Song: Valentine’s Day by Linkin Park
Written by: Kittyinaz
Summary: Read to find out.
The clouds were racing above the lake as the waves crashed on the beach, driven by the cold hard wind that was blowing. It was the same beach that Alice and Hatter had come ashore just a couple of days ago, arguing about the Stone of Wonderland and Jack.
A lone man stood at the water’s edge, as he stared over the water, his body radiated pure defeat, not caring about the cruel chilled wind that was gusting past him. How did it all come to this?
He hadn’t reacted to anything since the day after the Queen had been overthrown; it all meant nothing to him now, his reason for all he had done was gone. His insides felt like dust, there was nothing to make him go forward; it had all been taken from him by a man in a grey and yellow jumpsuit.
Oh, Hatter had his revenge, he had pumped every single bullet in his gun into the man, but it had not mattered. No, he had been too slow and the person who had paid for his lack of attention, had paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Hatter had, as the rest of the room, been watching with bated breath the reunion of father and daughter. The reason he had watched differed from the rest, he no longer cared for the downfall of the regime, only for the woman in front of him. It had been everything he knew she had wanted and needed. Hatter had been happy at that instant in time, he had ignored the pain he had been in. Nothing mattered more than him knowing that the woman he was in love with, was getting at least part of what she needed to heal.
Then the unthinkable happened, there was a shot, Robert had somehow seen the gun before it had gone off and taken the bullet for his daughter, his last sacrifice. Both of them had dropped to the floor and as Hatter heard her scream, his heart had broken as he emptied his gun. He had been there by her side in seconds, her father’s body already growing cold next to her. She had looked up at him and asked him to help her out calmly. Later he came to realize, she already knew her fate.
When he asked if she was ok, she had assured him she was fine. He believed her, and to this day, has no idea how he carried her out of the casino. When they had stopped, he noticed that when he put her down, he had felt a cool breeze on his side. He had ignored it, looking after her, thinking it was his own wounds making his shirt stick to his skin. She had leaned on him, and he had asked again if she was ok. She had nodded and stood on her own as they watched the Casino collapse.
Afterwards, they had confronted the Queen. Gotten the Stone of Wonderland and won. Then Alice had started to drop. He had quickly caught her, as he had screamed her name. He had known at that moment that she had lied to him, she was not fine. It was her blood on him that had poured out as he carried her out of the Casino, not his.
The crowd had grown quiet and just watched as he screamed her name over and over. Doctors, real doctors, had ran over and tried to take her away from him. Jack had finally interceded and had him dragged away, but as soon as they had taken her to the scarab they had called for her, allowed him to be by her side.
Hatter stayed by her side until they again forced him away from it at the Hospital of Dreams. He had raged, punched suits and Doctors alike until Caterpillar finally made him stop when he flat out asked if he wanted to make sure she died.
He had stopped and stared at the elder man before him. Caterpillar told him he needed to get out of his way, or Alice would have no chance of surviving.
That had started a night and day of Hatter just standing there, staring at the doors they had taken her through. No one could convince him to move, not Charlie with his begging, Jack with his ordering, or Duchess sympathizing. Hatter stayed there until the end.
The wind blew over the lake, whipping the waves even higher as Charlie stood there watching the Hero of Wonderland as he stared off over the Lake of Tears. Today, it has definitely earned it’s name as all of Wonderland was here to honor it’s latest Alice of Legend adding to the waters.
He remembered how Hatter had fallen to his knees when they told him she was gone. He had repeated, “No, NO…NO!” And at that second Charlie remembered the same denial when they had realized she had went to the Casino by herself.
There was no one in the room who would have doubted Hatter’s feelings for Alice when he carried her from the Casino. But if there had been, there was no doubt when he had caught her, screaming her name as she collapsed into his arms. Now, every single person in the waiting room just watched him as he fell apart, not a dry eye in the room. No one could move to his side at first, his raw emotions pinned them all down. It had been a long time since anyone had felt that much in Wonderland.
Nor was there a dry eye now as Charlie looked over the crowd. They all realized how much the proclaimed Hero of Wonderland had lost that day. Since then he had only reacted when spoken to. He had been named part of the council, as well officially been named a Hero of Wonderland, as Alice had, also. He had just stood there, as broken as he was when Jack had announced to the crowd gathered his new titles.
Charlie had stood next to him, supported the man as he had since that terrible day in the Hospital of Dreams. The only time Hatter reacted to anything was when they headed to his home. He denied everyone entrance into the Tea Shoppe, actually going to the point of locking them all out.
Charlie heard movement behind him, and turned his head to meet the eyes of the King of Wonderland.
Jack stood there, watching his new Duke of Clubs just stare out over the Lake. His heart hurt for the man he had thought was his rival. But, he had admitted to himself, that as much as he had cared for Alice, it had been nothing to Hatter’s feelings for her. As he had watched the man literally break in front of him had led him to make some hard decisions later.
He just hoped those decisions were made where the man in front of him wasn’t too far broken to accept. So far, he has received no indication of life in the man.
Jack sighed, then turned and told Charlie, “It’s time.”
Hatter didn’t even start when Charlie came up and quietly told him the same thing. He nodded one time briefly, and then with one last look over the Lake, he turned. He walked over to the pyre that held the last remains of Alice of Legend, wrapped in blue silks. The raft was full of flowers, all brought by the residents of Wonderland in thanks of their new freedom, Alice herself rested on a bed of ferns from the Forest of Wabe, gathered by Hatter himself. He, along with Caterpillar, Jack, the Ten of Clubs, Charlie, and Dodo all helped lift her to their shoulders and walked her to the Lake that according to legend, her predecessor had made with her tears. Once the raft was on the water, they all quietly walked back out, Hatter last.
