SO LIKE JAMIE AND DAMON IS HUSBAND POTENTIAL AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!! THERE BOTH MY BABIES!!! BLESS THERE SOUL!!! SO PURE, SO GOOD!!! WE DON’T DESERVE PRECIOUS LITTLE BEANS LIKE JAMIE AND DAMON AND YOU KNOW IT!!!
You were both riding around Winterfell when you had hit a branch and fallen from your horse.
“She’s awake, my Lord.” The Maester said and Bran nodded to Hodor who picked him up, and carried him into the room.
“Set him on the bed, Hodor.” You spoke weakly, smiling at the two as the giant obeyed, “Thank you.”
“Hodor.” The man said with a smile as he left and you turned to Bran and grabbed his hand. But before you got the chance to speak, Bran cut up off.
He squeezed your hand and sighed, his lip trembling slightly as he said, “I’m sorry..”
“Bran you did nothing what are you sorry-”
“I couldn’t do anything but run.” He spoke sadly, “All I could do was run and help, leaving you to get kidnapped or killed or-”
You hugged him tightly and shushed him.
“Bran… You couldn’t have done anything else. You saved me.” You kissed his forehead and he moved up so your lips were touching. He smiled against your lips as you pulled apart.
“I will never let you get hurt again, my darling Y/N. Never.”
“Were in the seven hells is she?!” The King exclaimed as soon as The Maester told him. “How could her guards let this happen?”
“In her room, your grace.” The old man spoke with compassion, “She is recovering and is hardly harm-”
“And the men who tripped her? And broke her? Where are they?”
“In the dungeons.” His mother said, “Awaiting your word.”
“Take me to my lady.” He demanded the Kingsguard who served as his new favorite and the man nodded, leaving without being dismissed from anyone else.
He bolted in unannounced and grabbed your hand, kissing it then kissing up your arm.
“My lady.” He sighed brushing hair from your face. “Are you terribly hurt?”
“No, your grace.” You smiled gently, squeezing his hand, “Just a broken ankle. I should be up and walking again within a fortnight.”
Joffrey scowled, “How dare those bastards! I’ll have their heads!”
“Joff.” You sighed, taking his hand, “Please tell me you haven’t-”
The boy scoffed, “Not yet.”
“Please don’t…” She spoke softly, “Let them go. Please.”
Joffrey sighed angrily, standing and giving an unheard order to the guards and then sat back besides his lover.
“If it pleases my lady, it shall be done.”
He ran to you as soon as you fell, pulling you to your feet, this caused you to giggle a bit.
“It is just a tiny cut on my leg Jamie.” You sighed, looking into his beautiful Lannister green eyes, “You do not need to panic.”
“A tiny cut on your leg that rendered you unconscious for two days.” He scoffed, “I still don’t understand why think you should go into battle.”
You sighed, not sure how to reply. Yes, your leg hurt bad but you knew you couldn’t stress him more than he already was. Not caring how Jamie would reply, you went with the truth.
“I couldn’t sit by and do nothing.” You sighed softly, “I couldn’t sit by and let you die. Even if that meant a sword slicing my leg. Even if that means death.”
Jamie smiled slightly and picked you up, causing you to laugh as he peppered your face in kisses.
“I don’t think I am going to let you down.” He sighed when he stopped, his forehead touching yours as he whispered on your lips, “Regardless of if you are going to battle or if you are going to braid your lady’s hair.”
“By the seven-!” You whined as the skin blistered and fizzed.
Daenerys had left you in charged of her three baby dragons and naturally, while you were petting one, the big, black one spat fire at you in jealousy. Jorah, upon hearing your screams of pain ran into the room and demanded the dragons be put back in their cages and fed.
Jorah looked you up down, taking his hand bellow your chin to meet his eyes as he began to tend your burn.
He started by pouring alcohol on it, this burned and caused you to cry out and Jorah shhhed you, putting the ointment onto the burn which soothed your cries and wrapping it up an leaf bandage. Then he engulfed you in the tightest embrace you could imagine.
“I’m sorry to worry you.” You sighed, kissing his chest, “It didn’t hurt that bad.”
“That was the worse burn I have ever seen. I haven’t seen flame caused the skin to bubble and fizz like that before. You had a reason to cry out.”
You nodded and placed your arms on his shoulders, “I know. I just hate seeing you all worked up and panicked.”
He smiled and ran his hands through your hair and smiled, making vows to never leave you with the Queen’s dragons again.
“Let her be.” You spat at the men. “She is nothing. A peasant compared to what I am.”
“Aye?” The man stroking Meera’s cheek asked, “And who are you girl, a highborn bastard?”
“I am Y/N Bolten. The last true born daughter of Roose Bolten. I am unmarried and remain a virgin. Still I am more than you will ever be and see… At the moment.” You spoke numbly as the men stared at you in shock, “This is Meera and Jojen Reed. The cripple is Bran Stark. I am more than they will ever be. I’m the Princess of the North. Tell me, what would my father do should you return me, the Stark boy, and the Reed children to him?” He raised his eyebrows, “They would bind you to me.”
Slowly, they walked to you and undid your binds while another let Meera down and threw her to her brother.
Then he struck you so hard you fell to the ground. You winced as you heard a cry of panic from all your friends (A “HODOR” from Hodor) even from Bran to your surprise.
“Do you honestly think I care about who-”
You spat in his face, “We flay people. That’s what we are known for. Bring me home and my father will-”
He struck you again, this time causing you to cough blood as he drew a dagger and pushed you to the ground dragging it against your skin.
But you did not cry.
“Is that supposed to hurt?” You laughed, blood spilling from your busted lip “I’ve done worse to men like you and they cried for their mothers.”
With an angered sigh, he tore your shoulder furs off and threw them to Bran. Then he dove the knife into the pads of your shoulders, slowly removing a chunk of your skin as you cried out in pain. He then continued with the other blade as silence fell. That was until Jojen laughed.
“Whatcha laughing at boy?” He said, moving his leg off you, “You want me to hurt her more?”
“You are going to die tonight.” Jojen laughed. “Your body will burn. And she will live. And remain an unmarried virgin until I ask her.”
The man echoed his laughter, “And how do you know this?”
You heard screaming outside but blacked out before you got sense of what’s going on.
“She’s waking up now.”
“Damn. I was hoping that she would be out for this.”
A burning sensation spread through your body and you gasped in pain, sitting up.
“No, my love.” Jojen came into view, pushing you back into the snow, “Squeeze my hand.”
You obeyed as Meera closed the wounds on your shoulder with flame.
You didn’t cry or even tear up. You just smiled at Jojen and looked into his eyes.
“You are doing well.” He smiled at you, “One more…. One more and I promise that I will not let anyone tough you again
"Okay I’m going to to pull it out are you ready?”
You hugged the tree and nodded as his hands met the arrow that had plunged through your stomach and nodded.
“Alright.” He spoke calmly, “One. Two-”
“Damn just do it already!” You cursed and suddenly felt an ache being removed from your chest and a hole inside your body as Jon quickly began to wrap your center up while you cursed. Jon imeadiatly shhed you as your curses sailed loud. “Hurry I want milk of the poppy.”
Jon smiled lightly and picked you up in your arms, “You cursed like a Greyjoy, you do know that right?” Hiting him gently before leaning into the warmth of his furs, you allowed him to cradle you like a child as you muttered curses against his skin.
“It’s not funny.” You whimpered, “You take an arrow. See how it feels.”
“I did.” He smirked. “Three and I am still alive.”
“Oh shut up.” You glared and he laughed. “I love you Jon Snow.” You sighed in defeat.
“Aye. I do love you as well. And I promise not to let you get hurt on a hunt again… Or maybe your hunting days are at an end…”
“Jon Snow..” You glared, “If you dare threaten to take away my hunts you’ll be the next one taking an arrow through your gut.”
Tommen winced and cried as they plucked pieces of glass from your leg.
“Tommy.” You sighed gently, stroking his face and running his around, “I am alright. They are almost done.”
He nodded, thanking the Maesters for their help as he turned away, stiches being sewn up your leg and Tommen squeezed your hand fiercely as he whined again. He closed his eyes and brought your other hand to his palm as he attempted to breathe in attempts to calm your sobbing.
When the door closed you moved him to the bed, slowly and brought his ear to your lips. “They are gone my love. You may open your eyes.”
He did not hesitate to hug you tight. So much it made you wince. You chuckled.
“Careful now. We don’t want to tear the stiches.” Tommen sighed in agreement and let go and he looked at you, running his hands through your hair which learned had calmed him down. “Why are you angry my love?”
He bit his lip and shook his head, “I am pissed that the servant couldn’t even bother to look where they were-”
You kissed his lips softly and he responded with his anger, hands trailing down to your waist.
“That wasn’t you Tommy.” You sighed, hugging him as you stroked his back, “You aren’t him Joff.”
Nodding he kissed your neck, his face laying on his lower neck. Then a chuckled and smile spread across his lips.
“I guess it means that I can’t let you leave my side again.”
You smirked and laid on top of his head, “If it pleases his grace, it will be done.”
You gasped for air as you were yet again plunged down into the waves.
The people on the deck screamed and hollered in shock as you looked for the Greyjoy’s or the Queen.
Never thought this was how I would die. You sighed as you were forced gasp of air as the sweet sea began to fill your lungs. Caving into your inevitable death you closed your eyes and embraced the darkness. Let it be quick and merciful please.
But deep down you wouldn’t be as you could feel yourself choking on the water as it slowly itched the breath and life out of you, making you cold and going insane in the water.
I am sorry Theon. I hope you can forgive me.
Bright light shined into the pupils of your eyes causing you to begin to cough up water, fading in and out of consciousness as Theon pressed his lips to yours, breathing oxygen into your lungs as the darkness took over you.
“C'mon Y/N!” The weak and breathless voice of Theon spoke, “Please… Please..”
You gasped and coughed as Theon sighed happily and brought you into his arms as you began to sob.
“I won’t let you go. Not like that… Not on my watch..”
“Are you in a lot of pain my lady?”
You looked up at him, a small smile on your face and shook your head no. Sighing, you grabbed his hand and brought it to your lips.
“What even happened? The Maester would not tell me.” Tyrion asked, concern filling his eyes, “I am sorry for prying. I know I shouldn’t I just-”
Kissing his hand again you chuckled, “You have a right to know and pry my love. And you must promise should I tell you that you will not go and take rash actions.”
Chuckling at this, he grabbed your hand than already wasn’t holding yours and stroked your knuckled, “Rash, my love? I would never.” You echoed the laughter and squeezed his hand.
“It was Joffrey, my love.” You sighed, your face falling, “Bashed me against a wall. But I am going to be okay… I promise. I haven’t gotten a concussion or anything yet. I even slapped him.. I think…”
Tyrion scoffed but forced a smile, “So you wish me not to strike him to Esos, so I shalln’t. I am just happy that you are ok-Wait you hit him?!”
*holding a knife to jamie hewlett’s throat* jamie tell me the god damn truth. is 2D a thicc bih or not you can’t draw him with mighty thighs in one drawing and then make him revert to a chicken legged lookin ass in the next,
No, he wasn’t just suffocating. He was being suffocated, being pressed downward, screaming, but with no one to hear, no mercy from those cruel hands pinning him down. He struggled against them, struggled against the evil and the darkness of —
And then he was free and Jamie roared upward, lunging for his attacker’s throat.
He came awake in mid-air, the cold air hitting his bare legs, reality still swirling and shifting in the darkness as he flung the intruder flat on the bed, pinning THEM, choking them with—
“Ja—MIE—” came a strangled female voice, throat muscles working desperately beneath his hands. “—s’—ME!”
He leapt backward off her and off the bed so violently that he staggered and would have toppled onto his backside if he hadn’t caught onto the tall dresser. He steadied himself and his mind, though both were reeling:
Dead of night
on his bed
She had sat up, and in the dim, flickering light, Jamie could see that she was clad only in her shift, a flimsy shawl underneath her on the bed.
His heart thundered—melted— to see her; to see how lovely she was; to feel how deeply she roused him; to be hit with the aching of how much he wished to touch her—take her in his arms and tell her how much—how deeply, painfully—he’d missed her these last three weeks—
But the ice around his heart solidified again almost instantly, the ice that had kept him sane for those three weeks; the ice that would continue to keep him alive as long as he was forced to see her around Castle Leoch, until he could get himself away to Lallybroch, away from her.
And yet despite everything, that very ice shuddered to see the fear in her golden eyes, her hands clutched at her throat. Despite everything she’d done and said, his heart contracted with panic. His voice came out urgent and strangled. “Have I hurt ye, Mistress?”
She dropped her hands at once and shook her head quickly. “No, just startled. I’m not hurt, Jamie,” she said more firmly, seeing him unconvinced, searching her skin for marks. “I promise. I’m alright.”
“Aye, well…I’m glad of it. I’m—I beg your pardon for—” he made a vague gesture toward the bed. “Ye took me unawares from my dream, and—I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” she repeated, giving him a weak smile. “No harm done.”
He nodded, but the ice was firmly back in pace. “Tis time for ye to take your leave, Mistress Beauchamp.”
He shouldn’t have been surprised, not in the slightest.
“Mistress, ‘tis the middle of the night. D’ye have any idea what they’d say if ye were found in my—” He took a step toward her. “Your reputation would be ruined.”
