She must have fallen into an uneasy slumber, the muscles in her legs cramped as she uncurled them from the ruffled sheets. She sensed someone by her side, her hands reached out of their own accord and she grunted, in need of contact with the strange presence in her bed.
“Please…” She called out, her voice deep with sleep, her fingertips brushing against a thick fabric, one that wasn’t her bed sheets. She jumped awake, startled she bolted and nearly fell from the bed. A pair of strong arms gathered her up before she hit the floor.
“Sassenach! Woah, dinna fash, tis only me, Jamie…” He whispered as he pulled her close to his chest, coo-ing and calming her. She allowed herself to melt against him, her hands now gripping at his half open shirt.
“You’d gone, you promised you wouldn’t – but you were gone.” She yawned accusatorially against him, the sweet warmth of her breath fanning across the exposed expanse of his chest. His arms tightened around her.
“Aye, I broke my word to ye. I didna think it right that ye were fetching and carrying for me and I wanted to make sure ye were safe, so I left. I followed ye for a way, but the redcoats, they were everywhere and I had to hide. I thought it best that I tried to get out of the city, it’s a wee bit dangerous for me now, ken. Being alone wi'out any other Scots about. But I was a coward, Sassenach. I was too much a coward to leave ye, so I came back.”
He was talking to himself now, his voice so low. She’d been listening though and managed to hear every word. Her eyes filled with tears at hearing his tone change from playful to sad. Coward? That wasn’t a word she’d have used to describe him. Claire had fallen asleep thinking she’d never see him again, and now, to wake with him next to her once more, she was certain that it had taken more bravery than cowardice to turn on his heel and return to her.
She kissed the exposed skin of his upper chest, and tugged gently at his shirt.
“Come to bed, Jamie. Let’s just sleep, please.” His hands had stilled at her show of outward affection. Hers went directly to his belt buckle as she fumbled with the clasp, pulling and shifting it until it fell open. He knelt motionless on the bed as Claire pushed the fabric of his kilt over his hips, leaving his shirt as the only thing left covering him, luckily it was long enough to keep him decent.
“Jamie?…” Claire prodded, trying to gain his attention, his head slowly twisted to meet her eye. “…lie with me, just to sleep.” Her gaze was clouded and sleepy, her eyelids drooping as she pushed herself up and under the duvet, Jamie followed, unable to talk himself out of it. He was extremely fatigued, and she would be so soft and warm against him.
He quickly pushed his boots and stockings off and crawled into bed beside her, allowing her to wrap herself around him. She was already asleep, he noticed. Her legs pressed skin to skin against his. He sighed and allowed his eyes to close, sleep wouldn’t be hard, but his mind couldn’t stop nagging him. He shouldn’t be letting himself get too close to her, yet now he was half naked and in her bed.
He’d slept, but only a few hours at a time. Every move Claire made woke him, she started off close, but as the night wore on she curled herself around him so fully that he couldn’t tell her limbs from his. Her head was settled in the crook of his neck, her soft breaths fanning over his collarbones, giving him the most delicious sensations. His skin was prickled with gooseflesh. His fingers twitched, the soft hairs that lay over her back tickling the pads of his fingertips.
Her mouth caressed his pliant, damp skin. She could taste the subtle salty undertones of sweat, she could feel the slow beat of his heart. Her tongue wetted her lips as she slipped it along the length of his throat. He had stilled. She felt his muscles go taut at her touch, but that didn’t stop her. Claire gently rolled her hips against his, her shift having bunched up around her middle, leaving her bared to him. She sucked a delicate section of his skin into her mouth, clasping it under her teeth as she tasted him.
All of a sudden he bucked against her, and then he was gone. The cool air of the bedroom swirled around Claire as she bolted upright, her hands and knees settling against the mattress and she caught her breath. For a moment she didn’t dare look up at Jamie, frightened that she’d pushed it too far. A small part of her felt ashamed. She’d known what she was doing, she’d read anatomy books, even though Uncle Lamb wouldn’t have approved. She knew the basic premise of how the male species worked. She’d been engaged to be married for goodness sake!
Taking a lungful of air she braced herself and looked up at him from under her lashes, her cheeks flaming red. He was pacing the floor by the door, his hands clenching and un-clenching as his bare feet hit the wood over and over again. She could tell he was fighting with himself, his cheeks were as flushed as hers, his chest rising unevenly and his eyes unfocused. She’d roused him, his shirt couldn’t hide that from her.
She swallowed audibly, and pushed herself upright. Her movement caused him to stop still, and he turned to face her, his eyes alight in the dim pre-dawn. Her hands moved to the lace tie of her shift. It was sat askew, half on, half off her shoulders, exposing part of her bosom to him. His eyes caught it and widened as she slipped the light fabric completely off, letting it fall dramatically to the bed. He couldn’t help but stare at her chest, the steady rise and fall captivating him. She was slightly chilled, having been surrounded by his warmth previously, but now left exposed and alone. Her nipples were hard as bullets. If she could see his arousal, he could guess at hers.
She sat back on her heels now, her hands lying open against her milky white thighs, the linen of her shift encircling her small waist covering only her crotch as she dipped her head and waited, her curls falling over her rosy cheeks. From the tilt of her chin he could see her mouth was slightly parted, panting out small gasps of air. Her eyelashes fluttered, open and closed and open once more.
A chill of pleasure ran down Jamie’s spine as he watched her, his whole being alight, her body calling to his. She was offering herself up to him. He could answer her call, or he could leave her be, but he knew whichever he chose would determine their path, decisively.
I know Sam’s photo is a BTS photo, but the look on his face makes me think he may be staying in Jamie character. History tells us that the Battle of Culloden is very brief, so I am imaging that this kind of pensive and dejected and heartbroken look on Jamie’s face happens at the same time that Claire is lying on the road near Craigh na Dun, having just been told that the Jacobites lost the Battle. Too much sadness to bear but just remember #PrintShopIsComing.
“Many a Highland chieftain fought,
Many a gallant man did fall.
Death itself were dearly bought,
All for Scotland’s King and law.
—“Will Ye No Come Back Again”
April 16, 1746”
Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Voyager.” iBooks.
Adding this little piece - this is the last time we will see Jamie in his kilt until in Drums:
“A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight—any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored Highlander in the prime of his life is breathtaking. He hadn’t worn the kilt since Culloden, but his body had not forgotten the way of it. “Oh!” I said. He saw me then, and white teeth flashed as he made me a leg, silver shoe-buckles gleaming. He straightened and turned on his heel to set his plaid swinging, then came down slowly, eyes fixed on my face.
”Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Drums of Autumn.” iBooks.