Imagine if Jenny hadn't sent for Laoghaire when Jamie and Claire return in Voyager and Jamie had the chance to tell Claire about Laoghaire. Willie, too. Maybe in a place special to them both on the Lallybroch land.
Truth and Love - Part One (of Four)
Claire woke to find it still dark. Jamie and Ian were sitting by their campfire talking quietly but casting large shadows on the rock face behind them as they gesticulated wildly in the course of their discussion. Claire blinked and tried to decide who was doing the scolding and who was being scolded; from what little of their tone she could pick up, that was all she could tell for certain.
She rolled over and grabbed the edges of her cloak tight about her. She was both looking forward to and dreading arriving at Lallybroch. A proper bed and some time to enjoy it with Jamie were what she hoped most to find upon their arrival. They needed some time to talk through what they wanted for their future now that there were the two of them once more.
It took Claire a moment to decide whether they were yet to go to bed or simply up before the dawn. No, she would have noticed Jamie join her so they hadn’t slept yet.
Jamie cut Ian off when he saw Claire approaching.
“Ye’re no having trouble sleeping, are ye?” he asked with concern.
“It’s certainly easier when I have you there next to me,” she teased with a tired smile.
His face relaxed and he smiled back, rolling his eyes briefly as he glanced down and saw Ian watching them.
“I’ll come back with ye, Sassenach. It’s late and we’ll be wantin’ to get an early start.”
“Good night again, Ian,” Claire said with a smile for her nephew.
“Sleep well, Auntie Claire,” he smiled and nodded. “Uncle Jamie,” he added with a significant look to the man in question that Claire couldn’t possibly miss.
They crossed the clearing to where Jamie had erected their small shelter from a crevice in the rock face using a blanket for a third wall and dried moss, leaves, and grass to cushion the ground under his cloak. Claire pulled her cloak off again and lay down leaving room for Jamie beside her. He hesitated before taking a seat and leaning against the rock.
“Is… something wrong?” Claire asked rolling over to face him and putting a hand on his knee. “What were you talking about with Ian?”
“I thought he should go ahead to Lallybroch,” Jamie answered with a shrug, “let them know we’re on our way.”
“You want him to face Jenny and Ian without you there to run interference?” Claire asked.
“He wants them to treat him like the man he nearly is so I told him he needs to face his responsibilities and that means facin’ his parents and havin’ it out with them, no hiding and letting me… what was it ye called it? Run interference?” Jamie smiled and shifted his shoulders awkwardly against the hard rock. His hand covered Claire’s on his leg, a finger playing with her ring. “The lad… he told me––and rightly so––that I ought not to lecture him… when… when there’s something I’m needing to tell you.”
Claire stiffened and her heart began to pound but Jamie held her hand tight in his own.
“What… what do you need to tell me?”
“First… I need ye to know that I meant what I said before,” Jamie began, his voice dropping low. “I want ye, Claire. As much now as I ever did before––more even. But I’ll understand if… if what I say now changes how ye feel towards me. I dinna want to take ye to Lallybroch if… well…”
“Jamie… you’re scaring me,” Claire confessed.
“We said we wouldna talk of… when I told ye I’d not lived these twenty years as a monk––”
“I don’t need to hear about other women, Jamie.” There was warning and fear in her voice but Jamie’s fingers rubbed circles into her palm and it helped to keep her calm.
“There’s only three in those twenty years and wi’ two it was naught but a single night,” he said quickly. “I would be more than happy to pretend they didna happen… the Lord knows they didna make me miss ye or yearn for ye any less… rather the opposite, in fact,” he rambled. “But… I need ye to listen because I need ye to understand.” He looked to her, imploring and terrified.
For a moment all she could hear was the pounding in her ears. She wanted to rip her hand away and curl into a ball against the rock, put her fingers into her ears and hum the way Brianna had done during thunderstorms as a child. But a flicker of curiosity caught in her belly and grew, threatening to twist her guts. She squeezed Jamie’s hand back to signal she was ready for him to continue.
“There was a lass in my time paroled in England… Her parents betrothed her to a man old enough to be her grandsire and she…” He shook his head at the memory. “She didna mean to be bedded by an old man––no for her first time.”
Claire bit her tongue so the retort “So you said you would help?” remained unsaid.
“I felt for her position but had no intention to take her for that reason,” Jamie insisted, the intensity of his meaning squeezing her fingers till the bones ground against each other. “She was the daughter of the man in charge of my parole… and she was a sly and conniving thing too. I wasna allowed letters except those that passed through her father and he was to read every one of them. Jenny and I found ways around it. But the lass got her hands on one and…” Jamie shook his head. “If it had only been me threatened by it, I’d no have done it. But it wasna just me her havin’ that letter put in danger; it was Jenny and Ian and their bairns… They… they were all I had left.”
Claire took a deep breath, her thumb rubbing soothingly against his fingers. Before she could assure him that he’d had no choice but to go along with what the young woman had wanted, he blurted, “I have a son by her. William, he’s called.”
At that, Claire did try to pull her hand away but Jamie reached out with his other hand to hold it in both of his, a pleading gesture. “It was the one night and I didn’t know until after she had died in childbed. Nearly everyone believes he’s her late husband’s and I never can claim him. But he’s… mine. The lass’ parents are raising him. When I was there… I could see him from time to time.”
“Nearly everyone…” Claire murmured quietly.
“I had to leave when the resemblance became too strong. I’ll… I’ll never be able to see him again… and he’ll never know. I… havena told anyone at Lallybroch about him––even Jenny and Ian.”
“Then… what were you and Ian talking about by the fire just now if it wasn’t…” she swallowed hard and forced the words out, “your son.”
Jamie bowed his head with obvious shame. His grip on her hand remained desperately, painfully tight as his fingers pressed into the back of her hand.
“Ye need to understand… losing you, Claire…” he made a sound almost like a laugh. “Ye ken what yer name is in the Gáidhlig? Sorcha. ‘Light.’ Losing ye, yer light was gone. I was stuck in a never ending dark of night. All I had left were the stars––Jenny, Ian, their bairns. At times they shone brighter, at times they were dim, but they were what light was left to me… until William. If yer light was the sun, he was moonlight, brighter than the stars.”
There was pride in his voice that cut at Claire. It was a pride she knew too well; the pride of seeing your child’s growth and accomplishments firsthand… the pride of knowing. It was the pride he should have had for Brianna. She knew he loved Brianna and would undoubtedly claim he was proud of her… but it would never ring at the same pitch.
“When I left Helwater and came back to Lallybroch… I’d neither sun nor moon and the stars… Ye did tell me once that we see their light for a time after they die and burn out, no? I came back and it was as though I couldna see their light anymore. The bairns were mostly grown or didna ken me so well as they once did. The tenants had less need of me… It wasna like comin’ home at all,” he admitted with dejection and pain in his voice.
