hatter is relieved not to hear her. He does not need to hear such a lie, after all, for it would bring his entire world tumbling down, and he really is quite happy here.
When all is quiet again, he cracks one eye open to see if she still sits before him. Indeed, she does, but now she's looking, quite puzzledly up at the tops of the trees towering all around them. Carefully, he lifts one hand from his right ear and tests the air. At first, she says nothing, but then when she seems to notice him looking at her, she asks, "Do you hear that?"
"The trees," she says. "They . . . seem to be humming."
"Now that," he declares, "is an impossible thing in which you may believe!"
"Hatter," she pouts up at him, "you really do worry me sometimes."
"Nonsense, my dear, nonsense!"
"Just as humming trees should be a thing of nonsense," she argues lightly, "but yet, I hear them with my own ears."
"No," he denies, "that is not what you hear! What you, my dear, are listening to is the purr of the Cheshire Cat." The sunlight in his world flickers as the purr grows louder and deeper. An invisible weight paws at his thin shoulder.
"Then where is he?" she asks, looking around them.
"You know Cheshire, dear. He is both everywhere and nowhere, nowhere and everywhere, here and there and nowhere at all."
"It does seem," she remarks, glancing again at the "humming" trees, "that he is surrounding us."
"Pish posh! Now whose very merry unbirthday is it?"
"Yours, my dear Hatter," she says, brightening. She comes closer to him and kisses him as the purr blasts through the trees.
Cheshire rocks in tune to the rumbling purr and in perfect rhythm to Alice as she comes to sit on his lap. His world is no longer dark, and he is afraid no longer. He doesn't feel empty when she's near. Indeed, nothing is missing when she's in his arms.
But he does miss the objecting cry of the Cheshire Cat as he pushes against Hatter's chest with all the strength his paws can muster. He shoves against him hard until Cheshire goes toppling off of the giant mushroom on which he sits with a, "Whee!" He giggles as he rolls on the dirt.
Cheshire's tail whisks about his furry body as he stares down at his old friend. "Nobody home indeed!" he mutters, but for Hatter, everybody is home. The Cheshire Cat is near, and Alice is in his arms, having returned at last. There's nothing more for which to wait, no reason to complain or pout, no reason to put his life on hold or wish the Jabberwocky would end it all together.
He is complete. He is whole, if only in his mind. Watching him, Cheshire shakes his head sadly. "Six impossible things, indeed! All you need is one impossible love and an endless imagination, and you can entertain yourself for hours and want for nothing!" He glowers down at Hatter, missing his friend, but when the Mad Hatter finally stops rolling in the dirt and lays still, a smile still plastered across his pale face, Cheshire sighs and floats down to him.
He is clearly happy, and that, he supposes, is something, even if he did have to create his happiness himself. Drifting downward, he settles on Hatter's chest and begins to purr and knead again, the sounds of his own contentment and reassurance filling Hatter's world along with Alice's imaginary kisses.
Imaginary or not, Hatter lays still and grins, beaming from ear to ear. There is a light in his vacant eyes that Cheshire has not seen there since Alice left them. He would not take that happiness, insane though it might be, from his friend for anything in the kingdom. Hatter is content to live in his dream, so Cheshire, in turn, contents himself to live beside and around him, constantly watching over him as they both wait for the one impossible thing that never happens: Alice's return.