The Rebel and the Rose. Part Three. Chapter Two.
Part Three: One.
She slept for the whole day after, and Jamie let her. She needed to gather her strength for their sea crossing. He’d massaged her wrists almost hourly, using a concoction that Murtagh had procured from the monks. It smelt sickly sweet but they’d promised him it would clear her wounds. She didn’t even stir as he did this. He attempted to put some on her back, but too much of her was covered by the blankets.
The sun was setting behind the clouds as she awoke. She reached out for Jamie hoping to find him close by. When she was unable to feel him she panicked. Her eyes squeezed together—what if had all been a dream? Her hands clasped the blankets tight, her knuckles white with the pressure of it. She felt fingers push her loose curls from her forehead and held her breath. There was no avoiding it, either way.
A flash of white caught her eye as she pried them open. She could see the telltale signs of a redcoat’s breeks. Her heart stuttered and stumbled in her chest and she launched herself backwards. A sharp cry of ‘no’ leaving her lips as she did so.
Jamie jumped, startled by her sudden alertness and looked down. He had completely forgotten about his dress, not even considering she might see them and presume she was still being held prisoner.
“Claire, mo nighean donn, it’s me…it’s Jamie. I’m sorry, a ghràdh. I forgot and didna change back into my kilt. Please. I’m sorry.” He held his hands up in surrender as he watched her come back to herself.
“J-Jamie?” She blinked, her hand resting against her heart, her back flush against the wall of their current room.
“Aye, it’s me.”
“Why are you wearing…those?” She pointed at the incriminating item of clothing in question. A look of fear swept over her face before she managed to calm herself once more.
“I had to get into the city and I couldna verra well do it in my plaid, so I stole them. I hadna even thought to take them off, I’m sorry. Are ye alright?” He held his hand out to her now, hoping she’d take it. When she didn’t he crawled over to her, slowly, and ran his finger along her arm. “Tell me, mo nighean. Ye need to talk.”
He tried to pull her to him but she flinched, the sight of him in those breeches causing her stomach to flop. Shifting himself he moved to the edge of the mattress now, his hands gripping his knees.
“Take them off, please. I-I’ll tell you, but not whilst you’re in those –things.” Bile rose in her throat as she averted her eyes. Unintentionally he’d tried to pull her into his lap and the flashbacks of Randall holding her, the feel of his callused fingers digging into her jaw, came alive once more. The mere thought of those breeks near her causing a ripple of revulsion to flow through her whole body.
Seeing the colour drain from her face, Jamie quickly complied, removing the incriminating trousers and pulling his kilt around his waist once more. He sighed, feeling more himself the moment the wool had touched his skin. Cautiously he approached once more, eager to calm her.
“Ye can open yer eyes, Claire. I’m no’ wearing them anymore.” He stood, waiting for her acceptance before sitting again. She breathed a sigh of relief and nodded, the Fraser tartan of his plaid a sight for sore eyes.
Once he was sure she’d relaxed he sat and pulled her onto his knee, allowing her to curl up close to him as she unleashed the whole sordid tale. Jamie willed himself to stay tranquil through it all, but the urge to scream and shout simmered just below the surface. He kent well the desires that Randall harboured beneath the surface, the sickness that blackened his soul. He’d been privy to it once and had suffered for his troubles. If there was one thing of which Jamie was sure, it was that Claire’s strength and silence had saved her from a similar fate. He could feel the sweat trickle down his spine as he let Claire finish.
She buried her face deep in the crease of Jamie’s underarm as she came to the end, the welts on her back throbbing from the tense set of her spine. Every muscle in her body ached from the pressure of her recounting those horrific moments, but he’d been right, she needed to cleanse herself of them in order to move on. Her eyelids felt heavy, the tips of her fingers cold from loss of circulation. Basking in his warmth, she allowed the emotional turmoil of her incarceration to flow from her, her bones seeming to soften as she felt some of the fear dissipate.
Blessedly she fell asleep soon after.