Claire swallowed sensing a lump in her throat. It hurt to hear about William, to think about Brianna, but it hurt more in that moment to feel Jamie reliving his pain. What would she have done, how would she have survived without Brianna? Worse, to have had Brianna and then lost her in some way? She reached her free hand up and rested it atop his two.
“I… can only imagine… what Jenny thought of me then, how she feared for me bein’ alone as I was. She… she didna want me to be on my own, kent I needed someone to care for and to have care for me.”
Claire’s hands went cold and limp.
“Who?” she asked quietly. “She pushed you to marry someone else––that’s what you’re trying to tell me… you’ve remarried…”
Jamie’s inhalation sounded almost like a sob. He nodded.
Claire closed her eyes and focused on the clammy warmth of his hands and how they trembled holding her own. He was scared––terrified. But he was telling her. He could have––and arguably should have––told her sooner… but he was telling her. And hadn’t she herself said that she didn’t care if he was a bigamist or a traitor or a thief. A nervous part of her wanted to laugh; when they’d first wed, she had been the one with two living spouses, though one of hers had conveniently been living in another century. But she had kept that from him for several months, until the truth of it could be avoided no longer.
He hadn’t known she was coming back for him. She had interrupted his life, had consciously known it would be messy and awkward to try and fit the pieces of their lives back together. He had spoiled her with that week of not-knowing. She had let herself relax and think it would be easy after all.
“Do you… do you love her at––”
“No,” he interrupted quickly. “I never should ha’ married her. She was a widow wi’ two lasses and desperate for a man to provide for the three of them. It has helped––bein’ needed in that way, as a provider… But we werena happy and I didna stay wi’ Laoghaire moren’ a few months after we wed before goin’ on to Edinburgh.”
“Laoghaire?” Claire pulled her hands sharply from Jamie’s grasp. “Are you telling me the woman you married is Laoghaire MacKenzie?”
honestly I hope that at some point we get an episode that’s just A Day in The Life of the Boxmore Factory Family where the whole 11 minutes is just the viewer getting to follow Boxman & each of the ‘bots around all day and seeing what exactly it is that they all do with their time in between scheming against The Plaza/Friendship
((Bonus Points if it’s through the gaze of an Ernesto who’s Honestly Just So Tired & Needs A Break))
By the time Jamie caught up to Ian and Claire, Ian had worn down much of Claire’s resistance. When she saw Jamie and the pleading in his eyes, the rest dissolved. She had come for more than just herself; she had come to bring him news of his daughter and was slightly ashamed to have been so quick to run away.
That didn’t make the prospect of meeting with him in the house he shared with another woman any more palatable, however.
With Ian accompanying them on the walk to that house, there was little either was comfortable saying to the other. Luckily, the lad––who had come to Edinburgh to surprise his uncle and enjoy himself––was more than happy with the excitement of the unexpected turn of events.
“Mam says ye’re the one told her to start plantin’ potatoes and that it’s a right miracle ye did,” he informed Claire as he worked on recounting everything he’d ever heard said of her, the mysterious aunt who healed folk and seemed to have the sight––might even be a fairy or possibly a witch.
“That’s right,” Claire confirmed for him.
“Dinna talk yer auntie’s ear off before we even get home,” Jamie chided, then flushed as he caught Claire looking sideways at him.
Claire took a deep breath as Ian ran ahead to the front door of what must be Jamie and Mary’s house; it looked like the two houses on either side had crowded in on it and in response it had sucked in it’s stomach and raised itself on its toes in an attempt to be taller and skinnier.
Jamie’s hand was suddenly on her elbow helping to guide her up the steps and through the door behind Ian.
It smelled wonderful. Mary had meat roasting in a deep skillet set at the edge of the hearth and Claire thought she smelled some vegetables and butter alongside them. The space, while small, was clean, warm, and inviting. There was already a small pallet in one corner with blankets that Ian was arranging for his use that evening. There were a few shelves with books, a shadow of the study and library he’d had at Lallybroch; perhaps he had even printed those copies himself. A pair of chairs sat opposite each other near the hearth, a basket of knitting and mending next to one, the other in reach of the bookshelves. Claire could easily picture them sitting together in the evening, Mary mending Jamie’s shirt while he read to her.
Jamie kept contact with Claire, his hand drifting from her elbow to the small of her back as he led her inside.
Mary appeared from the doorway that led to the kitchen and dining area and smiled encouragingly at Claire.
“Supper will be ready presently. Jamie can show ye upstairs to wash if ye like.”
Claire turned to Jamie who nodded but she could also see the self-consciousness in the flush creeping up his neck.
The stairway was narrow and steep and Claire was incredibly aware of everything around her as Jamie opened to what could only be the bedroom he shared with Mary. The bed sported two distinct depressions––she couldn’t help noting the space between them; there was a single small table that they clearly shared with Mary’s brush and hair pins on one side and a small stack of paper with a bottle of ink and a single quill marking Jamie’s side.
Claire spotted the second smaller table with its basin and ewer and a small mirror next to the door and moved to do something that, after years of surgery, she found incredibly calming. Jamie poked around the room while Claire poured the water and scrubbed away the dust and sweat of her journey then dampened a nearby cloth to wipe it from her face and neck too. She caught Jamie’s reflection in the mirror watching her from a seat on the edge of the bed as she toyed with some loose tendrils of her hair, repinning them and patting down the frizz.
It was easier for her to begin while not looking at him directly.
“I thought he was your son,” she said quietly.
“I ken what ye thought,” Jamie admitted. “He’s more a son to me than any of Jenny and Ian’s other bairns––they’ve six and near twice as many grandbairns now… But I’ve no children with Mary.”
There was a beat and Claire waited for him to finish the thought or by any other women but when his eyes found hers––even in the reflection of the mirror––she could see that it wasn’t coming. His fear that she would flee again was also evident when his eyes drifted from hers to the door just a foot away. She swallowed then carefully rinsed and wrung out the dirty cloth she’d been using before folding it and setting it next to the basin.
“I do have a son, but I need ye to let me explain,” he begged.
Claire nodded and moved to sit beside him on the bed, her hands flat on the fabric of her skirt.
“Go ahead,” she told him keeping her eyes on the fading redness in her fingers from where she had scrubbed the skin hard from habit.
Jamie told her about his time at Helwater and Ardsmuir before that; about Major Grey and how his brother had spared his life after Culloden; he told her about the cave and the one night he shared there with Mary.
“When we wed––Mary and I––she said that night had been consummation enough though it was years before. That night before I was handed over… she was right––it gave me something that helped me when I went to Ardsmuir… but it took something from me too,” Jamie tried to explain. He couldn’t look at Claire but he could feel her sitting there beside him listening and saying nothing. “I think she didna want me to lose more of whatever it was… that what there was to gain wasna enough to justify that loss.”
