A/N: I own nothing, all belongs to Tim and the people who wrote the book, etc. I got this funny idea of Hatter being late for something and everything fell into place this way. Enjoy and plz review!

You're Late for a Very, Very Important Date

"Ahahahahaha!" Thackery fell off his chair in a fit of laughter. They were all mad, as Stayne had said, but none of them cared what Stayne thought. Mally fell into a tea pot (not full of tea, thankfully) after chucking sugar cubes at Thackery. She was also laughing hysterically. The Mad Hatter sat in his large chair at the end of the table, taking much amusement in his friend's actions.

Meanwhile, Nivens had an important task at his paws. Alice had sent for him all the way from the Otherland when she talked with Absolom. He met her by a tree in her mother's garden.

"Nivens," she sighed. "Hatter's late." When he asked her what for, Alice explained the date Hatter promised her. Well, it wasn't really a date, more of a private promised meeting. She was going to walk with him through the garden and tell him she was going back to Underland...for good. She couldn't take England anymore after she'd been to Underland and remembered it. It was all real, that she knew for sure. Her mother had grown concerned and her friends became suspicious of her sanity. She decided one adventure in Underland was not enough. She loved it there too much, and her friends there were so much more interesting. When she told Hatter she had a few things to finish up, she'd rushed through them. She told him to meet her in the Otherland in the garden in a week. Now, she sat, still waiting.

"I'm sorry Alice," Nivens apologized. "I'm sure he's having tea and completely lost track of time. Time has just come back remember."

"Well, bring him here, please," she said. "I've been away for some time. I need to be in Underland or at least away from here before my family reads the note I wrote." Nivens, after hearing that, ran as fast as he could to the hole. Jumping and landing with ease, he ran to the tea table. They are mad, he thought until he laid eyes on Hatter. He wasn't laughing as hard as Mally or Thackery. The White Rabbit hopped onto the table and advanced towards Hatter. Tarrant looked him straight in the eye when he came but a few inches from his own face.

"My friend," Hatter greeted. "What do you want today? Perhaps a cup of tea?" Nivens shook his head, and cleared his throat awkwardly.

"Ahem, Tarrant," he whispered into his ear. "You're late."

"Oh, whatever for?" Tarrant asked. At this, Nivens hit his own face with one paw.

"For a very, very important date," he added, trying to get Hatter to remember. Then, the thought stuck him.

"Oh my cup of tea, Alice!" he almost exclaimed, standing up. "Come!" Only Nivens could help Hatter get to the Otherland. Hatter chased Nivens through Underland. That is, after they made their way off the tea table they were climbing over. Now I know how Alice feels, he thought, still chasing his friend. They came to the hole.

"Quickly," Nivens urged, using his pocket watch to help keep the roots still for Hatter to climb. "And good luck." Hatter climbed the final few feet, pulling himself up into the Otherland. Oh, how could I forget this, he wondered as he dusted himself off. He walked out of the woods to see Alice in her mother's garden, as she said she would be.

"Alice," he called. This made her head jerk up from the flower she'd been picking pedals off of.

"Tarrant!" she exclaimed. He ran towards her, grasping her in a tight hug as they met.

"Oh Alice. I'm so sorry I'm late," he said, as if he felt really bad about leaving her there. She smiled.

"It's okay, but we must hurry," she said. Tarrant grabbed her hand into his own, and he led her into the forest. He took her to a small creek about a mile from the rabbit hole. They sat down, watching the water glisten and flow downstream.

"Have you finished your business?" he asked.

"Yes. I'm ready to return to Underland...and to stay," she declared, looking at Hatter. His face showed it all. He was shocked.

"You really meant that?" he asked, meeting her eyes in hope.

"Of course," Alice said. "The queen shouldn't mind me staying."

"She loves you like a sister, Alice. Of course she won't mind," Tarrant said. "But, why did you want me up here in the first place?"

"I wanted you to be the first to hear the news, and so that I won't have to jump down that hole by myself," she confessed. Tarrant chuckled at her last reason. Jumping down the hole was the fun part, he thought.

"You know Alice, when you left the first time, asking me to meet you, I truly thought I would never see you again after that. I was beginning to go quite mad," he said. She laughed at his sarcasm in the last part. "I'm serious. March thought I was madder than him. March, of all creatures in Underland! Mally kept complaining about me. I started actually believing them when..."

"Hatter," Alice said simply, putting her hand over his. He looked at her.

"Thank you," he said, but she kept her hand over his. Tarrant noticed this and suddenly reached for her other hand. They sat on their knees, both Alice's hands in his.

"Alice," he said, and this time, she knew he was being completely serious. "May I tell you something?"

"Anything," she replied.

"I care for you. Not just as a friend, I've always cared for you that way. I mean, I care about what happens to you. I don't like seeing you hurt or unhappy in anyway. I guess my point is...you are the most beautiful, intricate, curious, and perfect girl I've ever met," Hatter said warmly. After the final sentence, he let out a sigh of relief now that he confessed his true feelings. It was difficult not telling anyone about them. He was waiting to tell Alice, but he was also waiting for the right time. Now that time existed, of course. Her blue eyes stared back into his green ones. She was left speechless at Hatter's words. Alice thought instead, she'd let her actions speak for her. Her hands let go of Hatter's and she wrapped them around his neck. Consecutively, she closed the distance between them, crashing her lips onto his. Tarrant did not expect her to do this (who would?) and his balance wasn't all there. He held Alice by the waist, and he was almost forced down by her.

Almost. His eyes closed shortly after, overwhelmed by the passion she showed him as her tongue entered his mouth. Neither of them let go, embracing one another, sharing moments of bliss. Hatter was kissing her back, she'd realized after he was on his laying down, with her on top of him. Alice let go first. He looked up at her, then realizing their positions. They let each other go, and Alice rolled off of him, but she lay close beside him. So close, not a piece of paper could fit between them. Alice pushed her head into Tarrant's neck and he put his arms around her.

"Alice," he whispered. "We should head back to Underland."

"Mmmmhmm," she said, closing her eyes again. She put one arm around his waist, not wanting to let go. "After I sleep here for a while." Hatter held her as she fell asleep in his arms. He too, fell asleep at the sound of the water and Alice's soft breathing for a few hours.

When they awoke, together they walked to the rabbit hole.

"So long England," Alice said, taking Hatter's hand. Alice took one final glance at her world.

"Three, two, one," Hatter counted down. They jumped together after one, not letting each other go. They landed, Alice on top of Hatter again. She smiled at him, as gravity took them to go the other way. Hatter was now on top of Alice. Hatter couldn't resist her and took the opportunity of this moment. His hands slid down to her hips as he kissed her neck.

"Mmmmm, Tarrant," she moaned as he trailed his lips to her collarbone and back up to her mouth.

"I missed you," Tarrant whispered to her ear. Her arms once again embrace his neck.

"I missed you too," Alice said, pulling him down to steal another kiss from him. They looked at the small table just beside them, holding up the Pishsalver and the Upelkuchen cake. Alice looked back at Tarrant.

"Welcome home," he said. The Round Hall...