i want to apologize for my handwriting right now

three times emma swan married killian jones

a/n:  Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my sweet followers! I’ve had this in my drafts for the longest time and I figured, what better day to share it with everyone than today? I hope you enjoy it! <3


i.

The first time Emma Swan marries Killian Jones, it is spur of the moment. He’d proposed like that, too, yelled that he wanted to marry her in the middle of an argument regarding the latest villain to come to town. She’d yelled back that she wanted to be his wife, and it sort of all just happened.

They have been engaged for two and a half months when it happens.

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J/C as Exes AU Part Two: Hearts In Boxes

Well. My hands are shaking from this one. It’s a bit intense, so just a gentle warning. This reveals Jamie’s secret, which you’re all dying to learn I know. If you missed the first piece, you can find it here. You definitely need to read it before reading this one.

This turned into a power-write. I got this whole thing done in a little over an hour and I’m really not sure how I did it.

Many, many thanks to @ask-charming-david for her help brainstorming. J/C stopped talking to me for a bit, but she helped me figure out what they wanted from each other. I’m not sure if there will be another part to this or not. Also, it’s pretty long.


His flat wasn’t what I’d expected.

It was neat and clean (no real shock there), but it was… Without life. Cold. No photographs hung on the walls, no paintings. Not even interesting furniture. It was a sad place, not something I would ever call a home. It was a place for him to sleep, nothing more.

“Sassenach?” he asked, hanging his military coat in the closet. “Are ye alright?”

“It’s so… Sad.”

“Och. Wheel… I try not to spend too much time here. No point in making it welcoming. Ye ken I dinna have people over?”

I sat on the little couch that faced the window, nodding slowly. It was a lovely view. When I looked around, I realized Jamie wasn’t there.

“Jamie?”

“Here, Sassenach. I wanted to fetch ye the letters.”

A beautifully carved wooden box sat in his hands. It was stunning, a deep cherrywood with a lovely carving of a Scottish thistle on the top. He handed it over to me and leaned back against the wall, folding his arms against his chest.

“The letters are in that? It’s beautiful.”

“Aye. I… These letters helped me. I wasna sure if ever ye would see them but I thought they deserved a nice place to rest. This box… It became the place I buried my heart.”

The box opened silently on well-oiled hinges. There were dozens of letters. It seemed like he’d written nearly every day since we’d parted. I picked up the first one as if I held a live bomb.

My dearest Sassenach,

I’ve been gone from you for three days and already, I regret my choice. If I could go back to you and beg your forgiveness, I would do it now. But it is no longer my life that hangs on my ability to do this job. Ian comes with me. I could not leave him to do this with someone else. At least with me, I know he’ll get home. I’ll see to it.

Part of me wonders if I’ll survive this. Do I want to? I don’t know. If I somehow do, I will make it up to you. You are the breath within me and I feel I cannot breathe without you.

If I had the time, I’d write to you everything I love about you. But Ian is here and we must leave. I hope that someday, I can give this letter to you.

Yours,
J

I looked up at him, folding the letter and putting it back into the envelope it had lived in for the last year.

“Jamie…”

“There’s more there for ye.”

I grabbed the next one, which felt lighter.

It wasn’t much more than a scribbled note.

My dearest Sassenach

Claire,

I dreamed about you last night. About that night I gave you my mother’s pearls. I woke long before you did the next morning, though I never told you. I took a photo of you, lying there in my bed, your hair a wild mess, the pearls laying across your bare breasts. Since leaving you, I’ve not had the chance to get the film developed. (Yes, I took it on my da’s old camera, it has actual film.)

When I woke from the dream, I needed you badly. I started to cry out for you, but then I recalled what I’d done. God, Claire. If I could take it all back, I would. Every bit of it. You are the only thing I need in this life and I’ve let you go. God may forgive me for making a fool of myself, but I never will.

Yours,
J

Letter after letter, I felt my heart aching. Each one was filled with the same bone-deep longing I’d had for the last year. Over and over, he told me different things he loved about me. What he missed about our relationship. How Ian told him that he cried out for me in his sleep. His dreams about our children.