“And… you lost some of that with… with the woman at Helwater?” Claire asked.
Jamie nodded. “I dinna quite ken what it is but… I think it’s to do with you… with the man I was when I was with ye; the man ye made me.”
“Did the boy––your son––did… did he give some of it back?”
The corner of Jamie’s mouth ticked up but Jamie shrugged. “Perhaps. He was a braw lad and did bring me joy though I couldna claim him for my own. I didna see him much when he was a wee thing––more when he got so he could walk and would make his nurses mad wi’ findin’ trouble. His mother’s family would ha’ let him commit murder wi’out taking him to task but he minded me well enough and the horses fascinated him. I could see… He didna have my hair––and thank the lord for small miracles for that… but I could see a bit of myself in him and the way he looked. I always… wondered…” Jamie peeked up at Claire then but she was still looking at her hands in her lap. “I wondered… did he look like his brother? Was Brian that old when he walked first or started talkin’… I didna think you would be so indulgent as William’s nurses were.”
“Brian?” Claire blinked, momentarily confused.
Jamie watched tears flood her eyes as his meaning settled and Claire reached for something in her skirt pocket, something that rustled.
“You can see for yourself,” she explained extricating a small packet that had some sort of shiny film encasing it. “But, your William doesn’t have an older brother,” she handed him the packet. They seemed to be some sort of printed paper but of a thick stock and with a shiny finish that was different from the transparent film that Claire had removed. “I called her Brianna,” Claire told him, adjusting the item in his hands so that he could make out the image of a swaddled newborn. “She’s named for both your parents, actually––Brianna Ellen. She did inherit your hair…” Claire pointed to one of the images that was brightly colored, the lass’ ruddy hair vibrant enough to touch. She moved that image behind to stack to bring a new one to the front. Brianna looked out from the photo with annoyance and disgust as laughs escaped both Jamie and Claire. “She’s got more than a bit of your temper and stubbornness too.”
“She’s beautiful, Claire,” Jamie said, his voice full of tears and his fingers gripping the photographs tightly.
She looked up at him with worry. His eyes were still locked on the photos though she knew he couldn’t see them through the tears.
“I’m… I’m so sorry I couldna… that I canna…” he mumbled.
Instinctively Claire slipped an arm around him and guided his head till it came to rest on her shoulder. The photos fluttered as his grip loosened and they drifted to the floor, his freed hands and arms tightening desperately around Claire. She clung to him, too.
“Do ye think… Do ye feel…” Jamie mumbled into her hair.
“What do I feel?” Claire asked before sighing and letting her head rest against his, her cheek pressed to the warmth of his throat. “I feel… tired. I’m tired of missing you; I’m tired of being angry with you for making me go; I’m tired of being scared of what you’ll think or what you’ll say.” As she spoke her tears flowed freely, wetting his throat and dribbling down the back of his neck. She was vaguely aware of his tears dampening the collar of her dress. “I’m tired of living without you.”
“Aye… In twenty years there’s not a day I’ve not thought of ye and longed to have ye with me… that I’ve no wanted to talk to ye or just have yer hand to hold,” he murmured. “Now ye’re here… If ye go again…”
Claire sniffed and turned her face away from his neck, keeping her cheek pressed to his shoulder but looking at the table with Mary’s things on it.
“And what about Mary? If you didn’t have another wife…”
Jamie’s deep breath shuddered through Claire causing her to pick up her head and pull back to look at him. He rubbed at his red and watery eyes.
“If… If Mary weren’t my wife any longer…”
“I didn’t come here to break apart whatever it is you’ve built with her,” Claire interrupted firmly but with evident pain. “I’ve been close enough to the other side before––”
“Frank had a wife before ye and she came back for him did she?” Jamie quipped but Claire wasn’t amused. Jamie bent to begin retrieving the fallen photographs.
“I might not have loved Frank the way I love you––maybe not even the way you care for Mary––but I’ve been close enough to having someone else upend my entire life without asking. I’m not about to do the same to someone else––especially not someone who’s done nothing wrong,” Claire argued.
“Ye’re right… It’s no the same wi’ me and Mary as it was for you and Frank,” he said rising from the bed to retrieve the scattered photographs from the floor. “She never sought to replace ye or made me feel guilty for no bein’ able to let ye go. She’s been a comfort and no mistake but you…” He set the carefully stacked photographs with his things on the table and crossed to take Claire’s face gently between his hands, making it impossible for her to look away from him. “You alone heal me down to my very soul. Havin’ ye near makes me feel whole again, makes me feel stronger. Ye’re the heart of my life.” He bent his head and kissed the tracks of her tears along her cheeks until she took hold of his wrists and offered him her lips.
The kiss left her breathless and the silence stretched between them as he rested his forehead against hers. They could hear the commotion downstairs as Mary told Ian that supper wasn’t ready just yet and the over-eager teen whined about how hungry he was.
“I should go see if she needs any help,” Claire whispered. “It’s the least I can do.”
Jamie nodded and helped pull Claire to her feet. She led the way while he secreted the photographs of Brianna away.
Once his stomach was full, Ian curled up on the pallet in the corner and promptly fell asleep.
“Did anyone notice whether he turned around three times first?” Claire asked quietly.
It had surprised her how calm everything had been after she and Jamie came back downstairs; Mary smiled and asked Claire about her journey, about where she’d been and what had happened, how she’d heard about Jamie and found him after all this time. It was impossible not to relax confronted with such warmth and welcome. Ian too had chimed in with questions––what was life like for her in France, had she kept in touch with the other Jacobites who had managed to escape, why hadn’t she written to his parents once she was settled to let them know she lived.
“I’m sorry if it feels like I’m questioning ye too much,” Mary apologized, rising to remove the bowls and dirtied plates. “It’s just… ye always were such a mystery even before.”
“Let me help you wash up,” Claire offered taking her own bowl to the kitchen area. She heard Jamie rising and locking the house up for the night, adding a log to the fire and pulling a third chair over.
Alone with Mary, Claire felt compelled to apologize.
“If I had known about you and Jamie…”
Mary waved a dismissive hand at Claire. “If either of ye had kent the truth about the other bein’ still alive, there wouldna be anythin’ for ye to worry yerself over. It shouldna take too long to straighten this mess.”
“You… truly don’t mind?” Claire asked, still unconvinced.
Mary smiled to herself. “I ken ye didna notice me so much about Lallybroch when ye were there––no wi’ what ye had just gone through yerself.”
Claire blushed at the memory of those early days back in Scotland after everything that had happened in France. It did take a while for the comforts of Lallybroch and the reassurance of having Jamie with her where they belonged had healed those still-fresh hurts.
“I noticed you,” she assured Mary. “I don’t know that I ever told you how sorry I was about what happened to your husband––to Ronald, that is.”
