Teddy: Sooo…I’ve got a sketchbook, no, two- or three
Teddy: Once we were at an arts supply store and gran told me she’d buy any colour I could morph my hair into in 30 seconds so…what?? I love colours. She didn’t mind. Said mom was the same. *grins*
Teddy: *smiling mischievously*…also someone left this in my pocket last week with a note that said “it reminded me of you whatever”…and I couldn’t possibly know *coughs* james *coughs* who that would be.
Teddy: *never leaves the house without a first aid kit* …for when Albus falls off his broom…for Vic’s headaches…
Teddy: Also - glasses. For when I feel insecu-cool, I mean cool. Yeah.
Teddy: …and loads of sweets. I swear half of my bag is sweets. I…have a problem.
Here’s the final official piece of Collision Course. I’m leaving it open ended enough that I can come back to it again at some point in the future. Till then, thanks for reading. –– Mod Lenny
Claire lay satiated and warm under the blankets with Jamie. His fingers were tracing the line of her spine and out along her ribs while she had her palm pressed to his chest and could feel the steady beat of his heart still matching her own.
“And ye’re sure there’s naught we can do to stop it coming?” Jamie asked quietly.
“Not the way that Frank talked about it,” Claire explained. “I mean… we could try… but there’s just too much we have no control over. We would probably have to get to Charles Stuart himself to stop it and even then… If the seeds of this Rising were sown back in the ‘15, it’s just not possible.”
“I’d have thought someone who had travelled through time would show a bit more skepticism about what’s possible and what’s not,” Jamie teased lightly but Claire remained serious.
“You’re already an outlaw,” she reminded him. “Do you want to wind up being charged as a traitor? Or worse, lying dead on a battlefield?”
Jamie’s eyes narrowed and his hand stilled on her back.
“Aye, I am an outlaw… and what if this is the only chance I have to get that lifted? If instead of losing, we can help the Stuarts to succeed––”
“You’re willing to take that risk? To risk all of Lallybroch, to risk your life, to risk… to risk this––us––our future?” Claire interrupted. She raised herself up on one arm to look him in the eye.
After a moment Jamie’s expression softened and his hand came up to brush the hair back over her shoulder so he could trace the line of her collarbone.
“No… I already came as close to losing ye as I ever want to,” he murmured. “But if we’re no to stop it or change it… We still canna stay here… We’ll need a safe place to go, another plan to see about clearing my name.”
“And a way to prepare Lallybroch for what’s coming––while away from it, apparently,” Claire added, lowering herself back down to rest her cheek against Jamie’s chest. His hand moved to play with her hair. “It’ll be safest for us on the continent somewhere… or in the colonies.”
Jamie’s hand hesitated and she felt him tense nervously beneath her.
“The crossing to France I can manage,” Jamie said with evident embarrassment, “but to be aboard ship as long as it takes to reach the colonies… That I canna do, I’m afraid.”
“It is a bit far for communication with your sister and her husband to be effective,” Claire agreed.
“Aye but that’s not… Ah, ye’ll find out soon enough I suppose. I canna be on a ship for long––canna so much as set foot on one––without gettin’… terrible seasick.”
“Oh,” Claire said in a voice high with surprise. “That’s… useful to know… I guess that means we’ll be going to France.”
“We could go further if ye like once we reach land again. But I do have kin in France that might be willing to host us till we settle. And it’s closer should I be able to clear my name.”
“Where in France?”
“I’ve an uncle at an abbey but it’s my father’s cousin––Jared––in Paris I think might put us up. I stayed wi’ him while studying at université. He’s a wine business I can help him with, if he’ll have me,” Jamie told her, his hand beginning to stroke her bare back again.
“Paris,” Claire murmured quietly. “I was stationed in France during the war. Spent some time in Paris as well. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s changed from then to now.”
“Hmm… Jared has important customers… Perhaps I’ll be able to make an acquaintance or two who can help wi’ securing a pardon…” Jamie speculated.
“Would Colum or Dougal know anyone who could help?”
