Chapter 7 of ‘For Love’
OK guys, so this was probably the longest I have spent on a piece for quite a while. I have tried to blend the core pieces/speech from the book with my own imaginings on extra pieces that may have passed between Jamie and Claire and the others on the day. This is still from Jamie’s perspective and his thoughts and feelings.
I would also like to say that I did not look at Outlander whilst writing this chapter, because of that there may be some discrepancies between how I have written events and how they actually occur, but I felt that was important because this is only my take on it and cannot truly compare to DG’s beautiful wedding scene so I did not want it written verbatim.
Thank you so much for reading and please do let me know what you think, good or bad, as this has been a nerve racking chapter to write.
Jamie walked ahead of Claire up the hill toward the kirk, he would have liked to walk behind her, to see her framed against the pale stone of the chapel, but she needed a guide not another onlooker. She had placed her trust in him, fighting back her panic over the church and her memories of her first husband, letting him lead her onwards and he would not desert her.
She had seemed reluctant to leave the horses at the bottom of the hill and Jamie was not sure exactly why, but he had gently led Claire’s mount to the hay with her and tied the beast with the others whilst murmuring softly in Gaelic to both of them. He knew no other language which calmed skittish nerves as well as the Ghaidhlig
His own excitement was now tempered with growing awareness of Claire’s feelings. Though she had tried to conceal her distress after her outburst, it was still written plainly across her face. Jamie knew that marrying him was Claire’s most logical choice, it was part of the reason he had offered to wed her. However he was coming to understand exactly what it was that he had forced upon her with his suggestion. She still grieved for another man and Jamie was pushing his way into her life, a very solid wedge between her past and her future.
Of course his intentions were honourable and the choice sensible but Jamie wondered if perhaps the end did not justify the means when it came to the human heart and he was beginning to suspect that Murtagh had been right about the lass’ feelings toward him.
At the top of the hill Jamie turned toward her and grinned
She snapped a glimmer of fire flashing in her eyes and Jamie sucked in his breath sharply. Beneath his kilt, his body stirred in willing anticipation of letting that wee angry flame scorch him. Claire mistook his breath for offence and waved a hand in apology.
“I’m sorry, I’m fine really.”
She looked toward the church and Jamie saw the small shudder run through her.
“I dinna ken how else ye propose to get away from Jack Randall or out from under the Mackenzie thumb if ye dinna wed me, but if ye ha’ a plan I’ll gladly hear ye out and help if I can.”
Jamie’s heart constricted as she looked him over clearly appraising his offer and considering it.
“I don’t have any plans.”
She said finally and the knot that had begun to tighten in the pit of Jamie’s belly relaxed slightly.
“Thank you for helping me by the way…with my horse…”
“Och! It was no bother Sassenach. Any time ye need help wi’ a mount or a hard ride…”
Jamie snapped his mouth shut as colour flooded his face. Claire cocked an eyebrow at him and smiled slightly, the tension between them sagging under the weight of Jamie’s embarrassment and Claire’s soundless laughter.
“I’ll bear it in mind.”
She said dryly. Jamie had no idea what made him lose control of his tongue so shockingly, he hadn’t been so foolish in front of a lass since Annalise asked him a question one supper and he answered with a mouthful of wine and dribbled half of it onto his chest, then choked and snorted the other half through his nose onto the table in front of her.
“Please forgive me I didna mean any offence to ye Claire.”
Before she could answer Dougal strode forward and all but dragged her toward the church doors
“In we go!”
He looked over his shoulder and smirked at Jamie but Claire, struck by a sudden thought yanked her arm from Dougal’s grip and whirled back to face him.
“Wait … I said bloody WAIT!”
She snapped as Dougal tried to take her arm again.
“I can’t marry you, I don’t even know your real name!”
Jamie tried not to smile at the almost comical way her mouth gaped and bowed low, keeping his eyes locked with hers
“It’s Fraser. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.”
“Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp.”
She gulped and stuck her hand out awkwardly, nearly poking him in the eye as he straightened.
“The pleasure is all mine, Claire.”
Jamie took her hand and shook it, grinning as she matched the strength of his squeeze and boldly pumped his arm up and down.
“If you two are now properly introduced…”
Dougal jerked Claire a little too roughly to his side and it was only Murtagh’s hand on Jamie’s arm that kept him still.
As soon as they were in the out of sight, Jamie closed his eyes and clenched his fists hard at his sides. Had he really just insulted his bride with a careless innuendo and allowed her to be snatched away by his uncle? And that along with expecting her to marry him without even telling her the name she was taking?! Of course she wouldn’t recognise the Fraser plaid! How could she? Poor lass! This might be something to save her life rather than a romantic ceremony but still! Of all the blundering, thoughtless actions he could take …
Murtagh murmured and Jamie cracked an eye open to look down at his Godfather.
“I’m a fool.”
“Sometimes, but mostly ye are alright. Now yer uncle, there is an auld fool.”
Jamie snorted and Murtagh clapped a hand on his back
“He’ll test ye Jamie, but dinna let him away wi’ too much. He’s no’ the sort to respect anything but force.”
“I canna risk a fight wi’ him Murtagh, he’s the Chieftan o’ Clan Mackenzie and my mother’s brother …”
“And an ignorant cretin for all that. Tread lightly bhalaich, but dinna fear to tread at all.”
Jamie nodded, letting the tension leave his shoulders. Dougal was not a problem he could solve in a day and he needed to focus on Claire now.
“Are ye sure ye wish to do this then?”
Murtagh nodded toward the church and furrowed his considerable brows
“Ye ken she was drunk, aye?”