Mary nodded. “I tried to dissuade him, ye ken. After the beating Jamie gave him and Rabbie goin’ to work in yer stables. I tried to get him to leave it but he wouldna heed and… Ye’d done my Rabbie a kindness and I tried to repay ye… tried and failed. And Mistress… that is… Jenny––she and Ian showed still more kindness givin’ me a place at Lallybroch too after the fire. And when ye came back and Rabbie had his fits…”
Claire heard the thickening of Mary’s voice as she rambled and the somewhat strangled noise as Mary swallowed her tears.
“I ken what ye would say––that ye’d have done as much for anyone––and I’m sure ye would. You and Jamie both… It’s just yer way. But it’s meant so much to me and mine… Yer Jamie needed someone to turn to when ye were gone and I’ve tried to be that for him since I couldna prevent what Ronald did before… I think I’ve done him some good though what he needed of me wasna what I first expected. Now ye’re here the best good I can do for both of ye is to let ye be. No… I truly dinna mind.”
Claire crossed and wrapped Mary in a hug surprising the other woman into briefly laughing before returning the embrace.
“Thank you,” Claire whispered. “Thank you for taking care of him.”
“Ye’re welcome, Mistress.”
Claire shook her head. “Claire. Please… call me Claire.”
“Ye’re welcome, Claire.”
Pulling back and wiping her own damp eyes, Claire rolled up the sleeves of her gown and moved to fetch the large kettle from where it was warming near the hearth, then brought it to the washtub where Mary was depositing the dirty dishes.
“Do you have an idea for what you will like to do once everything is settled? I don’t expect you’ll want to go back to Lallybroch.”
“My Rabbie’s settled in London now––with a wife. He’s asked me to come for a visit a few times now but I’ve no been in a position to do so before…” She looked to Claire conspiratorially casting her glance toward the light from the other room where the crisp sound of a page turning could occasionally be heard amongst the crackling of the fire in the hearth. “I’ve no told Jamie yet––the letter only came yesterday and I didna have a chance to go through it till this morning––but Rabbie writes they’re expectin’ a bairn.”
“Congratulations,” Claire whispered with sincere relief.
“Aye. Ye needna feel ye’re puttin’ me out. Like as not were ye here or no I’d be goin’ to London for a time anyhow. Now I dinna have to feel so torn about comin’ back or no.”
Jamie offered to sleep on the floor by Ian so the two women could have the comfort of a proper bed but Mary wouldn’t hear of it.
“You ken better than anyone how easy I sleep in that chair,” Mary teased Jamie. “I enjoy the stories well enough but the sound of his voice sends me straight to sleep,” she explained to Claire. “He tried carryin’ me to bed once and put his back out and I scolded him enough he’s never tried it since.”
Claire pursed her lips as she took in the redness of Jamie’s face.
“Are you sure you don’t sleep better down here because you don’t have to listen to his snoring?” she asked, earning a glare from Jamie.
“I dinna snore so loud as you do, Sassenach.”
“Then I’ll sleep doubly well so far from both of yer snoring,” Mary said ushering the two of them to the stairs with a knowing grin that had Claire blushing alongside Jamie.
Nerves overcame Claire when she and Jamie were alone in the bedroom again. She crossed to where she saw Mary’s things and grabbed up the first things that her hands found.
“Mary will be needing these,” she stammered heading for the door again. “I’ll be right back.”
Mary already had a blanket spread in her lap and her feet propped up on a small footstool when Claire hesitantly approached.
“I thought you might want these,” Claire said, placing them on the floor beside Mary’s chair.
“He’s as nervous as you are,” Mary said quietly, her eyes still closed.
Claire rolled her eyes and slipped away again. Knowing Jamie was nervous too didn’t help quell the anxious fluttering in her stomach but it did steel her resolve.
A sole candle lit the room when Claire eased her way back in. Jamie’s clothes had been folded and set aside next to his boots and stockings. She could make out the shape of him sitting up in bed, waiting for her.
Reaching behind her, Claire took a deep breath that she let out as she pulled the zipper of her dress down to the base of her spine, the loose fabric slipping from her shoulders and baring her torso. The rest of the dress fell to the floor in a whisper of cotton a moment later. She swallowed as she stepped out of the dress, out of her shoes, and approached Jamie’s side of the bed in just her stockings.
“Jamie,” she breathed, extending one leg towards him in the dim, flickering light. “Will you help me with these?” There was nothing teasing or sultry in her voice, just a simple invitation to help them ease their way back into something that had once been accomplished with a look, a touch, a sigh.
Jamie shifted to the edge of the bed, his legs sliding free of the blankets. He took hold of Claire’s calf and gently raised her leg higher, resting her foot on one of his knees. His fingers skimmed their way up the silk stocking to find the garter holding it in place a few inches up her thigh and finding the gooseflesh his touch had raised when he overshot his mark.
The silk of her stocking was replaced by the light touch of his lips on her sensitive inner knee. Lowering one leg, she offered him the other and he did the same, resting his hand on her hip when he was done and guiding her closer to him till she stood between his knees. Her hands found their way into his hair, pulling his head back so he had to look her in the eye.
“Ye’re beautiful,” he whispered. “I’ve never wanted ye more than I do right now.”
She believed him and leaned into his kiss. He pulled her to him, easing back onto his elbows as she knelt above him on the bed before reaching between them and taking him into her. He closed his eyes for a moment, his head lolling back, then a smile lit his face.
“I thought when ye walked into the print shop ye must be a vision––one of my dreams escaped the night and found its way to me in the day,” he murmured as Claire slowly rocked her hips.
“Do you need me to pinch you to prove you’re not dreaming?” Claire offered. Her hand slid through the sparse hair on his chest as she reached for and found one of his nipples, gently squeezing between her thumb and forefinger and making his breath catch, his hands tighten on her waist.
“No, I ken ye’re no a dream,” he said, his hands applying pressure to her hips guiding her slowly forward and then back. “I could always tell when I took ye in a dream that there was something missing––I could feel my blood poundin’ wi’ yearning for ye but my chest felt empty. It’s full now, though; you are my heart restored to me. I am whole again.”
“We are whole again,” Claire informed him before bending to kiss him once more and smiling against him as his need refused to be contained and he rolled with her so he could ride her hard and fast. They had all night and twenty years to make a start of remedying.
Imagine that after Helwater Jamie comes home and Jenny insists he marry Mary McNab instead of Laoghaire. Jamie finally relents and they set up a happy home filled with respect that develops into real, deep phileo love. It may not be the rock your world type of love that Jamie and Claire had/have but it is solid. Then after 20 years, Claire returns… This one could be really, really angst filled. Thanks for your time mods!