Her expression was hard, yet still somehow flippant in that damnable way of hers as she shrugged, “Don’t have a very good reputation to uphold, anyhow.”
“Dinna be joking about,” he snapped, holding out his hand. “Come. NOW.”
“I’m not leaving. And before you threaten to carry me out yourself—” she said loudly, JUST as he’d been opening his mouth to do just that, “—know that if you so much as try, I’LL scream at the top of my lungs and see who comes running. I don’t give a rat’s arse about my reputation, and I’M willing to let the chips fall as they may. Do you want me to do that?”
Damn her. DAMN her.
“Well then,” she said, raising her eyebrows, “look’s like I’m staying.”
Defeated and all the more angry for it, he threw his hands up in the air. “What in God’s were ye doing creeping about touching me in the night, anyway?”
She glared at him. “To talk to you, of course.”
“Talk?” He rubbed his hands backward through his hair to keep from throttling her in earnest. “Have ye no scruples, woman? Christ, there are proper times and places for—”
“Oh, there ARE, are there? DO be a dear and tell me when and where those might be, won’t you?” She made a sound of deep derision and crossed her arms sharply, apparently as angry and barely-restrained as he. “Jamie, you’ve spent THREE BLOODY WEEKS ignoring me—what else was I supposed to DO??”
*Avoiding* you, mo nighean donn; not ignoring you.
But avoid her, he had, and quite effectively, at that. Colum’s explicit instructions had been that she was not to leave the castle walls, nor had she, else she certainly would have come to find him at the stables, where he had spent every possible moment, save sleeping and mealtimes, though he’d contrived to eat at odd hours. She had tried half a dozen times to approach him, in the corridors, in the great hall, in the courtyards, but he’d said no more than a cool, “Mistress,” of acknowledgment as he took his leave.
Avoided, aye; never ignored. He had been as aware of her as of the daylight, her presence and absence fundamentally guiding his thoughts and activities. She was his light, whether he willed it or no.
“What else was I supposed to DO, Jamie?” she was repeating, now standing just a few feet from him, moving with him as he stepped to and fro away from her, to MAKE him look at her.
He did look at her, hard. “Leave me be.That’s what.” Just go away. Go away from this Castle and rid me of the torment of having you near.
“Jamie!” Frustration and desperation were battling for dominance in her wearied voice. “We HAVE to talk!”
“We dinna have to do any such thing. And, by all the saints,” he exclaimed, gesturing wildly at her body, desperate for anything to throw her off the scent, “even if we did, did ye have to come practically naked?? You’re in naught but your—” (thin-as-an-April-breeze) “—SHIFT and I’m—”
He could feel the draft from the window sneaking up his legs, caressing every inch of bare flesh under his shirt, and his face burned.
“—I’m not presentable.”
She didn’t budge an inch. “Put some damed clothes on, then.”
When he didn’t immediately make a move, she rolled her eyes, turned, and walked to the bed, snatching up her shawl and jerking it around her shoulders and pulling it around her.
Breasts now covered, she raised a defiant eyebrow. He glared at her, but finally decided that even if he should risk her threats and carry her bodily into the hall and bolt the door behind, best to do so with breeks on. He threw open the trunk at the foot of the bed and rummaged until he found a pair, turning from her as he laced them.
“Can we talk now?” she said, as he turned back to face her.
In contrast to her evident amusement, his own voice was low and nasty. “Go ahead.”
She blinked and dropped her eyes to her crossed arms.
A dhia, how he despised himself in that moment—he wasn’t the kind of man that spoke this way to women, not least of all to a woman that he—but Jamie simply couldn’t shake the anger and hurt that coursed through him at the sight of her. She didn’t want him for a husband—fine; but could she not just stay away? Go away. Just go away.
When she spoke, she met his eye straight-on, quiet, but determined. “Thank you. For helping me talk my way out from under Colum and Dougal,” her eyes were shining with sincerity. “I truly couldn’t have done it without you.”
“You’re welcome. Anything else, Mistress?” He gestured toward the door.
She threw up her hands. “Jamie, for heaven’s sake will please just hold your goddamn horses and give me a chance, here? I’ve got things I need to ask you!”
He bowed his head. Stop being a child, Fraser.
“What is it ye wish to know, mistress?”
She heaved a breath and let it out, preparing herself, shivering. He strode to the fire and stoked it, to give them both a moment for it. The light danced on her face as he turned back to her, her face strained and urgent with her questions. “Why did you help me with your uncles? After all I—You didn’t have to tell them anything. You had every reason to just leave me to my own fate. Why?”
He shrugged, uncomfortable, still fingering the poker. “Didna wish to see ye come to harm.”
“Harm?” That genuinely startled her. “You think they would have….ordered me tortured, you mean?”
“Perhaps not Colum….” He chose his words carefully. “But ye have—not the faintest idea of the—the depth of the hatred Dougal bears the English, even more than most Scots. If he truly believed ye to be passing on dangerous information…”
He shrugged again. He had no doubt that she would have come to some form of harm, whether at the hands of the MacKenzies or the English, had he not interceded. No matter how deeply she had hurt him, he didn’t wish to see any ill befall her. Not ever.
“And do they truly believe you?”
“Aye, they do.”
She nodded slowly, then suddenly dropped her eyes and began fingering the hem of her shawl. “The ‘allegiances’ you spoke of…Was that…” Christ, she was squirming like a worm on a hook, “were you talking about Laoghaire?”
He snorted. “Certainly NOT.” The look on her face made him realize too late that infatuation with Miss MacKenzie would have been a perfect ruse to hide behind; but then again, Miss Beauchamp always had a knack with catching him off guard. Without waiting for her to press, he grudgingly added, “It was my allegiance to Colum of which I spoke. That’s why he took it to heart as he did”
He couldn’t shake the glow that had lit the ice around his heart when her face had lightened instantly at his disavowal of Laoghaire MacKenzie.
He cleared his throat, squeezing the poker. “Colum wishes that I should succeed him as clan chieftain, someday.”
“Oh! Oh, that’s—Jamie, that’s wonderful!” She looked genuinely delighted and impressed. “Such a great honor.”
“Perhaps, though it’s a honor I dream not of.”
“I’ve no intention of leading the clan, at least not until after Dougal’s tried his hand at it. He’d skin me alive for taking ‘his’ position, and I’ve no desire to start a clan war. The easiest way is for me to remove myself. Colum doesna ken that, yet, though.”
“But how does—? What does that have to do with…?”
“My taking a Sassenach wife—” the word cut his throat like glass, “—would have negated my eligibility for clan leadership outright.”
She dropped her eyes. “I see.”
Aye, I would have done it in a heartbeat, mo ghraidh.
He cleared his throat again. “And so, while Colum and Dougal dinna yet trust that you’ve no other motive for being amongst us, same as before, they do believe my tale about why ye fled.”
Why she fled.
“I had a LIFE, and I’m far past due to return to it!”
“I don’t need your ‘protection,’ Mr. McTavish.”
And still, most cutting of all, the coldness in those golden eyes as she had said: “You were mistaken.”
“I don’t expect your forgiveness,” she was saying, still facing him boldly, though he could see her twisting the fabric of her shawl again, faster and harder. “I don’t even expect you to speak to me again after this. And I’ll go, tomorrow, if that’s what you want.”
Christ, she meant it. she would leave.
Aye, Sassenach, just go.
“I’ll tell your uncles to hand me over to the English and be done with it. It doesn’t bloody matter anymore.”
Dinna leave me.
He thickened the ice around his heart.
“But—” A deep breath, and then her voice was softer. I can’t go another day without saying...I’m so sorry, Jamie.”
The depth of feeling in her voice was powerful enough to catch the breath in his throat… but the ice was powerful too. He only managed a quiet, hard, “What for?”
“For acting the way I did, the night I left. I was…” She paused, shaking her head, “—vicious….and you didn’t deserve that. Not at all. You are—were… are my friend, and I had no cause to treat you in such a fashion.” She took another deep, ragged breath. “The thing is—”
“Let’s just leave it be, aye?”Jamie didn’t think he could bear this. He moved from the fireplace to the window on the far side of the bed, quickly, that she might not see his face. “I accept your apology. There’s no point discussing it further, Mistress.”
“No point?” she whispered from behind him.
His anger flared and he had to grit his teeth. “Ye told me in no uncertain terms, that night, what your feelings were, Claire. Whether or not ye should have been nicer about it is truly neither here nor—”
“But Jamie—” He could hear her moving closer to him, her voice now with an edge of eager desperation. “—I had good reason to leave, I swear it, but—the most important thing you have to hear is—” Her voice was tremulous with emotion. “— you weren’t mistaken—and I came back for you.” Her hand came to rest softly on his arm.
“Jesus, Claire, can ye no’ hear yourself?” He threw off her touch and twisted to face her, hating the rage and scorn coursing through him, but feeling utterly powerless to halt its path. “So, your grand plans of returning to your old life came to naught, and ye came crawling back to Leoch because ye imagined I would be better than nothing, aye?”
“Jamie,” she whispered, horrified, “it isn’t like that.”
“No, you bastard!” she hissed, on the brink of tears, following behind him as he stormed back to the hearth. “it BLOODY isn’t!”
“Tell me, then, Claire,” he demanded, keeping his voice low. He’d come to stand behind the big armchair—to put some goddamn space between them— and he gripped the back of it hard with both hands to ground himself, “where did ye go?”
Silence. Fear in her whisky eyes. He could see the lie forming, see her closing against him in that glass face.
“Ye left with haste and wi’ a purpose,” he pressed. “Why?”
Her eyes were down. Her head was shaking hard, fast. “I—I can’t tell you why.”
He nodded, shaking all over. “Then why on EARTH should I trust your word?”
She looked up with glassy eyes.
“WHY?” he repeated, more angrily, more pained with every choking syllable “When ye sleep in my arms, hold me wi’ your head on my chest of a morning and then shun me twice to my face before the next sunrise? When your face and your body told me one thing, and then your words another?” His hands were fists, quaking with fury and pain. “When ye STILL willna tell me where it is ye came from or where it is ye went? Why should I believe a word you say, Claire?”
Her sudden quiet startled him and he searched her face. No longer angry and defensive, no longer controlled. He watched it fall, moment by moment, into a blank of despair. She continued her descent, apparently helpless to stop it, and sank down onto the trunk at the foot of his bed. “You shouldn’t—you have no reason to believe me.” She released a gasping sob and buried her face in her hands.
A long silence, punctuated only by the heart wrenching sounds of her sudden brokenness.
Heart-wrenching. His heart was wrenching apart to see her in pain.
He tried to be indifferent, to see in this another charade; but after a long moment, he couldn’t help but speak, to reach out to her. “Claire?”
She gave no answer, only wept harder and shook her head back and forth.
“Why d’ye say I shouldna believe ye, Claire?”
Why, mo nighean donn?
“Because—” Heaving breaths. Crying. “If I told you the—truth, Jamie—the real, actual truth,” she sobbed still harder into her hands, her voice a strangled wheeze, “You’d never believe me…you’d think me completely—completely mad…”
Would he? Could he ever believe this marvel of an individual to be out of her mind? A lunatic? No. That simply couldn’t be. Whatever it was that she’d concealed, whatever it was she didn’t want to tell him, needed to tell him—it was truth.
Slowly, he moved from behind the chair, slowly settled beside her on the trunk.
She exhaled, moved and overcome. “Jamie….”
He couldn’t touch her, wasn’t sure what he would do if he touched her; but he was glad that she knew he was near. She was right, after all: whatever else passed between them, she was his friend. “I’m here. Tell me….lass.”
It was the first time he had called her anything close to an endearment since she’d returned to Leoch—no, since the night she left—and the saying of it—Christ, it sent a bolt of blazing lightning into the ice around his heart.
The crack was deep, deep enough so as not to be repaired, smoldering, spreading.
My own lass.
“The woman of Balnain.”
“The—what?” She had blurted it with no preamble, and he yanked himself back from the melting of his heart to try to understand. “The—Welshman’s song? What of it?”
“I am the woman of Balnain.”
He gobbled for a moment, looking sidelong at her. “Well, the—the words actually translate more to ‘I am the wife of the laird of Bal—”
She shook her head, eyes squeezed tight. “No. No, that’s not what I mean.”
“I. AM. her.” she whispered, looking up at the ceiling and blinking hard. “I, Claire Beauchamp, AM the woman of Balnain.”
The room seemed to crystallize and go silent. Even the fire was muted out, a faint humming in the distance.
“The truth…Jamie….The truth is that I am not of this time.” She was still shaking with sobs but was nonetheless speaking with an intensity that he’d never heard from her, not ever before. “I woke up one morning in the year nineteen hundred and forty-five…and I landed in seventeen forty-three.” She could barely get the words out. “I woke up in Inverness and went searching for a flower I’d seen on the hill of standing stones…”
She recited the eerie song, her voice—God, her voice—
“I stood upon the hill, and wind did rise…. I placed my hands upon the tallest stone and travelled to a far, distant land,
….but Jamie….it wasn’t a ‘distant land.’ It was a distant time. The eighteenth century.”
He was gaping at her. She gave another desperate sob, her eyes boring into him, despairing. “That’s the truth, Jamie; The truth of where I came from. I—traveled—back—traveled here—in time.”
Nineteen hundred…and forty….
