Claire hurried down the long path to the house, far away from the stables and Jamie Fraser. Her cheeks burned, the scents of the flowers that usually caught her attention forgotten. The gravel path crunched under her feet, the tiny flurries of stone swirled around her ankles but she saw and heard nothing.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…” she chanted, her shaky voice barely registering. Her palms were sweaty and trembling. What had possessed her to touch him, again?
A flash of a memory crossed her vision as she turned the corner and rushed toward her destination. She saw Lord Seymour, his hands gripped tight in the kitchen maid’s hair. She saw the malice in his eyes as he’d thrust her aside, turned his head and caught sight of Claire, wide-eyed, in the open doorway. She heard the words he’d uttered, the acerbity in his tone chilling her to the core.
“This is what happens to ladies who tease. This is what happens to ladies who prance around, showing their wares to all who’ll look. You’d do well to remember this, Claire,” he’d spat, slapping the poor maid on the bare bottom before taking Claire by the arm and dragging her back to her quarters.
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned…”
The vision left a cold chill within her, it wasn’t something she’d thought of in a number of years, having been so young at the time. But now, now she was caught up in this swirl of emotion, forming an attachment with a young man she should have known better than to be alone with. How was it that he could conjure within her this intimacy, the source of which she couldn’t immediately identify. Her stomach rolled.
What would she say to Father? He’d been the keeper of her secrets for nigh on ten years, and never had she come to him with such an *offence*: considering an offer of marriage from a practical stranger? Allowing him to kiss her?… and wanting him to kiss her more? How would she get the shameful words out?
She pushed open the back door of the main manor house, feeling it bring her not the relief of sanctuary it usually signalled, but looming dread. The gardens to the main house were walled off; and anything towards the back of the house could be accessed only by walking through the long, meandering hallway and out the other side. The extended journey used to give Claire a few moments of peace, but not this time. The small church sat to the back of the house, it’s spire just shy of the manor chimney.
“Forgive me, father….”
The knob felt heavy in her hand as she turned it anti-clockwise, the hinges creaking as she entered. She had entered the chapel thus countless times before; but today, all of her senses felt heightened, causing her to take notice of every antagonizing aspect of the place: the galling ticking of a small clock she’d never noticed atop the empty pews; the icy blasts that clung to her skin as she placed one foot inside, making her arms prickle, the faint whiff of wood in the velvet curtains that cloaked the confessional booth as she approached it.
Only a few more steps.
She would have kissed him. She had come so close. She, who was now promised to another; she, who had only ever seen intimacy in the form of a forced coupling. Her lips tingled at the mere thought of coming into contact with his, her tongue peeked out as if to ready herself for it.
The deep purple curtains that sheltered the priest called to her. Confess, it seemed to call, repent and you will be saved.
She heard the feet shuffle inside. He knew she was there then. She was perhaps the only resident of the manor who used the church so frequently. She wasn’t due at this hour, but men of God had their ways.
Her hands quivered as she reached forward. How would she say it? How could she?
No sooner had she plucked up the courage to lay her soul open, than Jamie’s face appeared in her mind’s eye once more, his bright blue eyes boring holes through her very marrow. She recalled the warmth of his leg against her outstretched fingers, the sweet desire that burned within her at that moment.
She remembered the glorious light pink of his lips, how moist and inviting they’d looked. She could still see the bulk of his shoulders and arms, trapped as they were beneath the stretched fabric of his white shirt. She could still feel the slight brush of his breath against her cheek as she’d checked whether he was still of this world; the fragmented puffs of air causing her skin to prickle and her thighs to tense. She could still see the pale sliver of skin that appeared as his shirt came loose from his kilt in the fall.
Those knees, slightly scarred from manual labour, dirty from his hours in the stables, bared to her where the edge of his plaid lay. The hint of his thigh where the material split apart, not quite meeting. The rise of his hip, buried under layers of tartan, the curve of his luscious…
She still heard his cry as the colt whipped him to the floor, remembered the scent of him as she’d brushed the dirt from his bruised skin as he’d lain unconscious at her side. God, how afraid she’d been to see him so still and vulnerable. She had recalled, then, their very first meeting, her trepidation at finding a man, alone, in her library. Even now, when she was so far away from him, his calm seemed to flow through her, a connection like nothing she’d ever felt before. He exuded –peace.
She had never reached out personally to anyone around the yard before. Many of them had been injured; badly, some of them, but her demure nature had demanded she leave them be, for a proper doctor. Jamie, however…she felt something for him. She noticed him, above all else. She had seen him enter the stables, heard the shriek of the young men and she had dropped tending to her herbs and rushed to his side. A small part of her had known, even before coming across his prostrate form, that something had happened to him. Her heart fluttered. She was–enamoured by him; enraptured, caught up by a myriad of feelings, trapped in a net from which she couldn’t free herself.
“…for I have…”
His kiss–she remembered that most of all. It pulsed in vivid colour behind her eyelids as she blinked, as she tried desperately to wish it away. It had only been against the back of her hand. She tried not to imagine him kissing her anywhere else. She gulped audibly, the sound of it surrounding her as she panted lightly, her feet shuffling backwards.
…and what of his spontaneous proposal? Could she…? How would she –?
Abruptly, she turned on her heel and fled, her heart pounding loudly in her ears as the big door slammed shut behind her. No matter the cost, Jamie had offered her the opportunity for something great, she determined, the spark of something she could only just grasp, something that could be beautiful. Something that wasn’t Randall and a forced marriage. The only sound left in her wake, the echo of her last words reverberating around the low beams of the church;
if you ever thought homestuck was a little cold annd emotionless you aint ever seen adventure time seasons4+. as the show became darker all the characters became dried of expression, to the point where they have self loathing or epithanic monologues with a completely straight face and no body movement.