@jerribwarren submitted: We all know that if Jamie had to remarry, Laoghaire was probably the best person for him to marry as a marriage to her was never going to work (between her unrealistic expectations, her jealousy of Claire and Jamie’s apathy after his return from Helwater). My question is: don’t you think that if he had married someone (like a Mary McNabb but who wouldn’t necessarily have seen him with Claire) other than Laoghaire, someone he might have actually become friends with and grown to have a genuine affection for, it would have been much harder to reconcile the situation after Claire’s return especially if they had actually had a child or children together? I would think that he wouldn’t have left his second wife in this situation or would have brought her with him to Edinburgh. I’d appreciate a discussion or even an AU on this subject about how this situation could/would have been resolved. Thanks and I really love all of the writers for imagine.
Love in Other Words (Part One of Two)
“I know why the Jews and Muslims have nine hundred names for God; one small word is not enough for love.” - Claire in Voyager
The ancient Greeks had at least four words for love: agape (unconditional love); eros (romantic, passionate, sexual love); storge (familial love); and philia (the love of friendship, regard).
Jamie and Claire together share all four.
– Mod Lenny
It was Claire. She was really here in the shop with him. At least, he was pretty sure she was real. He could feel the warmth of her in his trembling arms, could smell that fresh, clean scent of her, heard her saying more than just his whispered name. But there was only one way to be completely sure…
“Can I kiss ye?” he asked quietly.
She nodded and blinked at the wetness in her eyes before closing them and tilting her face towards his. Swallowing hard, he refused to close his own eyes as his lips met hers, afraid that she would dissolve just as she had so many times before in his dreams.
But her lips were soft and pliant beneath his own and he let his eyes close as he let his lips part and breathed her in, tasting her as her mouth opened too and their kiss became more desperate, deeper, hungrier.
They parted with a shuddering sigh of relief, knowing they had both felt the same need, the same desire, the same flame that had been there all those years ago. It was still there for them to reclaim if they chose to and heaven help him, but he wanted to––wanted her––more than anything.
He was still getting drunk on the whiskey in her eyes when he heard the door at the front of the shop and Mary’s voice calling his name.
“Jamie? Ye’ll never guess who––” Mary cut off abruptly with a surprised gasp.
“Who’s that?” a familiar voice asked with louder surprise.
Claire stiffened in his arms and her gaze broke from his as she looked over he shoulder at the intruders. He froze, unable to find the words he needed to explain, to push the encroaching world back away from them and the moment they had been sharing when hope had reignited in his heart.
“Oh god,” Claire gasped, pulling away.
Jamie remained speechless and numb in the moment, his mind telling his body to act but his limbs not responding.
Soon after he returned from his parole, Jenny had made the off-hand suggestion that he marry again. He thought he had made his position on the matter clear but come Hogmanay it became apparent that Jenny hadn’t abandoned her opinion and had, in fact, started to take actions of her own to ensure it happened.
When he’d seen her talking with Laoghaire and leading the young widow in his direction, he knew it was with one aim in mind. Before they could reach him he had turned to Mary MacNab who was refilling guests’ drinks and he asked her to dance, setting the half-empty bottle she carried aside before she could find her words. Later, Jenny scolded him about the way he’d avoided Laoghaire all evening.
“Ye want me to court the woman tha’ tried to get Claire burnt for a witch?” he had asked Jenny who looked momentarily surprised but then rolled her eyes.
“No Laoghaire then but ye ought to be wed again and to someone who might give ye bairns. Ye deserve to be happy again, brother.”
“What I deserve is for ye to leave me in peace,” he spat back.
But Jenny’s hints and efforts persisted and Jamie’s resistance wore thin. Jenny wouldn’t leave him be and he knew eventually she would have her way. The best he could hope for was to choose for himself. The thought of having someone to take care of wasn’t completely unwelcome but the memory of Claire and the thought of their child made the idea of raising a family with another woman… He had no desire for that.
He’d been contemplating his prospects when Mary had come to fetch him for Ian and that’s when it occurred to him to marry her. It had been several years since her Rabbie had gone south to London seeking a different life for himself while she remained behind; she too was separated from the person she loved most. He thought she might be able to understand him better than most.
“You’re… you’ve…” Claire stammered glancing between him and Mary before shaking her head and darting away from him and out of the shop.
His mind hadn’t quite caught up to everything that had just happened. Maybe it had all been a vision after all…
Mary’s hand was on his shoulder, rubbing him reassuringly and guiding him to a nearby chair. He could tell she was talking and her tone was soothing but all he could think about was that Claire was gone… again. The flame of hope that had been reignited sputtered and shrank leaving him cold.
The fog of confusion began to clear and he sat up straighter in the chair feeling his face flush with guilt and shame. What must Mary think of it all, walking in and seeing him and Claire like that with…
“Where’s Ian?” he asked, glancing frantically around the shop. It wouldn’t be the first time his nephew had appeared on their doorstep without warning and Mary always made sure to bring the lad to the shop since Jamie was one of the few people he would heed.
“I sent him after Claire,” Mary told him, her posture relaxing now that she could be sure he was coming back to himself. “He’ll slow her down at the least till we can find them and ye can talk to her proper like.”
Jamie looked back at the printing press; he hadn’t finished fixing it––couldn’t remember what had been wrong with it, at the moment––and he had orders still to fill, customers who wouldn’t care that a rug had been pulled out from under his feet and he was still sitting on the floor uncertain whether standing again was possible or if the fall had caused something to break.
“I dinna ken that there’s anything I can say to her that’ll make much difference,” he murmured.
“I think there’s a great deal ye can tell her,” Mary disagreed. “And if you dinna want to say it, then I will. Ye can start by askin’ her no to go again.”
At that he looked at Mary whose eyes crinkled with her familiar, quiet amusement.
“Did ye really think I’d ask ye to let her go?” she asked him, reaching up and tucking in the end of his stock.
“I canna do that to ye,” he protested weakly, “set ye aside like that and leave ye alone without someone to provide for ye.”
“Ye wouldna be settin’ me aside,” she argued softly. “I’m perfectly able to step’ aside wi’out yer help. You and I both ken it willna be difficult for either of us to secure an annulment.”
The ceremony had been smaller even than the hastily arranged one he’d had when he married Claire. He wasn’t as nervous during the ceremony as he had expected to be but by the time they arrived at their small renovated cottage after nightfall, nerves had begun to twist his belly.
Neither had said much of anything to the other as they took in the small space that would now be theirs. One large main room with a hearth and small pantry constituted kitchen, parlor, and study; there was a door to the back that led to the small bedroom.
Mary took off her cloak as Jamie set about shutting the cottage up for the night. When he turned, she had disappeared––presumably into the bedroom––and he sighed with relief.
