Can Claire and Jamie go camping? I think they need a getaway.... :)
Flood my Mornings: Vermont (i)
Notes from Mod Bonnie
- This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
- See all past installments via Bonnie’s Master List
- Previous installment: Round and Round (A day out at the fair)
Late June, 1951
James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser was an impressive sight at any time of the day or year.
Naked, silhouetted against a bright summer moon; the curve of leg and hip and scar all gilded into sharp edges by the glow of the fire behind him… he was positively primordial, ancient man surveying the vast wilderness.
“God, it’s just…..”
He didn’t finish the sentence, just stood there on the verge of our mountaintop, taking in the sight of the sleeping valley below.
I could have finished the sentence for him, though: …like home.
The Green Mountains of Vermont—or this section of them, anyway— were quite similarly beautiful to those of Scotland. The main difference was the trees, of course: in contrast to the sparse, heathered slopes of Jamie’s birthplace, every inch of these mountains was covered in lush forests that spiced the air with the tangs of evergreen and leaf mold. Still, looking out across the horizon, the ranges had that same rolling and dipping quality, that sense of movement about them that felt so much like the Highlands. One could almost imagine looking down into one of these valleys and seeing the roof of Lallybroch below, enticingly belching smoke from the fires of Mrs. Crook’s promised supper.
—and I supposed that Jamie was doing just that.
I left him to dwell in the serenity of the moment, there at the top of the horizon. My own peace was complete, astonishing in its sensory fullness:
the beauty of the night, of the rolling valley far below,
a warm breeze across my naked skin, the same that swelled the forest into a rustling, shushing chorus,
the afterglow of lovemaking pulsing gently through me, there in our nest of blankets by the fire on the mountaintop,
and Jamie. Always, Jamie.
Tom and Marian had many times this year offered us the use of their mountain cabin in Vermont. Between work schedules, my schooling, pregnancy, and the general hustle and bustle of normal life, we simply hadn’t made the time for such a lavish treat as a holiday away. At last, though, with the academic term over and with the baby due in just over a month, we’d decided that getting away, just the two of us, was just the thing. Lord knew, once a nursing infant was in the mix, it could be quite some time before we could do so again.
Jamie, true to form, had fretted over me for weeks leading up to our departure, trying to call the whole thing off. ‘Sassenach, what if the bairn comes early?’….”There willna be a hospital for miles and miles. What if something happens?’….‘If ye think I can deliver a child, woman, you’re WRONG.’
But at last, he’d had no choice (short of chaining me to the house, that is) but to relent, and the further we drove westward, the higher the elevation rose, the quieter he became. His eyes got wider and wider, the glory of being among mountains soaking into him like sunshine.
After settling our things in the cabin earlier that afternoon (’Rustic,’ the Harpers had warned us)(’Better equipped than any Highland castle,’ Jamie had snorted as we walked in and saw the full kitchen), we’d made a few hasty sandwiches and ventured out for a walk before the light went. The vistas were absolutely spectacular, even more so when the skies were painted with the pinks and scarlets of sunset.
Jamie had built us a fire a few hundred yards from the house, when we got back, just near the overlook, and we’d spent hours snuggled together before it, toasting marshmallows, sipping hot chocolate heated over the coals, laughing and talking and telling stories as the stars brightened overhead.
At last, the quiet and beauty of the night had settled around us, and we’d made love there in the clearing, slowly and sweetly. For a very long time after, we’d lain panting and trembling, cocooned together in perfect calm, no demands on our time save enjoyment of one another.
….and, eventually, pragmatically, those of Jamie’s bladder.
From somewhere in the woods, there came the sound of something large moving about; a deer, I thought, since Jamie was not reaching for an absent knife. He did start, though, the lively night pulling him out of his trance. Assured there was no danger, he turned to me with a slightly-sheepish grin. “Forgive me, mo chridhe, I was lost in fancy.” He began picking his way across the grass back toward the fire. “Feeling alright, Sassenach? All well?”
“Very well,” I promised, “as long as you don’t make me move from this spot.” I burrowed further into the blankets in illustration. “Couldn’t budge for all the tea in China.”
“Dinna fash, lass.” He crouched beside me and provided a very entertaining view as he slid his hands under me, “I’ll carry ye up to bed.”
“No, you won’t,” I said, neatly rolling away. “We’re sleeping out here.”
“Certainly we are,” he laughed, rolling me back, “are not.”
“Why ever not?”
He gave me a look. “Ye think I’m going to let my eight-months-gone wife sleep like an animal on the cold ground?”
“It isn’t cold.” I raised an eyebrow. “And you’d not have given it a second thought, back in Scotland, would you?”
