There is a song by The Fast Romantics called "Why we fight" and ever since the first time I heard the song on the radio, I always thought it really fits Jamie and Claire's passionate relationship, and would make a really good AU prompt or fic. Do love all the mod's writing! :)
In our bedrooms we are free
deep in the guts of me
I love you violently
until the dawn’s early light
This is why we fight
Cool, fresh air whipped Claire’s face, the mad curls of her hair pushing free, her whole body thrumming with *life.*
Still she urged her horse to go even faster, galloping across the open field, leaping over streams and shearing the tops off wildflowers. Chasing the horizon.
So alive – and free – and full of joy.
Especially because of the man racing on his horse beside her – his red curls whipping around that fine, strong jaw she ached so deeply to touch, his blue eyes smiling in disbelief at her antics.
For she trusted him with her courage, and her daring, and her thirst for life. And he cherished them for the rare gifts that they were.
They hobbled the horses in their customary spot – a glade within the trees, on the far edge of the estate. Very private.
Three years now they had raced their horses – challenged each other. Always ending up at this same spot, which he had discovered by accident and which she loved as the one place she felt safe.
For here it did not matter that she was Lady Claire MacKenzie, wife of Lord Callum MacKenzie, an intimate of the King’s and one of the largest landowners on the border with Scotland.
It did not matter that he was Sir James MacKenzie Fraser, nephew of the Lord (via an acknowledged bastard line), an outlaw from his native Scotland come into the service of his feeble-bodied uncle. Who protected that which was valued most dear – the Lady Claire, sole heiress of the Beauchamp lands that had been subsumed into the MacKenzie holdings upon their marriage five years previously.
In this glade – cut off from the manor, and Court, and the stables, and everyone who constantly sought to isolate them and mold them into people they did not want to be – he was Jamie, and she was Claire, and they found refuge in each other.
“Tell me again,” she whispered, watching him play with the fingers of her right hand. Settled against a live oak whose trunk was wide enough to cradle the both of them – miles from prying ears – they dreamed.
“We’d sleep in my parents’ room,” he began, “in the bed I was born in. I’d wake ye wi’ the dawn – just when it’s light enough to see yer bonny face – and love ye, quiet, as the sun came up.”
She swallowed, and he dug his nail into the lines of her palm. She gasped.
“And ye’d ken in that moment just how much I love ye, Claire.” His voice rasped hot against her neck. His face turned against her cheek, nuzzling. “I’d freeze that moment in time, if I could – if it meant forever. Forever wi’ ye.”
She squeezed his fingers – watched his knuckles pop white – wanting. Wanting so much more than she could ever offer him.
“And then I’d hold you so close to me,” she swallowed. “Not believing what we have is real.”
Claire inhaled deeply – then released. “And then we’d need to scramble for our clothes because the children would come in.”
She felt his smile. “Aye – all of them, all at once. The eldest holding the youngest by the hand – settling into bed wi’ us.”
“And we’d hold them, and love them – let them know how much they were wanted.”
“Because they are a blessing from God. And they will have choice over everything in their lives – how to live, where to live. What to do. Who to marry.”
Jamie undid the button at her wrist, snaking one large finger to trace the fine blue veins there. So soft.
“And then breakfast – and then you’d be off to tend to the animals, and check on the fields.”
“Aye – and then ye’d come wi’ me, bringing all the children, and yer wee basket of herbs too. Because ye never ken when ye’ll find something ye can use for yer healing.”
They knew this story – what would, could, would never be their story – by heart. It was woven from so many hours of loneliness – longing for the life they may have had, had dreams been reality.
Claire didn’t realize her eyes were shut – or that she had been crying – until Jamie began kissing her tears away.
She swallowed down a sob – but he knew, he always knew.
“Will we still be dreaming of this life when we are old and grey, Jamie?”
He kissed the tip of her nose.
“Is this – this moment now – all we will ever have?”
He kissed the edge of her mouth.
“Why do I keep dreaming of a life with you, when I know it will never come?”
He untied her bonnet, gently setting it on the grass, caressing her temples, gathering bunches of her curls into his capable hands.
“Ye keep me alive. And I ken I do the same for ye.”
He brought her brow to his, fingers tangled in her hair.
“That’s why. Even if it crushes yer heart, *mo nighean donn*. I canna live in a world wi’out ye in it.”
“But I want you to be my *whole* world.”
Fresh tears spilled. And he kissed them away again.
“Ye are, for me. Nothing matters more to me than yer happiness.”
Bravely he settled his hands on her hips – or where her hips would be, had she not been covered with so damn many layers of skirts and petticoats.
“Callum is no’ much longer for this world – everyone kens he marrit ye so that ye could tend him. You know as well as anyone – he’s no’ getting any better.”
She swallowed. “No.”
“So – when he dies, then that is our chance.”
“And what if he does not die soon?” Now her eyes opened, whisky eyes – the eyes that could get him drunk with just one glance – flashing. “He has already outlived all expectations. And then there’s Dougal – ”
“What about him?”
“You know that he’ll make a claim on me the instant Callum dies. And he’ll force me to accept him.”
“No’ if I have any say in it!” Jamie drew back, suddenly flushed. “Ye are no’ a plaything, Claire! Ye are a person – a whole, beautiful person – and – ”
“With the Beauchamp lands hanging around my neck,” she interrupted. Bitter.
“It’s my job to protect ye.” His voice was careful – measured – anger kept barely in check. “I love ye, Claire. I will fight for ye – Christ, I’d gladly *die* for ye, if ye’d let me. And if I canna protect ye at that moment – when ye’d need it the most – then I canna protect ye at all.”
He turned away, back hunched, head in his hands.
She knew better than to touch him.
“That’s why I’ve never even kissed ye, Claire. When the time comes, I want there to be no doubt. No whispers about yer virtue – no stains on yer character. For I may be many things, but I’d never play another man false. No’ where his wife is concerned.”
She crossed her legs beneath her voluminous gown, hands folded in her lap. Wanting so badly to comfort him – but damn him, he was right.
“And between now and then?”
Slowly he sat up – then crawled over to her – and took her hands in his.
“We race – and we dream – and we plan. We’ve never decided on names for the children.”
That got her to laugh – and his heart leapt at the sound of it.
“I do love you, you know.”
He kissed the back of one hand – and then the back of the other.
“I hope our son has a heart as selfless as yours.”
He smiled at her – and the world stopped.
“I hope our daughter will be as strong and confident as her mother,” he whispered.
The race back to the manor house was long over – and both horses slowed to a trot as they glided through the main gates.
Jamie was just behind her – befitting his station.
The stable lads were waiting to help her off her horse.
She slid to the dirt – and they bowed.
“Thank you, Sir James,” she called up to her knight, sitting quite still atop his mount.
He nodded in deference to her station.
And then she disappeared into the manor.
Jamie balled her handkerchief – which she had used to dry her brow after their race this morning, and then pressed into his hand as he helped her tie on her bonnet before leaving the glade – in his fist.
Through the upstairs window, he watched Claire enter Callum’s study and curtsy before his desk.
He said a quick prayer, then stepped out of the saddle,
and led the horse to the stables to be cared for.