He shouldn’t overthink this; it wasn’t as though he hadn’t bedded a woman before––it wasn’t as though he hadn’t bedded Mary before. But it had all been different then. I know the look of a true love, and it’s not in my mind to make ye feel ye’ve betrayed it… What I want is to give ye something different. Something less, mayhap, but something ye can use; something to keep ye whole. He wondered if she’d known then that he hadn’t been whole to begin with. But she had given him something and it had helped him then as he faced Ardsmuir. But now… I never had that, she’d confessed. He couldn’t give it to her now either but maybe he could give her something like what she’d given to him in that cave some ten years before.
When he worked up his courage and eased open the bedroom door he could just make out the shape of the bed in the light of the candle. He stopped, puzzled. He didn’t think he’d been standing out in the main room for very long but maybe it had been longer than he realized.
Mary was in bed with the blankets pulled up over her chest; she was turned on her side, her back to the middle of the bed and he could see the stark white of her new shift standing out against the darker wool of the blankets. She appeared to already be asleep.
Quietly, so as not to wake her, he slipped inside enough to close the door behind him and began stripping down to his shirt then eased himself beneath the covers next to her. He lay there on his back with his fingers nervously tapping his chest as he listened to her steady breathing. Should he wake her up so they could get it over with? He scolded himself for thinking of it in such terms; she was his wife now and she deserved more thought and care than that. Still, he didn’t think he’d be able to settle to anything until it was over and the nerves in his belly could be calmed.
But Mary wasn’t asleep.
“Ye ken it doesna have to be like that between us,” she said quietly, startling him.
He froze beside her, felt the bedding shift under him as she strained to look at him over her shoulder.
“I ken ye didna wed me because ye wanted to bed me,” she continued, no self-pity in her voice. “And I dinna want ye that way if ye only see it as bein’ yer duty.”
“It’s no as though we havena… before,” he answered.
“And I ken it helped and hurt ye to do it then. Ye feel yerself bound to yer Claire still and I’ll no have ye takin’ me to bed only to feel regretful about it later. I’ve been in marriages where one of us was lyin’ wi’ the other from duty and I’ll no be the one askin’ ye to do the same; it doesna make for the best of marriages in my experience.”
He felt a stab of sorrow both for himself and for her. He would forever feel himself bound to Claire and sorrowed that Mary seemed so resigned she would never know what a love like that felt like. But he couldn’t give that to her, whether she wanted that or not and she had wed him knowing that.
“So why did ye agree to marry me then?” he couldn’t help asking.
“I suppose for the same reason you asked me.”
“Was Jenny tryin’ to make a match wi’ you and another fellow ye didna care for so much?” The joke caught him by surprise but to his relief Mary laughed. It was a quiet laugh, startled by itself.
“No,” she finally said with a sigh. “I’ve been servin’ yer family at Lallybroch for years now––as ye well know––but since my Rabbie left… It’s different, servin’ folk an’ no buildin’ a home for yerself… no havin’ someone to really care for, to build a home with…”
“Aye…” Jamie murmured. “I ken what ye mean.”
“I thought ye would,” Mary said with satisfaction. “Caidil gu math… Jamie,” she added with hesitation.
“Caidil gu math, Mary,” Jamie responded, relaxing into the warmth of a shared bed and the quiet night. It was becoming clear that navigating this new marriage wouldn’t quite be what he had expected earlier but he was also beginning to suspect that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Claire hadn’t looked back as she burst into the street. She was still too disoriented by everything. Seeing Jamie again––touching him, holding him and being held by him––that had all been overwhelming and emotional, more than she could have imagined. And she had known that there was a possibility that he had moved on, that he would have known she believed him dead at Culloden and therefore unlikely to ever return for him. Life was too long to be lived alone; too short to waste it wallowing in grief and sorrow.
“Hey!” she heard a youthful voice calling behind her and made to step out of the way so the lad could get past and reach whomever it was he was trying to catch up with.
But then she felt him reach out and tap her on the arm repeating, “Hey,” breathlessly.
“Me?” she asked in disbelief even as she searched his face for a resemblance to Brianna. The shape of the eyes was right but his coloring was all wrong and while he had the promise of Jamie’s height, he hadn’t endured the growth spurt that would give him the muscles his father possessed.
“Aye,” the boy panted. “Ye’re…”
“I’m leaving,” she interrupted. “You can go home and tell your mother that I won’t be bothering you again.”
The lad’s face twisted with confusion. “My mam? Ye mean Mary? She’s no my mam and Uncle Jamie’s no my da.”
The wave of relief nearly knocked Claire off her feet. The boy wasn’t Jamie’s. And the more she looked at him the more she could see the marks of Jenny and Ian in him––the Fraser slanted eyes if not the color and his gangliness was certainly more in the vein of Ian’s build than Jamie’s. “You’re Jenny and Ian’s boy,” she guessed.
“Aye. Named for my da. Will ye no come back, Auntie Claire? Ye are my Auntie Claire, are ye no? Mary said it’s who ye were. I ken a bit about ye––Mam and Da always said ye were deid but they’d tell tales about ye of a time when Uncle Jamie wasna around. It always makes him sad to talk of ye, even after he wed Mary MacNab,” young Ian Murray rambled. “Mam thinks it’s why they left Lallybroch for Edinburgh; said they’ve too many ghosts roaming there between them. She blames herself for stirrin’ up yer ghost by pushing Uncle Jamie to wed agin though she also says she’d as soon he be content in Edinburgh than miserable at Lallybroch.”
The sheer volume of words and the pace at which he spoke them left Claire blinking and uncertain.
“I… I am Claire,” she said, no longer quite sure of even that simple fact. “But… I’m not interested in disrupting anything. I just thought… I had heard that Jamie… I don’t know what I was thinking,” she confessed turning to continue up the road. She wasn’t even sure if she was headed in the right direction.
“But… ye came back for him… Ye canna just leave,” Ian objected.
“And I can’t just stay, either,” Claire retorted, unsure why she was bothering to argue with the young teenager. “What about his wife?”
Ian shrugged dismissively. “She’s the one sent me to get ye.”
“What? Why would she do that?”
“I dinna ken. Why don’t ye come wi’ me and ask her?”
Claire looked at the eager lad, her heart aching to believe that if she went with him there was a chance it might stop and curious to see what Jamie’s new wife might have to say.
In the early days of their marriage, Jamie was surprised by how little he knew about Mary and how much she knew about him.
“I served at Lallybroch for near twenty years,” Mary pointed out with a laugh when he expressed his surprise aloud. “Ye think I wouldna notice such about everyone that lived there––especially the laird himself?”
Jamie flushed. “I’m no the laird and Lallybroch’s no mine anymore; and how many of those twenty years did I live under the roof, eh? No even five did ye string all the nights together.”
“Yer nephew may be possessed of the land and the house, but ye ken weel enough to all the tenants as are old enough to remember, ye’ll be the true laird till the day ye die. No sense denyin’ it.”
He chose not to argue but rather to change the subject.
“Have ye heard from Rabbie of late? He’s settled in London still?”