There were tales, of course—folk being stolen away by the fairies and being taken to times not their own—
—but as an educated man, he’d always—surely those were only—
But with a jolt akin to being kicked by a great beast, all of it flooded into his mind at once, bowling him over:
The strange shift she had worn
Her lack of friends and relations
Her inability to account for her background, her intentions among us
The way she had asked for the town, that night we’d found her—a town that must have been visible, two hundred years hence
The way even the most common words and customs seemed foreign to her
The daft words she herself had used
The way this remarkable woman had fallen into his life….
The way this woman like no other he’d ever encountered in his lifetime…
“I was born in nineteenth hundred and eighteen,” she was saying intently, breaking apart, “I was born two hundred years from now.” She make a desperate sound at his silence—anger—fear—tragedy. “Jamie, do you hear me?”
But Jamie heard her words as though from under water; silently reciting the rest of the Welshman’s song
But one day, I saw the moon come out and the wind rose once more, so I touched the stones and travelled back to my own land and took up again with—
“You’ve been trying to get back to him,” he moaned, the horror and the grief of it washing over him in a landslide, “’the man ye left behind.’”
She gasped, then gaped at him, utterly dumbstruck. She couldn’t speak for a long time. Nor could he; could only hear the wailing of his heart.
When she did finally find her voice, it was strangled and tear-choked. “You—believe me??”
“Aye,” he said at once, his own voice far from strong, but confident in that, at least. “I do believe ye, Sassenach.”
Beyond the memories, all the evidence of her otherness running through his mind like a vision, he could see it in her eyes; he could see it in the slant of her shoulders, broken, but no longer on guard, no longer holding back; he could see it across her glass face, finally free of secrets and lies. Finally free. Aye, he believed her…
…and the truth broke his heart all over again, into more pieces—millions more—than they’d been before. She was married. She wasn’t free to give her heart—Nor had she been; not from the first moment he’d laid eyes upon her. Claire Beauchamp was another man’s wife.
“Forgive me, lass,” he murmured, rising and going to the fire, trying to keep his voice from breaking, to keep from showing her his despair. He understood, now; understood why she had acted the way she had, but the pain was too great. He had only enough strength left to appear strong. “Stay here for the night—I’ll find another bed.”
“Forgive?” came her voice behind him, truly bewildered. “Whatever for?”
He had tears in his eyes and he blinked them away fiercely, gritting his teeth. “I canna even bear to think of the—the fool I made of myself in your eyes back wi’ the rent party. Proposing marriage, professing love, when ye already had—”
“No!” she said, jumping to her feet and wiping her own tears away, hard. “Jamie, no, please—that’s what I’m trying to tell you—you weren’t a fool.”
She came close to stand beside him, and after a long pause, she took his hand. “Jamie…..you… weren’tmistaken.”
He wasn’t—? He hadn’t been—?
He couldn’t shake off her touch. Couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t even move at all from the inrush of feeling and hope and—
“I felt—just the same as you, Jamie—” she said, carefully but firmly through her tears and emotion. “—from the—God, the first time you held me here at Leoch,—From then onwards, I felt what it was between us.”
A Dhia, just slay me now, lass. Kill me here and let my heart be gone, rather than this torture. He felt like a boy, so eager for her love, and so frightened to hope for it.
“That’s why I left that night—” She was squeezing his hand so hard it hurt, and was staring up at him, her eyes unblinking and spilling with tears. Jamie was staring into the fire, trying to keep control of himself, but she wouldn’t look away. “—because I cared for you too and I felt—” She gave a wracking sob, “—so ashamed because it was like he—my husband—like Frank never—even existed to me—”
She cares for me.
She cared for me all along.
“—And so when you—when you said those things—poured out your heart to me, and I—wanted to pour mine out to you—and I had to get away—and I ran—”
He was squeezing her hand to keep from flying apart.
She ran because she felt she must
She cares for me.
“—and I was praying the whole time I rode it would have been a dream—that I would touch the stones and wake up, but it wasn’t a dream—you were real—and what I felt for you was real—”
“—but I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d come back—”
She ran because of duty .
Her hand in his shook. His hand in hers shook.
Claire cares for me, too.
“—then I got to the stones and I—couldn’t get through—” She was sobbing, harder than she had yet sobbed in his presence, panic and weariness overtaking her such that she swayed next to him. “—I couldn’t get back—was pounding on that stone for hours—hours—but I—I couldn’t get—couldn’t—”
“Oh, lass—” And before he could stop himself, he was clutching her tight against him, comforting her, holding her, trying to shield her from the sobs that wracked her body. “I’m so sorry…Claire, I’m so sorry…”
God, and he was, too. The pain and turmoil she’d undergone, that had been tearing her apart with no one to help keep her sane; no one to keep her from being alone. He held her, forcing himself to think only of her. “It’s alright….shhhh, it’s alright… Christ, I’m so sorry.”
She pressed her cheek hard into his chest. “Jamie, I was so ashamed.”
“Ashamed? Lass, you’ve nothing to be—”
She pushed back from him and staggered away toward the fire, just far enough to look him in the eye,. “Because I was relieved—Jamie— I was RELIEVED that I couldn’t go back to him—” She raised her hands aimlessly to the level of her eyes, watching them quake. “—RELIEVED—and I think part of me will be ashamed of that all my life—But I don’t care.”
Jamie didn’t say a word, just let his eyes cling to the sight of her face, open and breaking along with his. ‘Breaking,’—no, he was being utterly torn apart by the gathering of joy and hope, the banishing of the anger and pain. His heart was a gushing torrent, now—the skeleton of the ice wall still standing, but with the current clearly visible beneath, roaring to be free.
“The fact is that I was relieved. Relieved that I could come back to you.”
She cares for me
She left from duty.
She came back.
“Jamie….?” she begged, repeating the word like a prayer of supplication. “Jamie…..?”
“Aye?” he croaked.
“Jamie, I’m so sorry—I hate what I did to you— the look on your face when I denied you and—shamed and—wounded you—it killed me—”
“Dinna spare a thought for it,” he started to say, but she quieted him, begging to be allowed to speak uninterrupted.
“—And I can’t bear how this will seem—Like it does seem,” she amended. “You said it yourself: my plans fell through and I’ve come crawling back to you. But that isn’t true.” She took a deep breath and her eyes spoke true to him as she said, strong and clearly even through the gasping and the tears: “I love you, Jamie.”
The ice wall shattered.
She loves me.
She loves me.
SHE LOVES ME.
“I love you—” she was saying, over and over crying, laughing as the joy of it rushed through her,”—and I care for you—and I respect you, and—” She reached a hand toward his face. “— and I want to marry you.”
Before he could reach back to her, she was kneeling before him, taking his hand, bowing her forehead over it. “I haven’t anything—I’m no one, in your world— but all I have, and all I will ever have, they’re yours—if you’ll still have me.”
Later, he never would quite recall the exact moment when he moved; the thoughts that went through his head at seeing Claire before him, asking him to share her life. All he could recall was the feeling of her in his arms, the burning in his heart as he crushed her to him; the way he could barely speak the most important words of his life:
“Yes, mo chridhe—All my life, yes.”
And then he was kissing her. He was kissing her and kissing her and kissing her and feeling her pressed against him. Feeling her kissing him back, the joy and relief in her tears. Sinking back into the armchair, letting her straddle him, holding her and kissing her and drinking her into him.
The rasp of her voice as she clutched his face and groaned into his mouth. “I want to stay with you. I need to be beside you tonight.”
The agony of forcing himself to slow, to still. “No, lass, ye must go now,” he whispered, though his traitorous body kissed her deeper and pulled her closer. “Else I’ll have ye here…now…..”
“Have me,” she moaned, bringing his hand up to her breast—Jesus Christ, the nipple was hard, shockingly firm even through her shift, and she groaned so exquisitely as he ran his thumb round and around it, as she moved her hips against him with shocking urgency. “—Have me—Jamie, please—”
He felt those words strike directly down into his cock and he thought he would die of wanting her, but he managed a soft laugh and pulled away. She gave a growl of urgent protest, of need, and he felt the same rip through his own body at remaining separated from her another moment…but he forced himself to take her face in his hands. “Ye must go. Because as much as I want to be inside ye right now—you’re so much more to me than that, mo chridhe.”
He kissed her, slowly and gently. Kissed the tears on her cheeks. Felt her kiss his as her fingers ran across his face, his hair, claiming him as she settled, quieted to a slow burning, her forehead against his. “What does it mean?” she whispered, her hair falling ‘round them. “Mo…cree?”
“Mo chridhe. My heart.” He leaned his forehead against hers; the tip of his nose against hers. “It means, my heart.”
She took his face, then, her words strong and sure. “You’re more to me than that to me, too; than anything else, anyone else… mo chridhe, Jamie.”
‘Everything I’ve ever told you about myself was true,’ I said, nodding madly as though to reassure myself. ‘Everything. I haven’t any people, I haven’t any history, because I haven’t happened yet. Do you know when I was born?’ I asked, looking up. I knew my hair was wild and my eyes staring, and I didn’t care. ‘On the twentieth of October, in the Year of Out Lord nineteen hundred and eighteen. Do you hear me?’ I demanded, for he was blinking at me unmoving, as though paying no attention to a word I said. ‘I said nineteen eighteen! Nearly two hundred years from now! Do you hear?’ I was shouting now, and he nodded slowly.
‘I hear,’ he said softly. ‘Yes, you hear!’ I blazed. ‘And you think I’m raving mad. Don’t you? Admit it. That’s what you think. You have to think so, there isn’t any other way you can explain me to yourself. You can’t believe me, you can’t dare to. Oh, Jamie…’
I felt my face start to crumple. All this time spent hiding the truth, realizing that I could never tell anyone, and now I realized that I could tell Jamie, my beloved husband, the man I trusted beyond all others, and he wouldn’t - he couldn’t believe me either.
Hey! Here’s another one-shot! I know, I know. I’ve been doing a lot of these. BUT, once school is out, and summer is here, I’ll be able to focus on my stories. And maybe even turn some of these one-shots into stories… ;)
“Ugh!” Claire groaned, stretching her muscles. The bones cracked, this sinewy body unfamiliar, like a stranger’s. She supposed it was more like a stranger’s than her own. She hadn’t taken this form in years. Centuries, perhaps, though she wasn’t counting.
She slowly placed one foot in front of the other. It was almost painful, the way the hard ground pushed against her soles. Careful, careful…
She purposefully dropped to the grass with a soft thud, it’s fine prickles sticking her arms and legs. She turned her face towards the sun, and closed her eyes, relishing its warmth.
She spread out on the ground, stretching her body in all directions. She didn’t really mind the dirt and grime that clung to her backside. This form was wormlike anyway, all fleshy and soft.
The pink light that filtered through her eyelids brought Apollo to her mind. She thanked him silently for the beautiful, bright light. She wished she could thank him face-to-face. She wished many things…
The ground shook beneath her in an unearthly quiver.
He appeared without pomp; just a hazy red glow that trailed behind him as he approached her.
“Claire!” She didn’t look him in the face, knowing she would be lost in that sea foam gaze. Instead, she focused on the intriguing bark of the tree behind him.
“Hello, Jamie.” She spoke formally, as if speaking to a stranger. They practically were at this point.
“I haven’t seen ye in years.”
“That was sort of the point.” She didn’t try to hide her annoyance. She let every ounce drip from her words. He was shocked. Surprised she would speak to him so. “How’s Venus? What does she go by now? Geneva?”
“Claire, please…” Begging, was he?
“Ye must listen…”
“I’ll do no such thing! You left me, remember? You broke my heart! Not the other way around!”
“Ye dinna think it broke my heart when ye disappeared? Gone for centuries? Ye left, and ye dinna let me explain! It was a misunderstanding. Lies.”
“Misunderstanding? She bore your child!” Claire was fuming, crimson in her eyes. The skies grayed, her anger manipulating the clouds. Sorry, Apollo.
Jamie glanced around. He stood strong, but her power frightened him. The only even match for the god of war was his goddess.
“She lied! Because of jealousy. Because of ye. I dinna ken! I haven’t spoken to her since ye left!”
“What have you been doing all these years, then?” She took deep breaths. She needed to calm down. In… Out… In… Out. The clouds began to separate. But she wouldn’t let her guard down.
“Looking for ye! Yer no an easy woman to find. Claire, please…” He repeated, reaching a hand to her. He would not force her, but perhaps she would come to him… He would beg if her had to. She was the only woman that could make Mars fall to his knees.
Her eyes narrowed at the long finger twitching slightly in anticipation. Could she believe him?
“Please. Ask Apollo. Ask Neptune. I’m many things, but I’m no a liar.”
“I’ve… I lost my trust in you many years ago. How can I trust you again?” She was still staring at his large, outstretched hand, not ready to lose herself in his eyes.
“In any way ye can.” She felt warmth under her chin, his fingers urging her to look at him. She was under his power once again, his icy eyes hypnotizing her.
And, she was happy to be there.
“Come, my dear sweet Minerva. My wise goddess. My strong wee owl. Not even the goddess of love can compare to you.” Listening to this lovely speech, she realized he never stopped being under her power. A grin spread across her lips.
“Such pretty word for a warmonger, Mars. Should I take lessons from you?”
“Weel, we all change with the times, no? And, no one calls me Mars anymore.”
“Well, no one calls me Minerva, either.” They chuckled in unison at their strange given names. They much preferred the names they chose for themselves.
“Well, dear Claire. Where to?”
