Week Six: All Through The Night
The premise: What if Claire had conceived on her wedding night with Jamie?
July 16th, 1743; Jamie and Claire’s Room at Leoch
My stomach woke me sometime after midnight, making its intentions quite clear. I rolled onto my side and curled my legs up to my chest.
You were doing so well, Beauchamp.
I hadn’t been sick at all the day before, and only once the day before that. Somehow, the timing had always been such that I was able to slip away to be sick or I was alone when the nausea hit me.
While Jamie wasn’t what I’d call a light sleeper, he would sleep thru my frequent trips to the chamber pot if I was careful, but the moment I said something, he was alert and ready to pounce. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to vomit in the complete silence without waking him.
What would I say? How should I tell him?
We were alone and would be for some time. It would be hours yet til dawn, giving him time to process the news before he had to leave for the stables.
“I’m pregnant” was simple enough.
“I’ve known I was carrying your child for over a week, but haven’t told you” would be the truth.
I gagged and rolled off the bed, blindly reaching for my bucket and finding it just in time.
Muffled Gaelic expletives erupted from behind me as Jamie sprang into action. He tumbled over the bed and onto the floor beside me. His arm came around me, supporting me from behind as he held back my hair.
“I’m sorry,” I sobbed.
For not telling you, for withholding my heart, for waking you up, and everything in between.
“Shh, mo chridhe,” he crooned, rubbing my back. “‘Twill be better soon.”
I set down the bucket and turning around to bury my face in his chest. His arms came around me, his head bending to place a kiss atop my head. I felt him tremble beneath me and realized with a start that he was crying too.
The feeling of dismay surged thru me. My limbs went numb, my womb clenched around the babe I held within me, my chest heaved with the effort it took to take a shallow breath.
He knew and he was disappointed.
In all of my fears of the future, in every change I knew this baby would bring, I never once expected Jamie to react this way. I had assumed he’d take the news positively.
But the news hadn’t come from you.
I had promised him honesty, yet kept the very existence of his son from him. I had told someone else the news before him and left him to hear it second hand from the castle’s housekeeper. Or who knows how many people Mrs Fitz had told, he could have heard it from anyone.
How could he be anything but disappointed?
“I’m sorry, Jamie,” I whispered. “I should have told you the moment I knew.”
“I kenned ye would, in your own time,” his voice gentle as stood, placing me back on the bed and laying down beside me, holding me close as he spoke again, “‘Tis verra bad then? Is there no cure? No herbs ye can try?”
“I have and they don’t work,” I answered dismally, thinking of the peppermint tea I had been drinking almost religiously.
“What if we sent for Collum’s physician from Edinburgh? He’s a learned man, maybe he kens a cure.”
My heart warmed at his adamant insistence to find relief from my morning sickness. “Jamie, there is no cure, we just have to wait it out. It won’t last forever.”
“Nae, mo nighean donn,” he cried out. The desperation in his voice sent shivers down my spine and he all but strangled me in his tight embrace. “I willna let ye die.”
Let me die?
I tried to pull away, to see his face, but Jamie was having none of it.
“For heaven’s sake, Jamie, I’m not going to die!” I huffed, trying to wriggle out of his grasp.
His arms suddenly loosened and I stared up at him in confusion. Even in the dark, I could tell he was completely pale, his blue eyes wide with panic. “What are ye saying, Claire?”
“Morning sickness is a completely normal part of pregnancy. It’ll go away as the baby grows,” I explained slowly, wondering how on earth he went from being disappointed over the news to fearing for my life.
Jamie’s mouth opened and shut wordlessly before swallowing hard and asking in hushed amazement, “You’re with child?”
Jamie had thought I was ill and dying and hadn’t told him. He hadn’t heard my news from someone else, he didn’t know.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I took his face in my hands, whispering back, “Yes.”
His shoulders sagged with relief and I wrapped my arms about his neck as he held me close. “A dhia, Sassenach, ye scared me so.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmured, feeling him chuckle against me. The low, resonating sound calmed me to my very core. “You’re happy, then?”
Jamie rolled me onto my back, his hand traveling down my body and resting just above my hips. His fingers traced smooth circles over the place where our unborn child grew within me.
“Aye, mo chridhe, verra happy, indeed.”
I had drifted asleep in Jamie’s arms but now woke with a jolt to find his face in mine, dawn’s first light illuminating it in shades of yellow and red.
“Ah!” I screeched, followed by a more subdued, “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ.”
“Ye jumped out of a window! An’ we’ve… I’ve lain with ye! More than lain with ye, I’ve–”
“I remember,” I interrupted him, sleepily smiling as I rubbed my hand across my eyes.
“But the bairn!”
I was having trouble following his change in topics and asked, “What about him?”
Jamie let out a Scottish noise of exasperation.
“Is he harmed? Christ, Claire, if I’ve done something to–”
“No,” I assured him, now fully awake as I realized what he was about. “The baby is alright.”
His brows were drawn tightly together in worry, “Are ye sure?”
Stretching luxuriously, I pressed myself against the length of him, my toes brushing the tops of his feet as my fingers played with the curls at the nape of his neck.
“Very,” I murmured.
He kissed me long and hard before breaking away to study my face. His blue eyes were intense in their concerned scrutiny. I felt completely bare as he saw deep into my soul, asking, “And ye, Sassenach? Are ye happy?”
I couldn’t look away as I answered honestly, “I’m scared, Jamie.”
He knew this without me having to tell him, I knew he did, but it was so freeing to speak the words aloud. Tears began to form unbidden and threatened to spill onto my cheeks as he pressed his forehead against mine, his eyes closing as he whispered, “So am I, mo chridhe.”