Just a little Alice/Tarrant drabble. All this talk of stockings and gloves got me thinking of Tarrant's hands...

Rated M~ for possible future scenes

Please Review~ Enjoy!


(P.S. for truly excellent stories of stockings and gloves and pears and, oh so much more, do check out the works of Amaranthea and Manniness, in particular. You'll be glad you did!)

Words that Rhyme

Chapter 1: Thimble, nimble...

Lately, Alice had been considering words that rhyme.

She supposed it was a sign of her growing comfort with her new home in Underland.

Or, perhaps a sign of her ever-growing relationship with one Mad Hatter. It'd been several months since her return, which was met with a rousing welcome of cheers and parties and hugs and kisses all around. But even the joyous frivolity of Queen Mirana's banquet or the crushing embrace of two very excited Tweedles, couldn't compare with the rakish green gaze that had stolen her breath away.

Like any proper Victorian lady, Alice had smiled politely back, praying that her own, in her mind rather dull, gaze might convey what her spare words could not at the time.

"Hatter," she'd greeted him, a shy smile playing about her lips.

His answering smile had been dazzling.

And that was it, she recalled, the first time he'd held out his hand to her, offering her an escort to the first of many parties – and then later again on the journey back to his home in the windmill – that'd she noticed it, really noticed his hands.

"Alice, dear, would you care for some more tea?" Tarrant's voice shook her from her reverie.

She shook her head delicately to bring herself back to the present. A quick glance around the room reminded her that she was seated on a low sofa in Tarrant's workroom, enjoying the sweet summer breeze through the open window and a warm cup of tea as her beloved Hatter worked away, his swift, nimble fingers sewing, cutting, and stitching away at yet another masterpiece.

She smiled, basking yet again in her own little slice of bliss.

"Alice?" Tarrant's voice rang out, a slight tremor of concern caressing her name.

She shook herself again, How silly of me! I've yet to answer! "Yes, please."

She watched as he detached himself from his worktable in order to pour her more tea.

"Oh! Forgive me," she exclaimed, "Please don't stop working on my account! I can pour myself more tea." Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment. Oh what must he think of me!

But Tarrant only chuckled softly, his green eyes glinting with fun and charm.

"Don' be silly, lass." His soft Scottish accent seemed to warm the air between them. "It'be mae pleasure," his smile could have lit the room aflame.

Alice couldn't resist the draw of his green-gold eyes and felt herself locked in them, the force of his gaze freezing her in place and melting her from the inside out. He held her captive thus for a long moment until Alice felt she'd surely collapse into a hyperventilating heap, when he bowed his head with a sudden movement, turning his attention to the tea service laid out on a nearby table.

Alice thought she detected the hint of a wicked grin on her Hatter's face, but even that could not hold her attention for long.

His long, be-thimbled fingers enveloped the teapot, lifting the porcelain like it was the most precious treasure. He moved with assurance, but with care, each gesture like a choreographed dance, each movement like poetry of strength and grace. His hands paused, one finger tracing the lip of the fresh teacup he'd poured for her, and those golden-green eyes found hers again.

"Cream, dear?" he murmured, his voice almost a purr.

Alice's heart nearly jumped out of her chest. Breathe, Alice, she scolded herself. But even so, when she spoke, her voice was breathless whisper, "Yes, please…"

Tarrant's smile was hidden with a small nod as he returned his attention to her tea.

Alice swallowed, taking the opportunity to breath when she wasn't in the thrall of Tarrant's gaze. Now get a hold of yourself, Alice! She chided herself. It's just tea!

And yet, the sight of his hands and the way they wrapped so gently around the slender creamer, the thimble on his middle finger tapping ever so slightly against its porcelain surface…

Alice felt a warm blush across her cheeks that spread like a tingling down her neck. As she watched him, a heat bloomed unbidden from somewhere within her and suddenly she found herself standing.

Tarrant's eyes lifted curiously from his work. "Alice?" he asked, his green eyes widening in concern.

I must look completely mad, she thought. But she couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't think of any way to explain the strange effects Tarrant's hands had on her, or any way to squelch the tingling heat they'd caused in her.

"Alice, are you alright?" Tarrant's voice was definitely concerned now, and he closed the space between them in a few long strides.

He was close now. She could smell the scent of tea and sugar and fresh spring air that seemed to radiate from him.

She kept her eyes on his lapel, suddenly afraid of looking into those all-seeing eyes for fear of… well, of what Alice? she asked herself. Afraid of revealing her altogether improper thoughts? Afraid of getting trapped in those eyes and losing all control over her over-heated body?

But before she could figure it out, soft hands cupped her cheeks.

Shivers ran down her jawline, across her throat and, torturously, down her body. She closed her eyes, savoring the warmth of his touch, the way his strong, rough hands held her face as if she were a fragile, precious treasure. She felt his thumbs draw small circles on her cheeks, bringing a smile to curl her lips and a soft moan of pleasure to purr in her throat.

His hands didn't move, though she knew he must have heard her, and a blush threatened to interrupt her moment of bliss, but before it could give her away, Tarrant lifted her chin lightly, pulling her face out of his lapel.

I should open my eyes, Alice thought, he'll want to know why I'm behaving so strangely.

But before she could, she felt a soft pressure on her lips. The feeling was amazing, and a soft gasp 'Oh' escaped her control.

Heat, fast and strong, flooded her and suddenly his soft kiss was not enough. And now it was her hands on his face, and her lips pressing ferociously against his.

But her Hatter; he never kept her wanting. His nimble hands tangled in her hair, caressing the nape of her neck. The cool metal thimble raised goosebumps on her flesh, sending chills down her spine and making her hair stand on end.

She gasped, suddenly breaking the kiss, her hyperventilating truly threatening to rob her of all breath. But as she wrestled with her breathing, his mouth explored along her jawline, planting kisses and nips as he worked his way down the side of her throat. Her eyes rolled back into her head as each new kiss ignited a fire that threatened to pull her apart, melting her, freezing her, and drowning her in helpless pleasure.

And then, Oh God!, his hand found her shoulder and those strong fingers dug into her flesh sending shockwaves of pleasure all the way down to her fingertips. A low moan filled her chest, and then suddenly, her legs gave way.

"Oh my!" she gasped, but his hands were there again, catching her before she could hit the floor. He wrapped in her those strong arms, one hand tucked securely around her waist and the other under her knees, pressing her firmly against his chest.

"Are yo' al'ra?" Tarrent purred, his green-gold eyes and Scottish brogue mesmerizing her yet again.

It was a long moment before Alice could speak. And even so, she found her words to be most inadequate.

"Um," she paused, trying to collect her thoughts. "Yes. That is to say, well, afterall, um, well, what I mean to say is…" Alice floundered, her face turning quite pink. She drew a deep breath. "Thank you," she finished formally. She stared at her lap, afraid to see whatever the Hatter's eyes would have to say about her silly response.

As so, she couldn't see Tarrant's blinding smile and the utterly charmed look in his eyes as he beheld, in his estimation, the most perfect creature in all of Underland or Otherland.

"My pleasure," he replied sincerely.

The gravity in his voice compelled her to look up, and the sweet, loving smile she saw there banished all embarrassment.

Too soon he was setting her down, and too soon he was bringing her tea, and too soon he was back at work. But as Alice sipped her tea and watched the nimble fingers of her beloved caress and kindle, tame and excite the fabrics in his care, she couldn't help but think of words that rhyme.

Thimble, nimble… Care, tear, bare, stare…

Please let me know if I should continue. Of course, if you have ideas for a second installment, send them my way or feel free to write them yourself!