“You’re not the real Hatter!”
You don’t know exactly what makes you yell such a phrase, but you’re absolutely certain of the fact. This man, this…monster cannot be Lord Hattington.
He looks wounded, to say the least.
“Of course, I am my dear. I know I have changed a lot since the new Queen ascended but I assure you that I am he.”
You cross your arms. “If you are really Lord Hattington, you’ll tell me about the micro-fibre things. After all, yours is the only proof I’ve got that we do have stuff inside our heads. What if I’m trapped and I need to find a way to remove these micro-fibres from my head? You’re just going to let me suffer? Are you?”
“I…” he splutters, going through several expression reminiscent of his jester-self. You swallow. I hope I haven’t pushed him too far. But he doesn’t get the importance of working together. If he dragged me here for the reason of saving this realm, thenI refuse to go alone without any knowledge.
You stare at each other—though heat is achingly slowly dispersing through your cheeks. He’s going to win this staring competition.
You curse and look away.
“I’m sorry,” you add. “I don’t mean to…”
He shifts from foot to foot, and a look of sadness crosses his smooth features. One hand absently pats his face, as if he is wiping away an invisible tear.
“I cannot stay around here,” he says. “I must return to pretending to serve her.”
You twist your hands and fingers over each other. You do feel bad. But at the same time…
The silence in the oblivion-realm deepens, like a cold storm or a gale or— Hatter’s expression turns grave.
“What?” you asked, a little too sharply.
He bows low. “Very well.” He drags his hands to his head, and, as if lifting a very stone from his skull, he takes off his hat to reveal…