(Takes place only a couple months after Hatter has come through the Looking Glass)
"Alice?" Hatter asked, confused. He'd knocked on the apartment door, only to be greeted by the sight of Alice in a spectacular satin robe, blue with little gold critters embroidered all over it, with a pale blue sash around her waist. He noticed she had golden sandals on her feet.
She held a finger to her lips, while smiling enigmatically. She took his hand, drawing him towards the living area. Hatter glanced about, surprised at the change. Most of the furniture had been pushed aside, except for the low coffee table. No lights were on, though the setting sun glowed in the windows. Pillows surrounded the low coffee table that was left in the center of the room. Clearly Carol, Alice's mother, was not at home.
Alice grinned briefly at him before gracefully lowering herself to a pillow. On the table, a steaming clay pot simmered on a strange rack Hatter had never seen before, a purple flame licking its base. Beside it, a little clay pot and a pair of small handle-less cups stood on a tray, plus some strange implements he'd never seen before.
Hatter bit his lip, but then sat on a cushion opposite Alice. He was relieved to see her approving smile, though her lack of words disturbed him a little, and made him feel shyer than he normally would. They'd been together for several weeks now, ever since he'd come through the Looking Glass to lay his heart at the feet of the Alice of Legend.
With a sly glance, Alice turned her attention to the accoutrements on the low table. She shook out a folded napkin and carefully wiped down everything, from the cups to the strange utensils. Then she opened the small pot, and with the little bent stick, put green powder into both little cups with careful and precise movements.
Hatter watched with interest as she added steaming water from the heated pot to each cup. She picked up the funny brush and stirred the pots. Then she picked up one little cup, turning it within her hands, and offered it to him.
Hatter accepted the cup, watching her carefully. Her eyes, though sparkling and cheerful, told him there was something important happening here. He looked at the cup at his hands and carefully breathed in the fragrant steam. Ah, tea! Glancing back at Alice, he hoped for a clue as to how he should proceed.
To his relief, her eyes glanced down at the cup, tracing its lip, and he realized quickly he was meant to reverse her turns. So he turned the cup quickly in his hands, then brought it to his lips.
A burst of herbal flavors flowed over his tongue. The green tea had been enhanced with several floral touches, and Hatter savored them, before lowering the cup and giving Alice a warm smile.
She grinned before bringing her own cup to her lips and sipping delicately.
Too intrigued, Hatter asked "What is this?"
Softly, Alice replied "A Japanese tea ceremony." She took up the napkin again, carefully cleaning the bent stick scoop and the whisk. "Japan is where the art of judo came from. The Tea Ceremony has many different meanings."
Hatter cocked his head at her as he took up his cup to sip again. "What did it mean today?"
Alice shrugged a little. "It always means a lot of things. Mostly, it means taking the time to appreciate life, and the beauty of the moment." She glanced away shyly, then caught his eyes with a meaningful smile. "It also means... I appreciate you."
Hatter smiled warmly at Alice. That she'd gone to all the trouble to prepare him tea, and in a ceremonial way that meant something to her, made his love for her burn even hotter. "I love you too, Alice," he said. He sipped at his tea, his eyes never leaving hers.
Though she blushed deeply, Alice never let her gaze falter from his.