Author's Notes: I really, really wanted to write a prequel for "Raindrops", basing it off the line about Tarrant teaching Alice how to throw a hat. But, my Muse had other plans for me. So, while it's not a prequel, it's completely inspired by that line. :D
Thank you to everyone who has dropped feedback! It feeds my Muse. As always, I'd love to know what you think.
The hat landed on the ground with a dissatisfied plop.
"No, no," Tarrant said patiently, picking up the tossed object. "You have to spin it as you release it from your hand."
He watched Alice frown. "I don't understand why I have to do this at all."
It was her third complaint in as many minutes. Why if Tarrant didn't know any better, he would have thought she didn't want to learn how to throw his hat!
"You never can tell when knowing how to throw a hat will come in handy. It did save you after all," he said as the Painful memories were roused.
He remembered placing Alice-so small at the time!-on the brim and hurling her to safety. If it hadn't been for his hat-flinging skills she would have been apprehended, seized, CAPTURED!
"Tarrant," Alice said, gently placing her hand on his hat. "Why don't you try showing me how to do it again?"
He straightened, grateful to be pulled away the Madness stirred by remembering that horrific time. "Of course, Alice."
Carefully, he placed the hat in her hand, wrapping her fingers-beautiful ones at that!-around the edge. "Remember, when you release it to flick your wrist vigorously," he instructed before releasing her.
Again, she tried.
Again, the hat ended up several inches away from her.
Again, Tarrant picked up the hat patiently.
"Perhaps hat throwing is best left to hatters," she said with a sigh.
He frowned. Giving up wasn't an option!
"If I may," he said, giving her the hat and standing behind her.
She turned to him, her Muchness and Curiosity-a most wondrous combination!-swirling in her eyes. "All right," she agreed.
He stepped close to her, her body pressed against him as he reached around and grabbed her hand holding the hat. His eyes closed at the sudden scent of Alice that permeated his senses. Giving his head a mental shake, he turned his concentration to teaching his student how to throw a hat.
And he absolutely, positively, assuredly, was not paying any attention to the warmth that was coming from her body!
"Ye hae tae hold it steady," he said, slipping into his familiar Outlandish intonation. His hand squeezed hers, showing the perfect pressure to hold the hat.
To his surprise, Alice let out a soft breath. He was about to ask her if she was alright when she said, "Now what?"
He told himself he did not hear a slight tremble in her voice.
"Then ye hae tae fin' th' perfect spot fer it tae land," he said, his breath hitting the side of her neck causing the most delightful looking goosebumps to app-
He swallowed and wondered for the infinity times three time why Alice had to be so…Alice-y.
"I've got it," she said, distracting him from his Thoughts.
"Now," he continued, shifting his hand slightly to cover hers completely, "ye flin' it an' pull your wrist back…just like 'at."
They watched as their combined effort cause the top hat to go sailing several hundred yards ahead of them. Suddenly, Bayard-he had forgotten he was there!-ran into the field to retrieve the hat.
"You make it seem so easy," she said, his arm still around her, his hand still holding hers.
"Nae, it's nae easy," he breathed into her ear, wondering what wonderful Madness was keeping him close to Alice. "But some things are worth learnin' tae dae the righ' way."
She pulled away, turning to face him.
His eyebrows pushed themselves down in Confusion. Why was she looking at him like he was the last Squimberry tart on the tea table?
"Like what?" she asked boldly.
Tarrant froze. She was looking at him like he had an Answer for her. Panic choked him while his Common Sense was scrambling around for something-anything!-to say.
Bayard dropped his hat by his feet, not waiting for acknowledgment before leaving the two of them alone.
Inspiration hit him!
"Like hat throwing," he said, picking up his hat and placing it on his head.
For some reason, that caused a look of Disappointment to pass over her face.
He had given her the wrong answer!
Fortunately, his Wisdom had the correct one waiting for him.
Alice's slight gasp combined with her goosebumps added to the Delicious look she had given him had to mean he needed to Do something rather than Say something.
"Or this," he said, drawing her close. He lowered his gaze and his lips to her waiting mouth. He kissed against them quite thoroughly before pulling back.
"That reminds me," she replied, a smile dancing on her lips. "There are some things I've been meaning to teach you too."