Alice was all grown up when the Mad Hatter came for her. Her memories of Wonderland had all but faded into patchy snapshots in her mind, but his face was still as dear to her as it was the first moment she saw him. He was still tall and lanky, towering over her short frame, and his wicked grin danced behind red whiskers as he tipped his plaid newsboy cap. Alice's heart was his in an instant, as if it had been with him all along, waiting for him to return. She should have looked deeper into his caramel colored eyes before she took his hand and fell back down the rabbit hole.
Wonderland seemed as bright and wonderfully strange as she remembered. With Hatter by her side she felt as if she was finally where she belonged. The girl who always felt so out of place and misunderstood, felt like she had found a home in the man who looked at her and made her feel as if she was his missing piece. The days were filled with laughter and frivolity, and the nights with scorching passion and a kind of love that Alice had only read about in novels. Never were there two people more in tune and in love with each other than she and Hatter.
...but things are not always as they seem.
Beneath Wonderland's shiny veneer lurked a darkness that destroyed everything it touched. Quickly gone were the days of laughter and the nights of passion. All that remained was madness. Alice sat at the Hatter's side as his Mad Tea Parties became longer and longer. When he looked at her she knew he no longer saw her, did not see her as his precious missing piece anymore. Most of the time, it was as if she wasn't even there to him...she was just someone to clean up the mess when the Tea Parties raged on too long. So desperate was she to bring back her loving Hatter, she tried everything she could think of to care for him, losing all that she was in the process, until she became just another Wonderland monster. Unrecognizable even to herself.
Days turned into months, and months brought around the inevitable one year anniversary of Alice's return to Wonderland. She had sensed a change for months at that time, a persistent knowledge deep down that something was being hidden from her. Her determination to hold on to even a slight hope of seeing her Hatter again had turned her into a desperate fool. There was nothing she was not willing to do for even a moment of his time. So, when he came to her in the dead of night, waking her with the song that had come to be the melody of his rare attention, she responded without hesitation.
"Yes, my love?" she replied, basking in the joy of having his caramel honey colored eyes focused on her once again.
"Is your heart mine?" Hatter placed his hand flat over her heart, its rhythm increasing at his touch until Alice was sure it would beat right out of her chest.
"For always, my Hatter," she replied honestly. His sweet smile was her undoing, flooding her with all the love and trust she felt for him until she thought she would burst at the seams.
"Good," he sighed happily.
Alice's rapture turned to horror as she watched his eyes turn dark, and his smile turn into a cruel, mocking smirk. Hatter moved his hand into a claw, and plunged his nails deep into Alice's chest. She felt him wrap his hand around her loving, trusting heart, and tear it forcefully from her body. Staggering back, she tripped and fell, forced to look up at him towering over her with her red, glowing, beating heart in his hands.
"I thought you loved me," she wept, feeling the vast emptiness and pain radiating from her chest.
The man she had loved and trusted more than any other sneered down at her, "Love you? How could you ever be so foolish as to believe I would love anyone as plain and ordinary as you, Alice?"
"Then why? Why did you bring me here, why did you make me believe we loved each other?"
"Simple," he squeezed her still wildly beating heart, sending agony flooding through her chest. "I needed your heart, full of love and trust for only me. I was dying, and it is the only thing that could cure me. Now I can truly live and be happy. I can devour your heart, and move on to something better."
She wanted to die, but Alice found no such reprieve. The pain from her chest was nothing compared to the wounds his words inflicted, or the indifference to her she saw in his eyes. He devoured her heart right in front of her, and she felt every bite and tear straight through to the very center of her being. When Hatter was finished, he looked down at Alice, with her heart's blood still smeared on his lips and in the red hairs of his beard. He tipped his newsboy cap to her, and gave her a self satisfied grin before walking away without looking back.
Alice screamed her pain and sadness into the Wonderland night, and only its madness answered her. It seeped into the hole Hatter had left after taking her heart, sealing it once fully inside. She felt it swirl though every part of her until every speck of what she was was made of pain and lunacy. The Cheshire grin moon stared down at Alice as she realized that love was the most painful cause of death, that broken trust hurt more than nails plunging into your heart, and that she would rather have insanity and no heart, than ever fall in love again.