Flood my Mornings: Wee hours
- This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
- See all past installments via Bonnie’s Master List
- Previous installment: The Look
Over a year of fatherhood had gifted Jamie with many new skills, those wee tricks of the trade proudly gleaned from the never-ending, ever-shifting experience that was Brianna.
Soothing a child that didn’t yet understand human speech, though, he reflected above the shrieking issuing from his cradled arms, was apparently not one of them. “Hush, laddie….” he begged softly nonetheless as he swayed and rocked. “It’s alright, Ian….hushh…”
Claire hadn’t awoken when Ian had cried, this time, and oddly enough, he was thankful for it. Thrice already she’d been up to tend him, beating Jamie upright in a twinkling with the ‘I’m already up. Don’t worry, go back to sleep’ already on her lips. She was a fiercely-attentive mother, and never would he fault her for it, but the lass needed her sleep, all the more after nearly three weeks of this punishing newborn routine. Besides, he felt it was his duty to do his part and more, this time around, given his absence during Brianna’s infancy. God, to have held wee Bree, then, so small like this…
Thankfully, this most recent of Ian’s cries came only an hour after the last feeding, and so Claire would have her sleep. He’d brought the wean out into the sitting room to be changed, but a cursory sniff had revealed that there was, in fact, no need. Still, even minutes later, the boy was howling at the top of his lungs in Jamie’s arms, red-faced and windmilling his arms around like mad within his blanket.
Wame twisting, Jamie had been running through the list of fears—horrific scenarios from the damned pamphlets running through his mind like sirens—but truly, nothing seemed immediately amiss with the lad, in terms of sickness or things that would be causing pain. Ought he to wake Claire? Raising Ian up to eye level, Jamie pressed lips against the babe’s forehead. Not feverish, he thought, but warm; warmer than usual, certainly.
“Is it too hot in your wee pajamas, mo chridhe?” he crooned as he began unsnapping the buttons down the front. “Is that what ye’ve been trying to tell me?” He slipped his hand under the loosening folds of fabric and found that the skin of Ian’s belly was clammy. “Dinna fash, wee love. Da will have it all sorted in just a moment, aye?”
The rush of cool air seemed to soothe the lad, for though he continued to cry as Jamie finished undressing him, his jerking and flailing of limbs began to slow. By the time Jamie dropped both cotton suit and blanket onto the rug, Ian’s cries had quieted to little more than a soft gruntling of displeasure, the flush beginning to recede.
“Aye, that’s much better, a bhailaich.“ Jamie kissed the tender forehead. “Poor wee thing,” he murmured, swaying back and forth. “It must be verra frustrating, I’d wager, when your parents are so daft to comprehend your requests.”
Ian scrunched up his face as though in rueful agreement (or perhaps as though biting a lemon) then sighed, stretching his now-bare legs luxuriously.
Settling with his own legs stretched out along the sofa, Jamie managed to prop himself up against the pillows one-handed and drape a blanket over his lower half. The bairn, he lowered belly-down against his chest, the wee brown head resting just below his chin.
Ian, unsettled by all the shifting and stirring, was grunting fiercely, struggling and snuffling until, to Jamie’s shock, the wee lad suddenly lifted his head all the way up and looked him straight in the eye.
Jamie stared back, dumbstruck. He experienced the startling sensation of sighting a deer in the forest, that rare flash of a moment before the beast takes flight, golden eyes staring back in the haze….a moment of exquisite stillness and beauty.
He inclined his head, his heart squeezing. “Hello to you, too…. my wee one…”
Ian blinked, then the spell vanished, and the boy flopped his head back down, exhausted by the effort of accomplishment.
“Sweet laddie,” Jamie said, one finger tracing the whorls atop the fur-soft head.
On sudden impulse, a visceral need to recapture that closeness, Jamie wriggled both arms out of the sleeves of his nightshirt, and carefully pulled it over his head, laying Ian back down onto his now-bared chest so that they were skin-to skin. He shuddered in relief, feeling the overwhelming peace and intimacy of it settling over them at once, Ian’s small, solid weight touching something within Jamie’s soul.
Already, he realized, he knew the one held within this sweet little boy. True, Ian couldn’t speak, nor smile, nor truly show signs of any understanding whatsoever, but there were still moments—moments like these, he thought, both arms cradling and keeping his tiny son—in which Jamie could simply feel, truly know the precious spirit that lay within; waiting only to find its own voice with time and age. It was a wordless knowing, this bond, but strong and as clear to Jamie as any other love he had ever held in his heart.
“I love everything that you are, Ian,” he whispered in his own tongue. “All your life, I will. I promise.”
Ian lifted his head up again—clever lad—and came back down facing the other direction, the bitty whiffling of his breaths tickling Jamie’s neck. In the resultant stillness, Jamie could feel Ian’s heartbeat, quick and true against the heavier thud of his own. The two rhythms joined together in a warm, soothing thrum that had them both drifting away into the same warm, darkness, held safely together.
He thought he felt Claire, sometime, smoothing his hair off his forehead, murmuring something soft and sweet; kissing him, kissing Ian, her hands blessing them both. Perhaps it was a dream….but he hoped not.