Jamie looked around, thin-lipped, at the men surrounding him. Six clansmen, all in tearing high spirits at the prospect of the oath-taking and brimming over with a fierce MacKenzie pride. The spirits had plainly been assisted by an ample intake from the tub of ale I had seen in the yard. Jamie’s eye lighted on me, his expression still grim. This was my doing, his face seemed to say.
He could, of course, announce that he did not mean to swear his oath to Colum, and head back to his warm bed in the stables. If he wanted a serious beating or his throat cut, that is. He raised an eyebrow at me, shrugged, and submitted with a fair show of grace to Willie, who rushed up with a pile of snowy linen in his arms and a hairbrush in one hand. The pile was topped by a flat blue bonnet of velvet, adorned with a metal badge that held a sprig of holly. I picked up the bonnet to examine it, as Jamie fought his way into the clean shirt and brushed his hair with suppressed savagery.
The badge was round and the engraving surprisingly fine. It showed five volcanos in the center, spouting most realistic flames. And on the border was a motto,Luceo non Uro.
“I shine, not burn,” I translated aloud.
“Aye, lassie; the MacKenzie motto,” said Willie, nodding approvingly at me. He snatched the bonnet from my hands and pushed it into Jamie’s, before dashing off in search of further clothing.
“Er … I’m sorry,” I said in a low voice, taking advantage of Willie’s absence to move closer. “I didn’t mean—”
Jamie, who had been viewing the badge on the bonnet with disfavor, glanced down at me, and the grim line of his mouth relaxed.
“Ah, dinna worrit yourself on my account, Sassenach. It would ha’ come to it sooner or later.” He twisted the badge loose from the bonnet and smiled sourly at it, weighing it speculatively in his hand.
“D’ye ken my own motto, lass?” he asked. “My clan’s, I mean?”
“No,” I answered, startled. “What is it?”
He flipped the badge once in the air, caught it, and dropped it neatly into his sporran. He looked rather bleakly toward the open archway, where the MacKenzie clansmen were massing in untidy lines.
“Je suis prest,” he replied, in surprisingly good French. He glanced back, to see Rupert and another large MacKenzie I didn’t know, faces flushed with high spirits and spirits of another kind, advancing with solid purpose. Rupert held a huge length of MacKenzie tartan cloth.
Without preliminaries, the other man reached for the buckle of Jamie’s kilt.
“Best leave, Sassenach,” Jamie advised briefly. “It’s no place for women.”
“So I see,” I responded dryly, and was rewarded with a wry smile as his hips were swathed in the new kilt, and the old one yanked deftly away beneath it, modesty preserved. Rupert and friend took him firmly by the arms and hustled him toward the archway.
I turned without delay and made my way back toward the stair to the minstrels’ gallery, carefully avoiding the eye of any clansman I passed. Once around the corner, I paused, shrinking back against the wall to avoid notice. I waited for a moment, until the corridor was temporarily deserted, then nipped inside the gallery door and pulled it quickly to behind me, before anyone else could come around the corner and see where I had gone. The stairs were dimly lit by the glow from above, and I had no trouble keeping my footing on the worn flags. I climbed toward the noise and light, thinking of that last brief exchange.
…hair brushed my naked shoulder blades with a pleasant, tickling feel, and the air was cool enough that the small breeze made my skin ripple with gooseflesh, my nipples standing up in tiny puckers. So I hadn’t imagined it, I thought, with an inward smile. I certainly hadn’t taken my own clothes off before retiring.
I pushed back the thick linen blanket, and saw the flecks of dried blood, smears on my thighs and belly. I felt dampness ooze between my legs, and drew a finger between them. Milky, with a musky scent not my own.
That was enough to bring back the shadow of the dream—or what I had thought must be one; the great bulk of the bear looming over me, darker than the night and reeking of blood, a rush of terror that kept my dream—heavy limbs from moving. My lying limp, pretending death, as he nudged and nuzzled, breath hot on my skin, fur soft on my breasts, gentleness amazing for a beast.
Then that one sharp moment of consciousness; of cold, then hot, as bare skin, not bearskin, touched my own, and then the dizzy slide back into drunken dreaming, the slow and forceful coupling, climax fading into sleep…with a soft Scottish growling in my ear.
I looked down and saw the strawberry crescent of a bite mark on my shoulder.
“No wonder you’re still asleep,” I said in accusation. The sun had touched the curve of his cheek, lighting the eyebrow on that side like a match touched to kindling. He didn’t open his eyes, but a slow, sweet smile spread across his face in answer.
I think this piece would fit with my ‘lost moments’ ficlets. It is an imagining of what might have been going through Jamie’s mind in the moments before he rescued Claire from Randall. As always guys, thoughts and opinions are more than welcome! xxx
Jamie could see them through the cracks, Claire pushed over
the desk, her breast bare and starkly pale against the dark wood and the cuff
of Randall’s sleeve bright against her hair, his hand wrapped in the curls,
holding her at his mercy, just as Jamie had in their bedroom the purpose the
same but the intent so very different and the sight made him feel sick to his
Jamie curled his hand tighter around the pistol hilt, his
knuckles cramping with the force of his grip and forced himself to wait for
Randall to move the blade from Claire’s throat, just an inch of space would be
enough. Aye, Jamie would risk an inch.
Claire stretched her neck, trying to get away from the cold
tip of the blade and for a fleeting moment her eyes, unfocussed and wild with
terror, met with Jamie’s and he saw within their depths a danger that he had
always known was present.
The loving of her would always bring danger for there was
something about her that drew it. Claire did not mean for it to be so, Jamie
knew that, but it did not change the truth of the matter. Whether it was her
beauty that drove men to behave recklessly, her wisdom that made them jealous
or her healing powers that frightened them, perhaps even her courage which
propelled her into danger’s path, to love Claire was to court that peril and to
shoulder the weight of it.
In the fraction of a second that Jamie held her gaze he knew
all of this with a certainty and accepted it with a calm that would later
surprise him when he remembered it, but within the instant was as natural as
“It’s in the eyes, ye can tell if a dog means to bite or a
horse to kick by looking for the danger in their eyes. Then it’s up to you
whether ye risk it or no’.”
Brian’s voice came to Jamie unbidden and he glanced to his
left, expecting to see his father crouched on the ledge beside him. Another
shriek escaped the fortress, the sound slipping between the shutters like a
fish darting from the depths, momentarily showing itself in the shallow water
before disappearing back into the black.
There would be no absolution for his loving her and Jamie
would not wish for there to be, he had offered her his life and his soul before
God and man both and whether she valued them or not made no difference to him.
They were hers, flowers that she could nurture into bloom or burn to ash as she
saw fit. Jamie moved his shoulders lightly, feeling the stretched webbing of
scarring across his back. By rights he should have been dead a great many times before this
day, if his life was forfeit in exchange for hers now, then so be it. She was
worth the risk, she was worth everything. His nighean donn. His Sorcha.
The blade, dark in the candle light dropped from Claire’s
throat to her breast and Jamie’s eyes hardened. Je Suis Prest.
He kicked the shutters viciously and stepped into the small
They were not evenly matched; Fraser was much the better player, but Grey could now and then contrive to rescue a match through sheer bravado of play.
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
If that doesn’t just sum up their relationship/friendship… Jamie’s true match in life, is Claire, but LJG and his friendship is enough to keep Jamie’s life interesting and engaging (in general but especially in the absence of Claire)