“Well, Jamie. I hear Scotland is lovely this time of year.”
Scotland. The wild heathers they called their home all those centuries ago.
There probably will only be one more chapter and then an epilogue after this! The next update will probably be in another week because its finals and I am swamped. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
I started and jumped from the pillow in the dark, my whole body seizing and splintering wi’ panic—
But it was only Ian, of course, half-asleep at my back. He pulled me closer against him and kissed my shoulder. “Yr—tossin’ and turnin’ about like—S’matter?”
“Nothin’…Nothin’, only somethin’ I ate,” I whispered, tryin’ to catch my breath.
“Nay, lad, I’ll—I’ll do,” I panted, my blood racing and pounding. “Go b—back to sleep, mo ghriadh.” I pulled back the quilts and made to sit up. “I’ll—go take a turn— settle meself.” Nearly midnight, it must be.
Ian groped clumsily for me and caught my hand. “Lov’ye…”
Tears prickled in my eyes, sharp and hot against the air of the night. God, the tenderness of him—the sweetness and care and love this good man lavished upon me, always—
“D’ye think me a good person, Ian?” I whispered into the dark between us.
My throat felt sore, the words as raw and frail and desperate as my pathetic heart. “Am I truly good? Or have I only been good at pretendin’ to be…while I’m no more than the verra worst kind of filth?”
The question rang out into the silence; unanswered. He’d have reassured me, had he actually heard, had the soft, familiar whiffle of his snorin’ not already resumed. It was as well not to be coddled wi’ comforting lies. I kent the truth well enough.
Oh, but how I ached to wake him, to tell him at least of Claire and the evil that I’d done; to let him hold me tight and safe while I wept into his chest; let the comfort of him surround me, soothe me, as he convinced me wi’ gentle kisses and soft words that all would be well, that he’d carry the burden wi’ me—that I wouldna be alone, ever.
Alone like Jamie.
Alone like Claire.
This was my penance: this coldness—this regret—this utter, writhing, blistering shame. I’d taken away any chance for their happiness, so for the rest of my life, I had to bear it; to atone, myself, however I might. Emptiness, carried alone: a fitting punishment for my crime.
I kissed Ian’s brow, slipped out of bed, found my shawl, and made my way down the stairs toward the study. I reeled a bit on the treads, my head achin’ and spinnin’, and small bloody wonder, for I’d drunk heavily all the evenin’.
At first, it were only that I was preparin’ myself for the task at hand, hopin’ the drink would brace me, give me courage for when I found the right moment to face Jamie. Every time I looked at him, though, the gentle hunger in his eyes that lit over bein’ wi’ family; the smile on his face as he played with the wee bairns, as he joyed in the balm of home—of love—God, my coward’s heart had bucked and fled, at every opportunity.
And by the time I might have finally confronted things, the drink had taken hold, bringing my fears to bear, and I’d staggered up to my bed long before anyone else, and dreamt of screams of pain—and sorrow—and—
Now, I was surprised and relieved to find as I reached the bottom of the stairs that I was hardened, a wall of conviction slowly rising up around me, protectin’ me. Jamie need not know; Jamie must not be told. It was too late, after all; Claire was too far gone. I’d done wrong, to my everlasting shame. I’d committed a terrible, cruel evil against them both. But what good would it do to torture him wi’ that knowledge, now? When he had no chance of findin’ her? None. T’would be only agony to him, that wisp of hope, now vanished by my hand.
No. He couldna ever be told. It was the kindest thing I could do, now, to keep the secret from hurting him further.
All that remained was for me to find a way to live wi’ myself—drink and distraction; and there was always a good decanter of whisky in the study along wi’ the books. I pushed through the study door and was no more than two steps in before I collided wi’ something solid and—
My candle was somersaulting through the air and onto the good rug, and just as suddenly, quick fingers snatched it up again before it could catch.
“I’m so sorry, Jen,” Jamie was sayin’, settin’ the candlestick on the table next to one of his own before turnin’ back to grin at me, all sheepish in only his shirt. “I couldna sleep and came down for a dram and was looking at the books just there by the door, and—” He stopped and blinked, surveying me in alarm. “Lass, you’re white as a sheet and shaking like— Are ye hurt, dove?”
“No, its—I’m fine—” I shrank back from his touch, from the heartbreaking sweetness of the endearment.
Only—agony to him, now.
It’s far pa—past—(breathe)—too late—damn me to hell for it.
I turned hastily for the door. “I didna mean to intrude upon your quiet, Jamie, I’ll just—”
“No-no-no, dinna be daft,” Jamie laughed, eagerly, stepping swiftly around me to block the door. “Stay! Sit wi’ me a time—have a drink.”
“No, really, I should—”
“Jen, we barely got to speak all this evening,” he said, and there was more than a touch of hurt in that soft voice, those soft eyes. “Please? Stay wi’ me?”
Brother, if ye only kent what I was, you’d cast me out into the cold this moment, and have me walk until the very sea swallowed me up.
And I’d deserve it.
“Come on, wee fool,” Jamie said, gently, but in truth, he was begging. He wanted her to stay. He needed her to stay, to help drive this terrible sadness away, tonight.
At last, she relented, and let him close the door. He held out his arms to her, and after a very long moment, she came to him. “It’s very glad I am to see ye, lass,” he whispered into her hair, trying not to let his voice crack with just how glad he was of it.
Lord, why did she sound so tentative around him, tonight? She had been cool toward him all the evening, busying herself with the meal and with clearing it, and with taking another whisky, offering him one, but then bustling onward to the next task and retiring early before they could exchange more than a dozen words.
“Tell me true.” He gently took her by the shoulders and held her far enough away to look her in the eye, beseeching. “Have I done something to wrong ye, lass?”
She gaped at him, going even paler than before. “Wrong me?”
“I dinna think I’m mistaken in noticing you’re no’ pleased to see me, this visit. So I’ll ask again….Have I done something that’s wronged ye?” Even moments ago, she had seemed barely to touch him as he embraced her. “I’ll do anythin’ I can to make it right, I swear it.”
“Never.” To his astonishment, her face fell, and she made a little sound almost like a sob as she at last hugged him tight, a real embrace. “You would never do anything to wrong me, Jamie.”
He held her close, the sense of home finally settling around him. His blood—his sister.
“I’m sorry, Jamie,” she said, muffled into his chest, “I am glad to see ye. I’m just—no’ quite myself, tonight.”
“Is something amiss wi’ ye then, dove? Are ye feeling ill?”
“No, I’ll do.” He could have sworn she shuddered, but she pulled back and put her hands on her hips to study at him with brows drawn, as she always did, the dear, wee busybody. “Lord above, you’re too thin, ye great toad.”
“Are great toads typically thin?” he laughed, placing a kiss on the top of her head and moving to settle onto the plump cushions of the settee.
“Aye, and your voice all scratchit like one, to boot,” she laughed with something like her usual fire, curling her legs under her on the armchair facing him. “But truly, do ye get yourself fed at all, in Edinburgh?”
“Aye,” he said, passing her a whisky glass, “not grand fare, mind,” he winked, or tried to, “but dinna fash: I make it a special point of policy to eat every day.”
“Well, that’s good. Do it more, aye? You’re—” She shook her head, looking actually pained as she took him in again. “You’re….wasting away, Jamie.”
He waved a hand in dismissal. “That’s why I must visit my sister, whose excellent cooks will always get me fattened up again.”
“I must thank ye again for seeing my wee Ian safely home to me.”
“’Course, Jen,” he murmured, “happy to do it. The lad continues to be quite the handful, I see.”
“God,” she groaned, “I’ve not the faintest idea what’s to be done about the wee eejit. S’like tryin’ to trap a breeze upon a mountaintop. I’m sure he’ll ask to be allowed to go back wi’ ye wi’ our blessing this time, but—”
“I’d no’ mind it, owermuch” He tried to sound casual, not as desperately eager as he felt. “In fact, I verra nearly let him talk me into letting him stay, this time.”
“Wheedles something fierce, does wee Ian,” Jenny agreed ruefully. “I suppose ‘tis good for his hope of catchin’ a wife one day. A boy that’s so plain best ken how to wield charm to his good uses, at least,” she said with a grimace and a deep draught from her glass.
“Aye, that’s so,” Jamie laughed. “He can argue the black off a boot. Though, it was less to do wi’ him than me,” he added quietly, a moment later.
“I’d have been happy for the company.” He shrugged, trying for nonchalance, but it was a shrug of unease. “It’s quite lonely, there in the shop.” His emptiness rang into the very corners of the room in the saying of it.
Jenny heard it too, and put on a cheery, winning manner as she scoffed, “Nonsense, you’ve got Fergus, aye?”
“Fergus is a great help, true, and an even greater comfort to me,” he agreed. The boy—Christ, he was fifteen years or more past being a *boy,* but Fergus would always be so, to Jamie—was his pride and his right hand.
“But, of course, ye may not ken how often Fergus is gone from Edinburgh seeing to—other business. Scarce half the days of the month, do I see him, in fact.” He shrugged. “And of course, I’m alone in my rooms, after the shop closes. Wi’ only myself for company, the conversation tends to be a trifle repetitive.”
He meant it as a wee jest to lighten the mood. It didn’t work, for either of them. There was a fair-sized lump in his throat. Jenny’s hands were tight around her glass, her eyes down. He knew he shouldn’t speak so, so wretchedly self-pitying, but damn him, he needed to have someone hear him and understand.
“Sometimes, I go an entire week or more wi’out anyone—not a soul— speaking to me as if they knew me. And it can be longer, even, wi’out anyone saying my real name to me….In Edinburgh, ken, I’m Alexander Malcolm.”
She gave a weak smile, whispering, “Sawney.”
“Aye. And folk smile and bow and say, ‘Good Day, Mr. Malcolm.’….‘Shall we see ye on Saturday, Sawney?’….’When are ye thinking of taking a wife, Mr. Malcolm?’”
The empty glass shot from Jenny’s hands and spun ‘round on the carpet. Neither of them moved to pick it up, and Jamie found he couldn’t stop talking.
He swallowed. “Before the cave—prison—England——”
Lord, that he might be safe.
“—I didna truly ken how much it meant to me to be….known. Myself. And after everything that’s happened these twenty years, I now find most days as though—” He shook his head. “—as though I’ll just fall away and vanish into naught, from lack of it. I havena….” He dropped his eyes, too ashamed to look her in the eye as he spoke the darkest desolation of his heart, “I can hardly even name the broken pieces of me, any longer…..let alone hope to put them back together.”
Jenny blinked hard as though holding back tears. Lord, no, there were tears in her eyes, to his shame. He wasn’t saying these things for pity. It was simply the truth of his heart, and it was a true gift to be given the grace to say it aloud, rather than having it tear him apart in the quiet of his mind, day after day. And yet it pained him to grieve Jenny so, to give her any more reason to fear and fret for him.
He started to say so, but she suddenly blurted, “Maybe—” She was pale, and Jamie could swear she was trembling. “Maybe ‘tis time to—to come back to Balriggan.”
“No,” he said at once with half a laugh, standing and walking over to one of the bookcases.
“No, I said.”
“I ken things wi’ Laoghaire—”
“There’s no’ moving me on this,” he said, more sharply. He had no desire for her to dream up another scheme for rehabilitating his personal happiness. “I’ll continue to do right by them, of course, see them taken care of but…No. I’ll no’ try to find comfort, there, again.”
“Jamie, mo chridhe, please just listen—” She was right on the verge of weeping, from the sound at his back. “I ken she’s not—that she’s… what she is…but I dinna want—” There came the sound of Jenny throwing up her hands in desperation, “—Ye shouldna spend the rest of your days alone, Jamie, wi’—wi’ no JOY! The thought of—”
“There is no joy to be had at Balriggan, sister. Not that kind.”
He turned to her and gently grasped her shoulders. “You’ve known me all my life, Jen,” he said softly down into her face, contorted as it was with shockingly-vehement feeling. “I’ve been wrong about many things; been hasty and reckless and a fool, when my emotions got ahead of my better judgment, or before I kent proper facts—” He cupped her cheek, his voice hoarse. “—but trust me to ken my own heart, at least: to be alone, to be empty, is better than—than that; to lose what pieces of me still remain to—anger…bitterness….”
She stared up into his face, lips pursed, eyes red and glistening, voice trembling uncontrollably. “But can ye no’—?”
He released her and kissed her cheek, putting all his self into being strong and brave-faced once more, as was his duty. “Dinna fash yourself about me. I’m sorry I let myself carry on down such a maudlin road, this night.”
Jamie smiled, as warm and broad a smile as he could, as he walked past her back to the settee, meaning to sit. “But it means a great deal to me how much ye do trouble yourself for my sake, truly. I ken ye always mean the best for me, Jenny, and I’m—”
The sob burst out of Jenny like a cannon blast in the night and Jamie whirled, reaching for an absent dirk. “Jen, WH—”
Her face was a broken thing behind her hands. “I’m so—sss—soSORRY, brother.”
“Sorry?” Jamie felt as though he’d been hit by a charging horse. That wasn’t pity in her ‘sorry’: it was true apology. “Whatever for??”
“For the fool that I am,” she sobbed, the tears flowing over her fingers. “After all ye’ve been through—your own sister ought—OUGHT to—Christ, Jamie, I’m so—ashamed.”
