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"Daddy, will you tell me a story?"

There was really only one answer for such a question, and the little girl's father knew that.  It didn't even matter that she asked with that irresistible pout, and those eyes of hers (so much like her mother's, it was astounding) pleading in a thoroughly shameless manner that only children could get away with.  Well, perhaps that pout and those eyes had a little bit to do with it, especially since they both knew she should have been asleep already.

"Of course!  What kind would you like?"  

"Something new."

Not that she was asking for anything difficult.  But as the girl's father pondered her request, he realized there was one story he hadn't told her yet.

"All right, I've just the ticket," he said, before clearing his throat and launching into what he called his 'Storyteller' voice.  "Once Upon a Time, there was a girl-"

"Was she a princess?"

"Oh no, she was something much better.  She was an Alice."

The girl knew that name.  "That's the same name as-"

"Yes, sugar plum," her father interrupted.  "Do you want to hear the story or not?"

"Oh, yes please.  Do tell it, Daddy."

"Right then.  Once Upon a Time, there was a girl called Alice.  She was a very curious girl, and that curiosity led her to have all sorts of strange adventures.  During one of these adventures she met a man that some called the Mad Hatter.  He was called so because his profession had left him-well, some would call him insane, but he preferred to simply think of himself as unique.  After all, the second time he met Alice he was a very different man than she saw during their first encounter, and it was not everyone who could pull off such a trick."

"But how did he do it?  Make himself so different?"

"I don't think he really knows.  He could vaguely remember that first meeting, when he thought Alice nothing more than a rather rude little girl who thought she knew far more than she did, and whose hair was in great need of cutting.  But there was something about her all the same, something that made him believe he had not seen the last of her, that the two of them were connected in some strange way.  And so it was that he was right.  When first they met he was old and small, just as she was young and small.  When next they met she was a woman grown, and he changed accordingly to both contrast and compliment her.  He grew taller than her, but also was younger than he had been before.  He found he was not the same man as he was previously, but did not regret the change, for it also brought forth a transformation within as well as without.  You see, the Mad Hatter now found that when he met the Alice, his heart would beat in his chest with the power of a rampaging Bandersnatch, his breath would leave him so quickly he would sometimes feel dizzy.  Yes, every particle of his being was drawn to her, and ached in recognition of what it knew was the match to its soul."

"You mean he loved her," the little girl said, with a conviction that startled him, coming from one so young.  What did she know of such things?  "Like you love Mommy."

Ah, that explained it.  Of course she could recognize what she saw in the eyes and actions of her parents every day.  "Yes, exactly like that."

"Did Alice love the Mad Hatter too?"

"Not at first, or at the least, she did not recognize or acknowledge such feelings at first.  In fact, she was quite determined not to even like the Hatter, much less love him.  An Alice is a very stubborn creature, there is no doubt.  But even the most determined will has little defense against true love.  It took the Mad Hatter much time to convince Alice that even a madman could love, and what's more, could love so deeply and without end."

"Did he perform daring deeds or slay some monster, like the princes do for the princesses?"

"Nothing quite so dramatic, no.  After all, the Hatter knew that Alice could protect herself from the vicious beasties, and with so many princes there weren't as many to go around as there used to be.  The same goes for daring deeds, and Alice thought those nothing more than showing off anyway.  As she was very careful around needles and apples, he never had to wake her from an enchanted sleep, nor did she ever go about losing shoes and fancy balls.  So the Hatter had no choice but to resort to other methods, both elaborate and simple, all in his quest to convince Alice of his feelings, and hopefully to make her see that she could love him as much as he loved her."

"Did it work?"

"Eventually.  It took much longer than the Hatter cared for, but the fact that Alice did love him was more than enough to soothe away the effects of it having taken so much time.  And so he became a new man for the third time, one called Husband.  It was not quite so drastic a change as it had been the first time, and the Hatter welcomed it, even if the fit took some getting used to.  But it was when he changed for the fourth time, into Father, that he knew he had finally become who he was supposed to be for once and all."