He blinked, then laughed. “Christ, you’re right,” he groaned, putting a knee down and scrubbing a hand over his face. “I’ve become quite the pampered popinjay in only a year, aye?”
“Well, you can earn your tough-as-saddle-leather badge back tonight. Come here,” I wheedled, patting the blankets. “Come keep your lady warm for the night.”
He obliged, coming in to settle spoon-fashion behind me. “My lady,” he murmured, precisely as I breathed, “God, a year…”
We both laughed and exhaled together.
He kissed my neck. “It’s been a wonderful year, mo ghraidh.”
“To think that this time last year…” I shuddered and kissed his hand. “No, it doesn’t do to think of what life was, last June.”
“No,” he agreed, “it doesna.”
He’d been close to starvation on the streets of Boston, scouring the streets and hospitals for any news of me, my whereabouts. I’d been—I’d just been. I’d loved my work, adored Bree; but apart from the promise of seeing her grow up happy and loved….I hadn’t much hope. Now…
“I guess that means this could almost be a wedding anniversary trip, couldn’t it?”
I laughed, surprised. “Well, I did mean the one last year, but I guess we’re pretty close to our first as well. When would it have been? June? Late June?”
“I canna recall the precise date,” he admitted, running his hands up my thigh and onto the huge curve of my belly, “but that seems correct.”
“And our twentieth-century anniversary is the 8th of July…meaning you found me in July….and little wiggleworm, here, should be born in either July or August…” I snuggled back against him and pulled his arm tighter around me, sighing happily. “Good things tend to happen to us in the summertime, don’t they?”
He kissed his way down the curve of my shoulder. “Aye, they certainly do.”
“I’d like the bairns to know a place like this,” he murmured a while later into my neck.
“The cabin?” I had very nearly nodded off in the cozy silence that had intervened. My voice was scratchy and sleepy. “Why is that, love?”
Jamie didn’t immediately answer; and when he did, I was surprised to hear a slight hesitation in his voice, a carefulness in his words that bespoke unease. “Ye ken I love our life, Claire, aye?”
I nodded and squeezed his hand.
“It’s more than I could ever have dreamed of, let alone have hoped to have for myself, for you, and for them.” He pulled me closer with one hand and spread the other absently over my belly. “I’m so grateful,” he whispered with deep feeling, “for the safety; the plenty; our home; having the income to take care of our family in comfort; that you’re able to pursue your profession; that the bairns will be able to pursue theirs, one day, wi’ nothing like birthplace or station to hold them back…. I wouldna trade our life for anything.”
I reached behind to stroke his hip, waiting.
“…But I also canna shake some sense in my heart that—that this is how things are meant to be.”
“Naked in the woods?” I teased gently.
“Aye,” he laughed, just what I’d wanted, his unease evaporating in a moment, “exactly so.” He ran his hand across my legs, coming up to cup my breast. “Nothing but my brown-haired lass, naked in my arms…” An intake of breath hissed gently from us in unison as we felt the sudden shifting within me. “And new life, promised to us….”
We lay still, his hand over mine as we gloried in feeling little Ian moving about. I wondered if he was dreaming.
That they may be sweet, little love.
“But I suppose I meant, this out-of-door life,” Jamie said at last. “Wild, living things. Animals. Forests and burns. Hunting. Sleeping under the stars, among the hea—among the trees and the grasses. Tracking and tending the land. Mountains,” he said, with quiet intensity. “I want them to know mountains.”
I pulled him as close as I could. “We will make this part of our life, Jamie, if you wish it.”
“We’ll come on holiday with them as often as we can, just like this. And, eventually—Well, it can’t be all the time, particularly not once I’ve started medical training; but as soon as we can afford it, maybe we’ll have a second home somewhere wild, somewhere like this.”
“A second home?” he asked, dubious. “Folk keep two houses, then?”
“Not all, not even most; but Tom and Marian manage it, don’t they?”
“Aye,” he said slowly as he glanced up at the house, considering, “Aye, just so….But Tom owns the whole of Fernacre. Will we truly ever have the means to afford such extravagance?”
“MDs make some of the best money available,” I said, as simply as I could, “and other than being charitable and giving as much away as we can manage, I can’t think of a more worthwhile way to use that financial freedom, than to give you this.”
“….Thank you, Sassenach.” He sounded absolutely gutted with earnest gratitude, like someone that had just been handed an infinite fortune with no caveat. “Truly.”
“Well, thank me when and if I actually get admitted to medical school.” I groaned with that sudden, familiar wash of visceral anxiety. “If, if, if.”
“When,” he insisted, as he always did. “WHEN.”
We settled in, held tight together in a warm heap of love, letting sleep wash over us.
“Somewhere wi’ a mountain?” Jamie murmured just before I slipped completely under.