I’d been idly taking note of the dates of the letters until I realized there was a large gap. Several weeks, in fact. I also noticed the handwriting had changed. His usual graceful letters were now blocky and thick, with none of the flowing eloquence they usually held. I glanced up at him, curious. He was still against the wall, his head down.

“Jamie, what happened?”

“It’s all there.”

“Why won’t you tell me?”

“Because I canna speak it. Not to Jenny or Ian or the bloody military doctors. Even the damned military therapist couldna make me speak of it.”

Something he was afraid to talk about? That wasn’t like him. Or, it wasn’t like the man I’d known.

“So whatever is in these last letters, no one else knows?”

“No one aside me and that God-damned, black-hearted captain.”

I stared at him in shock. His Catholic roots usually kept him from making such remarks, but I could see the white knuckles on one hand. The other was hidden beneath his arm. As I opened the next letter, my hands shook. There was no greeting, no welcoming remarks. Just a few lines with messy words.

I wish to be dead.

God. Just let me die. I can’t take more of this.

Ian is gone. The other two men that were with us are dead. There’s nothing more for me. Why won’t the bastard just kill me? Hasn’t he had his fun?

Please.

Just one last look at your face, Claire. Then God can punish me in what way He sees fit. Perhaps this is my punishment for not accepting His gift.

I can hear you yelling at me, when I close my eyes. It displeases him, for it always makes me smile. You tell me to keep fighting. That I’m a damned stubborn Fraser and if I give up, you would come and give me a swift kick in the bullocks.

I’m sorry.

It took me a moment to realize the moisture on the page was from my tears. I set the letter down with hands shaking even worse than before and looked up at him.

“The answers ye seek are in the last one, Claire. Then ye’ll ken the truth.”

Surely this one was a live bomb. It felt heavy enough in my hands.

Dear

My Dear

My Dearest

Claire.

The last letter I wrote you has probably frightened you. No wonder. I will tell you what has happened and why I despaired.

Ian, the men and I were captured by a rogue. He instructed us to call him Black Jack and nothing else. I’ve no notion what his true name is, but Black Jack fits him.

We knew the officers were working to get us home, but they had no idea where we’d been taken. Truth be told, neither did we. Ian suffered a bad injury to his leg which had begun to fester. One of our companions had disappeared with Black Jack and did not return. I heard the screaming. I still hear it.

The other man disappeared the day after the first. He also did not come back. Ian’s leg grew worse and I knew he needed to be released to save his life. I’d given Jenny my word that Ian would return to her.

Black Jack told me he’d let Ian go, but there had to be something in it for him. So I agreed to remain as his prisoner until he saw fit to release me. Both he and I knew that meant he would kill me, but I had not the heart to tell Ian. I saw Ian safe and returned to Black Jack.

He did all he could to break me. I was flogged to the bone with a whip. There were bits of metal or stone tied on the ends, so it cut into my flesh and tore chunks of me away with it.

But even that was nothing compared to the heartache I will carry for the rest of my life. The more he hurt me, the more I thought of you, my own. I’ve no right to call you that. By now, you’ve hopefully moved on and are happy. That’s all I want for you.

I still love you and I wish for nothing more than to return to your arms and beg your forgiveness and grace, which I do not deserve.

He was not satisfied with the flogging. Less than a day after, while my back still hurt and bled, he took me to a different room and continued to torture me. You’ve no doubt noticed that my handwriting is messy and nearly illegible. I apologize for that. It has taken me nearly a week to write this much as it pains me greatly to hold a pen for any length of time.

He nailed my hand to a table. I’m lucky to have any use of my hand, the surgeon informed me. I wished you were the one to do the work to my hand. I know you would have made it as beautiful as it could be.

He also smashed my hand with the same wooden mallet, while I was nailed in place. That is why some of my fingers cannot grip the pen properly. One of my fingers does not fold in any longer because of the damage.