"And Alice and the Mad Hatter lived Happily Ever After, didn't they, Daddy?"

"Well, I couldn't say for sure.  Their story is still being written.  But I like to hope so, all the same.  Now, how was that for a story?"

"It was nice.  Next time I want one with sword fighting, though.  Maybe Alice can rescue the Mad Hatter from a dragon."

"I'll see what I can do.  And now, sugar plum, it is time for little girls to be asleep."

"Good night, Daddy.  Thank you for the story," the girl said sleepily, as her father leaned down and kissed her forehead, before tucking her quilt more securely around her, and making sure her little stuffed white rabbit was within her grasp.  He tiptoed out of the room, though his daughter was already halfway to Dreamland.  He was vaguely startled when he saw his wife standing in the doorway, taking in the scene with those eyes of her, so much like her daughter's, twinkling with merriment and affection.  Luckily, he did not vocalize his surprise, and husband and wife were able to leave their daughter peacefully sleeping as they crept away.

It was after they had gone to bed themselves, and were laying together with his wife's blonde head resting on his chest, that the subject of his story was brought up.

"So, do you think that the Mad Hatter and Alice really did live Happily Ever After, Reginald?"

Reginald, who was still often called the Mad Hatter, looked down at his wife and smiled the wide, manic grin she had grown to love so much.  

"Yes, I do believe they did, Alice."

"Oh good, I do so love happy endings."

"As do I.  Though it's what comes after that I like the best.  For it is when the story is over that the characters can truly live, when each new day is a story all of its own.  Really, it's what is after 'Happily Ever After' that's the most interesting."

Alice kissed her Mad Hatter, and told him: "I couldn't agree more."
So, I'll admit, I've been feeling rather sorry for myself the last few days. I was so excited after uploading the fourth chapter of "Beyond the Laughing Sky" only to find that I've had not one comment. Nor has anyone except my own collaborator wanted to ask me a question on my formspring page. I know I'm not particularly popular, and I'm okay with that most days. But still, sometimes it stings.

But instead of sitting around and sulking, I decided to just keep on writing. What came of that was this, and it wasn't really what I was planning on, but the phrase "Oh no, she was something much better. She was an Alice." came to me, and the rest just sort of came together.

Disclaimer: Not mine. I suppose the little girl is technically mine, but otherwise they're all Disney and Lewis Carroll and such. And thanks as always to :iconbri-chan: and :iconrain27: of course.

Also, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm still adding a link to my formspring. I still don't expect anyone to actually ask anything, whether personal or BtLS-related, but I have the bloody thing, so I might as well promote it: [link]
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THEMADHATTER1995 Featured By Owner May 1, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
This is vey cute :D I love this :) And i hope than, they lived Happily Ever After :D
EmmyScarlet Featured By Owner May 1, 2010
Well, naturally. This is Disney-inspired, after all.
THEMADHATTER1995 Featured By Owner May 1, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
yeah :D
OneLittleSpark1928 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010
I SQEEEEed. :D this is absolutly adorable!!!!! love love LOVE! LOVE I SAY! And not to worry, I saw that BtLS was updated and I practically jumped for joy, I honnestly though have had no time to read it because Life is in cahoots with Time and they are both being butts. BUT now that I have vanquished them I shall at last continue with your amazing story! :D
ninichan Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010
This made my morning.
Zombierocker21 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010
Awww...I loved it!!!

This is very cute...I love how the daughter wanted Alice to slay a dragon to save the Hatter. XD
BohoBelle Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010
Aww, how adorable! I just love little daddy-daughter cuteness. I can definately see this scene playing out :)
I also loved the little references to other princesses/fairy tales.
MadHatterFanatic1812 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010   Writer
Aww, so adorable!!
Hobbit-Babe Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010
very cute! I love it!
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