Jamie sighed. “Maybe… Colum kens the Duke of Sandringham… He seemed… fond of me when he visited Leoch while I was there at sixteen… Dinna ken that he’d remember me, though, nor that he’d agree to anything wi’out Colum asking first… and Colum’s no likely to help now I’ll no be comin’ back.”
“And since we directly disobeyed Dougal’s instructions about returning to Leoch,” Claire added.
“Ach. We’ll find our way once we get to France. And we can start wi’ telling Jenny and Ian of the changes ye think ought to be made ‘round Lallybroch to prepare for what ye say is comin’,” Jamie told Claire, his hand drifting further down from her back to linger over the curves of her hip and then her buttocks. “We’ll find a way to safeguard Lallybroch so it’ll be ready for us when we come back. But until then, we’ll make a place for ourselves in France… a place where we can build a future… build a family.”
He said the last in a quieter, more questioning tone.
Claire had last had her courses just before she and Jamie wed about a month before. Though they hadn’t arrived yet, Claire suspected they would come any day; she had already felt the slight twinges that warned her they were imminent and given everything that had happened in the last few weeks, she would have been surprised if she had fallen pregnant. She hadn’t told him much about her failed attempts to conceive with Frank… not yet. One part of her scolded the other for keeping quiet while that part argued that she couldn’t be sure why she and Frank had failed in their efforts. Perhaps it hadn’t happened because it wasn’t meant to happen; not with Frank. Perhaps with Jamie it would be different. She found herself looking forward with more hope than she’d felt in a while. The world was full of possibility.
She smiled at Jamie and took his free hand in hers. “A family,” she agreed quietly, twining her fingers with his as he grinned back at her, drew her closer for a kiss.
But he pulled away at the last moment, his attention drawn to their joined hands. He turned them to try and examine them in the dim light cast by the dying fire. When that wasn’t enough, he let his grip slacken so he could take hold of her fingers more formally, his fingers checking the knuckles of hers until he located her ring finger and confirmed his suspicions.
“Yer ring… the gold one––it’s gone.”
“Mmmhmm.” Claire felt a brief stab of guilt. “I’m not sure where I lost it. I didn’t notice until we were halfway here. The last I know I had it was at Craigh na Dun.”
“I’m sorry ye lost it. I’m sorry ye’ve nothing to remember him by,” Jamie said raising the bare hand to his lips.
“It’s all right,” she assured him. “I won’t forget him…And now he can move on rather than wonder what’s happened to me…” At least, she hoped Frank was all right; wished that someday he would be able to understand why she’d made the decision she had and would find it in him to forgive her. “But you’re my husband now. My only husband.”
As Jamie cupped her arse and pulled her flush against him, Claire knew she had no regrets. Pushing Jamie over onto his back again, she threw off the blankets so that they were both exposed to the cooler air of their bedroom. She kissed him, drawing him up so that she sat straddling his lap, his thighs straining hers wider as he found his way to the center of her. Rubbing her nose along the line of his, she rode him towards the future they were beginning to build together.
He held it so tight, the edges were biting into his palm when he floated back to consciousness.
Frank rolled his head around on the ground, straining to see where Claire had ended up.
He pushed himself up onto his forearms, gritting his teeth and groaning against the pain.
She wasn’t there.
He opened his hand and saw it––her ring, the one he had given her. From F. to C. with love, he’d had inscribed inside the simple band. Always.
He could go back again, he could reach out to those stones––she would still be there, she wouldn’t have gotten far…
Tears stung his eyes but he wouldn’t let them fall; instead he screamed. Screamed at the stones that had taken her from him in the first place; screamed at the man she had chosen instead of him; screamed at the fact that he didn’t know what he should do about any of it.
When his throat was hoarse, he stopped screaming and got to his feet.
What would have happened in the two weeks he’d been gone? Would his car still be waiting with his things packed for his trip to Oxford? Or would someone have spotted it? He hoped it was still there; it would be easier to pretend this ordeal had never happened, to change his clothes and continue to Oxford. He raised his hand to look at the circle of gold sitting in the center of his palm. The bandages along his wrists were dirty and needed to be changed. Claire had said he needed antibiotics as soon as he could get them.
He let his hand fall to his side, the gold wedding ring slipping to the ground where he stepped around it and began to move outside the stone circle.