“Jenny, dove, mo chridhe,” he whispered as he reached for her, “what on earth are are ye going on ab—?”
“Wait here—” she managed to choke, already staggering for the door. Her eyes were wild and she put out a staying hand as she went. “Dinna move, just—Just—wait!!”
Too stunned to do otherwise, Jamie stood unmoving on the study rug, mind racing, absolutely at a loss to guess what had come over her.
When at last she came back through the door, she was white as death, a paper, or envelope, perhaps, clasped against her breast.
“Jenny, you’re frightening me. Tell me at once what’s happened.”
“I’ve done—” Her chest seemed to cave in around the envelope, wracked with her sobs. “I’ve done a terrible wrong against ye, brother.”
“Nonsense,” he vowed, moving toward her to sort things out. “Whatever’s the—”
“Don’t,” she hissed, halting him with a frantic shake of the the head, her teeth gritted. “Just—stop.”
He raised both his hands to her in desperate plea.“I dinna understand, Jenny.”
She closed the distance between them with halting steps and forced the envelope into his hands, holding her own tight around them. He couldn’t take his eyes off her face, for it was an expression he’d never seen there—absolute anguish and absolute shame.
His eyes dropped to his hands. Aye, a thick envelope, the face bare and unmarked.
He turned it over and saw the single word there written:
J a m i e
He might have been screaming—he might have been crying—he might have fallen into a dark pit, with the earth closed in over him.
He was on the ground, his leg aching from where he’d fallen against something. The envelope stared up at him from the floor and he stared back.
those five letters
written in Claire’s hand
a thin interlace pattern pressed into the blood-red seal.
Jenny was sobbing. “She was here— Claire was here, Jamie—”
“Claire’s gone—” he was screaming or whimpering, “Claire—is—GONE—”
“She came back.”
“No, she came for ye—CAME here—
Nothing made sense
“—And I did such grievous wrong by ye in the things I said to her.”
There was no damned SENSE in the words that she—
C l a i r e
Jenny kneeling before him.
Jenny, grabbing his hand, hard. “She said it would give ye peace, what’s inside.”
Jenny, pressing the packet against his chest wi’ his own hand, holding it there, tight.
Jenny’s face, mere inches from his, breaking apart with weeping—all but mute from the violence of her pain. “I'm—so—sorry, Jamie.”
A kiss on his cheek, and then she was gone.
Watching like one paralyzed as the envelope fluttered once more to the ground onto its face.
J a m i e
…his real name.
He lunged, but he couldn’t even lift the envelope. His fingers felt like claws—lacking thumbs—lacking everything except brute force. He managed to rip off the seal and force open the pages, but he could only press it flat onto the floor with both his hands, hunched over it like a starving beast over its kill.
And though he’d feared it some nightmare, his soul burst like the lungs of a drowning man as he read—as he believed— the words beneath him:
Claire sat in the wide bench at the hospital’s
locker room, her ears filled with a high bleeping sound, the voices around her
as distant and foreign as creatures of the bottom of the deepest ocean. Her
eyes were fixed on her silver ring – the flesh underneath it raw and reddened
after hours of nervously twisting it on her finger, akin to a prisoner fighting
a shackle turned life raft.
“What happened to you?” A shadow extended next
to her and she blankly stared above, watching as one of her colleagues, Joe
Abernathy, frowned as he looked at her.
“Nothing.” She croaked, her tongue feeling
ridiculously dry and furred after hours of screams and sobs in the seclusion of
her apartment, followed by a prolonged silence.
“Hmpf.” He vocalized in a doubtful tone. “Ye
look more like everything happened,
than nothing. Do you want to grab a cup of coffee, Fraser? Or a bucket?”
“Don’t call me that!” She hissed, tears
stinging her eyes – Claire tried to keep them forcefully opened, to avoid
overflowing. “Claire. Just Claire.”
“Alright.” He said more softly, sitting next to
her. His dark skin deeply contrasted with her own, made even more marble white
than usual by fatigue and heartbreak.
wasn’t exactly a friend – but he was one of the few colleagues who had shown
her compassion and camaraderie, never taking a chance to shine that implied to
throw another resident under the proverbial bus. He was always nice and they
exchanged pleasantries every time the occasion called for words between them –
but Claire had been too busy daydreaming about Jamie for the past few months,
to really dedicate herself to the task of establishing a fulfilling friendship.
I don’t want you anymore. Claire
mechanically pressed the ring against her raw finger, welcoming the pain that
kept her grounded to the present.
“You know what?” Joe slapped his big hands
against his knees, covered with blue scrubs. “I think I have just the thing you
need. A nasty Whipple procedure in OR two in twenty minutes. What do you say?”
“I can’t take your surgery, Joe. You earned
that with your hard work assisting Doctor Raymond on that hemorrhoidectomy.”
Claire shook her head, crumpling her surgical cap.
“You need to cut, Lady Jane.” He smiled with
kindness. “People can say whatever they want, but I know a surgeon when I see
one – and you’re it. Once you have the blade in your hand, you’ll be able to
forget – or at least to push to the outskirts of your mind – whatever is bothering
you so much. On the off-chance that
doesn’t work, you can always pretend you’re cutting the face of whoever hurt
Claire breathed deeply – the smell of deodorant
and foot powder a soothing presence, reassuring her that some things were still
the same. She had come to the hospital almost in the middle of the night for it
– trying to leave the wreckage of her life behind the closed door of her apartment
- only to discover that the destruction had found a cranny whereby it could
enter her body, taking hold of her like a parasite with an innocent host.
If only she could shed her entire body with its
memories, like a blessed snake, perhaps she could morph into something else.
Freedom. Forgetfulness. Painless
breathing again. But she was only allowed blue scrubs, with matching cap and
mask – they would have to serve that purpose.
“If you’re sure.” She said hesitantly. “I’ll
try not to disturb you too much.”
“Nonsense.” He clapped, ecstatic. You’ll do
just fine. Don’t overthink it.”
“Alright.” Claire raised from the bench to tie
her black sneakers. Make a loop. Tie it
harder. Breathe. As she prepared to walk beside him, she wrinkled her nose
in confusion in his direction. “Who
the hell is Lady Jane?”
Edinburgh, Present day
“You’re awake.” Claire greeted, entering his
room and seeing him half-sited, reclined against a pile of pillows, doing
exercises with his hand. “It’s late, but I was quite busy today – a couple of
patients from the fire needed to be re-interventioned for some complications.”
“That’s alright.” Jamie gave her a shy smile.
“I dinna expect ye to come at all, so it’s a nice surprise.”
“I hear they are offering you a medal for your
brave conduct while on duty.” She said in an attempt of conversational tone,
sitting on a chair by his bed. “Just saw two grown men sobbing their eyes out
while coming here, talking about how Chief Fraser is a goddam hero and saved
“Well,” He replied, slightly shrugging his
shoulders in a blatant sign of discomfort. “I don’t feel like a hero. More like
“Hm.” She snorted in outspoken agreement.
“Can’t really challenge that. How is your hand?”
“Rigid. Tender.” Jamie grimaced, showing her
the bandaged hand with just the tip of the fingers visible. “But hopefully, in
time, I’ll be able to wipe my own arse with it.”
The corners of her mouth almost formed a smile,
but she hurriedly commanded them to stop. Almost.
He used to make her smile all the time, effortlessly - and it seemed like
the wheels and screws of her body still remembered that easy mechanism.
“Claire…” He started in a pleading tone.
“Why do you still wear your wedding ring,
Jamie?” Claire anticipated in a low voice. “We have been divorced for almost
ten years – and you took away its
meaning even before that.”
“Don’t ye know?” He replied in a soft tone, as
his fingers dutifully played with the small exercise rubber ball.
“How would I
know?” She said, anger bringing an edge to her words. “You told me you didn’t want me anymore. That you had someone else
you wanted to be with – I expected to find you remarried with a proper Scottish
wife, a handful of children around your bed. And yet there’s no wife around to
fluff your pillows and put jelly in the mouth of her valiant husband.”
He tilted his head, as if he was embarrassed by
her words. “I had my reasons to say that.”
“Let’s hear them, then.” She crossed her arms
and looked impatiently at him. “I believe you owe me at least the curtsy of the
Jamie nodded and for a moment his eyes seemed
lost in contemplation of something invisible, pages of their story turning
backwards until he could find the appropriate chapter and the words to tell it.
When he talked again, his voice was quick and low, slightly ragged.
“Ye were failing.” He looked at her as if
urging her to understand. “Ye told me that yourself. Everything ye had worked
so hard to accomplish was turning into smoke.” Jamie clenched his jaw. “I knew
it was because of me – my fault. When
ye met me, I changed the course of yer life. Ye were torn – distracted. I had
to do something.”
“What?” Claire whispered, the world slightly
tilting around her like a bizarre attraction in an amusement park. “Tell me,
Jamie – What did you do?”
“How does a man wilfully rip his heart out of
his chest? What madness can drive ye to do such a thing?” He whispered, as if
to himself, before he glanced at her. “Not madness – love. I found I could do it, as long as I knew ye safe and well.”
“I don’t understand.” She babbled - but
realization was slowly dawning on her, brutal and consuming as wildfire,
leaving her shaking like a burnt leaf on the wind.
“I already knew what I needed to do.” Jamie
nodded, immersed on his tale – finally able to share his terrible truth, a numbing
dart to the poisonous beast that sat on his chest. “I made the decision the
night we spoke on the phone – promised to myself I’d do it when I went to visit
ye. But I couldn’t!” He closed his healthy hand on a fist, his body trembling
from strong emotion. “I was weak. I couldna stop myself from loving ye again
and again – knowing I couldna lie to yer body; swearing every time I touched ye
would be the last. One last day of happiness – one last memory I could hold on
Claire was openly crying by then, tears
silently falling across her cheeks, witnesses of two broken hearts bleeding
together into the world.
“I went to see Doctor Raymond one afternoon.”
Jamie gulped. “I was hoping there might be another way. But he confirmed what I
already knew – he told me ye were a natural healer, a potential brilliant
surgeon, if ye were allowed to focus solely on that. He promised he would take
care of you.” He finished softly.
“You told me you didn’t want me!” Claire
repeated, lips quivering, her amber eyes open in shock.
“I thought I’d die from saying it. But
ultimately I would say that and much worse, Claire.” He affirmed, his blue eyes
moist but defiant. “I would deny God himself and Jesus on the cross for yer
sake. I would disown my own heart and lungs. There’s no limit for what I’d do
for ye to have peace, mo nighean donn.”
“It was not your choice to make!” She sobbed,
slightly rocking herself on the chair. “My
life, James Fraser. My fucking life. Our
“Aye.” He rubbed his eyes with the back of his
hand. “It is that. But I canna say I regret it, Claire. Joe told me how many
people you saved just today – how every young surgeon looks up to you now. It
seems to me I made the right choice.”
“You don’t know a thing…” Claire hissed. “About
what I went through. I barely made it…I was barely sane.” Her voice sounded
like a woman drowning even to her own ears. “You wouldn’t even see me to sign
the divorce papers, you sent Ned Gowan in your place…”
“I never said I wasna a coward.” Jamie
admitted, slightly tilting his head. “I dinna trust myself not to fall on my
knees and beg yer forgiveness. To tell ye right there and then of my wicked
ways. To kiss ye and never let go. I hoped…” His voice broke. “You’d never have
to see me again.”
“I thought you were in love with someone else.”
Claire sobbed, closing her eyes to block the sight of his face, grimacing in
pain. “I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing you laying with a faceless
woman, whom you’d say everything you once said to me. Listening all your
promises turning into lies.”
“There was never another woman.” He whispered,
tears falling down his lashes. “There could never be another woman, Claire. I
still wore yer wedding ring because – papers or no – I will forever be married
to ye. I will always love ye, mo
“I could never forgive you for this…” Claire
entwined her hands, like a silent prayer for the ability to retrieve what had
been lost between them. “You took away my choice. You traded our love for
something I never wanted. You decided for us both.”
“Aye.” He swallowed hard – his voice hoarse and
broken beyond repair. “But can ye honestly say I was wrong in thinking that
this is the woman ye were meant to become? That by letting ye go I wasna in
fact loving ye more than I ever could be keeping ye?” Jamie closed his eyes,
whispering. “Mine are the sins of a lover. Ye were given to me, Claire – and I
loved ye well.”
Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of the truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.
Jamie…how did things change from the King of Men, leading the Highlanders to battle against the English…
…to the broken man…
...to the prisoner?
While living in the cave:
It dawned on Jamie quite suddenly that to the boys he must seem a most romantic figure. Living alone in a cave, emerging at dark to hunt, coming down out of the mist in the night, filthy and wild-haired, beard all in a fierce red sprout—yes, at their age, it likely seemed a glamorous adventure to be an outlaw and live hidden in the heather, in a dank, cramped cave. At fifteen and sixteen and ten, they had no notion of guilt or bitter loneliness, of the weight of a responsibility that could not be relieved by action.