“Aye,” she had smiled before giving Jamie a summary of the last letter she’d had from him.
It took time and effort to get her to talk about herself and her past. As she began to trust him with more of the details of herself and her first two marriages, he found himself sharing more than he expected about his past as well, specifically Claire. He had long ago gotten used to the ache and yearning for her; it was simply a part of him at that point. The comfort of being able to talk of her though, that was new. He couldn’t understand why talking of her with Mary was more soothing and less painful than talking of Claire with people who had known her better––Jenny or Ian. Perhaps it was because Mary didn’t seem to pity him for having been broken by the loss; she too was a little broken.
Though they grew to understand and appreciate each other, the match itself was considered an odd one by the families that lived and worked around the estate. Mary had been right about folk still viewing Jamie as the laird and the laird––even one as respected and compassionate as Jamie––was not supposed to marry one of his servants. It was a fact that might have been overlooked were it not for the never-to-be-forgotten fact of Ronald MacNab and his betrayal.
Everyone had pitied Mary at the time and quietly judged Ronald for what he did to his wife and child whenever he’d been drinking. Everyone who heard about the beating Jamie had given the man his mistreatment of those whose care belonged to him had agreed the bullying drunkard deserved it. Everyone had banded together to see justice done for their laird when Ronald betrayed Jamie. Everyone had settled down to their lives after the fire, content that balance had been restored when Mary along with her Rabbie were taken in at Lallybroch and given occupation.
But Jamie marrying Mary––even so many years later––unsettled that balance in ways that couldn’t be explained. It cast events long past in a questionable light; it elicited narrowed eyes; it encouraged tongues to wag.
Neither Jamie nor Mary was oblivious to the change and neither wanted to be at the center of such attentions. After going to Edinburgh to fetch some things that Jenny wanted for up at the main house, Jamie proposed a change and Mary agreed that one fresh start deserved another.
“I want ye to be happy,” Mary insisted quietly to Jamie.
“I wasna unhappy,” he pointed out to her, taking her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. “Before I was but… no wi’ you.”
“I’m glad of that,” she told him with a smile. “But I ken ye well enough to know that ye will be if ye let her go again. She can give ye more of what ye need than I can. I’m no ashamed to admit it.”
“And have you been happy?” Jamie asked in turn, suddenly afraid.
“Aye,” she assured him with a nod. “It’s been a peace I didna ken was possible in marriage and for that I’ll always be thankful to ye. I dinna want ye thinkin’ ye havena treated me well.”
“What does it matter how I’ve treated ye in our marriage if I leave it to end like this? I’ll no leave ye wi’out someone to provide for ye.”
“I ken well ye’re too honorable a man to do somethin’ like that, James Fraser.”
“Ye canna stay in a city like this on yer own and goin’ back to Lallybroch would be an insult to ye that I couldna countenance. And there’s nothin’ to say that Claire… She may no want me back…”
“Well, ye’ll never ken for certain if ye dinna talk wi’ her. And ye’re right about Lallybroch; we left for a reason. But ye ken Rabbie’s been after me to visit him in London. He’s wed now and I’ve yet to meet the lass,” Mary mused. “First things first, though. Go after Claire.”
Jamie nodded and rose brushing himself off. Mary set about untying his heavy leather apron for him and gave him directions for the way Ian had set off after Claire.
“I’ll speak wi’ Geordie and lock up here,” she told him. “Then I’ll stop at the butcher and start on supper. Ian will be lookin’ for food after runnin’ about. Mhá lorg thu i.”
consider: mickey being lowkey really protective of ian + nearly having an aneurism when he so much as like... sniffles ("do you need tissues what about orange juice that's good for colds right?? I can make you soup"... etc)
He’s so embarrassing, cause it’s not even lowkey at all, he just has these intense mother hen instincts??? He’s like constantly putting a hand to Ian’s forehead to check his temp and obsessively making sure he’s hydrated.
And he kinda hovers real close even though Ian’s all I don’t wanna get you sick, just leave me here to die (Ian is twice as dramatic when he gets sick). And Mickey’s like um bish?? I dont get sick. Ever. Cos he’s hardcore y'know?
So when Ian gets the chills, Mickey insists on cuddling until they’re warm and cards fingers through Ian’s hair until he’s lulled to sleep.
BuT!! Then the next morning Mickey wakes up and enters a sneezing fit bcos SOMEBODY lied about being indestructible. And ofc Ian fawns all over him cause the only thing cuter than regular healthy Mickey is a grumpy, glassy-eyed, sniffly Mickey.
As they sat down to dinner, it was clear that the tension in the air remained intact, a building pressure seeking an outlet yet to be found.
The elder Ian attempted to make polite conversation and his oldest son, Jamie, responded in kind but the larger portion of the party let cutlery scraping their plates do the talking.
Claire could feel Jenny’s eyes following her every time she lifted her fork to her mouth or set it down to reach for her glass of wine. It took a great deal of self-control to keep from turning and meeting the other woman’s gaze but she knew that doing so would precipitate something that would be better handled in private. Instead Claire turned to her oldest nephew who had been baffled but warm in his welcome.
“I understand your wife and children are visiting with her mother?” Claire asked with a tilt of her head.
“No exactly. Our youngest arrived a fortnight ago,” he explained. “My wife’s mother came to help wi’ the bairns for a spell.” His face reddened sheepishly. “We heard word from Da that ye’d returned and I’ve been usin’ ye as a reason to leave the women to themselves. My mother-in-law likes me well enough but…”
“You’re not as fond of her?” Claire guessed with a smile. Her eyes darted briefly to her husband whose smiling eyes were waiting for her across the table.
“It’s no that I’m no fond of her,” the younger Jamie defended himself, “it’s that the house is… crowded… just now.”
The majority of those sitting at the table laughed with sympathy and amusement but a sudden crashing from the entryway of the house reached down the hall to grab their attention.
“Where is he?” an angry feminine voice rose at one someone near the doorway to the dining room.
Claire watched Jamie go red starting with the tips of his ears. Anger passed to fear and back to anger across his eyes before he stood with enough force to send his chair skittering back.
“Where’s that coward?” Laoghaire asked as she stormed into the dining room.
Claire looked to Jenny who was watching her and waiting to see how she would react. Claire held her sister-in-law’s gaze for several beats––long enough to see something like regret cross Jenny’s face before hardening with a surge of her Fraser stubbornness.
“Laoghaire, I dinna ken why ye’ve come barging in just now when we’re sat down to our suppers,” Jamie addressed the fuming woman, “but I’ll thank ye to stop yer bellowing and wait for me in the sitting room.”