Jamie grinned and nodded
“Och aye, she’s a raging hang over, poor wee thing!”
“Dinna be leading on wi’ all that softness! She represents ye as a man if ye wed her and ye canna be lettin’…”
Jamie held up a hand and shook his head tersely, willing Murtagh to silence
“Dinna fash so! Ye’re like an auld woman!”
“Eh? Ye …”
Murtagh began but Jamie was already striding towards the church doors, drawn to Claire like a moth to a flame.
Murtagh muttered and crossed himself hastily before hurrying after his impetuous godson.
The priest was clearly nervous and was flicking back and forth through the pages of his bible with trembling fingers and Jamie found himself fixing the man with a stare that promised a swift kick in the arse if he didn’t get on with it. Once the good Father had acknowledged that look and hastily turned his fumbling attentions to the matter at hand, Jamie was free to look at his bride and look he did, for he could hardly believe his luck.
*God, How did ye make a woman sae beautiful?*
He thought, unable to tear his gaze from her. Everything she did entranced him, from the gentle blinking of her amber eyes to the slow bobbing of her throat as she repeated the words the priest told her to say. Jamie found himself tracing the sweet curve of her jaw with his eyes and memorising each little detail of her face and actions, storing them in a place within his heart that he had not known of before Claire came into his life.
Jamie said his own vows in a clear, strong voice, hoping that in doing so he might lend Claire some of his own certainty and offer some encouragement.
After the English vows, the priest invited them to kiss. Jamie felt his bottom lip quiver and his palms slick with sweat as he leant down toward his wife. Ah Dhia! His Wife! He closed his eyes, too afraid to look lest Claire cringe away from him. Her mouth was soft and warm and his knees went to jelly as the faint tang of whisky passed between them. He expected Claire to pull away quickly but she pressed into him, her body melting into his, her tongue probing against his lips, seeking. Jamie was vaguely aware of shrieks and applause behind them and smiled against her.
Jamie had never known a kiss to feel like that, but what stuck with him was the sweet wee smile on Claire’s face as they parted. For the first time that day she looked happy and flushed with colour not drawn by wind or painted with whisky, she was simply radiant.
Jamie was still smiling at her as Dougal stepped forward with the dirk and in the second before the knife was pressed to his flesh Jamie realised that no one had told Claire of this custom. The blade stung but he didn’t flinch, didn’t even shift his gaze to the blood welling at the surface of his skin. All his care was for her, all his devotion rested on her and when she shied from the blade with a small grunt of shock, it pained him more than steel ever could. Jamie had known he loved her before that moment but it was the first time he had understood exactly what it meant to love her and it both thrilled and terrified him in equal measure.
Claire stared at the fabric in Dougal’s hands as their wrists were bound together. Jamie pressed the tips of his fingers into the chilled flesh of her arm hoping to reassure her that it was almost done. Her eyes, slightly unfocused, met his and Jamie stared into her for all he was worth, grounding her to him, offering her the little sanctuary he could.
“Just repeat the words as I say them lass.”
He murmured and then raising his voice, recited the blood vow in Gaelic. Claire followed as best she could, her pronunciation clumsy and at times completely wrong, but her voice held firm.
Jamie watched her mouth form the words with all the wonderment of a child seeing the ocean for the first time, the enormity of the promise crashing over him like waves on the shore.
Their wrists were unbound and blotted and they left the church together, stepping out into the sunlight as husband and wife. Jamie held Claire’s right arm in the crook of his left and accepted the congratulations of the men as they made their way back toward the horses.
Jamie felt her weight shift before Claire even realised she was going down. As she fainted, he slipped down to the ground alongside her, cradling her in his arms and positioning her head gently in his lap.
“Ha’ ye killed her already Jamie?”
Angus shouted from further up the path and was met with several guffaws of laughter. Jamie’s own lip quirked but he didn’t answer. Claire’s eyelid fluttered and she looked up at him slowly regaining her awareness.
“That bad is it?”
“I’m sorry I…”
“Hush. Ye just had a wee faint, and little wonder wi’ the heat in the kirk and the shock o’ the vows.”
Claire shuddered against him and Jamie rounded his shoulders, instinctively hunching further over her body.
“That was rather unexpected!”
“Aye, I’m sorry no one thought to warn ye.”
Claire smiled at him again and began to shift herself up. Jamie hated to relinquish his hold on her but carefully helped her to her feet and stepped back.
“I am sorry Jamie, I think it’s only that I haven’t really eaten for a couple of days and I did have rather a lot to drink last night…”
Jamie heard Murtagh snort behind him and shot him a look over his shoulder
“I didna ken ye were hungry.”
Jamie patted his jacket as though hoping to find a bannock concealed in the fabric, his brow creased in worry. He didn’t want to fail his first test as a husband, to provide food for his wife!
“There’ll be food in a saddlebag for sure Sassenach. I’ll see to it that it’s offered to ye.”
Jamie promised, concern still written across his features.
“I’ve a loaf and some cheese; you’re welcome to as much of it as ye please Mrs Fraser.”
Ned piped up. Jamie saw Claire startle slightly at the name but she nodded and thanked Ned and smoothly resumed her place at Jamie’s side.
Gently, Jamie threaded his fingers through hers
“Just in case ye fall, aye?”
“Just in case.”
Claire nodded, squeezing his fingers lightly in gratitude.
It was not the start Jamie would have liked to give them, but his heart rose high in his chest with joy that they had even this, for it was something and he knew well enough that that many great things had been built on a foundation of less.