Not sure about the photo of Jamie with LJG but may be when he was captured after escaping Ardsmuir. I think the 2nd photo may be just prior to him getting “caught” outside the cave. The green fields appear to be Lallybroch, so the image may be him gazing across the meadow towards the family home. Contrast this image to the “king of men” image from S2. Jamie’s tattered and torn coat reflects his tattered and torn heart. Just as he sent Claire away to protect her and their child, he continues to lay down his life for his family. When he was captured after he escaped from Ardsmuir and failed in his quest to find the gold to help his family, the depth of his despair and loneliness nearly overwhelmed him:
His fingers sought the rosary around his neck. His sister had given it to him when he left Lallybroch; the English had let him keep it, as the string of beechwood beads had no value. “Hail Mary, full of grace,” he muttered, “blessed art thou amongst women.” He hadn’t much hope. That wee yellow-haired fiend of a major had seen, damn his soul—he knew just how terrible the fetters had been. “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…” There were footsteps coming down the corridor outside. He clutched his knees harder, trying to quell the shivering. At least it would be decided now, either way. “…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death, amen.
Even in his suffering and grief, Jamie knew this truth: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life…” (John 15:13)
If you are like me and love books you can relate to and are also queer as heck this is a list for you!! Working in a book store you get a lot of time to wander around and find good books and well teen LGBTQ books are my favorite to find. The list is small for now but I will be updating as I find more and more. All the main characters in these books will be queer, not the side characters so there lots of extra gay to go around. So here are some of my favorite LGBTQ books!
Hi Han! Since Voyager is just around the corner could you give us a
glimpse of Jamie’s POV when he returned with Claire to Lallybroch and
the intimate conversations of him and older Ian and Jenny. Showing
Jamie’s utter bliss having Claire back and the concerns Jenny has??
Thanks so much!!
I loved this prompt and I’ve run with it into a slight AU territory because as I wrote this I felt that so much of the heartache which occurred in Voyager could have been avoided with more honesty between the characters here. Much love, Han xx
canna believe it, ken?”
it was no doubt a shock for Jamie too.”
all this time though? What do ye think she wants?”
imagine she wants to live out her days with her husband.”
felt Ian shrug his shoulder beneath her head and frowned in the
ye really think after near twenty years she’d come back just for
A marriage is no’ a small thing Janet! The lass thought him dead!”
sniffed. Ian kissed her head gently and wrapped his arm more securely
around her, squeezing her against his side.
she’s still hear after the chaos of Edinburgh.”
that could have been avoided had she no’ just shown up.”
wasna Claire that set the fire. That was your son.”
grunted and Ian felt the curve of her cheek rise against his chest in
a small smile.
is it when they do something reckless they’re my
it is the Fraser in them that drives them to it.”
smiled, the little exchange a familiar pattern between them for the
past twenty-five years since wee Jamie streaked naked into the
parlour at two years old and proceeded to regale Ian and his guests
with a very energetic dance before Jenny caught up to him and was
able to carry him out again.
ken ye love Jamie dearly, I do too, but he has lived a verra
unconventional life. It’s no’ surprising that Claire couldna find
word o’ him. He’s spent most o’ his life an outlaw of one kind
or another, he’s never settled …”
it didna help that he marrit an uncanny Sassenach shrew…”
clucked his tongue against his teeth impatiently
I hardly marrit a timid mouse, did I?”
loves her, Janet. It is as simple as that. He loves her as deeply as
I love you and let me tell ye, that is no shallow depth.”
heard a heavy exhalation of breath and grinned to himself, picturing
the pinch of his wife’s nostrils and the narrowing of her beautiful
bright blue eyes as she decided whether to be mollified or not.
Weel that is another matter.”
admitted and sighed
them be for a while before ye bring it up, Jen. It’s been twenty
years, they deserve a few days of peace at least.”
pursed her lips but was spared from answering by the sudden growl of
ye hungry, ghraidh?”
a wee bit. I could scarcely eat at dinner.”
get ye something.”
patted his chest and sat up, reaching for her robe.
rolled over and caught her hand, drawing to his lips and lightly
kissing the delicate knuckles before rolling onto his back and
could hear someone in the pantry and closed her eyes, praying it
wouldn’t be Claire. She didn’t wish to bump into her errant
sister in-law, especially not in the quiet, dead of night when any
chance meeting is shrouded in a delicate sort of intimacy, but it was
Jenny’s home and Jenny’s food and she was damned if she would
hide on the stairs like a child up past bedtime waiting for Claire to
finish her rummaging.
her chin defiantly, Jenny continued down the stairs. As she got
closer she could hear a low, tuneless humming and the tension left
her shoulders; it was Jamie.
seldom hummed, it was a sort of odd vibration in his throat that came
with intense happiness and was not something he was particularly
aware of doing. All the same, he fell silent at the sound of padding
footsteps approaching and turned to the door, expecting Claire to
come in. It was so strange but in the few days since she had been
back, Jamie realised he had already come to expect her presence. He
had woken in the night unsurprised to find her beside him and when
she ran her hands through his hair as he sat at the table that
evening, her touch didn’t surprise him. When their eyes met during
conversation it did not feel unusual. It felt natural.
twenty years he had lived with the ache of her absence and yet he had
adjusted to her presence with such ease, like a flower struggling to
survive in the shade, suddenly exposed to the brilliance of a sunny
day; he absorbed the rich joy of her being there without hesitation
an appetite as well did ye, Sass … oh!”
broke off, blushing slightly as Jenny stepped into the pantry beside
thought ye were Claire.”
I daresay she’ll sleep until noon, the journey she must have had.”
cocked an eyebrow at his sister but Jenny was keeping her eyes
resolutely on the bread knife she had picked up and the loaf she was
always been a fairly early riser.”
said evenly, watching Jenny carefully.
she? Aye, well I wouldna ken.”
face was carefully blank but her tone was clear enough and Jamie’s
blush deepened, though not with embarrassment
ye a thing to say, Janet?”
than one, James, but it can keep.”
retorted and Jamie closed his eyes striving for patience. It was a
shock after all, Claire returning after so long and he reasoned that
Jenny might feel a little put out, even with prior warning from Ian.
bheachd cudromach gu mor rium, piuthar.”*
said softly, the language of their childhood easy on his tongue.
agaibh sonas cuisean gu mor rium, brathair.”**
replied, as she
finished buttering the bread and
to look up at him
ye ken happiness can
a straight forward thing here. Does Claire know about …”
jerked forward reflexively, his
fingers nearly covering Jenny’s lips but not quite touching her,
his eyes wide with panic.
speak that name here.”
whispered, almost pleading.
canna ignore it, Jamie.”
know but …”
broke off suddenly, stepping back and hastily closing the door,
shutting them into the tight space of the pantry.
canna tell her yet, she’s been through so much to get back to me…”
more reason why ye owe her the truth then. If she loves ye, she will
snorted and shook his head
ye understand such a thing?”
twenty years and no word? Aye, I would! What
would she have had ye do?”
snapped, though she kept her voice to a low whisper.
of this is Claire’s fault, Jenny. She left because I made her go. I
meant to die at Culloden.”
spread his hands helplessly a gesture of the
of man against
the twists and turns of life.
ye dinna tell Claire, I will. Or I will send for your other wife to
come and deal with this.”
said, watching her brother with a hard gaze that he recognised as
that of their father, strong and certain in her conviction and he
knew that his temper would not sway her.
ye wish me to beg ye, I will. I have no right to your silence but I
will ask it of ye anyway. Just give me a day to find a way to tell
Claire the truth and I will do it. She deserves to hear it from me
directly and make her decision accordingly.”
ye think she’ll leave ye when she finds out?”
demanded and Jamie shrugged but the strain of his fear was evident in
dinna ken, but coward that I am, I canna bear to find out yet, no’
just yet. Please Jenny, do not say anything.”
times had placed many strains on the siblings relationship but as
they stood in the little candlelit pantry, the years fell away and
all the distances and barriers slipped to nothingness leaving only
the core of their shared love and family ties behind. Sighing
bit her lip and lifted a hand to cup her brother’s cheek.
can remember a time that I had to stoop to touch ye so.”
smiled gently, tracing her thumb over the high arc of his cheekbones
deserve happiness Jamie, stability and a good home. Ye can have that
here, ken? But with Claire …”
is my home, Jenny. She
always has been.”
interrupted, taking her hand and holding it lightly in his own. Jenny
opened her mouth to say more but closed it again. She knew that what
he said was true, that in all the years since Culloden her brother
had been living a rootless, joyless existence as his soul pined for
it’s twin. She had thought … had hoped … that Laoghaire might
plug the hole left in him by Claire’s loss but if anything, the
marriage had only chafed at Jamie’s grief. And
now Claire was back and Jamie had everything he had ever wanted.
Could she really begrudge him that?
she sighed and nodded.
I ken she is. But for all she is your home, you are a verra large
part of mine and I ken that ye willna stay here in Scotland if Claire
stays and I might never see ye again if ye leave.”
dabbed the sleeve of her robe beneath her eyes and sniffed
have nearly lost ye so many times, I dinna want to lose ye for good.”
murmured softly, enfolding his sister in his arms, bowing over until
his cheek rested on the smooth black curls of her hair.
willna lose me, whether I live at Lallybroch or on the moon it doesna
alter what is between us.”
ken … and I do want ye to be happy, truly.”
know that. I owe ye so much Jenny, ye have been as much a mother to
me as ye have a sister and I dinna
think that I have ever
ye for it.”
dinna have to thank me!”
I do. Thank ye Janet,
stepped back and took a deep steadying breath.
you’re welcome. I won’t send word to Laoghaire, but she’ll find
out soon enough and ye’d do better to have told Claire the truth
before she comes knocking.”
nodded. They stood in silence for a few moments, each of them lost to
their own thoughts. The old house was still and quiet around them,
the silent echo of the years reverberating in the shadows and nooks,
lifetimes of secrets and shared moments kept safe within its stone
ye happy, brathair?”
than I ever thought to be again. My
heart feels swelled to bursting and sometimes I look at her, and I
feel that I canna breathe for joy.”
smiled almost shyly and Jenny breathed
a small sigh of either relief or resignation, Jamie couldn’t tell.
hope so. I know I am not the same man that she wed, but God willing
she might have found
something to love about the man I am now.”
shrugged and Jenny nodded in understanding
mo luaidh. I dinna
she kissed Jamie’s cheek and picked up Ian’s snack
bheachd cudromach gu mor rium, piuthar.”* - Your opinion matters greatly to me, sister.
agaibh sonas cuisean gu mor rium, brathair.”** - And your happiness matters greatly to me, brother.
Only one part left after this and then the Epilogue (and possibly other little snippets as the muse and prompts strike). - Mod Lenny
“I know where we are,” Frank exclaimed suddenly, sitting up straighter behind Claire on the horse.
She looked around, her pulse quickening with fear. They should still be at least a few hours away from the stones; it was too soon.
Then she too recognized the rock formation in the distance.
“Cocknammon Rock,” she said with a smile.
“You remember then?” There was something hopeful in Frank’s voice but Claire was distracted.
“Of course I do. You told me about the British patrols and when we passed this way on our journey to Leoch I warned Jamie about it,” she explained. “He alerted the others and then dumped me off the horse so I’d be safe out of the way while he and the others surprised the soldiers. I tried to get away back to the stones but he found me again before I got very far.”
She remembered how he’d slipped easily down from his horse and crossed to block her way, still covered in blood and dirt from the skirmish and making no hint as to the injuries he’d suffered. She smiled again. The idiot might’ve died if she hadn’t been there when it was his turn to fall off the horse.
“I see,” Frank said from behind her, his tone drastically different from the moment before.
Claire found herself annoyed with him but held her tongue. Like Murtagh had said that evening by the fire, she couldn’t help how she felt. And Frank certainly wasn’t making things easier.
If Murtagh heard the exchange he didn’t say anything about it, only let them know, “It’ll no be much longer. We can either stop for another night so ye dinna arrive where ye’re goin’ in the dark or ye can go through just afore sundown.”
“Tonight,” Frank said quickly. “The sooner we get home, the better.”
“Will it really be better to walk all the way to Inverness in the dark when we’ve been riding all day?” Claire challenged. “Or perhaps we’ll just be struck by a passing motorist. I think we should take advantage of having someone here to help keep watch while we get some rest.”
“What exactly is it that you’re waiting for?” Frank asked under his breath. “Do you think he’ll come after you? He knows his place in this, that you’re married to me, that you’re my wife. He knows you’ll be better off with me.”
“And what makes you so sure about what Jamie thinks?” Claire countered.
“He told me as much himself.”
That caused Claire’s breathing to catch and her chest to seize painfully.
“You two talked about me?” There was an accusation in her voice but regarding what, she wasn’t sure.
“It isn’t as though we have much else in common.” Frank’s tone hadn’t completely softened but it wasn’t as openly antagonistic either. “You did say he was your friend. He wants what’s best for you and that’s for you to come home.”
Claire could completely believe that Jamie had said those things to Frank; he had said similar thing to her. But hearing Frank say them… it changed them, somehow. It made her want to argue, to point out all the reasons she had to stay… but really, there weren’t many reasons for her to stay… just Jamie.
They passed back into silence as they rode the rest of the way finally spotting the hill in the distance as the sun set behind it. She recalled hiding with Frank near the summit of that hill and glimpsing the sun through the crack in the stone as it rose while the local druids danced. She saw the sun again through that crack but with the world turned around and the sun peeking through on its descent, shrouding the world in shadows rather than bathing it in light.
“I’m too tired to face going through that tonight, Frank,” Claire pleaded. “I’m hungry and I want to sleep.”
He sighed while Murtagh pointedly stayed out of the conversation.
“Very well. You’re right; we don’t know how long we’ll have to walk before a car stops and it’ll be safer if they can see us properly when they do,” Frank conceded.