Black Jack offered me a way out, before he damaged my hand. He told me that he would set me free without killing me, if only I agreed to one last thing.

If I made free of my body to him, he would take his pleasure of me and drop me at the military base I’d come from.

To be perfectly honest, I wanted to Claire. I wanted to make it stop. I didn’t care if he killed me or not. I was in so much pain it was like I was drunk. I thought of your face the last I saw it, puffed and blazing with anger.

But… Again, I heard you yell at me. I felt your kiss on my lips, your hands grabbing my arse while I made love to you that first time. God I miss you so! So I denied him. I told him that I would not give myself to his sick pleasures but he was welcome to try and change my mind. (You know what I’m like once I’ve set my mind to something.)

That was when he nailed my hand to the table and broke it with the mallet.

Seven hours after that, they found me. I was brought out, he was arrested and I was taken to be looked after. Ian lost his leg because of the infection. I’ll never regain full movement in my left hand, but the nurse told me writing would be a good exercise for me.

I will never stop regretting my choice to leave. Had I stayed with you, ask you’d asked, I would be a whole man. Now, as it stands, I am much less than that. Ian doesn’t know what I suffered to free him, nor does Jenny. They tell me I can go home tomorrow, but I’ve no home without you.

If somehow you read this, all I wish to tell you is that I’m sorry. I will find you when I return and am able. If you have moved on and are with another man, I will not bother you. I will leave you to your peace. Just know this. There was not one moment of my life since last I saw you that I did not think of you. It is you and you alone that I love with my whole being. You and you alone are the reason I survived that bastard.

I am so sorry.

Ever Yours,
James Fraser

The page fell into the box and I stared up at him. I was weeping openly, my body shaking with the power of the truth I’d just learned.

He loved me.

He hadn’t stopped loving me.

“Oh Jamie,” I breathed, standing. “My God, Jamie. I had no idea…”

“No one does.”

“May… May I see?”

He stood up tall and offered me the damaged hand. I examined the surgical scars and traced them gently.

“Claire, I must say something first, if ye wish to see my back.”

“What?”

“It’s all true. I havena stopped loving you and I never will. I want to love you properly once more, but I willna be wi’ you out of pity. I willna accept your pity of me, either. If ye decide, by some miracle of God, that ye’ll give me another chance, it mustn’t be out of pity.”

I dropped his hand and looked him in the eye.

That darkness was still there, but I understood it now. He’d sold a part of himself to save his brother in law, and he hadn’t had much of himself to begin with.

“Show me.”

“Tell me first.”

“Show me the scars on your back, James Fraser.”

Clenching his teeth, he pulled his white undershirt off and turned his back to me.

It was horrible.

It was beautiful.

Very gently, I began tracing the webwork of thick scars, marveling that anyone had survived such brutal treatment. The scars were the puffy pink of the recently healed, though obviously no longer painful. Every muscle under his skin was taut and trembling, like he was about to fly to pieces. And why wouldn’t he be? No one else on earth had seen this.

On impulse, I leaned forward and softly kissed his back.

That broke him. 

He started shaking and I knew he was finally letting out his feelings from the torture. I turned him quickly toward me and put my arms around him. His legs gave out and we fell to the floor. His knee hit my thigh hard and I felt the bruise beginning, but I didn’t care.

I pulled his head into my lap and stroked his short hair as softly as I could.

“Come, lay your head man,” I repeated over and over.

A long time later, I felt him relax. He wasn’t sleeping, but he would be soon.

“Jamie?”

“Aye?”

“I love you.”

“And I, you. I dinna deserve you, Claire.”

“No, you don’t. But I don’t want anyone else. And it isn’t pity. I want you for you. Lay your head and rest. I’ll keep you safe.”

He was completely asleep before she’d finished speaking.

As she watched him, she knew that he wasn’t healed. He was still a very broken man. But this was a step in the right direction. Letting the secret out took away the power it held. Until tonight, Black Jack had still been torturing him. No longer.

“He’s mine, you bastard,” I said out loud. “You don’t have him anymore.”