Laoghaire scoffed. “Ye’ll no be hiding me away anymore, Jamie Fraser. Ye’ve been doing yer best of it for some time and I’ve put up wi’ it when I shouldna have done but now I hear ye’re taking up with another woman and carryin’ on as though ye’re no still wed to me…”
“In this situation,” Claire said with a raised voice as she stood and turned her attention to Laoghaire, “I believe you are the one who would be considered the ‘other woman.’”
The color drained from Laoghaire’s face and her eyes went wide with disbelief. It was a fleeting shock, however. The rage of youthful resentment and jealousy flooded her face leaving her cheeks red and splotchy where once such an emotional shift would have left her with a rather flattering flush.
“And what is’t brought you crawlin’ back from the dead? I always kent ye were a witch,” Laoghaire muttered the last under her breath.
“Disappointed your attempt on my life failed all those years ago?” Claire threw back. She caught Jamie’s hand clench suddenly into a fist at his side while the heads of everyone else at the table swiveled in her direction with jaws gaping.
Laoghaire shrank back a moment as she looked to Jamie then Jenny as though expecting one of them to object to Claire’s accusation. But Jamie’s face was filled with disgust and Jenny’s confusion.
“I thought you were just a foolish, heartsick child,” Claire lectured, “so I kept what you did to myself. But to marry my husband knowing what you did––what you did and not tell him…” Claire let all the anger and frustration that had boiled up within her as Jamie told her the night before, rise up again. She could feel the slight trembling in her hands where she leaned forward on the table. “It’s no wonder you made him so miserable.”
Laoghaire surged forward. “I made him miserable?” she shrieked.
Jenny shot to her feet. “Enough!” she cried. “Laoghaire for God’s sake, shut yer gob and get out.”
“You are asking me to leave, Jenny Murray, when ye’re the one made the match?” Laoghaire crossed her arms over her chest and sneered at the shorter woman.
“As though I needed to persuade ye on the matter.” Jenny rolled her eyes and set her hands on her hips. “Now leave before I set the dogs on ye.”
Laoghaire scoffed. “I’m no going anywhere until I’ve talked everything through with my husband.”
“I’m NOT yer husband,” Jamie said forcefully, his voice just shy of shouting. “The law and the church say I canna have two wives living and as Claire never was dead, then she’s the only wife I’ve had and that’s more than enough for me.”
Claire choked on a laugh then watched Jamie’s face turn red and the corner of his mouth twitch from the effort not to join her.
Laoghaire seemed to believe they were laughing at her.
“You are my husband!” she insisted with all the conviction of a toddler throwing a tantrum. “And ye’re the only father my lasses have left––or do ye mean to leave them fatherless again?”
“For Joanie and Marsali’s sakes, I suggest ye leave this house now,” he growled, “or I’ll no be givin’ ye anything more to help with them. It’s for their sake I’m not throwin’ ye through that door with my bare hands!” he began to rage. “Do ye mean to shame me over this now I ken what ye tried to have done to Claire? Well the shame I feel isna for puttin’ ye through all this––not anymore. No the shame I feel is for ever havin’ married ye to start.”
“Jamie,” Claire said quietly and firmly. She was watching Jenny whose hands were still on her hips. Jenny’s back was turned from Laoghaire and Jamie and she was staring intently at the empty space beside her half-finished dinner.
“Go, Laoghaire,” Jamie ordered with a tone that refused further argument. “I’ll send for a lawyer to come and see this handled properly and I’ll find a way to see Marsali and Joanie get a wee something too.”
“But nothing for me and my troubles,” Laoghaire muttered with disgust as, resigned, she turned to leave.
“I’m takin’ it as interest owed for the troubles you caused Claire at Cranesmuir,” Jamie retorted following her to be sure she left.
As soon as they were out of the dining room Jenny looked up to Claire.
“I’m sorry… I kent near as soon as it was done that it was like to be a mistake––seeing the two of them wed,” Jenny explained. “I’m sorry it was her, though I didna ken that there was anything in the past between ye. But I’ll no say I’m sorry for pushing Jamie to remarry. She wasna entirely wrong. It wasna her that made Jamie miserable––though she didna help the way I’d hoped. It was losing you did him in. And I’ll no apologize for doin’ everything in my power to help him past it.”
“I was the one agreed to the marriage,” Jamie said as he returned and overheard Jenny’s regrets. “It wasna yer place to be pushin’ me that way but it was down to me to put my foot down and I didna do so.”
“Of course it was my place to push ye that way,” Jenny retorted emphatically. “It’s been my place to look after ye that way since Mam passed. Ye’re the only brother I have left. I took care of ye when we lost Willie and Mam. I couldna help ye when Da passed but ye had Ian with ye and that was some comfort. I might not have kent where she’d gone to but I kent Claire was gone and I saw what that did to ye and it was worse than any of the others. I couldna just stand by and let that eat at ye because that would have eaten at me.”
“I was a grown man,” Jamie pressed, the lingering anger toward Laoghaire still flickering beneath the surface of his skin.
“Ye were a broken man. I hoped to find a way to hold ye together; I kent I’d never find a way to heal ye properly.” Her attention had been focused on Jamie but there was a brief flicker as her eyes momentarily darted to Claire. “Even now it doesna matter how much she heals ye, I’ll always ken where the cracks are.”
“I’m sorry, Jenny,” Claire interceded. “I should have tried harder to find a way to contact you… I was broken too. I didn’t think––”
“I can forgive ye for the grief ye caused me,” Jenny interrupted, “and there was plenty of it, Claire. Ye’re the only sister I’ve ever had and ye canna know what it meant having ye here before… But I dinna know that I can forgive ye for hurting my brother like ye did.”
“It’s no for ye to forgive her on that score,” Jamie told Jenny, the anger replaced with tenderness. “That’s for me to do as well.”
Jenny’s jaw jutted out defiantly for the briefest moment before she nodded her head in acknowledgement. “Aye well… For all ye’re bigger’n me in size… ye’ll always be the wee lad I carried about the yard because ye were too small to keep up with Willie and I hated seeing ye cry at him leavin’ ye behind.”
Jamie’s head bobbed in a faint nod. “Just so. You managed to hold me together better’n ye give yerself credit for.” He stood behind her and rested a hand lightly on her back while he bent and kissed her crown. “Thank ye.”
“Yes,” Claire agreed, rounding the table to stand on Jenny’s other side. “Thank you for taking care of him when I couldn’t. You’re the only sister I’ve ever had, too, and I’d hate to think…”
Jenny hugged Claire, cutting off the words before she could finish. “Forgiven,” she whispered low enough that only Claire could hear. “Thank ye for bringin’ him back to himself. And make certain ye bring him back here now and again,” Jenny requested. “I’ve a feelin’ ye’ll no be staying close to Lallybroch for long.”
That awkward moment when you get really excited for a S3 moment, but then remember it was from fanfic and not the book. Side eying @bonnie-wee-swordsman right now. (I’m laughing forever at my gif choice because of a whole world of reasons)