“There’s a wee cottage near here,” Murtagh remarked now that a decision had been made. “It was abandoned last I knew. Might be a sight more comfortable than sleeping in the open.” He looked to Claire who nodded then he turned his horse to one side and led the way.
They set up their final camp in silence and quickly turned in for the night.
Claire lay next to Frank but her mind sought Jamie and refused to quiet. Was she really contemplating staying? How could she even think of doing something like that to Frank? All of it was insane. To think of everything she would have to give up in order to stay––the friends she’d made during the war, the conveniences of modernity, the rights and privileges she had taken for granted…
And what would she get in return? Jamie was an outlaw and since breaking Frank out of Fort William, she almost certainly was too. On top of that she was a woman and English and, as Jamie had told her once, that wasn’t a pretty thing to be in the Highlands of Scotland.
But she would have Jamie. He knew the truth now, about who and what she was; he knew the truth and believed her. She could be herself with him, talk about what life was like in the twentieth century; she could tell him about what lay…
Her heart began to pound and fear gripped her.
Culloden. The Jacobite Rising was just two years away. Would she be able to live with herself if she left Jamie behind knowing how likely it was that he would end up on that disastrous battlefield? If she returned to the future and failed to find out what happened to Jamie––or worse, that he had died in battle…
Murtagh. Whatever she ultimately decided to do with herself, she would be sure to warn Murtagh. If anyone had a hope of keeping Jamie from getting involved in the Rising, it was his godfather.
But she wanted to be sure. And the only way to do that was to stay. So why was she so scared to make up her mind?
She didn’t know how Jamie felt about her. She had her suspicions––she knew he liked her well enough––but he hadn’t ever said anything to her that would suggest…
Despite yearning for rest, Claire got no sleep that night, rising with the sun and staring at the hilltop where her fate would be decided once and for all.
“Are ye ready to go back then?” Murtagh’s quiet voice came up behind her.
She peered through the door to where Frank was only beginning to stir on the floor.
“If anything I’m more confused about what I ought to do than I was yesterday or the day before that or the day before that,” Claire lamented.
“Ye’ll do what ye must when the time comes,” Murtagh assured her. “And then ye’ll pray for the health and happiness of the one ye leave wi’out ye. Cannae do more’n that.”
“There is something I would tell you before we go,” Claire began solemnly. “It’s about… it’s about something that’s going to happen.”
Murtagh’s brow furrowed suspiciously.
“You know that there are always rumors of King James returning and taking back his throne?”
“D’ye mean to say he will?”
There was surprise and hope in the man’s face and Claire’s heart sank as she shook her head.
“His son, Prince Charles, will try in two years’ time… but it will end in disaster. You have to promise me that you’ll keep Jamie from getting involved in it; keep him away from Culloden.”
Confusion returned to Murtagh’s expression.
“When ye say,’disaster,’ ye mean the battle’s lost.”
“It’s more than just that though. The Highlanders will be severely punished in their defeat,” Claire explained as best she could.
“The Clans will end as you know them,” Frank chimed in from the doorway, his fingers tucking the ragged ends of his bandages in where they’d come loose in sleep. “Your language, your tartans––both will be outlawed. There will be raids throughout the highlands by the military––made worse by famine.”
Claire let Frank continue filling in the details that she recalled so little about, absorbing them anew herself. He couldn’t have been more precise if he’d prepared a proper lecture with notes. And Murtagh stood there listening and nodding, his mind already sorting and storing what he would need to know most, discarding the details that he could afford to forget.
Would telling a single Scotsman be enough to change the course of history? Probably not. But it might be enough to save Jamie––to save some of those at Leoch, perhaps, as well.
“Thank ye,” Murtagh said when Frank was through. He extended his hand for Frank but then flushed as he saw Frank glance at his bandages again and hesitate before shaking Murtagh’s hand gingerly.
“I don’t know what use you’ll be able to put it to,” Frank admitted. “But it seems a fair exchange for the services you’ve rendered Claire and I.”
“Fair exchange,” Murtagh murmured with a nod then turned to Claire. “Ye ken where ye’re goin’ from here, I take it.”
“Yes, thank you.” She stepped forward and surprised Murtagh with a hug. “Please, keep him safe,” she whispered.
Murtagh didn’t acknowledge what she’d said, just nodded farewell to her as she and Frank began the climb up the hill.
“Has it really only been two weeks?” Frank muttered, picking his way up carefully.
“For you it has,” Claire reminded him.
“Well, I am ready for the nightmare to be over,” he said with confidence, taking Claire’s hand loosely in his and guiding her to the stone.
She stopped when they were still a few feet away, her hand slipping from his easily.
“You don’t need to be scared,” he reassured her. “I remember how terrible it was but we just have to do this and it will all be over, once and for all.”
She was shaking her head slowly, tears in her eyes.
He took her hand again and squeezed it as hard as he was able. It was enough for her gold ring to dig uncomfortably into her finger.
“Claire… Just… look at me, all right. Keep your eyes on me. We’ll do this together.”
His eyes were brown; he had dirt on his cheek from where he’d slept with it pressed to the dirt floor of the cabin; he needed a haircut and a shave; there was a sheen of sweat on his face and redness in his eyes; his lips were chapped and he looked desperate and afraid.
She raised her free hand the way he had his other hand raised, reaching for the stone.
“On three,” he instructed. “One… two… th––”
“I’m sorry,” Claire said quickly as Frank’s hand went forward. She pulled her hand from his as he held tight and struggled to pull her forward with him.
And then she fell.
She was on the ground, her head spinning… and Frank was gone.
I am having SO SO much fun with this AU. It’s crazy. And all of your responses to it have been so encouraging. I can’t wait to see where this goes! As always, my amazing partners in crime @diversemediums and @outlandishchridhe are incredible! DM asks so many important questions that I usually don’t have the answers to. But we work it out!! I love all your theories and hope you all love this chapter!
The drive home for Claire was quiet and slow. She took her time, hardly paying attention to where she was actually going. All she could think of was the conflict Jamie had had. While he’d said repeatedly that he didn’t want to see her again, she was sure it wasn’t true. Not after he’d given her that book. That was a family treasure, something generations of Frasers had used to document their history. Every birth, every death, and every story worth noting in between. He knew she would appreciate and take care of it because of her uncle, but was that the only reason he’d given it to her?
When the road began to blur, Claire pulled over onto the side of the road and fought to control herself. A strange ache began to pulse in her chest, something she hadn’t felt in a very long time. She thought about never seeing Jamie again, never hearing his voice, never seeing his smile. She thought about those hours she’d spent sharing his hospital bed, how content she’d been in those moments. He was right, she still had Frank and her work, even Geillis if she was honest, but in the light of Jamie’s presence in her life, they didn’t feel like enough. She just couldn’t lose him.
Was it possible to love someone you hardly knew? To know, deep down in your soul, that life without that person wasn’t a life worth having?
“It doesn’t matter,” she said to herself, rubbing the tears out of her eyes. “It doesn’t bloody matter.”
Before she did anything else, Claire drove home to deposit the book and clean herself up. After cleaning her face, she stood in front of her mirror, looking into her own eyes.
“It’s time,” she said to herself, thinking of Frank.
They’d lived a comfortable life together, but that wasn’t enough anymore. No matter what happened with Jamie, whether she found him or not, she had something she needed to do.
“I have to tell him.”
Back in her car, she pulled onto the road and drove with purpose to Frank’s flat.
He was home, as she knew he would be. With an early class the next morning, he rarely went out late. For a moment, she thought it might be too hard for her to end things with Frank. Then she compared the thought of never seeing Frank again to never seeing Jamie and she knew the truth. Despite what might happen with Jamie, Frank simply was not her match.
“Claire?” Frank asked, opening his door. “Are you alright?”
“No, actually,” she replied, awkwardly wringing her hands together. “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
“Of course, come in.”
Carefully dodging his greeting kiss, she walked in and sat on his couch. He raised an eyebrow but sat down beside her, making sure to leave space between them.
“What’s wrong, Claire?”
“Frank, I… I’m not sure how to say this, so I suppose I’ll just say it. I think we should see other people.”
He blinked, brows lifting in surprise.
“What? You want to end things between us?”
“Can you tell me why? I think you owe me that much.”
She nodded, knowing she did owe him a real explanation.
“It isn’t that you’re a bad man or that you did anything wrong.”
“Is there… someone else?” he asked delicately.
“I’ve never been unfaithful to you,” she assured him. “Not once. But… It isn’t fair to you. You’re a good man, Frank.”
He nodded slowly, looking down at his hands.
“Just not the one for you.”
Claire let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and shook her head slowly.
“I’m afraid not.”
When he finally met her eyes again, she saw the sadness. But this was for the best, for both of them.
“I’m sorry, Frank.”
Nodding again, he stood and walked to the table where his keys sat. He picked them up and, seeing what he was doing, Claire fished her own keys out of her purse. After a moment he returned to her, handing over his copy of the key to her flat. She held his out for him to take, grateful that their parting had been amicable. Their relationship may not have been True Love, but at least there had been a foundation of mutual respect.
She let herself out, feeling a strange sense of freedom. In her car once more, she thought about her options. Perhaps Jamie didn’t feel about her the way she felt about him. Even so, she had to tell him that she’d started to feel something, even if she didn’t know just what that was. Rather than go home, she drove to Jamie’s flat.
When she arrived, she’d half expected Jamie to be waiting at the door. A psychic was supposed to know the future, and he’d seemed to always know when she’d be popping by for a visit. But this time, he didn’t answer the door. Neither did Murtagh. She turned the knob and it swung open on silent hinges and her heart sank.
Furniture was still scattered in the rooms, but the personal items were gone: Murtagh’s tea set, the photos on the walls, the collections of books. It wasn’t possible. They couldn’t have disappeared that quickly, could they?
“Jamie?” she called, knowing full well the entire building was empty. “Murtagh? It’s Claire. Claire Beauchamp?”
Her heart started beating again, surging with agony. The last time she’d seen his face couldn’t be the last time. Charging through the flat, she searched every room. Eventually, she would have to accept that Jamie was gone.
“No,” she said, half to herself, half to the missing Fraser men. “If he’d meant what he said, he wouldn’t have given me that bloody book. That’s not how you give closure.”
Digging the cell phone from her pocket, she dialed his number. All she got in return was a recorded message saying the number had been disconnected. Closing her eyes, Claire tried to calm her rising panic. Two men couldn’t just vanish at the drop of a hat. The sort of preparations Murtagh had set up here took time, and there was no way he’d keep two flats. That meant they’d have to hide out somewhere until a new place could be arranged.
But if the military hadn’t been able to find him, what hope did she have? Then it dawned on her. She had something the military didn’t have. Information. She had the full Fraser clan history, specifically Jamie’s story. Murtagh had told her Jamie’s sister Jenny was still alive, living with her husband at…
Desperate to recall the name of the place, Claire paced up and down the hall. Broch. It had had broch in the name. But what was it? Half of Scotland had ‘broch’ in the name somewhere.
“Lallybroch!” she yelped suddenly, the name flashing through her mind. “Now where the hell is Lallybroch?”
Determined to reach the end of this mystery, Claire drove home with the intent to do research. Geillis was home, painting her toenails with a deep emerald color.
“Hello there,” she said sweetly before blowing on the wet paint. “And where have you been all afternoon?”
She’d been lying to Geillis for so long about Jamie to help keep him safe, but what was she supposed to say now?
“I, um… Well, I broke things off with Frank.”
“Thank GOD! I thought you’d be stuck with him forever! Oh! We should go out to the pub tonight!”
Claire’s eyes rolled hard.
“No, Geillis. I’m not going out ‘hunting’ tonight. I have some things I need to do.”
Eyes the same color as the nailpolish watched Claire disappear into her room. Pulling her laptop out of it’s bag, Claire opened up Google and started typing. She didn’t care if it took her all night. She would find Lallybroch.
When all variations on ‘Lallybroch’ didn’t turn up very much information, Claire decided to try calling one of the tourism companies in Scotland.
“Hello, thank ye for calling Heart of Scotland Tours. My name is Cynthia, how can I help ye?”
“Hello Cynthia. I’m trying to find a place in Scotland, but I’m afraid my internet searching hasn’t been very fruitful. I’m not looking to book a tour, but I’m hoping you can help me.”
Claire heard a few clicks on a keyboard.
“Och of course! What is it ye’re lookin’ for then, Claire?”
“The only name I have is a place called Lallybroch. I don’t know more than that.”
She knew the Fraser family had been attached to Lallybroch for generations, but Claire was reluctant to give that information up.
“Oh aye! That estate is up near Broch Morda, ken? It’s a verra old place, but I’m afraid they dinna allow tours of the place. I’ve tried to talk them into it, but they willna allow it. It has so much history, it would be a lovely place to have tours, but…”
“Broch… Morda,” Claire said quietly, scribbling the name down on a piece of paper. “Thank you very much, Cynthia.”
“Aye, anytime lass.”
Claire hung up and began searching for Broch Morda.
Dougal turned off the radio in his car. So that was where the lad had run. Finally, his patience was being rewarded.
Claire went to work the next day, desperate for distraction. Despite everything in her personal life breaking into chaos, work was the one thing she could count on to be consistent. Well… sort of.
“Claire, I need your help in room 7 please!”
