[dr]OUTLANDER Drabbles. Love at Leoch.
Anon: What if Claire was more aware that Jamie was in love with her at Leoch ?
Thanks for the ask, Anon. I hope this floats your boat. You’re all legends and thanks for all the lovely messages of support and love over the last few weeks. I’ve had some epic wee messages.
Closing her eyes, Claire laid her head in the long grass, letting the distant sound of the children’s laughter wash over her.
The colour flashed before her eyes; a vast ocean of vibrant surf that surged over her, towing her along with the ever flowing tide.
The wind ripped through the field, sending the blades of grass fluttering against the bare skin of her legs as the vision dissipated as quickly as it had risen.
Rolling herself over, Claire laid her ears to the ground, tracking the slight pulse of the ground as the horses nearby rattled the earth.
It was serene; peaceful in the rush of highland life and it was just what Claire needed.
That she’d seen the colour blue was no accident and that thought brought her mind straight back to Mr. MacTavish. Jamie. If his massacred back told one story, his endless sea-blue eyes told another.
She’d noticed him, of course. The way his eyes followed her around the room. The previous evening he’d gotten himself beaten in the great hall and Claire had the distinct feeling it wasn’t wholly to save Laoghaire from the shame of being flogged –as he had told her.
Butterflies soared and flopped in her belly, making her skin prickle with goosebumps at the distant wonderings that spiked in her mind at this new revelation.
As much as he had captivated her, making her seek him out randomly for reasons she hadn’t fully admitted yet, she had enchanted him much more deeply.
“Mistress…?” Rupert called, breaking her train of thought as the broad Scot kicked at the dry ground with the toe of his boot. “It’s about time ye got back now, aye?” he said, no room for argument in his statement.
Pushing herself up, Claire brushed stray pieces of detritus from her skirts and she righted herself. Marching down, she studiously ignored her guard, eager not to have him –or Dougal– rule her every move. Part of her felt rebellious. Throwing her head backwards, she fanned out her loose hair in the breeze as she made it under the portcullis, its large spikes hovering over head as she passed under it.
The scent of the stables, the straw that lay along the path leading up towards the entrance to her rooms holding the scent of the fillies, brought back the image of Jamie to her subconscious and she smiled automatically, his under-appreciated innocence buoying her dulled spirits.
Forgetting herself for just a moment, she allowed herself to bask in the past glances he’d bestowed upon her.
The term brought her up short as she pushed the door to the surgery open and began to make her way down the steep staircase, ever aware of Rupert following closely behind her.
Could he possibly, in such a short time, have developed such deep feeling for her?
It was plausible, of course. She’d seen instances of it during the war. Those couples who’d –in the midst of such painful tragedy and horror– taken one look at the other and fallen under a spell to which they’d gladly succumbed.
Claire knew lust. That *feeling* certainly didn’t elicit the kind of baleful stare that Jamie had given her at the news of her leaving.
Just for a instance, he had seemed despondent. His smile had slipped as she’d cleared away and checked his face for any lasting damage. At the time she hadn’t given it much thought. But now, upon processing every interaction from meeting under the stones at Craigh Na Dunn, the pieces all clicked into place.
Jamie had been the one to track her and bring her back to the Mackenzie party. He had held her close through the ride, ensuring her safety as well as her captivity.
On arrival at Leoch, he had put himself forward as her protector, revealing much more of his history to her than he had to others within the castle walls.
If this was to be believed then even his closeness as she’d nursed his immediate wounds was to be analysed. He *had* come close to kissing her. She hadn’t just imagined that.
Claire’s heart skipped a beat as she tapped her fingers against the small wooden table by the fire, the jagged rhythm of her nails against the coarse wood echoing through the small chamber.
“Jesus…H. Roosevelt Christ!” she muttered under her breath as the full picture immersed before her eyes like a completed puzzle.
He loved her.
Rupert busied himself in the background, perplexed by Claire’s odd behaviour but not brave enough to pester her about it. She was where she was supposed to be and that’s all that mattered to him.
Swallowing back the warmth that crept through her body at the thought of young Mr. Mactavish (whom she knew a lot about, but not his real name) falling in love with her, Claire steadied herself.
No matter what, she concluded, he must not be allowed any opportunity to act upon his feelings.
Placing an apple to one side, Claire gazed into the blazing fire, her mind made up.
She had to escape. Returning to the stones wasn’t simply now just for her benefit, but for Jamie’s too.
Unable to reconcile herself, Claire batted the thoughts away.
He must not be allowed to fall any deeper, she realised, far far too late.
At the back of her mind, buried deep enough for Claire to ignore for the time being, a spark began to burn, its tiny orange pulse expanding outwards.
Whether or not she wanted it, the part of her that had finally succumbed to the knowledge of Jamie’s situation had inadvertently and inextricably linked them together.
As Claire curled under her blankets that night, dedicated to acquiring her freedom once and for all – her heart beating slowly, quietly beneath her rib cage – her unconscious mind reached forward into the not-too-distant future and penetrated her dreams.
Soft hands tugged at her laces, pulling the intricately sewn stomacher from the front of her bodice. As the material dropped, freeing her breasts and exposing them to the cool air of the room, his lips ran damp patterns over her needy skin.
Keening, Claire thrust her chest forward, her fingers tangling in his long red locks.
Taking her nipple into his mouth, Jamie obeyed her lascivious –silent– request, arching his body closer to hers.
“I love you…” she whispered into the dark, her legs falling open as the invisible weight of him slipped between her thighs, his spectre pinning her to the lumpy mattress.