The cold wind blew against him, but he never registered the cold as he stared out. He didn’t acknowledge when Jack handed him the torch. After a few minutes of silence, he walked forward and lit the pyre.
Charlie cut the ropes and they all watched the pyre floated off on the lake. He heard sobs behind him, and wondered how people who have never met the amazing Alice of Legend could emote so much emotion, when before they had all needed the Teas to feel anything.
Then he saw the man who stood at the edge of the Lake and he understood. How could anyone not feel anything when you watched him? His entire body screamed his grief as he had verbally done on that day. The last day anyone had seen any indication of life in the man.
That much grief could not be observed for any amount of time without the observer feeling the same grief.
The fire burned through the night slowly, the crowds dissipated just as slowly. Hatter stood where he was the entire night, watching.
When the flames finally died and the raft slipped into the icy depths of the Lake, Hatter dropped to his knees. One word was ripped from his throat, “Alice!”
The only ones who had remained were the pallbearers and Duchess. They stood there, witness to it all, bowing their heads in acknowledgement of his grief. Finally Jack and Charlie moved together and picked up the broken man.
They helped him on his horse and led him back to the city. The entire ride was quiet, even the horses were silent, as though they observed the grief of the man in the brown jacket.
Once in the city, they made their way to the Tea Shoppe. Charlie helped him dismount and escorted him to the doors, and watched the man walk in the doors. He slowly walked away, just glanced at the King as he turned Arthur and made his way out of the city.
Jack just stared at the closed doors, and finally left to the palace. He and the Duchess dismounted and slowly made their way into their rooms. He collapsed into a chair and rested his head in the palm of his hand.
Duchess dropped in front of him and just stared up at him.
He looked down at her and just asked, “Did I do the right thing?”
Duchess just watched him and finally told him, “It was the only thing you could have done.”
Jack sighed and looked away, the weight of his decision on him as he hoped that this didn’t break Hatter.
Hatter just barred the doors, making sure no one could make their way inside. He turned and walked through the main room of the Tea Shoppe, not acknowledging the damage that was everywhere. He hit the code for his office and walked into the room that had not changed since the first day he had turned in his chair and saw her.
He had no idea why the room had not been trashed, but once he had seen it, he had made sure that no one disturbed the last place he had a memory of her that no one could intrude upon.
Hatter walked over to his chair and just collapsed in it. He was the epitome of misery, his head dropped in his hands, shoulders defeated.
There was no sound for many minutes, except for the wind blowing outside, until a sob was shaken out of him. He then asked, so softly that no one could have heard him, “Why?” He stood and shouted it, “Why???” He grabbed his hat and threw it from him and fell to his knees sobbing.
He was there for a few minutes before arms surrounded him, comforting him. Hatter jerked, enraged that someone invaded his last place of memory. But before he could say anything, a voice he thought was gone from him told him the answer, “Because it was the only way.”
Hatter jerked and turned quickly to find his angel, the woman he thought he had just buried standing there. He stared at her in shock, unable to move in case it was a vision. He would take whatever he could of her.
Alice stared at the man in front of her, hating that it had to happen this way. She finally told him, “They would have never left us alone. I did die on the operating table. Three times. But each time, Caterpillar worked his magic and brought me back. The last time, I fell into a coma for a week.”
And when she had come to, Jack had been there. He had told her what had happened, and his plan. His plan to give them both the happy ending without anyone hunting her for the pearls she had inside, to give them both peace.
It had taken a day of talking and pleading from Jack for her to understand. And even then, he kept her locked up until this morning. When the rest of Wonderland was at the Lake of Tears, his most trusted suits brought her here and made sure she stayed.
Hatter just stared then asked her, “Alice?”
Her heart breaking for the man in front of her, she nodded.
Hatter grabbed her and held her to him. As he registered her smell and the feeling of her in his arms, he cried. He cried in relief that she was here. He cried releasing all the grief he had bottled inside of him. He cried knowing that this woman who was in his arms was alive.
Alice held him, she told him the why’s he had demanded once he had calmed down. She kept apologizing, telling him she had begged for Jack to let him know. But Jack told her that the second time she had died; a nurse had left the room and told Hatter she was dead. It wasn’t until latter that day that Jack even knew she was alive. That was what gave him the idea, and the only was he knew of convincing everyone, including Dodo, that she was dead was by keeping up the charade.
Hatter finally lifted his head and looked her in the eyes. He just told her what he had wished he had told long ago, “Alice, I love you.”
Alice smiled at him and quietly replied, “I love you too, Hatter. Jack asked, saying he would have sent you to me in my world, but I wanted to remain here with you. I only left Wonderland once, to tell my mother I was leaving for good. I could not have her looking for me, but I closed that portion of my life to stay here with you. If you want me to.”
Hatter just held her closer and told her bluntly, “I never want to leave your side. Where ever you go, I will go also. Alice, I never want to suffer what I did today ever again. I will not bury you again. Once is all I can take. What ever it takes, we will do together.” He held her away and cupped her head, “I promised you once I would take care of you, let me keep that promise now.”
Alice smiled and told him, “That is all I wanted from you. I love you, Hatter.”
Instead of answering her, he kissed her, with all the love and devotion evident as their lips moved together. When they ended the kiss, he told her, “And I love you, Alice of Legend. Forever.”
Thanks for reading. ~Wendy