Jogging down the hall, she pushed into the room and got to work helping Joe Abernathy. They worked side by side like a well oiled machine. With their job done and their patient breathing easily, Joe smiled at her.
“Wanna grab a cup of coffee, LJ?”
But she didn’t hear him. Her mind was filled with images of Lallybroch, the little red pin on the map on her computer screen.
“What’s up, Lady Jane,” Joe asked again, nudging her shoulder.
“I don’t know what to do,” she breathed.
Steering her to the break room, he sat her down and put a cup of coffee in front of her.
“What to do about what?” he asked softly.
She stared down at the dark liquid. One finger traced the rim of the cup over and over, her mind drifting.
Jamie had said he didn’t want to see her ever again. But then he’d given her the Fraser history book. His actions and his words were in conflict.
“Claire, if you don’t tell me what’s got steam comin’ out your ears, I’m gonna have to dump that coffee in your lap.”
“Joe, what if I’ve made a mistake? What if-”
“Start at the beginning, LJ, or this won’t make a lick of sense.”
So she did, telling him as much as she dared about Jamie. Joe slammed his empty coffee cup down on the table when she finished with the standing stones.
“That bastard had the balls to say that to you?”
“What if he was trying to protect me? Doing what he thought was right?”
“What if he was? Does that change anything?”
Did it? She didn’t know how to answer him.
“Do you know where he is?”
“No. I went back to his flat but it was empty.”
“Here’s the important question. Do you want to find him again? Or just leave things as they are?”
When she’d thought about it, she knew she had to see Jamie again. Living without him was too painful to bear. She’d done all the research to find Lallybroch, the only connection to Jamie she had left, save the book. Then again…
Too many people that she’d loved had been taken from her. Those holes in her heart would never heal, not fully. To admit to herself that she’d developed feelings for Jamie opened her up to that kind of pain again. She wasn’t sure she could survive it another time.
“Is it even worth it, Joe?”
“You didn’t know me before I married Gail,” he said, smiling at the thought of his wife. “But I was a bit like you, gunshy. I wouldn’t trade her for the world, or any of the experiences we’ve had. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth the risk.”
Looking up at him, she met his warm brown eyes.
“So… I should find him?”
“I can’t answer that for you, LJ. But I think you already know what you want.”
A moment ago, she’d felt on the verge of crying, her throat feeling tight. Now, she had the urge to leap to her feet and whoop.
“Gail’s a lucky woman,” she said, finally taking a sip of her coffee.
“That she is. And it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve seen that spark in your eye. You go and get him, Lady Jane.”
Trying to keep the smile from her lips, she continued drinking her coffee.
When Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser had told Jamie that he had a ‘temporary place for us to hide out’, Jamie hadn’t thought it was the cave on the edge of the Lallybroch property. Yet here he was, sitting on a mat in the recesses of the earth.
Having no one to talk to, nothing to distract him, his mind wandered. The last thing he wanted was to let it go free, but he had little choice. He knew what he would see when he closed his eyes - the look on Claire’s face when he’d told her he didn’t want to see her anymore. Christ, that had felt like tearing out his own heart.
If he focused hard enough, he could still feel her body molded against his, warm and soft in all the right places. Before he knew it, tears were sliding down his cheeks.
“Are ye decent?”
Jamie jumped, not expecting any visitors in his isolation.
Then his older sister Jenny appeared from the hidden opening of the cave. This was the first time he’d seen her in over two years and she looked happy.
“God, Jenny,” he choked out before falling into her arms and hugging her tight.
She was crying too, he could feel the moisture soaking through his shirt, but he wouldn’t let go.
“I could hear ye thinkin’ halfway down the hill,” she whispered. “Jamie, what have ye done now?”
“I had to, Jenny. I couldna let her come to harm.”
He’d learned a long time ago how to have a half conversation with her. With a Gift like hers, he almost didn’t need to speak at all, but he couldn’t hear thoughts like she could. Speaking was still at least a little necessary.
“Aye, I ken, brother. Come and tell me about her, aye?”
“Jenny, ye kent what I was thinking before ye even got in here.”
She shrugged and sat down on the mat he’d gotten up from.
“Aye, that’s true. But I like to hear ye talk. It’s been so long.”
Reluctantly, he eased himself down beside her. Jenny wasn’t as big as he was, she’d taken after their father more. She gave him a few moments to collect himself before nudging him in the side, right where he was ticklish.
“Her name is Claire Beauchamp,” he started.
By the time he’d finished, she’d gotten the whole story out of him, even if he hadn’t spoken all of it out loud. With her, he didn’t have to be anything other than who he was. Jenny never expected anything from him but the truth, and she always stood by his side. He’d missed her terribly in the last two years.
“I ken why ye felt ye had to, Jamie, but… Ye need her Gift.”
“Aye, I ken. But I canna… Jenny, would ye want Ian to stay wi’ ye because he feared ye’d die otherwise? That’s what it would be if I asked Claire to say and be a healer for me. I canna ask that of her.”
Jenny sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. It was something she’d done since he’d gotten taller than her and she continued to do it whenever he was back.
“I have to ask,” she said quietly.
“No. I still canna see yours or Ian’s futures. Or any bairns ye might have.”
“I thought not. It’s nice at the house, wi’ just him. We can talk and no’ hide anything. I dinna have to pretend that I didna ken the punchline of his jokes because I truly dinna ken. It’s damned annoying, sometimes.”
“Ian’s no’ that funny.”
“Aye, he isna. But he likes when I laugh at his jokes. And I like when he smiles.”
“I’m happy for ye, Jenny. He’s a good man for ye. I’m glad ye have someone here to watch ye since I canna do it. I feel better when I ken you’re safe.”
Jenny shot him a flat look and smacked the back of his head.
“Oh, I can fend for myself. Dinna forget that, brother,” she said with a familiar edge.
“That ye can. But it’s nice no’ to have to go it alone, aye?”
She nodded and sighed.
“Aye, it is. I should get back to him or he’ll be worriet sick. Murtagh wasna sure how long it would take before he could get ye moved somewhere else. I’m sorry Jamie. I’ll try to come up again tomorrow night and make sure ye dinna need anything.”
“Thank ye, Jenny. I ken this is dangerous for ye as well. Tell Ian I said thanks.”
“Aye, I will. I’ll make sure to leave food for ye in the kitchen. If ye come down to the house and ye need to hide quick, remember the priest’s hole. I’ll no’ have my only brother carted off never to be seen again.”
Jamie hugged her again, tightly.
Then Jenny got up and disappeared through the cave entrance. Talking with her about Claire had helped ease his mind a little, but his chest still felt like it had a hole in it. When his eyes closed, he almost began drawing on his power to See Claire, just once more. No. He had to let her go, let her be with Frank and forget about him. Maybe someday that thought wouldn’t hurt so much.
“No women. Do ye hear me? No escorts, waitresses, exotic dancers,
prostitutes, strippers…in short, Ian, if they’ve titties, I don’t want them
there. Ye ken?”
“Jamie. Ye ken I would never – “
“Bollocks, Ian. I ken ye would! Just to watch me ears go scarlet.”
Poker. And whisky.
So much whisky.
had massive amounts of food waiting, and Jamie had a crate of the Fraser’s best
sent over from the Distillery. Truth be
told he was looking forward to a night with the lads. One week before he was no longer a
bachelor. One week until he’d be a
married man. Claire’s husband. Of all the things he was looking forward to,
the band on his finger was the most.
was tough. He had a good poker face
anyway, and the beard made it even harder to read. He never bet heavily either, so it was tough
to know if he had a good hand or not.
Ian was shite at cards. His
uncles were ruthless. They’d go all in
just to cripple you for the fun of it.
Willie was fast becoming one of the lads and it made Jamie happy to know
the loyal young man was fitting in and finding his way in the family business. Rupert was pretty good, too. He
liked to pretend every hand he had was crap, and then he’d rob you blind with a
were well into their cups by the time talk turned to the upcoming nuptials.
bonny, Jamie, I’ll give ye that,” Dougal said as he raised two fingers and
discarded. “Can’t say the same of my own
Maura, God love her. Even a blind man
would say she wasna bonny.”
spit his drink across the table.
who could hold his liquor better than all of them, just shook his head.
drained the last of his whisky and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand,
“Aye, she’s bonny, yer Claire. Although,
I like a hen with a bit o’ meat on her.”
closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, “I can think of worse things,
then holdin’ on to that pair o’ sweet kakin’…”
“ENOUGH!” Jamie roared.
my brother, Jamie.” Colum’s voice soothed a room that went completely
still. “I wish there was a way to muzzle
the idiot.” He pointed a finger at
Dougal. “Maura deserves better than you,
aye, aye….” Dougal slapped his cards
face down, stood and stumbled to the table for some food.
do ye like bessst about Claire, Jamie?”
Willie slurred, eyes glazed over in drink.
whose eyes were somewhat unfocused himself, swayed a little. “Her arse.”
room exploded into laughter.
turned a shade of pink. “I meant her
Weel. She’s fun. And she can talk for hours about anything and
everything. She makes ye feel like ye’ve
known her forever. She’s a way about her
that calms me to my soul.” Jamie looked
off into the distance for a minute, then shook his pickled brain. He clapped a hand on Willie’s shoulder and
said, “But she’s got a damn fine ass, man.
I mean, Christ, gives me a terrible cockstand just to think of it.” Chuckles from the older men as Willie started
to squirm, “And she’s got this pair of hot pink knickers that….”
man froze in place.
slowly turned around.
“Jenny. Hey.” He waved awkwardly at his sister.
dare ye talk about yer future wife like some common hoor.” She looked about the room. What a bunch of drunkards. Time to shut this down.
it. Show’s over lads.” She walked over to the bar, locked up the
liquor and gathered the glasses. She
pointed at her husband. “Show them where
the blankets are,” and with a fist full of tumblers she headed out of the room. “Sleep well, gentlemen,” she called over her shoulder.
turned to his friends with a sloppy wave, “Sleep well, gent…men,” and promptly
stumbled into the back of his wife who’d suddenly stopped. “Oof!
do ye think yer going?” Jenny said,
head lolled to the side, confusion evident.
“To bed with ye, my fair Janet.”
again,” Jenny snorted, and spun on her heels to leave.
sat curled up in the large leather chair by the fireplace, reading.
and Jenny had had a nice night with the children. They all made their own pizzas, and then she
and Jenny gave them baths to get the sauce out of theirs ears and hair and from between
fingers. They played games, and ended
the night with Claire tucking in wee Jamie and Maggie, and reading them both a
planned to let Jamie have the night alone with his friends and family, but
Jenny called to say she would like the company and told Claire to bring an
overnight bag for her and Jamie. “I ken this lot, none of them will be fit to
go home tonight. I’ll not be in stuck in
a house with a bunch of drunks on my own!”
heard the heavy steps in the hall. The door opened, and Jamie came in. He stopped dead at the sight of her and
smiled. His eyes were having trouble
focusing. He staggered to the edge of
the bed and struggled to remove his shoes.
didn’t say or word. Or move to help
him. Foolish prat. He’ll deserve whatever headache he’ll have in
breathed deeply and staggered a couple of steps forward, swaying slightly.
“Are ye a dream, my own? Or real?” he said, eyes narrowed.
decided to stay still, and quiet to see how this played out.
“Tha thu am boireannach bu
bhrèagha a chunnaic mi riamh,” he whispered. “Agus a ‘smaoineachadh, bi thu leamsa a dh'aithghearr.” Claire wouldn’t have been able to move if she tried. Jamie didn’t speak Gaelic often, except to swear. This wasn’t swearing. The low rhythm of his voice sounded like poetry.
“Och! “ Jamie flapped a hand at his vision and scrubbed at his face with both hands. She could hear the rasp of his stubble. “Mo graidh. Ye are real, are ye, no?”
Oh, the temptation to answer.
“Best ye aren’t. After what I admitted tonight.” Jamie attempted three times to pull the tee shirt over his head. “Talkin’ about yer arse like that.”
Claire raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, it’s a damn fine arse, mo graidh. Drives me mad. But I shouldna disrespect –“ his voice muffled for a bit as his face disappeared under the cotton, “-air beulaibh mo theaghlach.”
finally managed to pull the shirt over his head, and tousled his red curls in
the process. He looked like a child
who’d just woken up from a nap.
looked at her again.
“Tha thu taibhse?”
Claire had never heard Jamie speak this much in his native tongue. She had to admit, it turned her on. Big time.
“Your eyes,” Jamie said. He smiled softly, and raised a hand as if trying to touch her cheek. “They’re the colour of our finest whisky, with the sun shining through.”
Jamie stepped backward, trying to find the bed.
It took all of Claire’s strength not to call out for him to watch
himself. As it was he hit the edge of
the bed with the backs of his knees, and flopped over. She almost giggled as he struggled to sit
up. He tried to focus on her again, his
eyes glazed over.
week,” his finger wagged in her direction.
“One week, and I’ll be Mr. James Beauchamp.”
mean, you’ll be Mr. James Beauchamp. No. That doesna sound right.”
placed his index finger against his lips, tapping rhythmically as he tried to
make sense to himself. He tried again, “Mrs.
Claire Beau…no…,” he measured every word.
“Mrs. James Alexander Fraser Mackenzie….no, wait….”
“Fhalbh,” he swore.
And to Claire’s profound amusement, the love of her life promptly passed out.