AN: For a comment-fic offer, my friend PalisDelon asked me "Well, this is the plot bunny that I can't figure out how to write... Alice/Hatter - What if Jack didn't interrupt the almost kiss?"

So this is what I wrote for her (slightly touched up)….

"Then I'll look after you." He leaned closer. "I think your luck is changing."

Alice's eyes involuntarily fluttered shut. Before she could even take a breath, Hatter's mouth was on hers.

It was not a demand, it wasn't like any kiss she'd ever experienced before. Hatter's lips were warmer and softer than she'd expected, and the pressure was so gentle, so sweet; neither were words she would have used for Hatter. His kiss invited her to kiss back, not demanding, not coming on strong or trying to prove anything. And when she slowly, hesitatingly, began to respond, he merely slipped a little closer, his hands running up her arms to slide across her back.

Hatter took his time, it seemed. He tilted his head just a bit, deepening the kiss, and suddenly Alice's knees were weak. She realized that Hatter gave his entire attention to the kiss, and she'd never quite felt so completely overwhelmed by just a kiss before.

They parted, just an inch. It wasn't a break, it was a pause.

"Alright?" he asked softly.

Alice shivered. He'd just promised her so much, with just a kiss. After all the foolish protestations men had made to her before now, all the airy meaningless assurances and bubble-crystal lies that shattered so easily, this one man - this con-artist, trickster, black-marketeering, double-agent lunatic with a Yorkshire accent and the fashion sense of Hunter S Thompson - had just promised he'd spend his life looking after her. It was the most honest and heartfelt thing any man had ever done for her.

"Yes," she whispered back, melting into his arms.

He kissed her again, to seal the agreement, and she never imagined anyone could communicate so much more with a kiss. Hatter assured her with this second kiss that he loved her, that he'd follow her and protect her and defend her, and she tried to tell him back that she loved him too, that she trusted him and believed in him and wanted him by her side, always.

Eventually, their lips parted, and they slid into an embrace as natural as breathing. Alice tucked her head against his collar, and slipped her arms around his waist under his disreputable jacket. Hatter rested his cheek against her hair.

"Hello, Alice. Am I interrupting something?" Jack's voice rang sharply through the clearing.

to be continued